A Practical Survival Guide for Your Kitchen Remodel

Remodeling a kitchen is a huge undertaking. Since the kitchen is one of the most used rooms in your home, the disruption to your daily life will be significant. We will guide you step-by-step to help get you through the chaos.

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So you’ve decided to remodel your kitchen. You have worked hard over the last month or so to hire a contractor, perfect a design, and order your materials, but now what? How do you even begin to prepare?

We will assume that you are not one of the lucky families with a second kitchen or the ability to move into a hotel suite for the duration of your remodel. You will need to make things work at home. We will walk you through the steps to take to get you through while keeping your stress levels at a minimum.


Plan Ahead

We know that most of us have a little tendency to procrastinate from time to time, but this should not one of those times. In order to keep your sanity, you must prepare. And no, we don’t mean the day before.

  • Prepare a special calendar, app, or go old school with a notebook to help in your planning. This will not only help in keeping the contractors contact information at your fingertips, but also meal planning, shopping lists, etc.
  • Be realistic in your planning. Are you really going to try to cook dinner in the toaster oven or have you budgeted for takeout?
  • Schedule time. You will need time to plan and pack ahead of time as well as longer than normal time to meal prep, prepare, and clean-up after every meal. Even if it just morning coffee, it will probably take a little longer than usual. You will also need to be a little more flexible to be able to meet with your contractor for project updates and change orders.
  • Decide on a place for a temporary kitchen and eating. Even if your kitchen is more for show than use, this is a must. Bonus points if you have direct access to a sink, such as a nearby bathroom, or a wet bar. Speak to your contractor about where you will be most out of their way. They might need the space in the adjoining dining room for construction supplies.
  • Find an out-of-the-way storage spot for the contents of your cabinets. Whether it is the garage, a spare bedroom, or just the corner of your living room, it all has to go somewhere. The best place will still be accessible if you need to grab something that you packed on accident.
  • Be prepared for noise, dust, and dirt. Lots and lots of it. Even if you are not used to wearing shoes in the house, make an exception during construction. Maybe have a set of house shoes or flip flips that can easily be slid off and on at the bottom of the stairs or at the bedroom door.
  • Don’t forget about the kids and pets. Both will be curious about the goings on in your kitchen. Plan ahead for extra baby gates and other safety concerns. Whatever you do, do not let them around the kitchen or staging areas.
  • Plan time away to relax and get away from the chaos. Make some evening dinners a picnic in the park, research inexpensive or free family activities for the weekends, sign up for that yoga class. You will need an outlet to relax.

Now that you have given some thought to these things, let’s really start planning.


Your Temporary Kitchen

Really think about how you use your kitchen on a daily basis and what you will need based on your planned use. The complexity of your temporary kitchen will vary based on how much you plan on cooking. Will you be living off of cereal and takeout or are you breaking out the Instant Pot and going full blown meals? Don’t forget the convenience of an outdoor grill. It might be time to get a small one or wipe the dust of your existing one. There are also small electric hot plates available pretty inexpensively. When you have that decided, and the family is on board, get started.

  1. Meal Plan. Research easy or one pot recipes and don’t forget about the ease of a sandwich. It is a good idea to write out a couple weeks of meal plans and the tools you will need to make each. While you are doing this, walk through in your mind the prep, cooking, and especially the clean-up for each. If the meal is easy to make, but requires a lot of clean-up, it should be removed from your list. Either way, try for some variety. You will be glad that you did after several weeks of the same meals. When preparing your grocery list, try to combine recipes that have similar ingredients and always keep simple supplies for sandwiches and such on hand in case cooking plans fall through.
  2. Make a Master List. Make a list of all the tools, small appliances, and supplies you will need based on your meal plans and general daily needs. Will you be washing dishes by hand or going the paper route? Don’t forget things like a trash can (with a lid for food waste), dish washing supplies, towels, pet bowls, cleaning supplies, etc. This is where mentally walking through your day in the kitchen will really help. Whatever you do, try to keep things to a minimum. You will only need one place setting for each person and maybe a couple of storage containers for leftovers. If you can simplify your cooking tools to a couple of knives, a cutting board, and a hand-held can opener, even better.
  3. Finalize the Location. With your master list of small appliances in hand, finalize the location. Short of a wet bar, the best location may be a dining room, living room, or spare bedroom. Make sure it is close to a bathroom for sink access. At the very least, prepare to use the outdoor hose.
  4. Plan Your Storage and Moving of Cabinet Contents. You will need covered boxes in several sizes for your utensils, small tools, and dry goods. Think clean shoe boxes or hit up the dollar store. The key here is covered boxes. Remember all that dust we mentioned? Your contractor will try their best to seal the kitchen off using plastic and by covering vents, but the home will still get a little dusty. While you are at it, grab some moving boxes for the things being moved to storage.
  5. Plan for Refrigerated Goods. The easiest thing would be to just move your refrigerator to the room you are using. If that isn’t possible, plan on getting a small mini fridge. The size of the fridge may also dictate your meal plans, so plan accordingly. You may have to go to the grocery store more often during this time.
  6. Start Moving In. Bring in a table, bookshelf, cart, etc. to hold your items and provide some counter space. This will vary based on the complexity of your setup. We testing your kitchen out for at least a day ahead of time. This will allow you to grab those last minute items you’ve forgotten before the rest of the kitchen is fully packed.
  7. Set Up Your Sink Area. Move a small shelf, cart, or just a small bin with your dish washing supplies to your sink location. Don’t forget towels and a drying rack. If your “sink” area is a tub on a table outdoors, you may want to make your supplies portable.
  8. Pack Your Kitchen. After using your temporary kitchen for a day or so, you should be safe to pack up the rest. Don’t forget that this is the perfect time to clean house as well. Keep a box for donations nearby and get rid of anything that is past its usefulness or hasn’t seen the light of day since you moved in. When moving items to storage, keep boxes of extra supplies, such as paper towels, on top of your stacks for easy replenishment.


During Construction

  • Make Yourself Available. Things will go a lot more smoothly if your contractor can get a hold of you quickly if a surprise pops up or a change order is needed.
  • Stay Out Of Their Way. Your contractor and their team can get a whole lot more done if you aren’t popping you head in every ten minutes. This goes for kids and pets too. Let them do what you hired them to do and check in daily or every other day to stay informed of the project progress.
  • Clean Up Daily. Taking the extra time to clean your dishes after every meal and sweep up will make the world of difference.
  • Protect Your Sanity. Take the time to get away. Go for an evening walk. Dedicate a space where the family can hang out that is construction free, even if it is just the back yard. Try to relax and take things one day at a time. If you’ve prepared properly, hopefully everything will go smoother, if not, try not to stress over the things that you can’t control. Just remember, this project will end, eventually.

We want to hear from you! Please let us know in the comments if you have any tips or tricks to make it through a kitchen remodel. And don’t forget to subscribe or follow us.

Related Reading:

Starting Your Project Part 1: Budget

Starting Your Project Part 2: Timeline

Starting Your Project Part 3: Inspiration

Hiring the Right Contractor

Choosing the Right Countertop

Choosing Cabinetry Part 1: Cabinetry Box Construction, Framed Vs. Frameless


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