I have been planning this post featuring a roundup of excellent pet décor products for a while and it has been fun collecting standouts that I believe will please the dog lover who prefers chic, sophisticated interiors. As a bonus, these are all excellent holiday gifts for those of us who adore the canine character.
Dog Décor for Pet-Loving Sophisticates
One of the first contenders I found as I began my quest was Chris Davis, the mastermind behind Drawdog, whose colorful portrait (above) of Sadie—Lacey Howard’s beloved dog who passed away earlier this year—knocked me out! Soon after, I spied it on Lacey’s Facebook feed, an email from Michelle Cleek O’Hollaren, the owner of and designer for Sophisticated Pup, landed in my inbox. The difference in her wall art to Davis’s serves as an excellent example of how there is a wide variety of styles available.
So do the soulful depictions of pets by Denis Orloff. I found his painterly portraits on his wife Amy Wax’s Facebook post. The fine-art quality in his work—as opposed to Davis’s playful vibe and O’Hollaren’s graphic classicism—illustrates there is an aesthetic point of view for just about everyone when it comes to pet-inspired décor items.
Rounding out my finds, I was strolling through Scott Antique Market in Atlanta with Bethanne Matari of Currey & Company in August when I came upon Cordula Maring’s DogStuff Depot products, which I knew would be perfect for this post.
To accompany the fabulous products, I thought it would be fun to find out what first inspired these canine connoisseurs to, ahem, go to the dogs. Unfortunately, I found Orloff too late to include an interview with him; for the rest of them, I present what each had to say about their pet proclivities. Illustrating Davis’s answers are color-splashed portraits of two of my favorite pups, Cotton Beam and Iggy Glazebrook (I simply couldn’t resist having them immortalized in such an exuberant way and, whoops; I’ve just let the “cat out of the bag” as to what their owners are getting from me for Christmas!):
Chris Davis of Drawdog
P: What inspired you to begin doing these wonderfully colorful portraits of dogs?
CD: I was an illustrator and designer at Southern Living magazine for ten years. After my time there, I wanted to try my hand at doing art festivals around town. I was very happy that the whimsical style of dog drawings I was displaying at art shows was resonating with people, especially dog owners. So if people liked this style, I thought, maybe they would like a more realistic and more colorful version of their own dog. That’s how Drawdog was born!
P: With Lacey, the portrait of Sadie acts as a memorial of her since she passed. Does it feel good to know you’re giving that to some people?
CD: It feels great. I’ve done several posthumous pet portraits, if you’ll excuse the alliteration. Pet owners really do care for their little companions, which often become an extension of not only their families but of themselves as individuals. It’s sad to loose them and I’m happy to take part in someone having even a small reminder of their four-legged friends.
P: As you are drawing, do you feel you “get” the personality of a pet to serve as a guide for the colors/direction you choose?
CD: Many times I do. Some cats and dogs seem to have very distinct personalities. I try to capture it with colors and tones. A lot of times, it’s just what I’m feeling about each portrait. On one portrait, I might try to have more of the pet’s original color and at other times, I just go all out and get wild!
Michelle Cleek O’Hollaren of Sophisticated Pup
P: What inspired you to create a company around dog-themed products?
MCO: I started designing pet products in 2006, shortly after I got my pug, Penny. I began with pet apparel, collars and leashes, and we still sell a lot of uniquely designed, handcrafted pieces of that type, but in 2015 we added art prints, pillows and other home decor items with a pet theme to our product line.
P: Do you have dogs of your own? If so, what type do you have?
MCO: I have a pug, Penny. She is ten years old. She suffers from Canine Liver Disease, and is definitely my muse.
P: Do you see that the customers who buy pet-themed decor are emotional about their choices because they relate to their pets?
MCO: We are very active in the pet community and attend many, many pet events and shows. People LOVE their pets, and being able to offer unique designs that remind them of their special one is a lot of fun. I find that my products always put a smile on a customer’s face, and usually invoke a story or a “wait a minute, let me show you a picture of my dog” response. We love hearing about and seeing photos of our customer’s furry family members.
Cordula Maring of DogStuff Depot
P: What inspired Dogstuff Depot?
CM: After finishing our “dream” house several years ago, our “dream” kitchen became everyone’s favorite room with its red and grey cabinets, white granite countertops, and dark grey tile floors. Prominently displayed in the middle of the floor sat two beige plastic bowls—the dining area of our two labs! We went shopping, hoping to find raised dining stations that would complement our kitchen décor. Thinking this would be easy, we were surprised to find nothing we had envisioned in the marketplace.
Thus, the idea of Dogstuff Depot was born, offering our customers the highest quality pet furniture to enhance their home décor at affordable prices. Driven by our love and passion for our canine family members, we began to design our own products and find the best-suited manufacturer. And we inspect every piece before it leaves our warehouse to ensure only the best quality possible reaches each family. We currently have five distinctly different styles: Vintage Industrial, French Country, Rustic, Traditional and Shabby Chic.
P: Are you a pet lover?
CM: Yep, I have always loved animals but in my youth I was highly allergic to dogs, cats, horses, birds…you name it. If it was of the animal kingdom, I was allergic to it. Luckily, with treatment, those allergies went away. When my husband and I moved to Georgia I was finally able to fulfill one of my dreams of getting my very first dog. Her name was Tara because she was the only Georgia-born and -bred thing we had (me being German and my husband being from California). Tara was a yellow lab who gave our lives so much joy but unfortunately she passed away earlier this year at the age of 14.
Several years ago we rescued a boy lab-mix as a brother for Tara. And, of course, we had to name him Butler! The photo of Butler above shows him proudly wearing one of his Mom’s collars. When Tara passed away it was very hard on all of us, and was particularly tough for Butler, who not only missed his sister, he missed a four-legged companion. So we adopted our new girl, a black lab-mix. She is too cute to be a Scarlett, so she became Savannah. The above photo of her is on Memorial Day.
And with that you’ve met our complete family. The four-legged kids rule the roost and we would not want it any other way. I always say, “I love each and every animal from no legs to four legs: it’s only with creatures over four legs that I have issues!”
Buying Details for Pet Décor
I’d like to thank these talented artists and retailers for taking their time to tell us what prompted them to focus on pet personas.
Prices for Sophisticated Pup and DogStuff Depot products are on their e-com sites but Drawdog’s and Orloff’s are not so I am listing them below with a few more details. Davis and Orloff both work from photos when creating their art, and Orloff will also schedule photo sessions.
Orloff’s prices for his fine-art portraits range from $375 to $475 for the average composition, and each comes matted and framed at no extra charge. Portraits with more than one pet included require an additional charge, and his turn-around time is two-to-three weeks on average but he says rush jobs are possible. Good news everyone: he is still taking orders for the holidays!
Davis’s portraits run $90 each for 8x10s, 9x12s and 11x14s. An 18×24 costs $110 and he charges $140 for a 22×30. Davis still has room for holiday gifts and he also offers gift certificates. You can take a look at the Drawdog Facebook page for details.
Dog Decorations for Christmas and Hanukah
Speaking of the holidays, if you’re one who enjoys decorating with dog-friendly themes, I found a slew of absolutely fabulous Christmas ornaments and a Hanukah pup you will want to check out.
Gilt Group has a number of decorations, including this felt Black Poodle Dog Ornament, which also comes in white; and a bone-shaped lace ornament that will make your pup drool! Lord & Taylor’s Holiday Trim Shop honors the Bulldog, the Yorkie and the Chihuahua.
Neiman Marcus has gone a bit bulldog-crazy with the debonair Mr. French Bulldog ornament in a hand-painted glass by Cortina, and a Winston Bulldog ornament designed by Christopher Radko, and made of glass and metal.
Saks Fifth Avenue offers a wide selection of pups for the tree, including an adorable Golden Retriever bedecked with garland and festooned with wrapped presents—also a Christopher Radko design, and a Corgi made of mouth-blown glass by Joy To The World.
Saks also tapped the French Bulldog for its array of ornaments this year (also a Joy To The World creation), and the Yorkie in the Saks collection is as irresistibly cute as its Black Poodle is regal.
If you’re looking for an ornament that would please your pet rather than merely riffing on his or her visage, what better choice than the Fire Hydrant ornament designed by Joy To The World to have them quivering with beef-pudding dreams? I’ll offer one Caveat here: hang this ornament high enough that it doesn’t become inspiration for bad behavior and land your dog on Santa’s naughty list!
Selfridges, as one would expect, puts a Brit spin on precocious pet decorations. Cody Foster’s British Bulldog ornament is arrestingly cute and the St. Nicholas Corgi ornament is a tree trimming fit for a queen mum. [Unfortunately, it seems the Corgi with its pretty piping and appliqué crown sold out just after my post went live so I didn’t link it. It’s so cute, I thought I would still show it.] Let me know if you tap one of these products for your own tree or as gifts for friends. Or, better yet, call me out on Instagram using the #petsofinstagram hashtag and show me your pet, his/her portrait or your ornamental celebration of him or her!
Lord & Taylor takes my Hanukah honors with the Dachshund Menorah, made of stoneware and designed by Jonathan Adler.
Text of Let’s Go to the Dogs! © Saxon Henry, all rights reserved. Saxon Henry is an author, poet and journalist based in New York City. Books include Anywhere But Here, Stranded on the Road to Promise and Four Florida Moderns. She also produces The Diary of an Improvateur, and is a columnist on Architizer.