How to Live Through a Kitchen Renovation

A short survival guide for first-timers

The fridge is in the dining room, the waffle maker’s in the basement, and your favorite sauté pan? You’ve got no clue where it is. Welcome to a typical kitchen renovation! It can be frustrating to live in a home where nothing is where it used to be, and making dinner is all about compromise. Undertaking a major kitchen renovation means letting go of some of your everyday routines and being patient. To get you through the process, here are ways to cope in a challenging environment”

Be realistic

On TV, some contractors manage to renovate an entire house in six weeks, an unrealistic goal in the real world where a kitchen renovation alone can take anywhere from four weeks to four months. If you’ve never done a renovation before, be prepared for lots of highs (the stone floor looks gorgeous!) and plenty of lows (the custom cabinets are a half-inch off). “It comes down to communication with the client and setting expectations upfront,” says Chris Black, president of Blackline Renovations, Dallas. So when your contractor says the job will take eight to 10 weeks, take a deep breath and believe him.

Experts say kitchen renovations will present highs and lows, and the path to your dream kitchen will require strong communication with your contractor to ensure every detail is to your liking. Image courtesy Behr Paint

Create a temporary kitchen

You’re going to need a place to cook simple meals and eat so figure out where to put a transient kitchen during the renovation like the dining room, living room, even the laundry room. Set up the basics: a table, mini fridge, and small appliances to cook with, such as a toaster oven.

Simplify your tools

Unless you really use your bread maker every day, don’t move it into your temporary kitchen space. Take just what you’ll actually use to make simple meals – besides a toaster-oven, take a microwave, crockpot, hot plate, plus a coffeemaker. Same goes for cooking utensils – you may own five spatulas, but really only need to take one. Pack the rest and store elsewhere along with other nonessential kitchen apparatus.

Keep cleanup simple

Without a deep sink, scrubbing a dirty pot will be challenging. “The biggest problem during a kitchen renovation is cleaning up,” Black says. “You can make food all day long with little problem, but you need a sink to clean up the dirty dishes. And it’s hard to wash dishes in a bathroom vanity.” All the more reason to keep elaborate or messy foods off the menu.

Use disposables

In the spirit of keeping things simple, cut down on what you need to wash by using disposables: plates (go for the sturdy kind that look like they’re made of cardboard), plastic forks, knives, spoons, and cups, and paper napkins.

Cook ahead

Make your family’s favorites that can be easily reheated, and store in small containers that will fit in a mini fridge or toaster-oven.

Make mealtime fun by doing an indoor picnic

This isn’t only for a family with young children – it’s fun for any age. Spread a blanket on the floor and eat takeout. It’ll be a nice break from crowding around your cramped temporary table or eating on the sofa.

Don’t leave town

As tempting as it may be to hightail it far, far away to visit family or go on vacation, Black advises against it. “We prefer that clients stay in town so they can keep their eye on the renovation’s progress,” he says. If you go away on vacation and something happens you weren’t aware of, your vacation calm will evaporate the moment you walk in the door and hear the news.

Looking for more ways to survive a remodel project? Learn how HomeOnTrack can help!

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