La Petite Maison builds mansions fir for a furry king — or queen by Angie McKaig
Once upon a time, dog houses were used as a way to get the dog out of the house, a way to keep that functional family pet where he or she belonged. No more! As pampering families seek new ways of spoiling their pets, custom-building a luxury dog home with all the trimmings is simply our way of showing our adoration.
La Petite Maison is a specialist in custom-built dog homes, and their work is breathtaking. They'll custom-build a dog home to your specifications - something to match your home, or something completely new.
We recently spoke to Michelle Pollak, who works on the interior designs for these houses.
pp: How was La Petite Maison created?
mp: La Petite Maison was started by Alan Mowrer (the builder). He started out building these playhouses as a hobby. Then I came along and we built the business into a full-fledged company. Alan loves to build in smaller scale, so it was a natural move to start a business doing nothing but that.
pp:How do you come up with the designs?
mp: Al and I both come up with designs through a combination of research, travelling and creating an extensive library of architectural styles, as well as simply trying to get creative! Sometimes, we'll match a client's house, so the design is already a given, and only the scale and details need to thought out.
pp:How long does it usually take to create a custom dog house, and what are the steps involved?
mp: The doghouses can anywhere from several weeks to several months to create, depending on the client, the style requested, etc.
The steps involved are: first, getting the essential information from the client (i.e. type of dog, size of dog, type of landscape, architectural preferences, any allergies the dog might have (to avoid building with those materials), and general “character traits” of the dog(s). (Trust me, all pet owners have special personality traits about their pets they like to tell us about!) Second, Alan draws designs for the client's approval. Then he gets busy with the actual build/design process. Depending on the size of the house, it's either shipped or built on the client's site.
One of the doghouses Alan did was bigger than a playhouse, at the owner's request, so that they could visit the dogs in their doghouse. That one obviously had to be built on site!
pp:What was the most elaborate dog house you've ever done?
mp: Definitely the one I just mentioned. It was built for a client with three dogs (mutt dogs, belive it or not) and as I mentioned, was huge. The owners requested floor length windows so that one of the dogs with bad arthritis could always look out without having to get up. Another elaborate house was the white colonial pictured on our site. The architectural details were very intricate, down to the custom made faux light fixtures. This one also included the hand-painted doggie wallpaper, as well as wainscotting, chair rail, and crown moldings.
pp:Why do you think pet owners are so interested in luxury, custom dog houses?
mp: We notice pet owners fall into several categories. Some clients commission these doghouses for decorative and “show” purposes. For example, a client may want an intricately detailed house that looks great on the property. They consider more like artwork, as opposed to an actual home for their pets. Then there is the opposite type of client, one who will spare nothing to ensure their pet is comfortable and well-cared for. They'll focus on amenities that keep their pet happy, such as air conditioning, heat, and certain building materials they believe their pet “prefers”.
We have a client who commissioned a cat house for her alley cat. She didn't care at all about the looks of the house, but requested a separate “dining” room, litter box room and “bedroom” to keep her fastidious cat happy.
pp:Any funny stories you'd like to share?
mp: Many of our clients like to match the dog with the house — i.e. a French chateau for a French poodle, a Mexican mission for a Chihuahua. One of our clients had a Bernese Mountain Dog (from Switzerland), so she commissioned a Swiss chalet, with all the details right down to the Swiss flag! She let her dog “choose” the colors for the interior (by showing him paint chips — yes, paint chips). He apparently preferred blue, as that's the color she requested. This lucky dog also had air conditioning and marble floors, as well a house-warming party thrown in his honor. The party included neighbors, the client's friends, and the dog's pet buddies. Next life, I want to come back as this client's pooch... [laughs]
pp:Do you have any pets yourselves?
mp: Both Alan and I travel a lot, so unfortunately, we don't have pets. We just try to keep our clients' pets happy and live vicariously through them!
La Petite Maison offers custom designed playhouses, pet houses and accessories for clients throughout the United States. For more information, visit their web site at www.lapetitemaison.com.