Just pull the trigger already.
Here's a story.
A family has three children under 10, a smallish house in a neighborhood they love, and a manageable enough mortgage payment. When they visit friends with expansive finished basements and multiple car garages, they say to each other, "We have great neighbors. We have more space than practically anyone -- in Japan or Manhattan. We believe in living small. Our children will be close growing up in the same bedroom. We can take turns in the shower."
This goes on for several years.
Then the wife loses her mind and walks into the sea, Awakening-style.
Wait. Wait, no. That's not how it ends. It's how it could end if you keep postponing the home remodel you've been considering for way too long. I know, because I'm the wife, contemplating the allure of the sea. But there is hope! The trigger about which I write is not on a Glock.
Spoiler Alert: This post is about first world problems.
You're comfortable enough. Your kitchen, after all, has a counter and functional, if ugly, appliances. So what if your butt hits your spouse's when you're washing dishes and he's cooking; it's probably helping your sex life.
But mortgage rates are low and you could probably afford a slight increase in your monthly payment. You spend a year or so combing through the local zillow listings but there's nothing that you can afford and THEN gut the kitchen and baths that date back to 1973. And there are those neighbors you love; you can't pick your neighbors and you never know what you're gonna get if you move.
Friend: it's time. Pull the trigger.
Here's how you know you're ready to renovate (beyond that obvious clue: the impulse to walk into the sea rather than face another morning sharing a galley bathroom with 4 other people).
1. You have already done other renovations to your house, and you are happy with them - especially kitchen and/or bath renovations that are expensive and intrusive projects. This is especially true if, like me, you look at every house on the market in your price range—even the newly remodeled ones—and know you must gut the kitchen and all the bathrooms to your taste and lifestyle before you can live there.
2. Mortgage rates are low, and you're just going to roll the cost of the renovation into your existing mortgage. Why wait? Rates can always go up.
3. You know you are going to sell in 5-10 years, and that you will need to do some updates before then. Might as well do them now and get to live in the happy new space(s) for a few years before you move on.
Now the only question is which project to tackle first. (Because I know there are several on your list.) Here's how I counsel my clients to prioritize: ask yourself, where do you spend most of your time? What most affects your daily life? The laundry room and tiny half bath might be less than perfect, but if you work at home and spend 8 hours a day in your office, maybe that's the place to start. If you love being outdoors but hate being eaten up by mosquitos, maybe a screened outdoor living space should take precedence. You won't regret a renovation that genuinely impacts your daily life. A good renovation can, in fact, change your life: bring your family together (or separate them, in a healthy way), or make you more likely to entertain:
Here's the coup de grâce: You're ready to renovate if you've found yourself a great designer. Ahem.
If pulling the trigger makes you nervous (because, I don't know, it's TENS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS), invest in some confidence: hire someone whom you trust to hear your needs, respect your budget—not to mention the things that you already love about your space, help you see what could be and then accomplish that vision. Professionals help you avoid making costly mistakes. We have experience with contractors and brands, what works and what doesn't, how to get the biggest bang for your buck. We create for our clients thoughtful, comprehensive plans, so when you're ready to purchase or tear down or build out, you know it's going to be right.
Because we don't want anyone walking into the sea, when something as simple as a double sink in the bathroom (and maybe some strategically placed shower jets) would fix everything.