How to Choose a Pet-Friendly Sofa

You’d never want to live without your four-legged friends. But between the pet hair, scratches, and life’s little accidents, your furniture—especially your sofa—can start to show some wear and tear. There’s no reason to resign yourself to a mangy sofa. After all, there are tons of pet-friendly sofas out there that can withstand your pet and keep your living room looking fresh!

Read on for our tips on what to look for when shopping for a pet-friendly couch, as well as a round-up of our top picks!

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What exactly does a “pet-friendly couch” mean?

Ok, let’s start by defining our terms. What exactly does pet-friendly mean? And does it mean different things for different pets? Here’s our take.

A Pet-Friendly Couch is Durable

If you have pets, durability is one of the most important factors when picking out pet-friendly couches. And we’re talking durability in both fabric/material and structure. This is especially important if you have a large dog or multiple dogs that lay on your sofa. In this case, you’ll want something that won’t sink in and a strong frame that won’t warp. And even if your pets are smaller, you want to choose one with a frame that can stand up to repeated jumping on and off, as well as material that won’t wear down from paws and claws.

A Pet-Friendly Couch is Easy to Clean

The reality is that pets make messes. (Ok, and sometimes we humans do too.) With this in mind, you want the upholstery of your sofa to be easy to scrub and clean. Even better? Fabric that’s stain and water-resistant!

Cats vs. Dogs

If you’re looking for a pet-friendly sofa, it’s important to understand how your needs will differ slightly if you have a cat versus a dog. Sure, both shed—but there are other considerations.

Cats are known for scratching the sides of sofas, so you’ll want to look for a fabric that’s less inviting for their claw sharpening needs—like leather and microfiber. (More on that later.) They’re also known to lay on the tops of cushions, backrests, and armrests, which can cause those parts of the sofa to lose their shape. So, it’s worth looking for tight-back sofas, which are better at retaining their back shapes, or sofas with narrow arms if you want to discourage your kitty from curling up on the arms.

Meanwhile, dogs love to jump on and off sofas and tend to spread out across the cushions. They’re more likely to track in dirt and messes from outside, so durability and easy-to-clean fabrics are a must-have.

These tips apply to cute bunnies, like Modsy’s own Moco, too!

11 Tips for Picking Pet-Friendly Couches

Here are our designers’ top tips for choosing pet-friendly couches. Depending on what type of pet you have, how big it is, and how much it sheds, some of these tips might be more relevant than others. But read through them all, see which ones match your struggles and needs, and use those as guiding principles when shopping for pet-friendly furniture!

Freya has her own spot to snuggle up.

1. Look for a High Rub Count

Wait, what’s a rub count? Manufacturers do a lot of tests to ensure the durability of their sofas. One important test is the rub count. A double rub is a back and forth motion that’s done on the surface of the fabric. Manufacturers use a machine to perform “double rubs” on their sofas, counting them and noting when fabric starts to show wear. The higher the double rub count, the more durable the material. Pet owners should aim for a minimum of 45,000 double rubs in their sofa upholstery for it to be considered a truly pet-friendly fabric.

Wilbur enjoys having the couch all to himself.

2. Choose Stain-Resistant Performance Fabrics

From drool and chewing bones to muddy paws and puppy accidents, there are many things that can leave stains on your sofa. That’s why it’s so important to choose a stain-resistant fabric—often labelled as performance fabrics. Fortunately, performance fabrics are pretty popular for furniture upholstery these days, making this an easy-to-find option. Specifically, we find that microfiber is a great option for pet-friendly fabrics! It’s easy to clean, stain resistant, and satisfyingly soft for both humans and pets! However, today you can even find performance fabric versions of velvet and linen. Bonus: performance fabrics are engineered with durability in mind as well.

3. Opt for Removable Cushion Covers or Slipcovers

Want to take easy cleaning to the next level? Opt for a slipcovered sofa or one with removable cushion covers. That way, when accidents happen, you can just unzip cushion covers or remove the slipcover and throw it in the wash! Both of these options are great for easy cleaning.

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4. Consider the Weave

When looking for pet-friendly couches, it’s not just the material that matters—you should also consider the weave! Specifically, for a pet-friendly couch, look for a tight weave, which is less likely to attract and hold onto pet hair. (In contrast, some nubbier weaves can act like velcro for pet fur—and you certainly don’t want that! Faux suede and performance suede are great weaves for cat owners; it’s very hard to scratch this upholstery. Synthetic velvet is easy to wipe hair off and clean, while cotton or silk scratch and stain more easily.

Whisper loves to perch on her leather sofa.

5. Go for Leather With a Patina

Leather is one of the most durable materials out there, making it a great choice for a pet-friendly sofa. It ages well, so honestly, with some wear and tear it will only look better. It’s also easy to wipe down to clean off hair, small messes, and mud. However, some types of leather are more durable than others. Some leather is untreated, without dyes or finishes, which makes it more prone to scuffs. Your best bet is to choose leather that’s labelled as “top grain.” This is considered the most durable.

Spencer sleeps easy knowing his never-ending-fur blends in with the floral pattern of his sofa.

6. Disguise Fur With a Busy Pattern or Weave

Some upholstery is decidedly only one tone. Others are weaves, featuring multiple tones when you look closely but still overall looks like one color from far away. (This is often the case with tweeds and basketweaves.) We call these multi-tone fabrics, and they’re great at helping to disguise pet hair! (They also help disguise messes and spills!) This is a good option for pet-owners who don’t struggle with pets that scratch furniture. Busy patterns like stripes have a similar ability to disguise fur.

Beau feeling tres chic on this golden velvet lounge

7. Match Your Couch Color to Your Pet’s Fur

The reality is that you probably don’t have time to vacuum every day. To keep yourself from going crazy over pet hair, consider choosing a sofa that’s the same color as your pet’s fur. That way, shedding isn’t as noticeable in-between vacuuming. So, if you have a cat with long, white fur, go for a white sofa! Or if your dog has short brown hair, a brown leather sofa would be best.  It doesn’t have to be exact, but keep it within the general color range. At the very least, don’t pick a contrasting color that will highlight your pet’s hair!

Toshi’s favorite perch!

8. Avoid Highly Textured Fabrics if You Have a Cat

While you might love a lot of texture in your upholstery, textured fabrics are more enticing for cats to scratch. Not only that, but they also tend to show more wear from dogs than less-textured fabrics.

Chairman Meow isn’t allowed on the sofa, but has his own reading nook instead.

9. Deter Scratching Kitties with a Sofa on Tall, Slender Legs

Opt for leggy sofas rather than styles that sit directly on the floor, skirted styles, or those with short block legs. (All of these are hugely attractive to cats with claws!) Tall, slender legs—whether wood or metal—can deter cats from scratching the bottom of a sofa and keep them from moving further up with their claws!

Cocoa and Stella having a blast at the Modsy office!

10. Pick Cushions That are Tight-Back or Attached

Some sofas come with loose back and seat cushions—which means you can remove them and likely means you’ll have to fluff up the back cushions every so often. Then, there’s the tight-back and attached cushions which have a lot more built-in structure. If you have a dog that likes to dig in the cushions, a large breed that weighs more than average, or a small dog or cat that likes to perch on top of a couch back, choose a couch that has attached cushions. This will save you from having to rearrange and fluff them all the time and will ultimately keep your sofa in better condition for longer. However, this does mean you can’t remove cushions to wash them, which is problematic to some pet owners. Some sofas feature fixed backs and loose seat cushions, which is a great middle-ground if you want structure and the ability to clean seat cushions!

Joe the frenchie never met a sofa he didn’t like.

11. Choose a Multi-Cushion Couch to Avoid Sag

Sofas with two or three seat cushions (versus a bench seat) will hold their shape better over time. Bench seats are more likely to get saggy and show imprints of your pooch’s favorite resting spot. Multi-cushion couches are great if your pet loves to jump on and off the sofa or has one particular spot on the couch that they go back to over and over again. This is also great style if a mess or spill happens; you can simply flip one cushion or wash/replace it more easily than having to replace an entire bench seat.

Louis’ second favorite place to nap, behind his comfy couch,  is the coffee table.

Designer Picks: Pet-Friendly Couches

Barrett Sofa, Crate & Barrel

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This sofa’s frame is made with certified sustainable engineered hardwood that’s kiln-dried to prevent warping. Plus, there’s a special foundation designed to support the cushions. Translation? You don’t have to worry about it sagging or cushions getting flattened—making it the perfect option for homes with large or heavy dogs who like to lounge in the same spot on the sofa everyday!

Rose Sofa, Interior Define

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This sofa by Interior Define comes in performance fabrics, like velvet and chenille. Normally we wouldn’t recommend velvet for households with pets—but the performance option means it’s easy to clean and more durable! It’s a great choice for long-haired pets that shed, as you can wipe long fur right off of velvet!

Andes Sofa, West Elm

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Remember those metal legs we suggested earlier? This sofa offers that option, so cats don’t claw them and puppies don’t gnaw on them! The cushions are also reversible, and the cushion covers are machine-washable, which is always a plus with pets (and kids, for that matter)!

Slope Nomad Sofa, Burrow

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Burrow sofas are super durable and are designed to endure some wear and tear. Their performance fabrics are scratch and stain-resistant—a great option for homes with pets that may jump around with muddy paws or are still being potty trained!

Keely Slipcovered Sofa, Crate & Barrel

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Slipcovered sofas, as we mentioned, are a great option for pet owners. This slipcover is machine-washable—making it easier to clean up messes or just refresh it and get rid of any pet smell on your sofa!

Fairfield Sofa Coastal Sailor, Ravine Home

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With a fixed, tight back, you don’t have to worry about a cat or dog who enjoys lounging on the couch back rather than cushions. Since there aren’t back cushions to get squashed, your sofa will better maintain its shape. Plus, the seat cushion is reversible but stays attached to the frame with hooks, so you don’t have to worry about it sliding around if you have a big dog jumping on and off!

Boro Modular Sofa, Anthropologie

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The patterned stripes on this upholstery hides fur and stains better than a solid-colored upholstery. And the attached seat cushion means no sliding around or losing its shape!

Lars Sofa, Scout Home

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Distressed top-grain leather upholstery is one of the best choices for a home with pets. Since it comes pre-distressed, it will better disguise wear and tear from the get-go—and additional scratches and scuffs will look natural and blend right in. And the fact that it’s top-grain leather means it’s super durable. Leather is also easy to clean or wipe off, and is all the better if you have a pet with brown fur. (It’ll blend right in!)

Harris Sectional, West Elm

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This sofa features webbed cushion support. And the cushions themselves are fiber-wrapped, with high-resilience foam cores. This combination means that your sofa will keep its shape, with no fear of it sagging or looking deflated. This is a great choice for homes with large dogs who enjoy lounging on the sofa!

Brooklyn Charme Leather Sofa in Licorice, West Elm

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This sofa is made of top-grain leather (and also offers an animal-friendly vegan leather option!). The loose cushions have zip-off covers for easier cleaning. A sofa like this will age beautifully, even with the wear and tear caused by pets.


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My Modsy Story: New Apartment, New Furniture, and How it All Fit Together

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When he moved into his new apartment, Alec wanted to make sure all his furniture would fit before he made the commitment.

Homeowner: Alec O, Software Engineer

Location: Boston, MA

Room: Brand New High-Rise Apartment

His Style: Mod Visionary

The Backstory

A brand new apartment called for brand new furniture

When I moved into my new apartment I had a single sofa, a coffee table, and a lot of empty space to fill. I knew wanted to create a space to entertain friends and relax in. Having a small dining area as well as a space for a group to gather and watch TV was part of the plan. I was also planning to adopt a dog soon, so furniture that was pet-friendly was top-of-mind for me.

So with all that in mind, I knew I needed some more seating, a dining table, and functional lighting, but I wanted to figure out what the furniture looked like in the room before I bought anything.

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Alec’s Apartment Before

The Design Dilemma

Struggling to imagine the possibilities without seeing it all together

Finding the right layout for my room and coordinating the colors of my furniture were super important to me. Since I was planning to purchase some quality foundational pieces, I wanted to make sure they all worked together before I bought anything.

The problem was I had a really difficult time visualizing how everything would look together. The art of pairing things, like a rug and artwork in the same room, totally escaped me – I just couldn’t imagine how it would look.

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Alec’s Modsy Design 1

The Modsy Moment

When a word-of-mouth recommendation came at just the right time

A coworker of mine mentioned that he’d recently used Modsy to design his living room. He told me that it really helped him figure out whether or not everything would fit in his existing space.

At the time, I was set to move into my new place in a matter months, so I was eager to get a head-start on the apartment design process. I decided to give Modsy a go in the hopes that the service could help me plan a layout as well as figure out which new pieces to get.

I’ll admit I was a little unsure about the whole thing – I wasn’t convinced they could really recreate my room virtually, and I wasn’t quite sure how much furniture they’d have available for me to choose from.

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Alec’s Modsy Design 2

How Modsy’s Renderings Helped Alec

Discovering new layout, color, and accent ideas to create his own apartment design

It turned out that Modsy was able to recreate a perfect 3D version of my room, and I was impressed by how lifelike the renderings were. I loved the colors in my first design and I how my designer took my suggestions into consideration when creating the space.

For example, I mentioned that I was getting a puppy and I thought it was cute that they incorporated a dog bed into my design.

apartment designAlec’s Modsy Design featuring a “Wouf” dog bed

There were layout ideas in both designs that I would not have thought of on my own which was incredibly helpful.

“I mentioned that I was getting a dog and I thought it was cute that [my Modsy designer] incorporated a dog bed into my design.”

The 3D renders allowed me to see that I could fit an extra side chair in my living space, so I’d have more seating when I had people over. They also showed me I could fit entire dining set, which I hadn’t thought I’d have space for.

I also didn’t realize that I liked more of a blue color scheme with mid-century furniture, but my Modsy designs totally sold me on the look!

Apartment designAlec’s Modsy Design 2

The Real Results

Welcoming new furniture – and a new puppy – into the mix

The first design worked best for me. I liked that it was functional but still had some style to it. I loved the layout and the use of brass and natural textures.

And while my initial set of designs didn’t 100% fit my style (I’d expected that I would need to make some tweaks), I ended up combining the two together to create my final design. I liked the organic textures from the first design so I kept the jute pouf, bird of paradise plant, and swapped in a side chair with a more natural weave.

Apartment designAlec’s final Modsy Design

I also kept a lot of the brass accents from my second design, and I ended up getting the artwork from the that design as well. I also really liked the look of white ceramic accents so I pulled that into my final look too.

The visualization of the final space was super helpful when deciding what pieces to purchase. I bought most of the furniture in my final renderings, and was able to see how they looked with the sofa and coffee table I already owned (which, I found, were available in the Modsy 3D catalog).

Arthur, my new corgi pup, and I are enjoying breaking in the space together.

See Alec’s Apartment Design In Real Life!
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