Pet ‘architecture’ to drool over

8 one-of-a-kind, diva-worthy pet habitat designs

Looking to maintain a fashionable home only to be stymied by shaggy dog beds and cutout cat perches?

Think the byproducts of your lolling-tongued, heavy-breathing loved one aren’t chic? Think your inordinate purring and scratching fluff ball’s accoutrements are a bane to your urbane existence? Think again. Think Wassily chairs, ocean wave-inspired coffee tables, and a wine barrel-turned-pug lair.

Eight new one-of-a-kind pieces of pet architecture stretch the boundaries of pet home style and prove, somewhat surprisingly, that your pooch or kitty can enhance your home’s decor as much as they do your life.

At a glance, these pet habitats — all donated by architectural firms to raise money for a San Francisco-based nonprofit, Pets Are Wonderful Support (PAWS) — reveal a clear embrace of utilitarianism and a bold, cutting-edge vogue. Not to mention some cute, at-home pets.

According to the American Pets Products Association, Americans will spend just under $53 billion on their pets this year. But some who might benefit the most from the love that a pet can provide — like fixed-income elderly and health-compromised adults — can’t afford the vet bills and the food prices.

Hunstman Architectural Group’s 2009 Petchitecture donation. Photo: Michael Tedesco Photography.

That’s where PAWS comes in. The group’s 17th annual "Petchitecture" fundraiser event on Friday, May 11, is expected to draw 800 attendees and raise more than $200,000 for the nonprofit, which helps low-income seniors and people with HIV/AIDS and other disabling illnesses care for their companion animals.

And the event’s pet architecture can give you a new perspective on what living with a pet can mean, bringing the whimsy, fun and love that characterizes pet ownership to the level of elegant design.

This year seven design firms donated eight pieces. In years past, as many as 18 architects have participated, said Cheryl Shiflett, marketing director at PAWS. Five of the eight pieces donated this year will be auctioned off at the event. The other three habitats were commissioned by donors matched by PAWS with participating designers who built habitats to fit the donors’ needs and wants.

Pugs in a Barrel

William Duff Architects 2012 Petchitecture donation. Photo: Michael Tedesco Photography.

The result of one donor-designer collaboration was "Pugs in a Barrel," for Peggy Bennington, a Marin County, Calif.-based lawyer and small-volume winemaker. After Bennington saw several designs from William Duff Architects, the idea of using a wine barrel for the habitat for her three pugs emerged.

Bluxome Street Winery in San Francisco, where Bennington makes her wine, donated three wine barrels for the habitat.

"The more you can use of the wine barrel, the better," Bennington said to the designers early in the design process. The result is a figurative "Pug Pinot" to match the literal wine of the same name she vints (two barrels) each year.

The cavernous, used wine barrel, remnants of its ambrosia bleeding through its oak body, is perfect pug property. It doesn’t take a great mental leap to see all three pugs, a breed notorious for cuddling, piled on top of each other in their new pug home.

And, if coziness wasn’t enough of a treat for those pugs, the wine stopper has been rebranded as a "treat dropper." Treats raining from the sky? Enough to make a pug’s heart soar — and an owner’s.

William Duff Architects 2009 Petchitecture donation. Photo: Michael Tedesco Photography.

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