Pet Friendly Plants for your Home

Pet Friendly Plant: Burro's tail in yellow ceramic planter.

Spring has officially hit, at least on the calendar! I’m still waiting for the weather to catch up 😉 But I do know it will be here before we know it! So, why not start planning for it now? Plants, greenery, flowers…. These are what come to mind when I think Spring in Virginia. I’m beyond ready to see color outside and inside again! But, what pet friendly plants should I use in my home? What plants are safe around my dogs? Many common indoor house plants that seem popular with interior designers are actually quite toxic for cats, dogs, or both! So, I’ve done some research. And I’m sharing my recommendations for pet friendly plants to use in your home or garden.

Before we dig into these pet friendly plant suggestions, I’d also like to remind you to check out the ASPCA website for additional information on plants that are toxic to dogs and/or cats. You can search their site a few different ways including by animal (cat, dog, or horse), common plant name, or scientific plant name. While I’m sharing a few common plants, there are so many others, too. I was quite surprised to see so many of the common house plants are toxic as I researched plants to recommend.

Gray and white cat looking longingly out a window with a sheer curtain.
Keep reading below to learn more about plants that are safe to use around your cat.
Herbs

Spruce up your kitchen with natural elements you can use in your meals and are safe for your dogs and cats. Basil, thyme, cilantro, mint, and parsley are great options! And, how adorable would it be to have new pots like these from Amazon? However, there are some herbs that aren’t safe for your four legged family members, so make sure you check with the ASPCA database before adding any herb to your kitchen garden.

Money Tree/Pachira Aquatica shown in a bark textured pot.
Gorgeous Money Tree (Pachira Aquatica) shown in a textured bark pot. Photo by York Flowers in Washington DC and Annapolis MD.
Money Tree (Pachira aquatica)

This is one of my favorite plants. Not only because I think the name is amusing (money does grow on trees!!). But I also love it’s appearance, especially the beautiful shape and green of the leaves. It’s also perfect if you’re like me and always over-water your plants! While this is not a toxic plant, it is advised to not use this plant in a home where the pets nibble on leaves. The ASPCA website does say that if it’s ingested, it should only  cause minor tummy irritation in your pet. Huge shout out to York Flowers for this beautiful image above of a Money Tree. If you’re in the DC area and need a florist, make sure you check them out. You can find them on most social media outlets, including Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.  

Calathea (Calathea spp.)

Those of you that know me, know that I’m a fan of color, and this plant definitely incorporates more than just green into your home. It’s known for the rich purples, pinks, reds, and greens that make up its leaves. This is a great plant for spaces that don’t have bright or direct sunlight. Plus, according to AirSoPure it has been shown to help purify the air around it, making it a great choice for health in addition to appearance!  

Burro’s Tail (Sedum morganianum)

Also known as the Horse’s tail, Donkey’s tail, or Lamb’s tail, this plant is another easy to care for plant. As the name suggests, it does get long (around 4 ft in about 6 years) and needs a supportive planter for its eventual weight. It does well hanging, but can also sit on a table or shelf. Flowering is possible, but it is very rare.

Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea recurvata)

The ponytail palm is a slow growing and easy to maintain plant. If you travel a lot or are forgetful of plants, this is the plant for you! Its bulbous base stores water, so you want to be sure that you have given the plant enough room in the pot. Also, make sure you do not over water this plant. I really enjoyed reading tips and tricks associated with this plant from the blog, Joy Us Plants.

Cast-Iron Plant (Aspidistra elatior)

If you’re looking for a plant that needs minimal (and I do mean that!!) attention, this is the one for you. It is on the larger side, with leaves up to 2 feet tall, but it is extremely sturdy! Fascinating fact that I learned from Gardening Know How is that this plant is related to the lily family. According to them it “has small purple flowers that only appear near the soil surface and are hidden in its foliage.” Make sure to check out the link above for additional information on how to care for this plant.

Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exalta bostoniensis)

While the name didn’t seem familiar to me, once I saw the image, I immediately recognized it. According to The Spruce, this is one of the most common ferns. And it’s clear to see why with such a luscious look!  This is another fairly easy plant to maintain and looks great in just about anywhere!

Purple Passion Plant (Gynura aurantica)

I think I went to heaven when a friend recommended this plant and I found out that it is indeed pet safe! It has rich purples and greens (with the occasional yellow flowers). And because of the raised hairs on the leaves, it is also referred to as the Velvet Plant, Royal Velvet Plant, or the Purple Velvet plant. It is a fast growing plant. Young plants make great table decor, and once mature will takes on a sprawling growth pattern making them wonderful for hanging planters.

American Rubber Plant (Peperomia obtusifolia)

This plant is often referred to as a “baby rubber plant” because of its petite size (largest varieties of this plant typically don’t exceed 15 inches). And, because of the sizing, it makes it a great addition to most design schemes and locations. It is also important to note that you must be sure that the plant you are looking to purchase is an American Rubber Plant or within the Peperomia family. Other Rubber Plants are not pet friendly and quite toxic to dogs and cats.

What to do if you believe your pet has ingested something poisonous?

If you know or suspect that your pet has ingested a toxic plant or substance, it is highly recommended that you immediately seek medical attention for them. In our area, we have a few emergency vets that we know and trust. Research emergency options for your pets in your area and have this information handy BEFORE it ever becomes needed.

The ASPCA also has a 24 hour animal poison control hotline available: 888-426-4435. (Add that number to your phone contacts now!!) In most cases, you will be charged $65 via credit card for their assistance. We have used this hotline a few times. One of our emergency vets even used the hotline for a fertilizer that Pebbles ingested a few years ago. (Long story short, the fertilizer she consumed would not harm her and the manufacturer would pay for the calls to the hotline because it was so common for it to be consumed by pets!!).

Doberman with a red and white collar sitting outside surrounded by a lush green forest of trees.
If you have dogs, you should be aware of the non-toxic plant options.
Final thoughts

I hope you have enjoyed this round up of safe plants for your pet friendly home. As a dog mom, I know how scary it is to know that something in your home or yard may not be safe for your dog or cat. Even if you may have used poisonous or toxic plants in the past, don’t fixate on that. Instead, do your research now and be proud of the fact that you are making changes as you learn more. Focus on growth: in yourself and in your new pet friendly plants!

xoxo,

Kayla

Burro's Tail, Money Tree, Basil Plant, Mint, and Boston Fern
Here are a few pet friendly house plants: burro’s tail, money tree, basil, mint, and boston fern.

New Year, New You, New Home Goals

image of mug and notebooks with pen on table, text reads: new year, new you

As we approach the new year, now is the ideal time to plan for what’s to come with 2019! Many of us have new year, new me goals that tend to focus on ourselves (body, mind, health, etc). But what if you added one more new year, new you goal that included the interiors you utilize? Especially your home and work space?

Interior Design Basics

Interior design isn’t just about aesthetics, although that is definitely a key aspect to my designs. As an interior designer, it is also my responsibility to design spaces that promote the health, safety, and well-being of those using the spaces I design. Interior design combines the art of design (aesthetics/visual beauty) with the science of design (understanding the basics of the human body and mind).

Interior Design Matters to our Health

According to the EPA, Americans spend approximately 90% of our life indoors. Our physical and emotional health is influenced by the spaces we utilize (think home, office, etc). These spaces should promote relaxation or productivity (example: bedroom or office), stimulate our body and mind in a positive way, and influence a variety of other health and wellness aspects for the people using the designed spaces.

interior design image of chair and table with green plants. text overlay says: interior design matters to our health
Interior Design matters to our physical and emotional health and is influenced by the spaces we inhabit.
Establishing Your 2019 New Year, New You, New Home Goals

Take note and make a list of how you feel in the spaces within your home and work. Are there any areas you go out of your way to avoid? Any places you head to and spend the most time in? Take a deep look into why these spaces draw you in or push you away.

As I’ve mentioned in earlier blog posts, bringing nature indoors and proper lighting are part of the puzzle of creating spaces that enhance your well-being. But there are other factors, too.

De-clutter

If you feel anxious walking into a specific room or area of your home, I recommend spending time de-cluttering that space.

Designate Activity Zones

Make sure you have established areas that are specifically geared toward rest (mind, body) and various activities. Try not to have a meditation area as the same place you intend to be active.

Color Psychology

Research the colors you intend to use for each space or activity zone. Ideally, the colors being used on paint, furniture, bedding, etc. should complement the activity taking place. Example: don’t use bright or sharp colors in spaces for rest, relaxation, or sleep.

Final Thoughts

Once you’ve evaluated all your spaces, think about what you need to do to change or update them. This list you have established is now your 2019 New You, New Home Health Goal list. Next, figure out which are most critical to you, and in what order they should be dealt with. Once you have that, break it down and start planning quarterly, monthly, and weekly goals. By breaking it down, you are creating smaller, more obtainable goals. Making it easier to accomplish! Once you have your plan, share it below — let’s help each other be accountable!

Need or want some professional assistance? Schedule a free virtual coffee chat with me, here, to get started!

xoxo,

Kayla

image of white mug with black "begin." written on it, sitting on wood table, with warm colors. text says new year, new you, new home 2019 goals
New Year, New You, New Home 2019 Goals – Begin Now!
image of white mug with black "begin." written on it; sitting on wood table with wood chairs in background. text box says 2019 home goals.
Let’s set those 2019 home goals now!

 

#SHOPSMALL Small Business Saturday

I’m so blessed and thankful to have had the opportunities and experiences this year that led to where I am now. It’s because of all of you that I get to share my love of dogs and design, and that they do actually belong together.  😉 Over the past year, I’ve developed even stronger friendships and relationships, which have also guided me here. And so, today, I’m celebrating all of you with this #shopsmall offer. Details below!

I know life is probably pretty hectic since we’ve officially started the holiday season of 2018. But, believe it or not, now is the perfect time to start thinking about those home improvement projects you’re considering for 2019. Whether you’re looking for advice and answers or planning to hire out design services, together we can set up a plan of action! By determining your goals and timelines, it’ll be much easier to decide what steps to make next.

Now through November 26, 2018, save $75 on an online video consultation!

Now through Monday, I’m offering my 1 hour (60 minutes) online video consultations for just $222! That’s a savings of $75!

Are you in need of some design or decorating advice? Are you DIYing and want to run some things by a pro? Or are you in need of clarification on where or how to begin your home improvement journey? If you answered yes to at least one of the above questions, then this #SHOPSMALL offer is PERFECT for you!

Plus, this offer makes a fantastic gift for your loved ones or friends! If you plan on gifting this consultation, I’ll send you a gift certificate with the offer details on how to schedule with me. Just let me know during the purchase and I’ll make the arrangements!

Book your consultation now to get a plan of action for those 2019 home improvement projects started!

Ready to Purchase?

Step 1: When you’re ready to purchase, click this link to place your order. All payments will be processed through my scheduling service, Calendly and PayPal; you do not need an account to pay through PayPal. Although a booking date is required to move forward with this purchase, you will have the opportunity to reschedule, if needed. If this is going to be a gift, make sure to schedule the appointment AFTER you plan on gifting this to the recipient. Please email me at kayla@hhistudio.com with any questions.

Step 2: I will contact you within 48 hours of purchase to confirm and welcome you to my client family. Please watch for this email, which will be sent from kayla@hhistudio.com with the subject “SBS 2018 Online Video Consultation”.

#shopsmall Offer details:

This offer ends Monday, November 26, 2018 @ 11:59pm Pacific time. Fee is non-refundable. Please be sure to pay the $222 consultation fee in full by Tuesday, November 27, 2018. Consultation must take place before January 31, 2019.

xoxo,

Kayla

Are you in need of some design or decorating advice? Are you DIYing and want to run some things by a pro? Or are you in need of clarification on where or how to begin your home improvement journey? If you answered yes to at least one of the above questions, then this #SHOPSMALL offer is PERFECT for you!
This #shopsmall offer makes a fantastic gift for your loved ones or friends!

Home Selling Tips from an Interior Designer

Interior designer gives 5 tips to get your home ready to sell.

If you’re looking to sell your home or if your home is on the market, check out these home selling tips below. From the eyes of an interior designer!

I’m one of those people who loves to see what’s on the market regularly. Partly to get exposure to new neighborhoods and housing developments in the area. But, also to stay up to date on trends in the area, especially among buyers and sellers.

It may seem like an odd thing for an interior designer to care about, but what I’m looking at is what attracts buyers and what motivates sellers. Because at the end of the day, if you’re updating your home at any point of home ownership, you want to be sure you’re spending money wisely. Not just for your benefit right now, but for resale in the future. I value my clients’ time and money, and I want to make sure anything I suggest will benefit them right now and when they are ready to sell.

Here are a few of my top tips when listing your house. Things that I regularly see and can often pinpoint why a home isn’t selling. Price plays a factor, of course, but ensuring that you have buyers actually wanting to tour your home is another piece of the puzzle.

Let in natural light

I get it. We all want privacy. We all like to keep our nosey dogs from yelling at the neighborhood dogs walking near(ish) to the house. (Maybe just me?). But one of the biggest turn offs for buyers is seeing a dark and depressing space. If you do nothing else during picture day and showing appointments, make sure your windows are open and letting the light and view in! Humans naturally crave to see nature, as mentioned here. Open windows with a view are an easy way to showcase this in your home.

Get professional pictures taken

We all know that first impression is a huge deal when selling yourself for a job, meeting new people, etc. And it is just as critical for your home, too! Think about it from the buyers side. If or when you’re looking at homes, which ones do you gravitate toward and which ones stand out? It’s usually the ones with better photography. Make sure your realtor understands the importance of good photography. It doesn’t matter if your home is magazine ready, if your pictures aren’t a good first impression, it’ll just get skipped over and forgotten.

Selling your home? Make sure it's giving buyers a good first impression!
5 Tips to get your home market ready

Decor and personalization

I am absolutely not telling you to hide who you are in your own home. But, I will tell you to bring it down a level or two. Too much personalization is overwhelming for buyers. And they often can’t overlook it. I don’t think you need to completely neutralize your home, just to sell it. But, I do believe simplifying is key. Your goal is to get a buyer to come in and envision living in the home. With their things. That doesn’t mean get rid of everything, and in fact I highly do not suggest you do that either. The key is to find the right balance of you still living there and allowing the buyer to feel right at home. Need assistance with this? I offer home selling consultations (in person for local to Northern Virginia or online for anywhere in the US) just for this type of thing! Contact me via email (kayla@hhistudio.com) or schedule a 15 minute virtual coffee chat to learn more!

Hire the right person or team

The absolute best thing you can do when selling your home is finding the right person or team dedicated to selling your home. Meet with them. Make sure they have similar belief systems as you and that they see you as a client and person, and not dollar signs. Will they maintain a relationship with you outside of this sale? Do they truly care about you and your family? It makes a huge difference to know someone has YOUR back on a professional level.

If you’re in the Northern Virginia area, I highly recommend the Ron & Kelli Team. And while I should add that Kelli is my mom, I strongly believe in the dedication and passion that this team has for real estate and their clients. It’s not just a job or career, it’s their life. They eat, breathe, and sleep real estate. I have watched them build friendships and strong bonds with their clients over the years. They’ve been invited to numerous parties, weddings, and so much more. To work with them, you become family.

it’s ok to ask for outside help

Getting ready to sell your home can be overwhelming. And it’s absolutely ok to look for professional help outside your real estate professional(s). Remember, you want your home to set the best first impression it can to those who are house hunting. Sometimes, it helps to have a neutral 3rd party come in and offer guidance. If your budget doesn’t have room for you to complete the renovation(s), you still have options. Technology today provides ways to show updates, without the hefty expense or extended timeline to complete the project. Instead, ideas can be shown to potential buyers digitally, and can show potential of what your home can become. Other options include virtual staging to show empty homes with ideal furniture and/or various suggestions on color schemes. Just make sure to clearly note that these are not actual images, but professional suggestions.

Final Thoughts for selling your home

Feeling stuck or want a neutral party to help get your home in top selling shape? Contact me for a home seller’s consultation. I promise, I won’t tell you to toss everything and start new. But, I will walk space to space, room to room with you, while discussing your budget and timeline. And then, I’ll figure out the best plan of action just for you!

xoxo,

Kayla

5 tips from an interior designer to get your home market ready.
What first impression is your home giving to buyers?

You Smell Like a Dog!

Wet dog smell; dog bath.
“Yuck, you smell like a dog!” “But I just changed the cat box!” “This house needs aired out!”

Do any of these sound familiar? Are you desperate to get your home smelling fresh and clean? Then this blog post is for you! Keep reading to find out how you can combat that dog and cat smell. 

While I will be sharing a few products that I highly recommend, I first want to point out some simple home maintenance and pet care tips. The time frames for these will vary in each household, but it’s a routine that you should develop for your home ASAP.

Household maintenance: HVAC system

It is critical to perform household maintenance on your home, especially in maintaining the life of your HVAC system. Your filters need to be changed multiple times a year. The exact number varies depending on your type of filter or situation (multiple animals, only one animal, location/seasons, etc). But, definitely change at a minimum 3 times a year or every 4 months. Some, however, need to be changed every 2 months or even monthly.

I also suggest that you have seasonal check ups on the system twice a year to make sure it’s running efficiently and properly! Ideally, before the first time you turn on the AC or the heat. This will help you be proactive on any problem that could occur with the function of the unit. And, you can also utilize this time to get an education from the technician on your exact system’s needs. Ask during your maintenance visit or locate the manual for the unit to determine the correct size of filter you should be using. This will also determine how often you need to replace it. Getting ducts cleaned is also a good idea, but I’d advise that you discuss with your technician for their recommendation on how often.

Quick tip: purchase the number of filters that will last you for 6 months to have on hand. Add to the calendar on your phone to alert you when you need to change the filter. Is it monthly, bimonthly, or every 3-4 months? Set an alarm in advance so you don’t forget. And before you put the filter in, write the month/year on it so you can be sure to know how fresh it is, especially if something happens to your calendar reminder.

 

A clean home combats dog and cat smell.
Home maintenance tips.

household maintenance: home care

Make sure you are vacuuming, sweeping, mopping, etc regularly in your entire home. This will help you remove pet hair and dander so it doesn’t build and set in to hard to access places. Also, don’t forget to vacuum furniture, wash bedding, and anything else your pets come in contact with on a regular basis. Check to see if your furniture fabrics are the best or the worst to have with pets!

Bathe your dog regularly to prevent dog smell.
Chihuahua with soap on head.

groom your pet

Regularly groom your pet to help combat the smell. Brush them often, especially during the transition months from hot to cold and cold to hot. Most dog breeds and some cats will shed their winter and summer coats as they prepare for the incoming weather! Plan puppy/kitty spa days (at home or at a groomer), too. During the warmer months at our house, we typically give the dogs monthly baths to help combat that dog smell; and then every other month once it cools down.

pet health

Diet, allergies, weather (rain, snow), health, breed, etc. can all play a huge factor in the pet smell. If you have specific questions about your pets, talk with your vet to find the best solution for you both. With litter boxes, make sure you’re cleaning it out daily. Scooping the pieces out that need it and adding some fresh litter to what’s left. It seems to be the best routine in my experience, but your pet may be different and require a different routine. Just like with humans, our pets are unique and have their own specific needs.

suggested items to purchase

Add items to your home that can help you combat the smell. Plants are a great option, but please do check out the ASPCA’s website for a list of poisonous plants.

Another option, and personal favorite of mine, are small air purifiers that plug in to a wall outlet and have a filter you can remove/change as often as necessary.  I highly recommend this one from Amazon. They have specific refills for pets, tobacco, etc.  You can even set up a subscribe and save order so you can install, plug in, and forget until the new filters arrive!

Combat the dog and cat smell with the TrueAir Purifier.
TrueAir Purifier and Replacement Filters

We have two on the main floor (where the dogs and humans hang out the most, two on the lower level (in the main rec room area and the bedroom where the at least a few of the dogs sleep regularly), and then three upstairs (main loft area and two bedrooms where at least a few of the dogs sleep regularly). There are many other options out there, but I love these! They are quite compact, plug in directly to the wall outlet, easy to change the filter, and easy to mask or hide wherever they’re installed. Plus, units and filters are pretty reasonable! We’ve had at least 3 of these for over 3 years and then purchased the others when we moved into the large home 3 years ago. And they’re still going strong!

final thoughts

I tend to avoid anything with scents for a few reasons. The main one is that many of the products on the market today that have any scent/parfum added to them, will also have formaldehyde in the product. Check the ingredients of anything you plan to use with an added scent; it’s pretty shocking how many products have that ingredient. Formaldehyde is not something I want to inhale. And, I most definitely do not want my dogs to inhale it either.

xoxo,

Kayla