From the October/November 2023 Issue  

Woof Worthy

Writer Ren Miller  |  Photographer Raquel Langworthy  |  Designer Claudia Harvey and Kristine Nograles-Hugo  |  Location Somerset County, NJ  |  Styling Deirdre King

Renovation makes way for a dog bath in a Somerset County home

The phrase “lucky dog” has never seemed more appropriate than when a Somerset County, New Jersey, couple decided to upgrade their mudroom/laundry room to better accommodate their four-legged family members.

Rebel, the homeowner’s Australian Shepherd, surveys the new dog bath/laundry room. A new stackable washer and dryer allowed room for the dog bath (far left), a generous amount of cabinetry and a rollout cart for laundry supplies (to the right of the washer and dryer and not visible in the photo).

The room, measuring 8 by 10½ feet, was originally dominated by a side-by-side washer and dryer. It also had a small storage cabinet, linoleum flooring and a dated red-orange color palette. It was badly in need of an update, but then came the pandemic. While quarantined, homeowners Kristine Nograles-Hugo and her husband, Vincent Hugo, both medical doctors and biopharmaceutical executives, explored side interests that ended up influencing the redesign of the space. He studied for a dog training license and she earned an interior design certificate.

Nograles-Hugo had ideas for the mudroom/laundry room and reached out to Claudia Harvey, president, founder and lead designer at Wydian Kitchens & Design in Branchburg, to help bring them to life. (The project included the adjacent kitchen, which is not included in this story.) “The Hugos wanted to add a dog bath to accommodate grooming,” Harvey says. “We designed space for a full-size stackable washer and dryer, and that allowed room for the dog bath.” The stainless steel bath has a pullout step and a door that opens so dogs too large to lift into the sink can walk right up into it. Then the door is closed to contain water used during bathing and rinsing with the attached handshower. There’s also a shampoo rack, hair trap and plumbing drain hose. “Before, we would have to bathe the dogs outside or take them to a groomer in cold weather because we didn’t have space indoors,” Nograles-Hugo says. “Renovating this room made a ton of difference now that we can do it indoors.”

The plaid-patterned porcelain tile backsplash is owner Kristine Nograles-Hugo’s favorite thing about the room. Cubbies above the dog bath store towels and grooming supplies.

Harvey notes numerous other improvements, including additional built-in cabinetry. “Also, custom wainscoting on the opposite wall has hooks for jackets as well as dog leads and toys,” she says. A plaid-pattern porcelain backsplash tile brings in pattern (and is Nograles-Hugo’s favorite part of the space), as does hexagonal wood-look porcelain tile on the floor.

Cubbies with baskets above the dog bath hold towels, dog shampoo and other bathing supplies. The lower cabinet between the dog bath and washer and dryer provides storage and a quartz countertop for those all-important treats. A Lucite rod beneath an upper cabinet is a good place for hanging things to dry.

In a touching personal addition, Nograles-Hugo contacted an artist on the Etsy website and had portraits done of Morgan, a German Shepherd; Sergio, a miniature Schnauzer; Rebel, an Australian Shepherd; and another pet who has crossed the storied Rainbow Bridge. The portraits hang above the wainscoting.

Portraits of the owners’ four-legged family hang above the wainscoting. Brass hooks — some topped with sculpted heads of different dog breeds — hold leads and toys used on daily walks.

“Laundry is never fun, but it’s better when you have a pretty room to work in,” Nograles-Hugo says. “Also, my husband likes taking care of the dogs so he’s having a ball in that room.”

“I connected with Claudia on Instagram, and it’s the best thing ever to have worked with her and her team,” Nograles-Hugo says. Harvey is equally pleased: “It was a nice project all around because we all became good friends.”