For years, your basement has sat downstairs, an underused,Renovating for Rex: How to Create a Pet-Friendly Basement under-appreciated room in your house. Finally, you’re inspired to transform it, but as you do so, you know it needs to be a space that’s usable by both the two-legged and four-legged members of your family.

Whether you’re creating a second living room, a home office, or a full-out pet room where Rex and/or Fluffy will hang out while you’re gone during the day, here are remodeling tips to create the ultimate pet-friendly basement.

Consider a Pet-Only Area

Some people remodel their basements and turn them into doggie/kitty paradises with floors that are easily cleaned, as well as beds and toys throughout. If your pet tends to be loud or destructive when you leave the house, designing a playroom for him could help calm him down and hopefully save the rest of your furniture and sanity. If you have different-sized animals that need to be separated during the day, a pet-friendly basement can allow for pet runs to keep them within sight, but out of reach of one another.

Even if you don’t devote the entire area to your furry friends, it may be a good idea to include some sort of a basement pet enclosure into your plans. That way, if you need Rex to relax in his space while you work from your basement home office or if you need to put him away while your kids’ friends come to visit, he’ll have a safe space that’s indoors and out of the elements.

A Pet-Friendly Basement Needs Pet-Friendly Flooring

With a pet-friendly basement remodel, one of the most important choices you’ll make is deciding what kind of flooring to use. This is key because first of all, basement floors tend to get really cold. Icy cold floors aren’t just uncomfortable for human feet; they also make an inhospitable environment for your furry friends to run, lay, and play on.

There are many different options for basement flooring. When choosing, keep in mind that you want something that’s warm, easy to maintain, and easy to clean. Real hardwood floors won’t be the best choice for a pet-friendly basement because they’re expensive, cold, and scratch easily. Wall-to-wall carpet can also be problematic in basements if there is a leak (it can also be problematic for pet owners if … well, if your pet springs a leak).

Luxury vinyl is a popular and budget-friendly choice for pet-owners. For a bit more money, install a subfloor and go with engineered wood. Unlike hardwood, it won’t scratch, warp, or crack due to pet claws or basement moisture, and it looks absolutely beautiful. For extra warmth, rugs provide an easily cleanable (or easily disposable, should the worst happen) option.

Work With a Contractor to Plan Ahead

One of the most important basement remodeling tips is to use a professional from the design stage onward. While the DIY furor is everywhere these days, working with a contractor when undertaking major home renovations is helpful for multiple reasons.

First of all, a contractor really has been there and seen that. They live and breathe design-build, so they can give you ideas you hadn’t considered — especially when creating something unique like a pet-friendly basement. Are the stairs descending into the basement too slippery for your aging Golden Retrievers to navigate? Whether it’s coating them with something or re-designing their entire angle, a contractor can offer solutions.

A contractor can also help you create a realistic budget and timeline so you know what to expect. In addition to this, they’ll help ensure that things are done right the first time. That way, you can get right to using that home office or enjoying your indoor dog park on a cold, snowy day without experiencing any unexpected surprises. Your family, your wallet, and your pup will definitely thank you!