Pet-Friendly Design for Your Four Legged Furry Family Members

According to a 2017- 2018 National Pet Owners Survey, 68% or 85 millions families in the United States own a pet. 60% of households own a dog while 47% have a cat as a pet although the number of felines (94.2 million) outnumbers canines (89.7 million).

Yet another recent study has shown that a whopping 95% of people consider their furry friends to be a part of the family. Pets provide companionship, comfort, and entertainment, boost our wellbeing and provide unconditional love.

With more and more people in tune to their pet’s needs, making these furry family members comfortable and happy is important. In working with clients, another of Harrell’s award-winning Senior Designers, Sara Jorgensen, frequently incorporates pet-friendly spaces and solutions into her design.

A California state Certified Interior Designer (CID) with a BA in Fine Arts in Interior Design, Sara has the unique ability to discover and artfully execute her clients’ design desires along with their functional needs. “I love to ask a lot of questions,” Sara says of her meetings with new clients. “These days with so many people having pets, I always ask about their animals. Often, people undergoing a home remodel have frustrations about things like pet food storage or placement of food bowls or litter boxes. They often don’t realize a solution could be quite simple and easily incorporated.”

Whatever the pet-related challenge, Sara will create the nook or niche, storage or space that will solve it. Working from a holistic viewpoint to the smallest of details that create the design’s ‘wow’ factor, she looks for creative ways to situate food dishes, tuck away unsightly litter boxes, or to incorporate much-needed storage.

“I help clients truly consider how they live and the roles their pets play in the family. Through this process, I can design an environment that works for both people and pets in mind without sacrificing individuality and personal style.” Sara explains.

Sara finds that homeowners with canine companions often want her help with creating attractive or hidden storage systems for their pet’s food and supplies as well as elevated and/or out-of-the-way food and water bowls. Since feline family members are more likely to remain indoors, Sara designs special spaces for litter boxes, food and water bowls, and even perches for cats to climb or vertical “highways” that enable them to move from room to room.

“Catios”, or patios for cats, are becoming a popular home design element. They can be simple or elaborate but the goal is to create a safe, enclosed outdoor spaces for cats to lie in the sun and fresh air. Sara has designed “catios” from previously open balconies and decks by installing mechanized rolling pet screens that drop down to fully enclose the space.

An example of a more elaborate pet space is a “catio” project Sara did for a client in which she transformed an unused second floor balcony into an artistic safe space for the homeowner’s cats. “The owners were huge San Jose Sharks fans so we designed a custom metal panel with the Sharks logo that added a unique architectural element to the rear of the home that both homeowners and cats could enjoy. We even selected a bird-nest pattern for the background pattern that creative a playful reflection with the light.” says Sara.


Ideas for incorporating pet-friendly design in your home

  • Choose durable, pet-friendly materials and fabrics: From flooring to furniture, there are materials that lend themselves to homes with pets. Choose colors and fabrics that hide dirt, are durable and scratch-resistant as well as easy to clean.
  • Stop dirt at the door: Create a station in your home where you most frequently take your pet in and out. This area should have resilient, easy maintenance flooring plus storage for leashes, toys and supplies.
  • A room with a view: Both dogs and cats enjoy being able to look outside so having a large picture window that provides your pet with a view will be appreciated.
  • Special spaces: Dogs have an innate desire to go underneath beds, tables, and other areas where they can rest in peace while you should think vertically for your feline friends. Designate a doggie den beneath cabinets in the kitchen or Family Room and set up perches or stair-step walls shelving to create areas for your cat to sit or sleep.
  • Pet doors: Technology is a wonderful thing even in the pet product realm. There are electronic pet doors that open only when triggered by a chip in your pet’s collar, keeping your home secure and other unwanted critters out. Even cameras that can allow you to see what your pets are up to while you are away.

Harrell’s Remodeling is very sensitive to how the remodeling process affects your furry family members. We always make areas safe for your pets by removing debris as well as posting signs to alert workers of animals in a home. Sometimes we even post a photo of your pet on doors with a sign to alert our people and subcontractors that special circumstances need to be taken for safety of an animal.

Whether you have a very specific pet project in mind or wish to integrate pet-friendly design as part of a home remodel project, Sara and the entire team at Harrell’s Remodeling can make it happen!

Laundry and Hobby Rooms: The New Family Center?

More and more home remodeling projects are including large open spaces with multiple uses instead of smaller rooms with a single use. Sometimes the need arises for a less formal space, a place where family members can spend quality time together in a relaxed atmosphere. A multi-purpose room has become the new family center. As a result, hobbies and laundry are ideal companion activities to share this space.

The space can be designed such that there is enough room for all family members to do their special activities, alone or together. For example, Mom or Dad can do the laundry while the kids are painting or building puzzles. There are several elements that are popular in hobby and laundry rooms which help make the space more functional. For example, add a TV or a sound system for enhanced usability.

Counter Space

Everyone needs room to work. Layouts for the room might include counters that that run along some or all of the walls. For extra room to work, tabletops or islands can be placed within the room, or perhaps pull out or fold down for convenience. Countertop materials range from wood to laminate to natural or engineered stone. Give some thought to scratch-resistant and stain-resistant surfaces that wear well and fit their purpose.


Where there are activities, there are supplies. Ask your design build team to create cubbyholes, drawers and storage space above or below the countertops and workstations. This can help you minimize the clutter and keep it a pleasant place to spend time together. Cabinets can include a fold-down ironing board, a place to fold clothes and an area to store laundry supplies.


Choose flooring that is smooth, moisture-resistant, durable and easy to clean while coordinating with the rest of the decor. Use area rugs to create extra comfort and a cozy feel to select parts of the room.


Lighting is one of the most important features to the new hobby room and laundry room. Use natural light from large windows and put focused task lighting over specialized work spaces. Recessed lighting throughout the room can help illuminate even the largest spaces.

Home Remodeling Projects: Closets and Organization

One of the latest trends in home remodeling is creating functional closet space. The idea is to bring organization and functionality to your bedroom closet. Ideally, you should be able to go into your closet and see all of your choices, from head to toe. Create functional space that let you walk around, rather than standing at the door and guessing what gems are hidden away inside. When doing a home remodeling project, especially a whole home remodel or one that involves bedrooms, take the time to consider what you love and hate about your clothes closets now. Maybe you like having two levels of clothing racks, or perhaps your can’t see or reach hats, ties or other accessories. Join forces with your design and build remodeling contractor to create a space that works for you and each person in your household. Here are a few points to consider.

Lighting should be easy to turn on and off. Either use a sensor that automatically turns on your lights when you enter, or make sure that the switch is easily accessible. Lighting should be bright enough so that you can see all of the items in your closet. Keep in mind that the type of lighting can change the appearance of some colors and materials.

Space and Organization
It seems that there is never enough closet space. Layout is important, as it keeps things organized. If you can’t see what you have, you need more space and a better design. Don’t forget to save room for things that don’t need to be on hangers.

Once you have chosen some items to wear, you’ll need to see how they look. Placing a full-length mirror in your closet as well as in the bedroom may make selections easier before you try on your clothes.

Shoe selection can make or break an outfit. Keeping footwear close to the floor can be helpful when envisioning an outfit. However, if reaching down to try on shoes is challenging, raising the shoe space probably makes more sense.

Coordinated Separates
When considering your closet design in a home remodeling project, decide whether you need more space for shorter coordinating separates or for longer pieces, like dresses and long coats. Coordinating pants and tops may be easier when the choices are above and below each other.

Accessories are usually the last element chosen when putting together an outfit. Be sure to leave space for them where they can be seen and appreciated.

Creative storage solutions by Lisa Sten

Over time, many homeowners become “real estate challenged” and find that their home doesn’t provide room for everything in their busy lives. With the high cost of property in the Bay Area, the thought of moving to a larger residence is frequently discarded in favor of remodeling an existing home to maximize its potential space. Beyond obvious living space though, people often forget that every attic, crawlspace, closet, nook and cranny holds potential for creative storage solutions. Professional design/builders are experts in identifying and exploiting unused spaces for higher capacity storage throughout the home.

Kitchen Space

These days, kitchens contain much more than a fridge, a range, dishes and cookware. As the social center of most homes, kitchens today accommodate a number of conveniences – multiple appliances, specialty cookware, pull-out bins for trash and recycling, homes with fold-down computers, spacious pantries, laundry appliances and display shelves, to name just a few. It’s easy to see that the heart of every home needs to face many challenges with clever design in order to keep pace with today’s busy family.

In a remodeling project completed by our company, the original kitchen was woefully lacking in storage. There were no cupboards on the walls and only a few base cabinets among them, several were useless and inaccessible corner cabinets that hid hard-to-reach and, thus, forgotten cookware. Additionally, a center island housed a sink and dishwasher but provided little counter space for the large area it occupied.

Determined to find more room for the family, Harrell Remodeling designers created a kitchen layout that makes food preparation a breeze. Cookware, utensils and pantry goods are now conveniently accessed in the numerous cabinets, drawers and pullouts. A generous, sweeping peninsula provides plenty of counter space and enables the homeowners to prepare meals together while visiting with their guests. Ironically, the new peninsula layout created the possibility of a dead, unusable space in the sleek new walnut buffet, but the designer was not deterred. Instead, an ingenious pullout wine cabinet was installed to make use of the 30-degree angle created by the new peninsula.

In another kitchen located in Los Altos, a leak above the kitchen inspired the client to correct an inefficient room layout and improve storage in every available corner.

With little room to spare, every precious square inch was carefully considered for function and storage in this redesigned kitchen. The cramped under-stair storage area was opened up to the room, creating space for the owner’s new rustic table. The walls in the alcove were lined with shallow shelving for practical storage and display of collectibles. The existing stacked washer and dryer now reside in custom built-in cabinetry that cleverly conceals the appliances behind new flipper doors. The space now has a more open and organized feel to it that is brought together by the seamless blending of the warm, distressed-finish cabinets throughout the kitchen.

Laundry Space

In Portola Valley, a homeowner needed a solution for their laundry area. The original location was adjacent to their living room and they needed to find a more appropriate place for their noisy laundry. After careful scrutiny of the upstairs spaces, a wonderful solution was found.

An existing hall closet and the attic storage area located behind it were combined to create a spacious laundry room. Now suitably located near the second floor bedrooms, this small feat was achieved with only a modest amount of structural work. And, to ensure everyone’s comfort, sound isolation detailing and vibration specialty work was integrated to limit appliance noise and vibration from impacting family members in the adjacent rooms. Outfitted with crisp, white cabinetry, every compartment in this tidy area was detailed to the homeowners’ needs. Plenty of hamper baskets kept sorted laundry handy. Spacious countertops and a fold-down ironing board got clean clothes organized in a snap. A new skylight combined with a colorful (and quiet) floor made this a very cheerful and well-illuminated room!

Bathroom Space

With today’s hectic lifestyle, a bathroom needs to be correctly designed to make the space truly relaxing and luxurious. Excellent illumination and good ventilation are just a few of the details to consider in a space that may include a jetted tub, a shower or steam shower a private toilet area and mirrored lavatories. Of course, the need for appropriate storage within a bathroom has expanded. In addition to storage for linens, other space-saving built-in features may include hampers, makeup lighting, recessed mirrored

medicine cabinets with electrical outlets (for razors and toothbrushes), and plenty of drawers for toiletries.

Bedroom Space

Bedrooms and family rooms can also be designed for maximum efficiency to store just about anything. Details often include customized clothing storage (adjustable hanging roods, bins and trays, shoe shelves, tie racks, pull-out roods for garment bags and dry cleaning), dressing areas, entertainment systems and library shelving.

Thoughtful storage solutions can make the most of any space. One lovelyPortolaValleyhome lacked a playroom for the children and needed a guest bedroom for the frequent out-of-town family guests. Searching the home, the large unused attic above the garage provided the perfect solution to both space problems at once.

The generously vaulted room has plenty of space for the homeowner’s three children to read, play games, do homework and run around. A built-in desk, a TV cabinet and abundant storage systems house the many books, toys, games and videos for the children, as well as the linens (for the new full bath) and space for guest’s personal effects.

Displaying a chameleon charm, when company arrives, it easily transforms from a playroom into a luxurious guest suite. Visitors will find a comfortable room with plenty of natural lighting, a generous seating area, and a pull-down Murphy bed hidden inside the wall storage system and a desk area.

Imaginative storage solutions can be created in every home. Even the smallest of houses have hidden space that can be better exploited so that the home will function more efficiently for the family. So think bigger, get outside of your obvious floor plan area, and get into storage.