Let Me In- Kate Benjamin

I’m so very excited to bring you this Let Me In post! This all started back in June or July of 2013 .

We were invited to a memorial service for a cat named Noodle, so of course we went. At this service, Noodle’s mom Steph said “Liz, you need to meet Kate! She likes cats and design. Kate, you need to meet Liz, she likes cats and design!” and the rest was history.

Kate told us about her website Hauspanther.com and gave us a card. That week, I checked out her website and then also lurked her Facebook (of course). Aside from being totally impressed by her website and the products she had on it (Kate is kind of a big deal), I was blown away by the photos of her condo that she had on her Facebook. There were before and after pics, which I love love, and white carpet (GASP!), golds, bronzes, cats…

I had to get in there.

Kate Benjamin

Cat Lady!

Who are you? What do you do?

I have a kind of unique job. I call myself a “Cat Style Expert”. I help people live stylishly with cats. I believe that just because you live with cats you don’t have to give up your sense of style — your home doesn’t have to look like a daycare center or a cat shelter. I’m working to bust the crazy cat lady stereotype by showing people beautiful cat scratchers, towers, perches, beds and other items. I encourage cat owners to integrate these things into their homes in a way that makes both the cats and the humans happy. I run the website Hauspanther.com, an online resource for well-designed cat products and feline-friendly interior design. The site also includes other fun design-related cat art, photography, and fashion. I also design and manufacture a line of high-end cat beds, scratchers, and toys that are available through the Hauspanther online shop.

What made you decide to move into the residence that you did? Location? Potential?

When I purchased my condo, I was specifically looking for a place that would allow me to add on a catio, a completely enclosed outdoor area designed for cats. I also wanted something that was a bit older and that had some retro charm, plus I wanted to be in Central Phoenix. When I first saw this condo I just knew it was right, and I didn’t know it at the time, but later found out that it was designed by Haver, Nunn and Jensen, a nice surprise. It has a wonderful flow and the high ceilings in the living room make it feel open and airy. The best part was the patio in the back. It was already walled in, but it wasn’t completely enclosed and there were old rotting beams overhead that needed to be replaced anyway, so I figured it had great potential. My other favorite thing is the original wallpaper from 1971. The living room wall is covered in a gorgeous chocolate and gold marbled design that would cost a fortune to install new. I had to have it!

What renovations/changes have you made?

When I first moved in, I figured I’d just paint and replace the carpet, but of course there was a bit of scope creep on the project. I did paint and put in new carpet, but I also tore out the kitchen, replaced the paneling in the guest bedroom with drywall, added recessed lighting, and tiled the bathroom floors, along with dozens of other small things that needed to be updated or repaired. About a year after everything was settled, I tackled the catio, replacing the rotting beams with a sturdy new roof structure and sealing in the space with metal mesh. The cats were very excited when they were finally allowed to use the catio.

 

What is your favorite part of your place, and why?

I really love the flow of the space and the light open feeling it has. With the addition of the catio, there’s ample room for my boyfriend and me to live comfortably, even with as many cats as we have (eleven at the moment). I’ve added cat climbing shelves, scratchers, and beds throughout the house, of course, so the whole place is completely “Catified”. One of my favorite features is the shelf above my desk. There are two step perches on either side that allow the cats to easily access the upper shelf so they can be nearby while I’m working without actually being on the desk (although, there is a cat on my desk as I write this).

If money were no object, what is one thing you would renovate or purchase for your place?

Living with this many cats (I only had four when I moved in) makes it impossible to have carpet. The biggest project on the to-do list is to replace the carpet with hard floors to make cleaning easier. If money were no object, I’d have terrazzo floors installed. They would be beautiful, durable and easy to clean.

Biggest pet peeve of your place? 

As with most older condos, there isn’t a lot of storage space. I’ve added some large storage cabinets in the office, but my best solution is that I have a 2,000 sq ft design studio in downtown Phoenix, so all the clutter can go there and I just have the basics at home.

Catio Before and After
Catio Before & After
One of my favorite parts about Kate’s place was the fact that it is totally focused on her cats, but you wouldn’t know that at first glance. The scratch posts, lounging shelves, toys, etc. do not scream “I LOVE CATS!” but rather elegantly give off the vibe that yes, this is a cat’s (or many cats’) home, and if you do not like it, you can promptly leave.
Dining Area
Look! It’s a cat in a bowl! Actually it’s The Cat’s Contour Ceramic Cat Bed from Little Cat Designs
cat in a bowl
How could any cat want to live anywhere else but here? Check out the awesome perch, called the Curvynest by Catswall – I totally want one of these for our cats!
Curvynest
Kate Benjamin kitchen
Kate Benjamin cat
Kate Benjamin wallpaper

That wallpaper.

Kate Benjamin home

Kate Benjamin office

Kate Benjamin cat

Kate Benjamin cat

This was my favorite cat out of them all. But don’t tell!

Kate Benjamin cat

Kate Benjamin cat

The feeling at Kate’s place was warm and comfortable. The creams, bronzes, golds, and wood tones are effortless mixed to create a sort of timeless elegance. Many of the pieces are vintage, but the monochromatic palate makes for a super modern mood. And of course, having cats all around was kind of my dream come true.

I couldn’t post our photos or interview with Kate before now, because she was being interviewed for The New York Times, which you can check out here. Kate was so gracious to have us over, answer all of our questions, help the cats pose for photos, and overall just be a really wonderful person! I have to add that while all of this was going on, Kate was going through treatment for breast cancer, never once complained or used that as an excuse (though she very fairly could have) and even took time out of her busy schedule to meet with me and help me with my blog! I can’t say enough about what a truly kind and generous person Kate is, and that I’m so happy to have met her! She deserves every bit of success that she gets, and I know there is so much more to come for her.

Please be sure to check out all of Kate’s links below:

 
 
All photos by Esther, www.estherruthphotography.com
except the Catio Before & After, by Kate Benjamin.

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