How Did Dog Rooms Become a Thing?

DIY Dog Room

The Spruce / Photo Illustration by Amelia Manley / @hankandgunther_thefrenchies / Instagram

When you bring home a new baby, it is completely normal and expected that your bundle of joy will have his or her own space, a room set up with a crib, a changing table, maybe a rocking chair for feeding and cuddling. How about when you bring home a new fur baby? More and more people are setting up dedicated spaces for their dogs to relax, eat, and take a bath. These rooms take many forms, though the reasoning remains very similar: these pups are members of the family and deserve all the comforts of home. 

This trend looks like it is going to have some staying power, according to Swasti Sarna, senior data insights manager at Pinterest. “In our annual Pinterest Predicts trend report, we predict that animal architecture will be big in 2022. We are seeing rising searches on Pinterest for 'luxury cat rooms' and 'luxury dog rooms.'"

There has been a renewed focus in recent years on where and how we live, and that has extended to dog spaces. “People come to Pinterest to plan and be inspired and with so many people at home these past couple years, we’ve seen a rise in searches for Pinners sprucing up their spaces at home, pet spaces included,” Sarna says. “We’ve seen this grow in popularity across generations with Millennial, Gen X, and boomer pet parents driving this trend.”

A New Norm

Some people might think that setting aside a special place for their canines might be a luxury or extravagance that is nothing more than pampering. In some cases, that might be true, however, many pet parents have created dog rooms for practical reasons.

“We've always had dogs, and their 'stuff' used to be scattered about the house and we could never find it when we needed it,” says Hollie Heinlein, who, with husband David, is parent to French bulldogs Hank and Gunther. “So when we bought our new house, I knew I wanted a 'dedicated' space for them and their belongings. I'd seen multiple ideas on Pinterest for dog rooms built under the stairs, so that's what I wanted," Heinlein says.

“Fortunately, when we got our home, there was already a finished space under the stairs in our laundry room. In a matter of weeks, we built a barn door-style gate, added wallpaper and wall decor, and found the perfect-sized dog bed for the space," Heinlein says. "We have a cabinet that holds their clippers, leashes, collars, etc. But when the clothing would no longer fit, we added a clothing rod.”

dog nook under the stairs

@athomewithjuliaa / Instagram

The generally unused space under the stairs is a popular spot for a dog room, with or without a door. Julia Mooney of @athomewithjuliaa, mom of chow chow Taco, knew when she brought him home that she didn’t want to crate train her new love. “We decided to create a space [at] home where he could feel safe without the use of a crate,” she says. “We started the project in June and finished in August, so it took a few weeks of planning and designing. All of his things are kept tidied away in his little bedroom and he knows exactly where to go if he needs a rest or some chill time.” Taco’s special space has a cozy bed, his food and water bowls, his favorite toys, and even his own backpack so he can take his favorite outfits with him on trips with his parents. 

Carving Out a Corner

You might think you have space to create a “room” for your precious pooch, but reframing areas you aren’t using or aren’t using to their full potential might be all it takes. Bre Haefner, kitchen and bath designer at Studio M in Plymouth, Minn., says small spaces work as well. “The corners in the laundry room or mudroom make great little cubbies for dogs that are sort of like a cozy kennel for them during the day. Plus, it avoids the unfunctional space a corner can cause.”

Her colleague Olivia Flicker has noticed some changes in decor related to pets. “I have started to see pot fillers used to fill up the water bowls and then having the whole interior of the dog bowl station lined with tile or stone.” She has had a couple of requests for some dog accommodations as well. “The biggest accommodation I have made in a project is to have the bottom pullout shelf in a cabinet for the dog food,” she says. “I have had two requests for a dog washing station or room in the past six months.”

under counter dog nook

@dzdiydaze / Instagram

A dog washing station can be as simple as a separate bathtub with a long, handheld showerhead that allows you to fully clean your dog to the addition of the pup’s own shower with a tiled floor and a drain to make cleanup easier.

Pinterest searches track these trends. “People are redesigning their homes to make their dogs more comfortable," says Sarna. "For example, they are building a “dog bathroom” in their own bathrooms to more easily bathe their dogs. They are also adding a 'mudroom dog wash station.' Pinners are also looking for inspiration to remodel their closets to create a special space for their dogs, with searches for 'dog closet room' up 47 percent,” says Sarna.

DIY a Dog Room Yourself

Sarah Bishop of @the_upper_ridge is mom to Oliver, a puggle; Lucy, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel; and the newest edition, Duncan, a border terrier. She completely remodeled an existing mudroom to create a safe and comfortable place for the three canine siblings. The kennels are tucked under functional countertops so they are out of the way yet have easy-to-see-through grates so the dogs can see what’s going on. 

Here’s how she describes the project: “In total, it took about a month to complete. My husband and I are DIYers who have day jobs and squeeze in home remodeling as time allows on nights and weekends,” Bishop says. “In this space, we painted the walls and cabinetry, added a farmhouse sink, re-did the tile floor and backsplash, replaced the outdated tile countertop with granite, and converted existing cabinet space to dog kennels. The dog kennel piece of it only took about a day to complete. We also took inspiration from previous projects where we created custom doors and modified existing cabinetry.”

diy dog room

@the_upper_ridge / Instagram

The Bishops’ project was extensive but it was done with much love and forethought. Bishop had a list of priorities in mind before they got started. “For dedicated spaces for dogs, safety and comfort are must-haves. Any space should function for the needs of the family. In this case, the dogs needed a safe, warm, and cozy place to hang out in when us humans weren't home to keep an eye on them.”

You can even convert a piece of living room furniture into a dog kennel or even purchase an existing piece that includes space for your dog. Dee Davis of @dzdiydaze, a hobby breeder and mom to Pomeranian Beauty, created a space for her fur baby in a beautiful console. She saw a similar project on YouTube and decided to give it a try. The end result turned out so well that you almost can’t see the piece’s dual-purpose at first glance. Davis’ requirements for a dog “room” are simple: “Space enough for them to fully stand and turn around, a comfy bed, and easy in-and-out to access their space.” And her advice to people who are thinking of doing the same? “Be patient with yourself. The time is totally worth it. Watch videos with similar projects to guide you.”