How to Survive a Kitchen Remodel

Kitchens, Remodeling

Admit it, like everyone, you take your kitchen for granted. It’s always there, sitting silently by just waiting for you to make a meal, wash some dishes, make a pot of coffee, or just stand in front of the refrigerator wondering what you might like to munch on. No big deal right? Wrong! Your kitchen — even your old kitchen that needs a complete overhaul — is a really big deal, but one you won’t truly appreciate until it’s gone.

So, when you commit to a kitchen renovation that can take weeks, you need to take steps to prepare not only for losing the use of your kitchen, but also for the loss of that family meeting space and for a bit of construction mess. Here are a few tried-and-true things you can do to make the renovation easier on you and your family.

  1. Create your temporary kitchen. Choose a good spot for a temporary kitchen and be very selective when choosing items for it. Things you will absolutely need include:
  • A refrigerator.
  • A microwave and/or toaster oven.
  • A hot plate or electric skillet/griddle.
  • A slow cooker.
  • A coffee maker or electric tea pot.
  • Salt, pepper, garlic and one or two other favorite herbs or spices.
  • Paper plates, cups and plastic flatware.
  • Containers for leftovers.

If weather permits, you can also make great use of your outdoor gas or charcoal grill by cooking enough chicken, fish or ribs to get you through several meals with little additional cooking. Since you will likely have to do dishes in your bathroom sink or bathtub, it’s also smart to have a wash basin and a drying rack. It’s also smart to organize everything in see-through containers to keep them clean and easy to locate.

  1. Create a new eating area. Because the kitchen is often the family gathering hub, before construction begins, discuss with family members where they prefer to eat and rearrange furniture to accommodate everyone’s preferences. If you normally eat in the kitchen but have a formal dining room, make it your new home plate. This will help everyone preserve a little bit of the routine that is natural to your family unit and create a new normal. When small children are involved, this is especially useful for avoiding confusion and upheaval, and for keeping them on the daily schedules of meals, snacks, naps, playtime, etc. that keep little ones happy.
  2. Plan to eat out as needed. As the construction progresses, there will be times that eating a meal at a restaurant will take some of the stress out of your new normal. You might even want to establish a night out for the same night each week so everyone can plan ahead. Another handy meal fix is to prepare single servings of family favorites like lasagna ahead of time and freezing them (if you have freezer access). You can thaw them during the day and microwave them at dinner for a fast and filling meal in a jiffy. This is especially helpful if you have family members eating at different times due to work, school or sports commitments.
  3. Be prepared for construction dust and noise. This is part of the renovation package. Even the most organized and respectful contractors will have to make some of both to get the job done. If your kitchen does not have a door that can be closed to separate the mess from the rest of the house, you can hang plastic to serve as a temporary shield to keep dust to a minimum. Another good idea is to lay old rugs or drop cloths on the floor at the kitchen entrance(es) to keep at least some of the dust and dirt from being tracked through the rest of the house. Of course, avoiding the kitchen all together is the best idea, so inform family members it’s a no-go zone unless absolutely necessary.
  4. Keep your eye on the prize. Determine to make the whole project a positive experience and chronicle the changes with photos. From the demolition and removal of cabinets, floors and fixtures, through installation of each, you will begin to see the phoenix of your new kitchen rising from the dust. You might also keep a chalkboard or whiteboard handy with milestones to check off so you and your family feel the pace of the project and can begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. At the same time, however, be patient and realize that even the best planned kitchen renovation can hit snags that are out of everyone’s control. If you’re working with a reputable remodeler, rest assured they will be doing everything in their power to reconcile problems as quickly as possible to keep your kitchen renovation on track and on time.

To learn all of the steps in a kitchen remodel, read our all inclusive article, "Your Dream Kitchen Remodel," or click on the image below to get our complete remodeling toolkit, including worksheets and an ebook.

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