A paint tray with roller and paint.

It’s easy to dream of grandiose plans when it comes to renovating your home. But time and budget constraints, as well as the need to have at least part of your home as livable space, means it makes sense to do things one at a time. Home renovations can involve everything from breaking down walls to painting, setting up new furniture, and more as you completely refresh your home living look. So, this begs the question: where should you start?

Chances are, you have at least a couple rooms in your home you want to renovate. There are three that are often top-of-mind: the backyard for extending your living space to the outdoors, the unfinished basement you have been itching to make into usable space, or the kitchen you already spend so much of your time in. Let’s look at the reasons you might want to update each, what you can do in each space, and what might be involved in the process to help you make the right decision this year.

Should you renovate the backyard?

Outdoor patio set

The backyard is an often-overlooked “room” of the home. It can add plenty of livable space with the right set-up. With a deck, covered gazebo, and outdoor furniture and décor, the backyard can become usable space for at least part of the year, depending on where in Canada you live. You can entertain there, relax on your own, even work, making more use of a “room” in your home you hadn’t really been taking advantage of.

The benefit in renovating the backyard is that it’s the perfect excuse to have a gathering with friends and family once it’s done. You’ll enjoy the beautiful weather, especially if you plan to do some (or all) of the work yourself. And you can consider building a pool or even just setting up an inflatable hot tub.Four people in an inflatable hot tub.

One of the best renovation projects we did was build a fence in the backyard, which made it more comfortable for friends to come over with their dogs and my son to play outside on his own. We also built out the deck to provide extra space for a sectional, deck box, and other patio furniture, along with a barbecue, smoker, and standing cooler on wheels. It’s amazing how much difference it makes when the backyard is more than just flat grass.

Guy tending to the grill outside.

Adding a nice covered seating area and furniture means you can BBQ and eat outside. Have bacon and eggs in the morning for family breakfast or invite neighbours over for a barbecue.

Finally get to that unfinished basement

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Whether you want to build a home theatre or games room down there, workout room, play area for the kids, in-law suite, or create a nice laundry space, the basement is so under-rated. Most people who have a house with an unfinished basement typically use it for a washer and dryer. It’s also often a dumping ground items you don’t have room for upstairs or in the garage. Can you relate?

Two guys playing an arcade game in the basement.A finished basement not only provides extra living space inside the home for entertaining or family time, it can also increase the value of the home. Depending on the state of your basement, however, it can be a costly venture. But if it just needs a bit of TLC and furniture, like a couch set, bed, futon, nice carpeting or floorboards, it might be worth the investment.

Consider setting up a big screen TV along with video gaming system to make it an entertainment oasis. Get a popcorn maker, arcade and retro games, and it’s the perfect spot for family fun time. Or create an exercise space with workout equipment. Have you been eyeing a smart stationary bike or other cardio machine? A renovated basement not only opens up space to accommodate one but can motivate you to workout if you’re excited to go down there.

Mom exercising with child.

With dividers and doors, you can also create a separate laundry area for your washer and dryer. Don’t forget smart lighting so you aren’t venturing down to a dark, dank space whenever you need to wash clothes and linens.

Spruce up the kitchen

couple making pasta using a KitchenAid stand mixer.

You might want to renovate a space where you already spend most of your time: the kitchen. New cabinets, paint, backsplash, and kitchen appliances can make a boring kitchen modern and trendy. Having more energy efficient appliances can save you money in the long run as well.

While it’s a chore to empty all the cupboards, re-organizing can be therapeutic and gives you the opportunity to discard old, expired items that might have been hiding at the back of the cupboard for years. It will also make it much easier to get meals cooked and dinners and lunches prepped when everything is in its rightful place. Get rid of small appliances or other items you don’t need and replace ones that have run their course, like an old cookware set, glasses, bakeware, or dishes. After renovating, you might find that you have more counter space for small appliances you have been eyeing, like a stand mixer, air fryer, or fancy coffee maker.

Instant Pot Duo overhead view with food inside.

The one downside to renovating the kitchen is that it puts you out for a short period of time. I love having a multicooker for everyday use, but it can come in especially handy when you have work going on in the kitchen. You can move it temporarily to another room, plug it in, and make dump-and-go meals for the family until the renovation is done.

Chest freezer open inside view

If you don’t have a chest freezer or secondary refrigerator in the basement or garage, now would be a good time to invest as you can use it to store food while you get the kitchen work done. You’ll find it comes in handy after as well, especially with food prices on the rise. Stock up on essentials like meat, vegetables, and frozen dinners when you find good deals.

When we moved to our home, there was a refrigerator in the basement we almost got rid of. But I’m glad we didn’t as we use it for more than we thought, for things like drinks and large trays as well as frozen food in the top freezer. Getting an extra refrigerator or chest freezer in time for a renovation project means you don’t need to spend money on coolers and a supply of ice or rely on take-out meals for a week or two while the job gets done.

Which room should you renovate?

refresh backyard patio refresh wee

It all comes down to priorities in terms of which room of the home you choose to renovate first. If you plan to spend plenty of time outdoors within the next month or two, the backyard might be the best investment to get your money’s worth right away.

sony projector for home theatre

When colder weather is on the horizon, sticking to the basement instead might make sense since you’ll probably spend a lot more time there in the near future. For those who have plans to sell the home within the next few years, a renovated and finished basement can also add thousands to the purchase price. Started a new workout regimen recently? A renovated basement might be just the thing you need to keep you motivated and get you excited about a journey to healthier living.

LG kitchen main image

But you can never go wrong with a kitchen renovation any time of the year. With the proper planning, the job can be done quickly and you’ll feel great about being able to enjoy and show off your elegant new space.

Once you’ve made the decision to take on a renovation project and have set aside a budget, jot down a list of the things you would need in each scenario and add a buffer for unexpected added costs. Then, note how you would plan to use the room and how often. Balance the needs, costs, and time with your schedule and budget and the answer should become clear on where you should start with this year’s exciting new project.

Once you’re ready to take the plunge, check out Best Buy online for plenty of home, furniture, and kitchen gear to kickstart the process.  

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