Sophisticated Pets: Interior Design
Written by Carrie Edelstein
Photography by Emily Minton Redfield
Our sophisticated “repawters” were too busy to pose for this installment of “Sophisticated Pets.” Tanner is summering in his sorrow because his canine sister ate his favorite bed that has been discontinued. Rory is paw-deep in seasonal allergies, boxes and open houses, helping Mom and Dad search for a new home. Since they both have one thing in common, the need for new space, they put out a call to designers and asked for inspiration on how to best salute pets in a home.
Brett and Jennifer Cecil would agree that pets deserve a special place. The St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher and his family have a second home in Florida, just north of Tampa. They spend a lot of time there with family, and that grouping includes their two dogs (sadly their first canine baby, Cutter, passed away this year) and three young children. When they were getting the home set up, designer Laura Lee temporarily moved from St. Louis to Florida to get everything installed, and now she’s raised the bar for pet enthusiasts across the country.
After the bedrooms and main living spaces were finished, there was one room left that would be transformed into a play space for the children. The idea for a dog theme was simple; the Cecils love their pets. When Lee found a very basic drawing of a dog at The Lucky Fish Gallery at High Point Market in North Carolina, the rest just followed.
“We thought we would have the dog theme in one of the kid spaces since they all really love their dogs. There are two boys and a girl so it had to be gender neutral and that was really the starting point for us,” Lee says. She adds, “After I found the painting, we commissioned the artist [Erik Knight], to do two more similar pieces.” Lee says having three works of art was meant to represent one piece of original artwork per child. (Our “repawters” note here it was likely rather intended to represent each dog, R.I.P. Cutter the Boxer.)
But there was another big empty wall. Lee had designed a chalkboard area at the Cecil’s St. Louis home that the kids love and “use all of the time,” and that became the inspiration to create a new more canine-friendly design. “We wanted to incorporate a dog house somewhere so I put it around the huge chalkboard. In the inside of the archway we did rope lighting. And then we hung these little pails to hold the erasers and chalk. We put the fake grass down and it’s just this fun area for the kids to play in. Leash holders support the buckets and toys for the dogs. There are even real cedar shakes.”
Tank, the Cecil’s French Bulldog, is particularly fond of the orange statue saluting him in that grassy patch. Shayla, the German Shepherd, is still working on finding her favorite accent in the human/pet playroom.
*This article is written in loving memory of Cutter Cecil. May he rest in peace.