Kitchen Remodel Survival Guide

10 Tips to get you through!

There’s just no way around it – living through a kitchen remodel is right up there near the top of the misery index.

While your old kitchen is torn up, you may have to go weeks without the conveniences of a sink, stove, and refrigerator – even more stressful than it sounds.

Get ready for dust, dirt, noise, inconvenience, going hungry, and an inexplicable longing for your blankie.

Here are 10 tips to help you deal with remodeling a kitchen - and living to tell about it!

1) MENTAL PREP:

    Try to get into a “camping” mind set. Generally, men and kids really enjoy this. Women, not so much.

2) SUBSTITUTE KITCHEN:

    Set up a “kitchenette” in a bedroom, home office or finished basement - somewhere far away from construction dust.

    Lay out a vinyl tablecloth on the surface of your dresser or desk and set up your microwave oven there, along with the coffee pot, toaster and the George Foreman.

    If you’re getting a new fridge, move the old one somewhere else where you can still use it. A useable fridge is a beautiful thing.

    OR - Buy a small $100 refrigerator for the kitchenette - you can use it later somewhere else - garage, basement, office.

3) WHAT TO HAVE ON HAND:

    Pack up kitchen items you might need in plastic bags and containers where it's all easy to see.

    Buy throwaway items: paper plates, styrofoam cups and bowls, and plastic utensils.

    Box up non-necessities and store in the garage or a closet. Mark these boxes with what's in them in case you need something from there during the remodel.

4) FOOD:

    You might be shopping almost every day for food. Small frozen microwave dinners, canned soup or stew make quick hot meals.

    If you'll have access to your freezer during the kitchen remodel, make food ahead of time and freeze in small portions you can nuke in the micro.

    If you order take-out, only order as much as you’ll eat then, rather than dealing with leftovers.

    A back porch ice chest for sodas and drinks is handy if you don’t mind running to the 7-11 every day for more ice. (Or pick it up during the daily grocery store trip.)

    Rent a water cooler, especially great if you have kids.

    Keep on hand things like bread, peanut butter, crackers and cookies for snacks that don’t involve cooking or refrigeration. For some unknown reason, hunger seems to strike more often when there’s no working kitchen in the house!

5) DINNER IDEAS:

    Grill out whenever possible. If you plan to do the kitchen remodel during a typically dry and comfortable time of year, you can dine outdoors. Just remember you’ll be eating grilled food on paper plates with wimpy plastic forks and knives, so finger foods like chicken legs or ribs work better than a big steak.

    Buy steaks for a friend and invite yourself over for dinner.

    Be prepared to eat out often, maybe at a good, home-cooking restaurant you like. (After a while they’ll be greeting you by name, just like in Cheers!)

6) CONTRACTOR TIPS:

    Ask – no, TELL your contractor in a firm voice to remove your old sink last, so you can use it up to the last minute. In fact, get it in writing!

    I once rented a house and the owners decided to remodel the kitchen. The workers pulled out the sink on the very first day, leaving me without one for weeks while the countertop and cabinets were on order and the new sink lay in a box, taunting me. No amount of yelling or sobbing brought that old sink back.

7) OLD TO NEW:

    If your kitchen remodel involves placing the kitchen in a new room, you should be able to use your old kitchen till the new one is done, although construction dust may make it an unappetizing mess.

    Plastic sheeting over the appliances and sink will minimize the dirt during the day and you can remove it in order to cook at night. Use plastic sheeting, too, to cover doorways to minimize dust in the rest of the house.

    And have the contractor leave the old kitchen alone until absolutely necessary.

8) OTHER INSANITIES:

    Be prepared for other household appliances to act up, just to remind you they’re still around, doing their job and getting no thanks whatsoever.

    During one kitchen remodel our water heater died. Replacing it was more involved than normal, since we had to remove all the dishes and pots and pans piled up on the baby grand, and then move five hundred pounds of piano to gain access to the slide-out bookcase that hides the water heater closet! COST: time, money, and cold showers (in December!).

9) KEEPING YOUR COOL:

    DIY ALERT: Tempers flare and relationships suffer when you’re hungry, dirty, tired and armed with power tools.

    If you’re remodeling the kitchen yourselves as a couple, budget in some money for marriage counseling, or at least a mid-remodel weekend in a nice hotel.

    If you have kids, this would be a good time to ship them off to Grandma’s – less stress for them and for you.

    "Where's Fluffy?" Pets may be happier at a friend or neighbor's house, and it'll keep them out of the danger zone. One less thing for you to worry about.

    Be prepared for the project to take at least TWICE as long as you think it will...especially if you're doing everything yourself!

10) THE PAYOFF

The best part about surviving a kitchen remodel is you get the kitchen of your dreams at the end!

And, as in childbirth, you’ll be overcome with a form of joyful amnesia that will make you forget everything you endured to get there. By then you’ll agree it was worth it!

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Thinking of remodeling?

Keep a notebook or scrapbook of notes, clippings and ideas.

Kitchen magazines are expensive - look through them in the grocery checkout line. If you see pix of a kitchen you really like, buy that magazine.

Stop in at home centers and pick up any free cabinet manufacturers' catalogs.