Mid-century dining space for a cat

My dear readers, we’re finally getting to the point where we’re thinking about decorating projects in the house! I think we’re settled in enough now (it’ll be 4 months this week) that we can actually start to contemplate things like painting, curtains, and all the dozens of other little household projects around our 1955 ranch.

One issue that needs to be resolved in our kitchen is a place for our cat, Dinah, to eat. Her eating area has always been on the kitchen counter, both in the condo and now in our house. This drives me crazy. It’s kind of gross, and also takes up a lot of counter space, but it’s been necessary to keep it elevated away from our dog, Pia.

I’ve been searching and searching for ideas that could work and be vaguely mid-century or at the very least not horrible looking, and always coming up short. I thought a little vintage stool would work, something like kids use to step up to the sink, but they’re just too small for food bowls and a cat butt.

{Source: frostline on Etsy}

It really needs to be something tall enough that Pia can’t reach (so something like this is cute but not suitable), but big enough that Dinah can jump up on it and not knock over her dishes. I’ve been looking for months for ideas, and finally just decided I think I need to make my own! And if it’s the right height, I may even be able to slide Pia’s food dishes underneath it, for sort of a double decker pet dining area, which would mean we don’t have to have two separate spaces devoted to that. That would be pretty nice as it’s a small kitchen.

Here’s my plan: decide what size table top I want. Cut a board to size, sand it, and attach hairpin legs of the appropriate height (I’m thinking at least 12″ off the ground). Perhaps ordered from here, or I’ll find a vintage set, like these:

{Source: CoMod on Etsy}

Then paint the top in a fun kitschy design and seal it. (More on that in a minute.)

So just where will this kitty dining area go? In the eat-in area of the kitchen. This may be one of your first real chances to see it as I’m not sure I’ve really photographed it before. Of course, this is completely without decoration so far.

And now an annotated version! You can see some of the plans we have for this space. What I didn’t annotate below is to the right of the hutch on the wall will be a newly-acquired shelf for teacups and saucers (a new collection I’ve just started, squee!), and to the left on the wall will be a yet-to-be-acquired shelf for salt and pepper shakers.

You can see the cat dining area will be on the ground to the left of the hutch.

Do you like our ceiling fan? I hate that we need them but we desperately do since we get no cross-ventilation, so when my dad was visiting he replaced two of the ugly ones the house came with and added one in our bedroom. Yes, I’d rather look at an awesome mid-century chandelier, but I also want to be comfortable. 🙂 I had to look at about 100 ceiling fans before finding this one, but in the end I think it’s actually pretty nice above our dinette table. I think it helps that it has lighter blades than you usually see.

Oh wait, let’s go on another tangent for a moment here… there’s one more photo for you, which will definitely be the subject of discussion on the blog in the future. See our nice, light-colored baseboards and trim? (Though to clarify, what you’re seeing as ‘baseboards’ on this wall is our crazy 50s baseboard diffuser for our heating system that no one else ever seems to have seen anywhere.) All the trim and baseboards are painted. That’s right, that means it’s wood… painted to look like wood.

(Don’t mind the ugly dustbuster in the background, I need a less obtrusive place for it.)

We know some of the trim was painted white in the kitchen at some point in the past (they didn’t bother to paint the baseboards behind the stove and fridge), and now it’s painted to look like wood. I know, it’s crazy! Stranger still, a few pieces of trim in the house are indeed stained wood in a similar tone, not painted. So I’m not sure if those are original or were replaced at some point in time.

It really is a conundrum for us. We’re totally not going to strip all the trim in the entire house, but it definitely needs major touching up. And while I like it ‘wood tone’ I’m not sure I can in good conscious paint it… well, paint it tan-ish. Does anyone really do that (other than the previous homeowners)? So the discussion on whether or not to just paint it white will come up in the future (and of course will involve headaches like what to do about the back door, broom closet door and all the trim around the pocket door between the kitchen and hall). Stay tuned for more on that subject…

Anyway, back to the cat! I’m debating on what to paint on the top of the table. Overall, the kitchen colors will be aqua and red. The walls will be aqua, and eventually that part under the chair rail will feature a Bradbury and Bradbury wallpaper (though for the time being, it will probably be painted a darker shade of aqua than the upper walls… we may save the wallpaper for a year or so down the road when we do a bit of renovation and re-do our counter tops and the tile walls in the kitchen). There will be colorful cafe curtains on the big picture window, and lots of fun and colorful things on the walls.

Right now, I’m considering trying to reproduce something like one of the designs from vintage Dutch decals that I’ve been loving so much lately. I adore this girl in particular, although I know the table will be more of a rectangle shape, so it couldn’t be this alone:

{Source: Tias listing, via Pinterest}

But then I’ve seen lots of great designs that have a mid-century vibe that are inspiring me, like this cat illustration I spied today on Pinterest via Ruth from No Pattern Required. (Incidentally, you should totally check out more of these on Orange You Lucky, her illustrations are fabulous!)

{Source: Orange You Lucky, via Pinterest}

I’m looking at works of mid-century illustrators I love like Mary Blair and Jim Flora, and finding new illustrators I’m enjoying like Jim Whittamore and Sol Linero. All to decorate a mid-century inspired dining area for our cat. Pretty funny!

I haven’t bought the supplies yet for this project and need to think pretty seriously about the design, as it needs to be something simple enough that I can draw it onto the table in pencil and then paint it in, kind of like a paint-by-number, as I’m very detail-oriented but I’m not a natural painter.

What do you think? Crazy idea? Fun? Any suggestions to make the perfect mid-century dining space for Dinah? What would you do?

Filed: The Golly Ranch House

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Golly, 25 Comments!

  • Hi Tasha,
    compliments on the house, I can suggest this store


    and this


    and good job

    bye Debora


  • I love that you’re putting so much thought into this! We currently let one of our cats eat on the bar and yeah, it’s pretty horrible. So I’m right there with ya! I can’t wait to see what you come up with. I can tell it’s going to be good by your brainstorming here. I recently saw a really cool homemade pet food feeding station but for the life of me, I can’t remember where. If only I’d kept a picture of what they did! I really like your eat-in area and the fan too. Yeah, none of us really want to have fans but yours is one of the best ones that I’ve seen! I wish I knew what to tell you on that molding…that IS a bit of a conundrum! Either/or…I’m glad that you’re finally getting to the fun decorating part!


  • I’d love to see your cat bowl table when you’re done. I have a similar problem. I have a cat and a chihuahua who loves to eat the cat’s food. So I found a midcentury piano bench, and I keep the cat food up there. It’s a little big for my kitchen, and not ideal though.


  • Well, when my mom had cats and a dog the only place in the house to feed the cats was on the top of the closed lid(top loader and not running/turned off) of the washing machine. The cats did not seem to mind and it keeped the dog at bay.


    • Unfortunately the washing machine and dryer are in a portion of the basement the cat isn’t allowed in (she’s insane and would totally find a way to get into the sump pump or furnace or back into the drop ceiling, where she managed to get to once) so aa it has to be upstairs. lol


    • Oh, dear. We can’t have that happen (my mom’s washing machine was in the kitchen). Can’t wait to see what you come up with.


  • We feed our cat on top of our washing machine too. We put her bowls on top of a cute oilcloth that acts as a placemat. We have a couple of plastic containers lined up as steps to help her get up there. It’s the only place the dogs can’t reach.


  • Have you considered feeding the cat in the bathroom? We free feed our cat and have two locations: one in the kitchen and one in the guest bath. We don’t have a lot of visitors so that works out great for us. My in-laws also feed their cats on the linen cabinet that they have.You could also re-purpose an old sewing table to fit your needs. I’m in the middle of doing that. I’ll be turned into a small vanity.

    I can’t wait to see what your kitchen looks like when you’re done. I love the idea of a wall decal. I’ve had my eye on one but our landlords won’t allow it.


  • Sounds like such a fun project! I found this cute little table on the Chicago craigslist, http://chicago.craigslist.org/chc/fuo/3161221813.html don’t know if it fits the cats butt, but thought it was worth mentioning 🙂



  • Your kitchen has some good bones to it already, and I can’t wait to see the amazing make-up over you’ve got planned to help dress it up further (and better). Though, in general I’m not a hug fan (pun kinda intended) of them, your current ceiling fan isn’t too bad. The neutral hues would help it blend it fairly well with 40s-60s decor. We had a ceiling fan in our bedroom when we moved in here a few months ago, but I yanked it out at lightning speed, because I had always wanted a chandelier in my bedroom and so we did just that. To help with air circulation we just picked up a window mounted AC unit from Walmart that’s kept out of sight when not in use by some blinds.

    Best of luck with all your renos!

    ♥ Jessica


  • We have moved our dogs food several times, first it was in the kitchen but he would drip water all over and the tile gets so slick we would wipe out constantly. Now he is in the laundry room. That seems like a good place, you can also just buy one of those food trays that are built into a table and then decorate that, it may be a lot easier. The fan looks nice, we have one over our dining room table that has got to go, it’s white with plastic blades, it’s so tacky.


  • We, too, designed our kitchen around the feeding areas for Boswell and Archie. After lots of trial and area we learned to feed them as far apart as possible while still being in the same room for dinner. You’re a very caring pet parent to take such care in planing your pets’ feeding arrangements. And I really like your ceiling fan – it’s got a retro look. Here in Florida ceiling fans are necessary to prevent obscenely high AC bills.


  • Love the idea of the feeding center! Just an idea, but rather than painting, how about wallpapering it with cute vintage wallpaper or covering it in cute vintage fabric, then applying poly-resin over it? I’ve never put poly resin over fabric, but I can’t think of a reason why it wouldn’t work. There are so many adorable Dutch fabrics out there that would probably achieve just the look you’re going for. Or, you could upholster the top with Mexican oilcloth. Also cute. Can’t wait to see how it turns out!


  • i love that idea! my cats food sits on two of our dinette chairs, since we don’t use the dining room table often, but i might need to build them a cute little mid century perch! what about doing an actual paint by number design? of a cat or something like that. you could use a project to get the image on the table top. i know whatever you pick will be cute.
    and by the way, where is your ceiling fan from? I need to replace the UGLY one in our living room, but i haven’t been able to find one that i like at all, and yours looks great in that space!


    • Thanks! We had one of those hideous old white ones before. I can’t find the style on their web site, but it’s a Harbor Breeze one from Lowe’s, and the blades can be used on a light side like we did, or a darker side. The light is a little odd because it takes candelabra base bulbs, only 40 watt each max, sp ot great light output but still worth it for a decent look!


  • what a great idea for the cats dining area.your kitchen is cute.Can’t wait to see all the re decorating.


  • It’s always a fun adventure to be able to decorate a house… choosing every thing is one of the best part of the work…. but I don’t like to live in dust due to works in progress…

    I share some pictures of my kitchen in my last post: http://lostin1950.blogspot.fr/2012/07/a-perfect-50s-style.html

    Dying to see the result!!!!


  • Since we are only a dog and rabbit family, I have no suggestions on the cat front! But I love your plans for the dining room! I’m especially drooling over that hutch you have; I’ve been on the hunt for one for years, but had to stop when we moved to a much smaller place (I realized this house could take no more furniture after I started having to send pieces to my parent’s house to be stored for the interim… Bah!). I still fantasize about booting something else in the house just so I can have one though… haha!


  • Fabulous idea! I love Jim Flora too! Can’t wait to see when you start decorating. I’m having a resurge in finishing off soon, I’m planning at the moment, starting again soon, so much hard work but always worth it :o)


  • so where’s the “after” photo! I’d love to do the big reveal on my blog! Living Room too!


    • Somewhat uneventfully but perfect: the “after” ended up being a red 50s Cosco bar cart we got cheap. Works great, has 2 other shelves for use (so far mostly cat-looking-out-window use). I’ll email you soon about the living room, we need to get a few more things taken care of (we’e been moving slow!) before we can consider a true reveal. Though I should post a halfway-there mini-reveal… ;D


  • […] about six months after we moved in I wrote a post about trying to find a good place for our cat to eat, and never did a follow up! We solved it by getting a vintage Cosco bar cart. We picked it up cheap […]


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