Home design takes the needs of family dogs into account

December 20, 2008


Winston-Salem Journal

Visitors to the home of Rex Welton and Brad Moss get a hint of what is inside when they pull up to the redbrick house and ring the bell. They see a handsome facade and hear the excited barks of Josh and Cassie, the two dogs-in-residence.

When they step inside, they see an elegant, dog-centric house.

They see dog prints on chairs and on wallpaper. They see a cookie jar shaped like a basset hound and a portrait of a dog in a smoking jacket. Portraits of Josh, a Pekingese, and Cassie, a Pomeranian mix, hang on a wall of the mudroom, along with one of Jenna, their late Labrador mix. Shelves hold photos and the ashes of past pets, and a bench with a hinged top provides storage for dog food.

Welton and Moss had a window seat built in the office to give the dogs a view outdoors and placed a love seat at the foot of one bed to give the dogs a leg up. When storms make the dogs frantic, Welton said, he and Moss take them to a big, glassed-in shower in a secondary bathroom, where they run a venting fan and a sound machine to muffle the crash of thunder. Any accidents that occur can be easily cleaned up.


Welton is the director of donor and community relations for the Forsyth Humane Society, and Moss is the pharmacist in charge at a CVS.

A few years ago, after living for years in an older house, the Winston-Salem, N.C., men decided to shop for a new place. They looked and looked, but every time they went home, they realized that the houses they had seen didn't measure up.

But the old house had its flaws. Small rooms. A huge yard that required lots of mowing. A basement that had flooded twice. Welton wanted a smaller yard with a fishpond. Moss wanted a big bathroom and a walk-in closet.

They eventually decided to move downtown, where they frequent restaurants and often visit with friends. They put down a deposit on a corner condo. But Welton's mother, Linda Welton, reminded them that although city dogs can be happy, moving downtown with dogs can be a life-changing experience. Instead of merely opening a door and letting the dogs into a fenced yard, they would have to walk them, day and night.

Finally, Linda Welton suggested that they build. Neither had built a house before, but Welton's parents had built four. Leaning heavily on her advice, as well as tips from other relatives and friends, they built their two-story house and moved two years ago into a neighborhood of luxury cluster homes. With their savings and proceeds from the sale of a family-owned business, they were able to spend $700,000 on their 3,900-square-foot house.

Welton got his small yard and fishpond.

"The other yard took 2-1/2 hours to mow with a push mower," Welton said. "This one takes less than five minutes."

The fishpond, with its waterfall and population of goldfish, minnows and koi, proved so enticing that it attracted an egret. The fishing line stretched across it, which disrupts the egret's landing space, doesn't show at night when the lights are on, he said.

He and Moss can enjoy the fishpond from their brick patio, where a ceiling fan turns in hot weather and an outdoor fireplace crackles in winter's chill. A pot in antique brass holds kindling.

Moss got his spacious bathroom, decorated in the same creamy tones as the rest of the house, and the adjacent walk-in closet that he designed.

Both got an energy-efficient house, heated and cooled by a heat pump with Puron and insulated with cellulose, thanks to their builder's advice. Their utility bills run less than half of what they did at their smaller house, Welton said.

They customized the house to suit their tastes.

They closed off a door that would have led from the foyer into the office because the spot was suitable for a chest and mirror. They left a tub out of the master bath in favor of a big shower and cabinets with pullout hampers -- one for clothes to be cleaned, and one for clothes to be washed. A pop-up ironing board hides in a drawer.

They nixed the bathtub, Welton said, because "neither one of us has taken a bath in 24 years." They put in plumbing for a tub beneath the cabinets so that future owners can install one if they wish.

Their lifestyle also dictated turning the planned dining room, connected to the kitchen with a butler's pantry, into a den.

"We're not dining-room-kind of people," Welton said. "We're more cookouts and pizza." The den, although decorated with dog pillows, dog prints and a dog figurine, is off-limits to Josh and Cassie. Even the pattern on the leopard-print pillows looks like paw prints.

Welton and Moss furnished the powder room with such formal touches as an antique chest used as a vanity, a lamp and a candelabra. The master bedroom, done in restful tones of blue and cream, shows an Asian flair in the prints on bed pillows.

Although they love the house now, they found that all the decisions that had to be made during the building process became overwhelming.

"At one point, it was so stressful we were questioning if we did the right thing," Welton said. Then their kitchen designer, Sandy Jones, brought them the three-dimensional plans for their kitchen. "That made it all worthwhile," Welton said.

The kitchen, with its furniture-style cabinets and black-granite countertops, combines function with smart looks.

The house flows, both inside and out, and can accommodate big crowds for parties. For Moss' 50th birthday, the guests numbered more than 100.

And Josh and Cassie stayed snug in their own party room.

Janice Gaston can be reached at Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service,

The Herald-Mail Articles