A Room of Their Own (Part One)

Having rented rooms and a 500 sq ft loft over the past several rears, the dogs and I are quite used to sharing very small spaces; we know how to gracefully trip over one another and never to be in too much of a rush. I knew that when I did have the space, I would want to design them a room of their own. Plenty of dog rooms can be found online, particularly cute rooms for tiny dogs to show off all of their dainty accessories. These rooms are practically an accessory for as much utility as they would provide an 80 pound rambunctious doberteen. I have picked and pulled a number of good ideas after scouring the Internet for dog room ideas, and now I get to make a room specifically designed with my boys in mind. First, I needed to make a list of what purpose I wanted my dog room to serve. Below are the criteria around which I need to design my dog room.
  • The room needs to be large enough for both of their crates.
  • The room needs to be comfortable.
  • The room needs to feel like a safe place if the dogs get overwhelmed by company, construction, fireworks, thunder, etc….
  • The room needs to be easily cleaned without seeming cold and institutional.
  • The room needs to have sufficient storage space for their belongings (toys, collars, leads, medications, food, extra food, etc…).
On my first visit to what would be my house, I knew that the basement bedroom would be a perfect place for the dog room; it has concrete walls to help dampen offending noises, should stay cooler than the rest of the house in the summer, is attached to the laundry room (dog bathtub in the future?!), and is near the door to the backyard.
dog room 1
Dog room (before…ugly!)
After identifying the purpose and location of the dog room comes the actual design–I need to design the room and determine what materials would best achieve the goals of the room. Form, meet function.
My dogs are medium sized and apt to get into trouble when unattended, so the room had to be safe. Although the dogs are crated when I leave the house, I anticipate them voluntarily spending time in the room since it will have all of their toys and beds, and is near the library. I don’t want to constantly be watching them if they go into the room. I have narrowed the materials down a bit, but but final decisions are still pending.
  • Floor: Bamboo, cork, or carpet. All have their pros and cons, and making the final decision will be quite difficult.
    • Cork–Pros: softer than tile or hardwood, sound dampening. Cons: Not as durable as other options, limited designs and/or colors.
    • Bamboo–Pros: attractive, inexpensive, variety of colors and designs. Cons: maintains the basement feel and encourages echoing, easily scratched.
    • Carpet–Pros: Many available options, would make the room feel less like a basement, preserve warmth. Cons: can be expensive with the pad and carpet, more difficult to clean.
  • Walls: Either a pistachio or warm orange paint with white wainscoting around the room. The wainscoting will help minimize the basement feel of the room by partially covering the two exposed concrete walls, and will be easier to wipe down than the paint.
  • Door: Dutch door with dog door in the lower half. This style will allow the dogs access to the room while still enabling me to check on them quickly be peeking over the top of the lower door.
  • Storage: Some will be in the small closet, but additional storage must be in a cabinet or elevated so that the dogs cannot access it.
  • Closet: I will be completely redoing the closet and am undecided if I should incorporate a traditional closet with bar for hanging clothes, or a shelving unit more suited to storing pet supplies.

Neighbors

Having essentially lived in a college town for my entire adult life thus far, I have never experienced the camaraderie of neighbors. San Luis Obispo–where I have spent the past eight years, two of which as a graduate student at Cal Poly–is dominated by college students, renters who are so far priced out of the market that they stand very little chance of ever owning, homeowners who can barely afford their mortgages, and a handful of wealthy owner-occupants. The result? Very little personal investment in the neighborhood or the property, and what ultimately ends up being a run down coastal town.
I had some good neighbors during my time there–nice, hard-working people who do their best to get by and enjoy all that the central coast has to offer. People who, after working multiple jobs to afford their shared rent or mortgage and commuting 45 minutes or more each way to work, have very little time or energy to stand outside and talk to their neighbor or decorate for the holidays. I had nice neighbors who didn’t own their houses and so could not make improvements or changes to run-down properties owned by investors 300 miles north or south of our little coastal retreat. Niceties like talking to neighbors over the fence or improving a neighborhood without being a “flipper” seemed to me to have disappeared in the modern Western world.

Last weekend, in the throes of defeat at the spiraling issues (and costs) associated with my new house, we had a late winter storm that dropped nearly a foot of snow over the city. And me, with no snow shovel, no salt, no snow blower or plow. Arriving home from yet another trip to Home Depot, my sidewalk was neatly shoveled on both sides of my driveway.The following day, I had the opportunity to meet my neighbors, who are related to the neighbors behind me. We all stood at the corners of our properties and discussed our mutual joy at my moving in (the previous tenants left numerous signs that maybe they were not the best neighbors, which was confirmed in our discussion). I met the young family behind me, heard about the next grand-baby on the way, and everyone met my boys (the dogs). When I confronted and attempted to thank them for shoveling my sidewalk, my neighbors flippantly dismissed my appreciation, saying, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Although having my sidewalk shoveled and chatting briefly with my new neighbors may seem a small joy, I am reminded that there are still places in the country where people can afford the time and effort to help one-another, no matter how mundane the task.