1. Hire a renovator who looks at space in innovative ways. You may not really need a bigger kitchen. You may just need someone with the imagination and know how to make the space more workable and to appear bigger.
  1. Tell your renovator you only want to make one substantial change a year, or two years, or three. Ask what one thing would make the biggest difference. Do that the first time, and then the second time, and so on. That way you can plan and budget for what comes next. A good renovator will also see ahead to the next possibility and design this year’s project so the next one can work seamlessly.
  1. Work with your designer to incorporate new windows, but wherever possible, keep them the same size and in the same place. If you’d like a new light source, consider a skylight or sun tunnel. You’ll see a big difference, but the cost will be much more modest.
  1. Do the same thing with plumbing, if it’s still in good shape. Ask your designer or renovator to plan a new bathroom or kitchen around the existing system. If you can keep as much as the old footprint, the costs will stay down.
  1. Custom cabinets are beautiful, but if you can get away with it, get your designer or renovator to help you choose ready-made cabinets that can then be adjusted to your new space.
  1. Tell your designer you’d rather use fabric than glass when it comes to shower enclosures. Glass is beautiful and contemporary, but it costs more than curtains. Curtains can be high-end, tasteful, durable, washable, elegant, easier to clean, and easier on your budget, too.
  1. Maybe this is the time for design more than remodelling. Hire a great designer to transform a room or your whole house with paint, finishes and creative effects. That could be phase one of your renovation, with almost instant gratification to help propel you further.
  1. Tell your renovator you want to use, wherever possible, materials from the Habitat for Humanity Restore. Renovators know about the Restore. They or their clients donate beautiful and unused materials, and they frequently buy from the Restore for their clients, too. It’s a great resource that helps two ways.