You have scrimped and saved, and now you are about to own your first home. It is a fixer-upper — the best choice for your finances — but you are so excited by the opportunity to transform your home into an interior design wonderland that you aren’t sure where to start.

Prioritizing your next home project is both a science and an art. You need to balance the practical phases of home renovation with your passion for particular projects. The goal is to allow your home to be a livable space and ease the transition from one project to another while giving you the satisfaction you need to love your home and continue working to improve it. To that end, here are a few tips for prioritizing the projects you are planning for your space:

Consider Your Finances

Unfortunately, renovating your home isn’t free. Whether you are making your dreams into reality DIY-style or you are hiring professionals for your home projects, you need to have money on hand to pay for tools, supplies and labor. Thus, you need to think about your financial situation before you create a project timeline.

If your home is in serious need of renovation but you don’t currently have the necessary funds, you might be able to include the costs of your home makeover in your mortgage. Called a renovation mortgage, this type of loan allows you to hold a significant amount of money in an escrow account to pay contractors as they complete specific projects on an outlined schedule. Agents from your lender will verify the work is complete before they release payment, and you pay for this extra upfront cash every month as part of your mortgage. You can see if you qualify for these mortgage loans in Virginia, or wherever you might live.

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You don’t have to take on debt to complete home projects, but you might need to alter your expectations to fit what you can afford. You might start with smaller DIY-able projects as you save to tackle larger and more expensive renovations. You can also use the following tips to make sure that you invest in projects that matter most.

Improve Functionality First

It doesn’t matter how attractive a home is if that home is not easy to live in. The first projects on your list should be the ones that affect the practicality of your living spaces. For example, you should think first about storage solutions in critical areas, like your entryways, kitchen, bathrooms and office or play areas. A project as small as adding a key hook by your front door could radically improve your day-to-day life, and adding shelving in areas that require extra storage can be a simple and cute way to give your belongings a proper place. However, before you make any major changes to the systems around your home, you should update your homeowner’s insurance, so they will continue to provide coverage.

Make Good First Impressions

Next, you should turn your attention to the areas in your home that generate first impressions. The front elevation, the front entryway and the spaces where you entertain are seen by more people than just you, so having them updated and attractive will improve your pride of place and ensure that the time and money you put into projects here will pay off. Plus, because these spaces tend to be smaller and more confined, they can make for more manageable projects than the rest of your house.

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Pay Attention to Time and Energy Levels

You can knock out some home projects in an afternoon; other home projects might drag on for months. You should think critically about how much time a project will take before you choose a place for it in your renovation timeline. Most people feel motivated after completing projects, so it might be wise to intersperse large projects with a few smaller ones that give you a sense of gratification. You should also consider how your energy levels will impact your interest in working on the house. If you know your job gets hectic in the summertime or you have a busy winter holiday season, you might not expect to get any projects done during these periods.

You could work on your home for the rest of your life — or you could make a tidy schedule of home projects to create the home of your dreams in just a few years. By considering finances, functionality, first impressions and your feelings, you can prioritize the right projects for your home.