Is the all-or-nothing approach the best way to update your home? We found out.

By Kelsey Mulvey
Updated: June 07, 2019
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As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t completed in a day—and neither was your renovation. We’re not going to sugarcoat it for you: Embarking on a renovation project or working on a home renovation checklist is a far cry from what you see on your favorite home renovation show. It requires a lot of time, effort, and money—that house renovation cost is not small. Plus, if you’re renovating your kitchen, bathroom, or bedroom, you’ll be seriously inconvenienced for a few months.

This long, long process may make you wonder whether you should renovate your entire space at once or break it up room by room. Renovating the whole house or apartment at once lets you get it all out of the way, but it’ll certainly take longer than, say, sprucing up your foyer. But on the flip side, renovating a different room every few months or years will make it feel like your home is a never-ending project. Your home is meant to be enjoyed, not to feel like a looming nuisance!

So what gives? What’s the best way to handle a remodel?

According to Jean Brownhill—founder and CEO of Sweeten, a platform that matches renovators with general contractors—it’s best to renovate your entire house at once.

“While it can be tempting to apply à la carte prices to individual spaces, a renovation is an integrated process that involves design, demo, framing, installation, electrical, and plumbing,” she says. “A bigger scope, tackled at once, allows you to plan more broadly. You can get more done, in the right sequence, and [it’s] more cost-effective.”

Brownhill adds doing a renovation in one fell swoop is an easy way to get on a contractor’s schedule; plus, you’ll only have to move out of your house or order back-to-back takeout for a few months one time.

But while renovating each room simultaneously is ideal, it may not be the most realistic option for you. Whether you’re regularly traveling for work or saving up money to send your kids to that fancy summer camp, taking on an entire house renovation might not fit into your schedule or budget. (That kitchen remodel cost is steep, and home equity can only take you so far.)

Don’t worry—the other method is also doable.

As Brownhill puts it, renovating one room at a time can gives you an opportunity to live with the space, so you can figure out what works and what doesn’t.

Plus, “finding and ordering materials for a single space requires less time if you don’t have a lot of it,” she says. “You’re less likely to have to move out if you have a second bathroom or can make other arrangements for meals.”

If you do choose to renovate your home in pieces, Brownhill recommends prioritizing the rooms you use the most.

“If you usually shower at the gym and love to prepare great meals every day, skip the bathroom remodel and concentrate on the kitchen,” she says.

But whether you choose to renovate your space at once or break it down into smaller pieces, Brownhill stresses it’s important to choose a contractor that understands your needs and the project at hand.

“Don't assume you've got the right general contractor for the job based on a friend's comment or positive reviews alone,” she says. “Your neighbor might rave about the general contractor who built her deck, but he might not be the best option for your bathroom renovation.”

Now that you know how to tackle your home renovation, the next step is to get started! Do your research, save your pennies, and prepare for a smooth and stress-free remodel.

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