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Published September 11, 2010, 10:53 AM

Gone to the dogs

There is a squirrel on the front lawn. Panzer, a two-year-old Doberman, hops onto the cushioned bench he believes was made just for him and stares intently at the lawn marauder. After a few seconds of staring, he emits a low growl. He is having fun.

By: Story and photography by Rebecca Osterlund, Living North Magazine

There is a squirrel on the front lawn.

Panzer, a two-year-old Doberman, hops onto the cushioned bench he believes was made just for him and stares intently at the lawn marauder. After a few

seconds of staring, he emits a low growl. He is having fun.

This cushioned window bench exemplifies just one of the many ways Heather Larson, an interior designer and pet lover, has incorporated pet-friendly spaces throughout her home.

The Larson family consists of Heather, her husband,her 22-year-old son, and two lovable pooches. Panzer is the baby of the family and Libby, a 12-year-old black lab, is the more mature voice of reason on the dog side

of the household.

Built in 1909, the Larsons’ home is located in the Woodland area of Duluth. When the family moved into the home six years ago, Heather was excited. Though she’d owned her own interior design business for several years, it was her chance to make a mark on her own living space. “It’s the first time I could do a comprehensive remodel in my own home,” says Heather. “I do it for so many of my clients.”

Encompassing more than 6000 square feet, the home boasts six bedrooms, four bathrooms and two home offices for Heather and her husband. The Larsons took the bones of the home and did a complete remodel to suit their needs.

“Helping people understand their style is a big part of what I do,”

remarks Heather. “The majority of my business is to identify and incorporate clients’ lifestyles into their homes and I’ve been able to

identify ours.”

Comfortable, warm colors invite the eye from the moment one steps through the front door, immediately evoking a casual but elegant, homey feel. A Doberman statue – purchased before Panzer became a member of the family – greets visitors.

When designing her own home, Heather made sure to meet not only the needs of her human family, but also considered the needs of her animal family members as well.

“It’s important they have their spaces so they feel they’re part of the world,” Heather states. She cleverly created functional spaces for her pets and hid the radiators that are so common in older homes. Panzer’s favorite window seat encloses one radiator and another built-in bench hides the heater on the first floor landing.

Heather also thought about the materials needed to create an inviting environment for animals. Wood flooring throughout the home helps Heather not to worry about muddy doggy (or human) feet. “I always say don’t bother taking your shoes off – the dogs don’t,” laughs Heather. She also used hand-knotted area rugs because of their durability and chose pet-friendly

fabrics for most of the furniture.

Both Panzer and Libby have specific spaces they love to call their own. Panzer is the more playful pooch and, in addition to squirrel watching, he loves the third floor landing where he can look into the woods and bark at deer. Libby, on the other hand, is more of a working gal. She warms the feet of the employees of Heather Ann Interiors, curling up under the desks of the in-home studio.

Heather truly integrated all the members of her family into her home and

she’s very happy with the results she’s achieved. “It really humbles you to

realize how many years this home has sheltered and raised so many families,” says Heather, who is the third owner of the home. “It’s been so great to bring it back to life.”

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