There are as many ideas for do-it-yourself pet beds as there are kinds of pets. Projects range from simple sewing patterns to complex woodwork.
But the goal is a safe, customized bed that suits the pet, so that “your furry family members have a cozy place to curl up,” says Camille Smith, website managing editor for the home design channel HGTV.
On the fancier side, some old vintage items lend themselves to eye-catching pet beds. Search your attic for a bulky old television from the pre-flat-screen era, for instance, or a boxy computer monitor once used for accessing MySpace. Remove the screen and gut the inside. Line the box with fabric and add a pillow so your cat or small dog can snuggle up inside.
Most pet-bed projects, however, don’t require you to track down hard-to-get items.
Many online tutorials suggest reclaiming a vintage dresser drawer and filling it with a cushion. Woodworker Scott Lavigne came up with a plan to build a custom drawer from scratch for his dog.
“I’m a builder just by nature,” says Lavigne, founder of the blog sawsonskates.com. Creating a sleep space for his Lhasa apso was a labor of love.
“It’s essentially just building a simple box,” he says; even those inexperienced at woodworking could likely accomplish it in a weekend. By changing the size of the pieces of wood used, his drawer project can easily be adapted for large dogs. Detailed instructions are on his blog.
Design blogger Kelly Mindell, creator of StudioDIY.com, customized and revitalized an old dog bed by ironing on emoji shapes that she cut out of iron-on fabric.
“A huge part of the DIY movement is the ability to adapt and customize an idea to reflect your own personality or needs,” Mindell says.
“Since emojis are all made of simple shapes like circles, half-moons and hearts, it’s easy to take the concept and change it as desired.”
Homemade pet beds can be practical alternatives to store-bought ones.
“Dog beds are not inexpensive,” says Lavigne, who designed his project to fit a standard bed pillow, which can be tossed in the washing machine when necessary.
A DIY pet bed also can be made to match the style of your home.
“For small dogs and cats, you can even upcycle an existing piece of furniture to create a side table that does double duty as a snug spot for curling up,” says Smith.
Lavigne’s project can be adapted by using different paint or stain colors, or choosing to distress the wood for a “shabby chic” look.
Safety, of course, is more important than how the bed looks.
“Be sure to make your pet’s comfort and safety the top priority,” Smith says. “Ensure your finished bed is extra cozy with no protruding nails or splintered wood.”
Also, make sure before you begin a project that it’s right for your particular pet, keeping the animal’s health in mind.
“For instance, an arthritic older dog may benefit from a memory foam mattress while a padded window perch may be the best cat-nap spot for a curious kitten,” says Smith.