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A Rabbit Hutch with a Designer’s Touch

by Quelcy Kogel

A Rabbit Hutch with a Designer's Touch via Design*Sponge

Recently, I spent a long weekend unplugging in the woods. I loved the tiny cabin, the time away, the lack of wifi and spending quality time with my significant other. However, (and maybe don’t tell my boyfriend this) what filled me with a joy like no other was watching my dog Julep be her happiest self. She ran through the woods freely, with a smile on her panting face, and she swam in the lake with the relentless work ethic that only a herding dog could bring to fetch. I felt like I was finally returning a fraction of the joy Julep brings me.

Pets provide us with unconditional love and infinite joy, and it’s our job as their humans to make sure they live their best lives. We owe it to our furry friends to meet their needs and to try to understand their means of communication. However, that doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice the style of our homes in the process. It’s possible to meet our pets’ needs in style. That’s exactly what Nicole and Steven Shutlz did for their eight-year-old Holland Lop named Eames. After all, with a name like Eames, that bun needed his own pad with modernist sensibilities. Below, Nicole shares tips and insights for creating a rabbit hutch that you and your rabbit will love! —Quelcy

Photography by Nicole Shultz 

Image Above: Looking at Eames’ adorable face and his stylish hutch, it could be very tempting to adopt a bunny immediately, but Nicole wants everyone to think carefully before adding a rabbit to their families. She says, “Eames is a joy in our lives but a ton of work. I’d like to point anyone interested in getting a pet rabbit to House Rabbit Society. There are a ton of misconceptions about bunny ownership out there. Rabbits are a 10-year commitment and are so much more than a cute, furry novelty you keep in a cage.”  

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If you’re a longtime member of the D*S community, you might remember Nicole brought us her original DIY project for an IKEA hack rabbit hutch. Since then, Nicole and Steven have upgraded Eames’ bunny pad. They built the next iteration from scratch, based on elements from his old hutch that worked well and updated those that didn’t. “It’s used in very much the same way as his old hutch: a place to keep his litter boxes, a place for him to be left alone, and a place to keep him out of trouble at night. Lastly, we store all of his food and supplies behind the two sliding doors at the top of the new hutch.”

 

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“Rabbits are intelligent and loving, can be litter trained, and really flourish as house pets. Many people let their trained rabbits have free range of their bunny-proofed homes, but every bunny needs a space to call their own. Some place they can hide, relax, or let you know that they, ‘would like you very much to stop brushing them please right now, treats?’ Their enclosure should be a welcoming space, and the more room you can provide, the better. All rabbits need ample time out of their hutch, but think of it like this: less out time equals larger hutch.”

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“Having a two-story hutch is a nice way of bringing your rabbit closer to you without having to get on his or her level. While sitting on the ground is the perfect place to hang out with your bun, Eames loves demanding pets and treats from his second story lookout.”
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Nicole advises, “Avoid enclosures that have wire bottoms. Rabbits don’t have pads on their feet like cats and dogs, and constant exposure to this type of surface can cause a painful condition called ‘sore hocks.’ While wire may seem convenient for cleaning, providing your rabbit with a litter box is a much simpler and safer solution.” She also warns, “Rabbits’ teeth grow constantly, so they have to chew lots of hay to keep them filed down. With that in mind, try to keep exposed wood in your hutch to a minimum. The interior walls of Eames’ hutch are covered in tile. We chose a black, round penny tile for the floors, and white subway for the walls. Eames enjoys the cool surface, and it makes cleaning quick and easy.”

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Nicole and Steven designed this hutch to resemble a simple cabinet. “We kept the shape and features mostly simple, but we used wood slats to create a pattern on each side, directly inspired by the work of Ariele Alasko.

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“The perforated sheet metal on Eames’ hutch is over 50% open, but we almost never keep both doors of the hutch closed. Two exceptions being these photographs, and when we have a young kiddo over and don’t want Eames to be poked or prodded.”

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“Rabbit entertainment comes easy in the form of anything and everything cardboard. They also enjoy throwing baby toys around, and figuring out puzzle games with hidden treats. At the end of the day, your rabbit’s home base should make them feel safe and happy. The time and energy you spend with your rabbit will be rewarded with years of wonderful companionship.”

If you’ve fallen for little Eames, you can follow more of his adventures on his Instagram account.

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Comments

  • I love the idea of a rabbit and constantly think about getting one, especially with the local shelter begging for fosters! I couldn’t imagine keeping one inside permanently though, since they can get pretty smelly! Did anyone comment on that at all?

    • As a current bun owner, their litter box only gets smelly when it needs to be changed out. We change ours ever couple of days to keep the house smelling fresh.
      Unless you live in a warm area with no predators, I’d never let my bunnies live outside. They’re delicate animals who crave attention from people, just like (most) cats.

      • I completely AGREE!! A hutch is inhumane to begin with, rabbits should be in large open pens and INDOORS!

        • Claudia

          Did you read the story?

          This is a hutch the bunny can freely go in and out of, indoors.

          From the article, “[his hutch is] a place to keep his litter boxes, a place for him to be left alone, and a place to keep him out of trouble at night.” “…every bunny needs a space to call their own. Some place they can hide, relax, or let you know that they, ‘would like you very much to stop brushing them please right now, please?’ Their enclosure should be a welcoming space, and the more room you can provide, the better. All rabbits need ample time out of their hutch, but think of it like this: less out time equals larger hutch.”

          As explained in the article, this rabbit has (and all rabbits should have) access to plenty of free time indoors and out of its hutch. This is not the only place it ever lives and it’s not outside.

          Grace

    • I second what Zilredloh said, as a bunny slave to two of my own, each rabbit is different and mine own our den with an x-pen to keep them out of trouble when we are not home. Different breeds are different sizes, so a hutch like the one shown may not work for all. They need room to excessive and stretch their legs. Our American bun is 10+lbs and as big as a cat so a hutch just wouldn’t work for him, while our rex girl can’t walk on slippery floor since she has very fine fur, so we lay out rollup carpets when she is roaming free. They are the best pets but require a lot of work, I cannot stress that enough! I urge people to do their homework prior to fostering or adopting. They are not for kids unless supervised. As stated in the article rabbits, are extremely delicate and given the right environment they will live as long as a cat or dog.

    • I am a rabbit owner. The males urine can have a odor but you can prevent that by getting them neutered. Other than that our home sells of fresh hay sometimes.

    • My partner and I have two house rabbits. They live pretty much exactly like cats- no hutch or cage or pen, free roam of the house, use a litterbox. We often jokingly refer to them as “salad cats”. Both of us had cats growing up, and we find that the rabbits are substantially less smelly. Their food doesn’t smell bad (they eat timothy pellets and greens and hay), so their poop is totally unoffensive. I clean their box out once or twice a week and never notice an odor in the meantime, despite having a really sensitive nose. They make wonderful pets, and I’d definitely encourage you to do some research if you’re interested in them!

    • They do not smell and with the right litter and cleaning they make great pets! But be prepared if they get what is called stasis they can die! Rabbits need to constantly eat and poop. Their digestion is in constant motion and if it gets stuck or they get diarrhea they need to go to a good rabbit vet. Most people don’t know this and think they are easy which they are mostly! You just need to be prepared in case they get this. The other thing is they eat mostly good quality hay for them and small amounts per day of pellets. And some fresh variety of greens that you can google online to find the best ones. And no crappy yogurt treats or anything with sugar! There are great treats made by oxbow that they love. They are great indoor pets and no rabbit would want to live in an outside hutch by themselves! It is cruel and heartless!

  • Looks beautiful, but I don’t think it’s big enough…. A hutch is supposed to be big enough for them to do 3 hops…… Even if they are just in a night.

  • Be informed. Buns are fun and sweet and they are a commitment.
    1. Awesome habitat for a bun…the tile is brilliant.
    2. Buns chew electrical wires very quickly. Cannot let them hop around the house if anything plugged in. Many phone chargers destroyed but thank goodness he wasn’t electrocuted.
    3. Buns chew wood, destroyed the bottoms of my bathroom cabinets.
    4. Change litter and clean cage every other day, part of your daily life.
    5. Buns shed and must be brushed, outside or with a vacuum cleaner, every other day. My bun loves being sucked on by the vacuum cleaner hose (canister style vaccum with the floor attachment removed). Works like a charm.
    6. Buns can live 12-14 years, be ready for the time invetment.
    7. Buns need love and affection and play time outside. They are not a pet for children to learn to take care of something…they won’t.
    8. I am a recent empty nester with an 8 year old bun that I have fully taken care of. Now that I want to travel I have to hire a pet-sitter to come in twice daily. It is a fact of a bun-owner’s life.

    • yep all sums out my experience of having house buns in Australia. They are alot of work, do alot of structural damage (ours liked chewing plaster walls and went through countless phone chargers and the cord of a fridge) but also give lots of love

  • I have a decorative rabbit at home. It brings us so much happiness and love, also I understood that the rabbits are intelligent animals. About the smell, I want to say if you clean the litter often, there won’t be any problem. I have female bunny but I heard that the male rabbits make more mess. I think it depends on the animal and what habits you will build on it. That is a lovely animal, no one can regret of getting one of them.

  • I just made something like this! Took an old China cabinet and refurbished it into a 3 story hutch for my buns. They love it! Every night I’ll open it up so they can run freely in and out of it. It’s much better quality than the pre- fabricated ones you can buy at a pet store.

  • Last march I got my first bun,she was a baby,I never knew by s were so full of personality! She is always so Happy to see me 5minutes can go by and she us just ad excited as she is if I’m gone most the day !I fell in complete love very quickly with her, I would love to get more bun buns when I have more space.also she really never smells she very clean animal the cats smell more often then her!I wouldn’t trade her for the world!

  • So glad to see a rabbit featured here! I see a lot of dogs and cats on design blogs, and I love seeing them, but I’m glad for some diversity. My partner and I have two house rabbits ourselves, so it’s nice to see someone else with the same furry design challenges we have.

  • It’s encouraging to read the article which includes responsible guidelines, and all the comments adding to the theme of keeping rabbits safely and humanely … even the mistaken comment expressing concern about Eames being in a hutch (he’s not in it full time and enjoys lots of freedom -!) came from a good place.

    I’ve worked in animal protection for decades and also vouch for the House Rabbit Society (http://rabbit.org/) for solid information on buns as pets. Finally, in virtually every case, get your bucks (males) neutered. It will calm aggressive tendencies, eliminate the pungent urine smell, and be a boon to his health. Spaying females is also recommended,to prevent the development of uterine tumors, which is fairly common. Neuter and spay! Win-win!!

  • What a well-done project! Love all the design choices, and how functional it is. I’m wondering if there is a ramp between the floors? Or how does little Eames access both floors while the hutch is closed for the night? We also have a hutch for our two buns that we converted from an IKEA secretary desk/cupboard – we swapped the panels in the doors with chicken wire, but I love this option as a nicer looking alternative. We keep their litter boxes and hay in the hutch and all our bunny supplies in the shelving above, but both rabbits have free range of our apartment, which we’ve bunny-proofed.. We’re always dreaming up new things to build for Pancake and Pixie, so seeing this hutch is super inspiring! Thanks for sharing!!

  • This makes me miss my mini Dust Bunny. He had the run of the house except the bedrooms and he had a corner in the living room with safe plants and a tabletop water fountain. He would have loved such a sophisticated designer home.

  • I love the aesthetic of this! Never thought of using tile like that. Inspires me to think about my cat’s litter situation with more of a designy eye.

    While not a bun owner currently (I had them as a kid) I loved the idea of a secondary floor in the hutch for more accessible pets and scritches. A bun balcony. A BUNCONY.

    …I’ll see myself out.

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