The Dog Dirt Dilemma

The following post was sponsored by Bissell.

I receive numerous questions on Instagram about how we manage the dirt and hair left behind by our pups, Stanlee and Sophee. How do we deal with it all in our white home? How do we keep the place so clean? Has our patience for it changed since having baby West?  

My first answer is always that there is dog hair and dirt everywhere. (While Sophee sheds very little, Stanlee sheds so much that it's a wonder he has a coat left at all.) Then my follow-up reply is that we simply have to vacuum daily, keep removable cushion covers on the couch, and wash our bed quilt constantly. While we'd figured out how to clean up the daily dirt, we'd yet to prevent it from occurring so intensely in the first place.

Frankly, we should bathe Stanlee and Sophee far more often than we do-- especially since we regularly take them to the beach and the dog park. But the last time we had the pups groomed here in LA it cost us around $120, and mildly traumatized them. Now that Adam and I are trying to save more of our income for West (and for some exciting plans here at the Cottage in the near future), we are searching for any way to cut back on spending. And since we're now both here at the Cottage all day long, it seems ridiculous to hire someone else to tackle a job that we could accomplish ourselves. While searching for a solution, BISSELL reached out to us with a product they suggested we try-- their BarkBath:

Overview: This is a self-contained, mess-free system, so you can use it inside if you don't have an outdoor space. Compared to bathing the pups in our stand-up shower (which always results in scratches all over my body and a killer backache) or washing them with the garden hose, this is extremely easy and FAR less messy. And it effectively reduces the dirt regularly entering our home in the first place. 

Usage: At first, Sophee was skeptical of the nozzle attached to the bath. So I put a treat on the head and presented it to her, and she quickly got over her fear. Stanlee, on the other hand, didn't mind the nozzle, but he jumped at the hum of the machine itself. Luckily there's a long hose attached to the bath, and once I put some distance between him and the device, he was fine with it all and loved the feeling of the nozzle on his coat. The bath and the de-shedding brush worked perfectly, and they cost nearly same price as one trip for two dogs to the groomer. Over time, this will save us money, along with the hassle of transporting the pups, and time spent cleaning more dirt from the cottage.

Storage: As always, we are cautious about bring any product we don't absolutely need into our tiny Cottage. But this bath fits easily alongside our suitcases and slippers under our bed. Given the hassle and money this will save us in the future, we're so glad we tried it, and that we now have it at the ready.

The Cottage Bath

Lately, we've received numerous requests for photos of the Cottage bath. While the room is actually larger than you might think, it's designed in a way that makes it tough to photograph, meaning we have very few images available:

I'm often asked how we keep the bathroom organized and uncluttered, given its small size. Here are some of my top tips:

  1. Only buy what you REALLY need:
    • I know this sounds basic, and it is. But controlling what you bring into your home is the best way to avoid accumulating clutter and wasting your money. We have ONE shampoo dispenser. ONE pet wash. ONE body wash. Etc. You don't have to come up with creative storage solutions when you don't have too much to store in the first place!
  2. Upcycle:
    • I keep my makeup in an old metal hardware drawer set that I found on ETSY (reference: photo #7). I spray-painted the box, applied liners to the base of each drawer, and used the original metal hardware organizers within the drawers to keep my palettes and tools separated and easy to find.  
  3. Functional decor:
    • If you have limited cabinet space, try organizing your must-have items (such as spare toilet paper, extra cotton, etc.) in containers that fit with your style-- that way you can keep them out on display as functional decor.  For example, we stash our extra bath goods in a white metal mop bucket from West Elm.
  4. Save counter space:
    • Limited surface space? Try organizing your jewelry in slim hardware drawers. They come in varying sizes and depths, and are easy to stash in cabinets and next to sink U-bends. I purchased one like this years ago, which I keep in the vanity in front of our spare towels and travel pouches. It not only saves us counter space, but it also saves us time. This organizer helps me expedite my out-the-door routine on a daily basis, as I rarely have to untangle chains, and I don't have to sift through pouches to find the item(s) I'm looking for.
  5. Purge:
    • Don't let expired bottles, nearly-empty beauty products, and samples you've never used clutter up your limited space. Routinely clean out your medicine cabinet and drawers. Donate extra products to your local community housing corp or homeless shelter. 
  6. DIY:
    • Save money and get creative! Try making your own racks and/or curtain rods. Instead of buying a standard metal towel rack, I opted to craft one of my own. All it required was jute twine, S hooks (to hang towels and accessories), screw eyes (to secure the unit into the ceiling), and a wooden branch I found at my sister's wedding in Idaho. My good friend Lindsay over at Casa Joshua Tree did the same thing while renovating her house in the desert, and look at how great it turned out:

Our bathroom is a little too long for a standard bathmat to cover the necessary floor space, but it's definitely too small for two throws or a larger area rug. I searched Etsy and easily found alternatives to typical bathmats that have all worked beautifully over the years.

Lastly, for some strange reason, there is a recent story circulating that claims the Cottage is a converted garage or guest unit. That is inaccurate. While our home has been updated over the decades, it has always been its own free-standing house, consisting of a main room (including a kitchen), a bedroom, and a bathroom. So no-- we did not have to add the bathroom to our home. The Cottage was one of four identical, neighboring houses built in the 1920s. Three of those four are still standing today. 

Photos by Whitney Leigh Morris & Monica Wang Photo