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All dog owners have experienced the “it’s too late” moment. Your pup comes running through the back door after a whirl around the yard, and before you even have time to think: Should I check his feet?, the living room rug is peppered with muddy paw prints. The only logical next step is to reluctantly drag your pooch into your bathroom shower with you—and nobody’s happy about that. Luckily there is one small laundry room (or mudroom) renovation that can spare everyone the stress: building a dog-washing station. 

Having a dedicated grooming setup in your home sounds like a luxury, but it’s actually a practical addition that doesn’t soak up a ton of space. Example A: Birmingham, Alabama–based design blogger Leslie Davis was able to squeeze one into her 10-by-6-foot laundry room, right next to the stacked washer and dryer, with no problem. Ahead, get the lowdown on this game-changing update that’ll keep you and your pup on good terms. 

The Dimensions 

In order to still fit a small countertop area for folding clothes and a custom-built drying rack in her narrow space, Davis mapped out a plan for her dog wash that took advantage of every square inch. The structure’s base measures 43 inches wide and 18 inches high, making it totally suitable for her Irish Doodle, Freddie, to comfortably jump in and move around. The side and back walls are 27 inches high. “I wish I could say he loves this addition to our laundry room, but he does not,” she says. “He does, however, love going for hikes. This is where we end up afterward, for a good foot washing at a minimum.”

The Finishes

Go ahead and splurge on textured zellige tiles for your own shower and focus instead on affordable subway options (Home Depot sells versions starting under $2 per square foot) and mosaic penny tiles. The latter (as seen in designer Ami McKay’s laundry room, above) are inexpensive and easy to keep clean. Davis opted for a similar-looking tile for the base of her shower, while the walls are swathed in an unpolished stone. Another way to keep costs low? Cap off the entry ledge with leftover surface material from a past project (kitchen and bathroom renovations often leave you with surplus scraps!). 

The Mood

It takes time to get your pup squeaky-clean, so make the room one you want to be in. Dina Bandman’s soothing example revolves around de Gournay’s hand-painted A Thousand Li of Rivers and Mountains wallpaper (the Delft-inspired colorway led to the glossy navy 2-by-8 bath tiles from Country Floors). The bathing zone was designed for ease: You can sit on the wide ledge while holding your dog with one hand and hosing her down with the other.