Style Expert

Brian Patrick Flynn’s Designer Dog Run

Thanks to clever outdoor products, handy dog supplies, a talented designer, and a well-thought-out design plan, a lackluster wasted space is now a low-maintenance, colorful place for dogs to play.

See (& shop!) the awesome results by Stylist Brian Patrick Flynn …


Unused space becomes a relaxing outdoor retreat for man and dog.

Over a three-day weekend, my team and I transformed this heavily shaded area into a colorful dog run, complete with shelter from rain or snow, low-maintenance faux grass that looks lush year-round and is easy to clean with a hose, a modern fence to complement my Mid-Century Modern house’s architecture, a dog-washing station and a super-cozy modern dog house.

It’s a place where my terrier, Gidget, and Corgi mix, Sebastian, can let themselves out through a dog door, bask in the sun, lay below shade, or get a full bath without tearing up my newly renovated bathrooms. Here’s how, over a three-day weekend, we transformed what was considered wasted space into the breakout star of my Mid-Century Modern Atlanta ranch. And, speaking of stars, my trees are now packed with what my canines consider A-list celebrities: birds and squirrels perched in their own little corner of forest.

When unsupervised, Gidget and Sebastian are confined to the dog run via a 38-inch-tall gate clad with the same material as the new modern fence. Prior to the buildout, I’d have to deal with cute little paws covered in not-so-cute Georgia clay. Clay looks great on walls, but not so much on sofas and bedding.

There are two ways to access the dog run: a small gate leading from the back yard and a 7-foot-tall gate leading out to the front yard. When guests arrive through the front yard, they’re instantly greeted by the bright green faux lawn before making their way up to my outdoor entertaining deck.

Use of graphics is an important element in exterior design. This is an excellent way to identify a space easily with a strong, silhouette-like shape. To bring Gidget and Sebastian’s personalities and presence into the space, we traced their silhouettes onto pressure-treated lauan, then cut them out with a jigsaw, painted them red, and attached to the half gate.

My house was built in 1955 and is classified as a “split-level ranch.” Staying true to its modern architecture was important, especially for resale purposes, so my team integrated a 7-foot gate clad with the same 1-foot-by-10-foot pine plank used along the fence. Once closed, this creates a seamless look, resulting in a more room-like feeling.


Twin Oaks Black & Tan Quilted Sunbrella Fabric Hammock

While knee-deep in the design process, I thought that if I was putting this much effort into creating a one-of-a-kind dog run, I should probably find a way to enjoy it myself. That being said, we hooked a hammock onto one of the trees as well as an adjacent post of my entertaining deck’s pergola.

Modern Amenities For Man’s Best Friend
Supply Station Medium

Baskets and glass jars keep the washing station organized.

The dog run is meant to double as a dog-washing station. To keep all supplies organized and within arm’s reach, my carpenter, Dan, constructed a wall-mounted shelving system made from pressure-treated pine and galvanized metal pipe. This will withstand the elements while providing an area to display plants and flowers when the space is not in use.

We keep the supply station stocked with freshly laundered towels, containers with treats and bones, and baskets to hold squeaky toys. Have you ever stepped on a squeaky toy unexpectedly? Let me tell you something: rubber and plastic cheeseburgers hurt way more than you’d think.

To bring water out to the dog-washing station, we used a solar shower, which can be used as a free-standing unit with its attached base or mounted to the side of a house or fence.A dog washer attachment is a simple way to turn any shower, indoor or outdoor, into a dog-washing station.

After experimenting with different ways to use the solar shower for canine purposes, we found that a simple, galvanized metal tub works best. To fill it up easily, use a dog bath attachment, which redirects water from the shower head and into a hand-held dog washer. Add dog-washing soap to the tub and KAZAAM! Clean dog.

Narrow spaces can be made to feel wider and larger with a few designer tricks. The dog run spans the entire south side of my house, which is only 9 feet wide by 26 feet long. To open up the dog run to my 1/4-acre back yard and make it feel spacious, we installed a mirror along the fence. Now, it feels more open and airy, thanks to the trees and back yard reflected in the glass.

I’m admittedly addicted to marathons of reality TV, especially when housewives are involved. Gidget and Sebastian have a similar addiction, except instead of screaming matches at dinner parties and girlfriends’ trips to Bermuda, they enjoy looking at birds and squirrels doing nothing. To give them entertainment, we suspended fire engine red Squirrel-Be-Gone bird feeders from the trees, which attracted birds and squirrels alike in less than an hour. In order to ensure no actual contact between spectators and subjects, we hung them at least 6 feet above the ground.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from having dogs, it’s that most simply will not pee in the rain. While Sebastian couldn’t care less about water, Gidget needs no more than a tiny drop of water on the tip of her ear to make a beeline back inside the house. To add shelter from rain showers, we installed a shade sail over the center of the dog run.


Precision Outback Colonial Manor for Dogs

Short and sweet: I wanted a super-cool dog house for Gidget which coordinated well with my darkly painted, gray-and-brown Southern house, so I got one. The end.

And that’s that! After three days, some clever purchases, and the use of simple outdoor materials, Gidget and Sebastian now have their own outdoor space that’s easy to clean, comfy to hang out in, and just as colorful and packed with personality as they are. Squirrel!

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Brian Patrick Flynn, HGTV designer/producer; Decor Demon

Dig the look? Read about all of Brian’s amazing space makeovers here.

1 Comment

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  1. Chris Lopez

    Hi Brian, I wanted to know the name of the gray paint you used for your gates and fence if possible.

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