Shop Products
Houzz Logo Print
webuser_641172128

Tips for prepping for/surviving kitchen reno?

8 months ago
last modified: 8 months ago

Hi - we start our kitchen demo in 10 days. We are taking the kitchen down to the studs. We are staying in our 1920 home, and we'll move the fridge to our dining room with a microwave/toaster oven/hot plate.


Any tips on prepping for kitchen demo and surviving living through a renovation? Our contractor estimates 8 weeks.


Should add that there are 4 of us - me, spouse, 12 yo, 17 yo - kids will be happy eating chicken nuggets/microwave mac and cheese/takeout -


Thanks!

Comments (51)

  • 8 months ago
    last modified: 8 months ago

    We are using the utility sink in the basement for cleanup and we actually had a hookup for a DW to be temporarily installed there, but our old DW died before we could move it into the basement. We have one of each type of dish needed per person, so there is no holding off on doing dishes. We use a dish, it gets washed immediately. In our case this went on for 18 months. Maybe half of that time we did have a temporary sink that would go in and out of the kitchen as things progressed, and we had the old stove hooked up sometimes.

  • 8 months ago

    As far as surviving, noise canceling headphones, plastic draping at all entries to kitchen, and KNOW THE PLAN. KNOW THE CONTRACT. You’re going to want to second guess yourself based on partial construction. If you know the plan, you can avoid costly changes that you don’t really want, you’re just in panic mode. Be available to the contractor and tradesmen. If a decision has to be made, you want to be the one to make it. They will go the easier route. Speak up , respectfully, if something doesn’t look right. Treat everyone who comes to work well! Offer water. Turn on the AC (keep the AC fan going it’ll help with the dust. And try to keep a sense of humor. Things will go wrong.

    We’ve done a two year renovation on a condo. Two baths and kitchen. We had to schedule each project sequentially, and with the contractor's schedule. We tried to do all of the above advice. We had a good experience, and are very happy with the results.

    Good luck!

    Sally T thanked teamaltese
  • 8 months ago

    Here’s the kitchen, finished in April.

    Sally T thanked teamaltese
  • 8 months ago

    We used our air fryer a lot. We also cooked a lot of dishes beforehand and- froze them. Used the laundry sink to do the dishes but as sushipup2 mentioned, used paper plates, etc. to reduce what we need to wash

  • 8 months ago

    Don't forget about the grill! I utilized the laundry tub as my kitchen sink. Definitely agree with paper plates and plastic utensils. It's just two of us so it wasn't too awful. We moved all the old cabinets into our living room and spare bedroom so I was able to keep everything stored until the new cabinets went up. You'll find yourself getting really creative to get through the renovation. It was totally worth the inconvenience though! 😉

  • 8 months ago

    Sounds like you have a lot ready- which is great. Set aside some cooking utensils and regular spices - we set up a temporary pantry for quick snacks, easy prep etc. we did set aside our usual environmentalism and used plastic and paper for this duration. I used crockpot and liners to ease cleanup as well.

  • 8 months ago

    And to add to @teamaltese said- I put together a binder with our contract, change orders, drawings, emergency contacts etc to have ready for questions and clarifications. I also kept a notebook of who was here when- so I had a record of each days work.

  • 8 months ago
    last modified: 8 months ago

    Dust gets everywhere. Everywhere. Everywhere. Your life will be easier if you professionally manage that. Learn about Zip poles and Zip walls. Buy or rent a big air scrubber to place in the demo zone. Duct it out during the demo, with cheap blue filters on the intake side. Keep it going in recirculating mode, with the filters, for sny time work is actuvely being done. You can sell it after the project is over, for about 80% of what you paid. https://www.globalindustrial.com/p/commercial-air-scrubber-negative-air-machine-4-stage-w-hepa-filter-1000-cfm

  • 8 months ago

    The comment above is so so so true. We are in the middle of a bathroom reno, and the dust and mess is unbelievable. I have been dusting, vacuuming, mopping daily, changing furnace and HEPA filters, and everything still seems dusty and dirty to me. Be prepared for that, and for everything taking twice as long and costing twice as much as expected. It will be worth it in the end, but it's not an easy process.

    Sally T thanked jlc712
  • 8 months ago

    Keep the corkscrew handy.

    Sally T thanked AnnKH
  • 8 months ago

    Take your partner by both hands and face each other. In unison say, “ I love you. I want to get the (kitchen) (bathroom) (bedroom)(whatever) we have dreamed of. We want to stay on budget. We want to still be friends with the contractor when we are finished. We want to be married when this project is done.

    Sally T thanked remodeling1840
  • 8 months ago

    When I saw how much waste goes in the dumpster I felt less bad about all the paper dishes and plastic silverware. We use some real dishes but they are such a pain to wash in the bathtub and I am grossed out by food residue going down the bathtub drain. My giant tubs and strainer I use for making kimchi really come in handy for the dishes, and this craft table that was in my husband's office is indispensible. Over 80 days now since we've had a functioning kitchen....


  • 8 months ago

    It was more inconvenient and messier than I expected, and I didn't go into it blind.

    I succumbed to using some paper plates. I had to use an upstairs bathroom sink for washing dishes and it was difficult, so I eliminated some things that required washing.

    I served a salad, a grilled protein, and a grilled-roasted vegetable. The biggest change was no oven so nothing that required baking or oven-roasting. I did have a microwave for reheating. I thought I would use the slow cooker but it proved to be too heavy and hard to clean in the bathroom sink, even with liners, so that was quickly abandoned. Once a week would we eat in a restaurant (sometimes just a pizza place) or go to a friend/family member’s house.

    Probably because I’m an introvert, but having workers in my house every day could be mentally draining at times. That may not bother you. Once I was outside on my back patio when the lawn guys arrived (I always go inside when they arrive). He looked at me sympathetically and said “workers inside, workers outside, I bet you just want some quiet.” What a funny, astute observation from a young guy I see once a week.

    I’d pare down your supplies, including spices and seasonings, to the bare minimum, like you‘re camping. Pack up and store everything else until the dust is gone. I edited and gave stuff away as I packed up the kitchen. And gave more away when I unpacked and realized I didn’t need, or want, so much stuff any more.

    Good luck!

    Sally T thanked hhireno
  • 8 months ago

    @skitt Your photo is pretty much what it looks like here, though we are only a few weeks into the project. We dump the contents of the dish-washing tub that has food residue in it into the toilet (excuse gritty detail) because, I agree, it would be gross, and not so good, to have it going down the bathtub drain.


    To reduce the project's waste, one thing I'm glad we did was to have the contractor gently remove the old cabinets and appliances, which we put out in the driveway and offered for free on Facebook's marketplace. The dishwasher and garbage disposal, which were still in decent shape, as well as the cabinets, were gone within the day. The rest we took to a salvage yard.

  • 8 months ago

    All i can say it was horrible. Admittedly, we didn’t prepare fot it , not having been through anything like that before. we lived on take out & picked up coffee every morning. IF, & I will never do it again, i were to, I would have the microwave , refrigerator & coffee maker relocated into the garage or whereever. ours was a whole house remodel, in retrospect we should have moved out while it was being done , but didn’t because of pets. Mistake.

  • 8 months ago

    We converted our back porch to a temp kitchen- picked up some cheap storage containers for a pantry and a two burner hob. No water source in first floor we bought a cheap outdoor sink for cleaning and re-used large water jug for drinking.

  • PRO
    8 months ago

    Buy a small/medium sized plastic storage tub. This is so you can put in the following items in it for storage in your garage, attic (wherever): Set of kitchen plans, renderings and elevations, copies of all invoices, copies of all warranty paperwork, touch up kits, small extra parts, a couple extra cabinet hardware (just in case), business cards from everyone involved in the project. This way, down the road, if you have a warranty issue, everything is in one place and easy to find. Or if you sell the house, the next homeowner knows what you purchased (ie door style, countertop color...etc) in case replacements are needed due to damage.

    Sally T thanked The Kitchen Place
  • 8 months ago

    We used the basement and set up my Cabela camp kitchen for storage and to hold the coffee pot, instapot and air fryer.

    I had a cheap 30" cabinet and top for prep and storage. I set up an old baker's rack to hold the drying rack and cleaning supplies.


    I should note I have a summer kitchen in the basement that includes an electric stove, a utility sink, fridge and freezer. We had an old table down there to use as well. A regular plastic shelve served as the pantry. Not gorgeous but definitely functional

    Sally T thanked Sherry Brighton
  • 8 months ago

    When we started (9 months ago) our contractor moved most of our old base cabinets and counters to the perimeter of the dining room. Then they broke through the dining room wall where there had been a bar sink on the other side and hooked up our old sink/disposal and dishwasher. We will have to repaint under the chair rail in the dining room but it is worth it. We also have a microwave, countertop oven, hot plate, instant pot, etc. And we are using our old fridge. They had to add some outlets, etc, but it was worth it for such a long period of time. We put our big dining table in storage and put the breakfast table in the middle of the dining room. I removed all decorative item from the living room bookcases and that is our pantry. We’ve been very happy. The work was supposed to be done in early June but we are not suffering very much so we are pretty chill about it.

    Sally T thanked blueskysunnyday
  • 8 months ago

    We did many of the things listed by others. We also purchased a single induction burner which I loved.

    Sally T thanked rz2znp
  • 8 months ago

    We used a plastic bin like a restaurant bussing bin to cut down on trips to the basement utility sink for washing.

    Sally T thanked J F
  • 8 months ago

    Adding: we had the fridge in the garage, the coffee pot, electric tea kettle and microwave in the living room, and grill on the back porch. Water access was a problem because my powder room sink is very small.

    I would check my husband’s clothes for dust as he left for work each morning. 😆 He frequently managed to brush against something and get dusty streaks on his dark clothing. 🙄 I never had that issue. 🤷🏼‍♀️

    I was able to reuse the 20 yo cabinets, putting them in my laundry room, but the original 55+ yo cabinets couldn’t be salvaged. Some appliances were given away but some were hauled away for trash.

    Sally T thanked hhireno
  • 8 months ago

    Any tips on prepping for kitchen demo and surviving living through a renovation? Our contractor estimates 8 weeks.

    For your own peace of mind, double that number. Seriously and if he comes in on time, count your blessings.

    Paper plates and paper napkins are a blessing.

    Have the microwave and fridge available

    Maybe also pick up an induction hot plate to stir fry or saute some meals.

    Reservations are your friend. ;) So is your favorite adult beverage.

    Sally T thanked cpartist
  • 8 months ago

    Our contractor estimates 8 weeks.


    Did he actually utter those words with a straight face?

    I'll bet you'll be closer to 24 weeks!

  • 8 months ago

    I moved the sink, the sink base, the cabinets next to it, and a piece of counter to the living room. A couple of water jugs and a 5 gallon bucket gave us something to wash our hands with. The fridge was next to it. After everything was over, the cabinets were discarded as they weren't any good.

    Sally T thanked Seabornman
  • 8 months ago

    My contractor used an app (builders trend? I deleted it so I’m not sure) that was a great color coded calendar of what was being done. I knew who would be there and on what days. They outlined 11 weeks and stuck to that. It did take an additional week because of things I added.

    We gutted the kitchen, upgraded our electrical box, dry walled the kitchen and laundry room, refinished all downstairs hardwood, replaced foyer tile floor, and repainted all downstairs.

    That said, it would be better for your sanity if you assume if will go longer than they project so that you’re not disappointed if the project does run longer. It will be hard and you will question if it is worth it, but hopefully you’ll be happy in the end.

    Sally T thanked hhireno
  • 8 months ago
    last modified: 8 months ago

    I'll give you an instance where your planning can go awry. We were into our tear out when our contractor stopped work and told us that he thought we had asbestos. He insisted that we have it tested. We did, it wasn't, we didn't think it was, and it delayed things by two weeks. These are the sorts of things that delay projects. On one kitchen project we were installing radiant floor heating. Our carpenter managed to put a nail in one of the lines. That meant tear out, figuring out how to repair, getting very specialized coupler, and fixing everything. That took two weeks. I'm a very careful planner and have done kitchens and baths many times before. Even with careful planning and good subcontractors, plan on it taking longer than you planned.

    Sally T thanked homechef59
  • 8 months ago

    Be onsite for key days like countertop templating and the beginning of installation of any big item (floors, countertops, backsplash, etc) so you can make last minute adjustments. Expect a roller coaster - things will be late or not right, vendors will mess things up, a worker won’t show up when they’re supposed to, etc. It’s just easier if you expect that and respond nimbly, rather then fighting it. As for getting by, we did a lot of Costco heat up meals, used the crock pot a lot. Oh, and we borrowed a friend’s ice maker - highly recommend! Especially for the adult beverages you’ll need.

    Sally T thanked Carrie H
  • 8 months ago

    It’s September - do the dishes outside. Scrape them,wipe them with paper towels, then wash outdoors. Hand dry and put away. You’ll need a bin for the few items that may be hard to dry.

  • 8 months ago

    Thank you all so much for your responses! This is very helpful advice - particularly to keep a bin of all the paperwork, be present for major milestones in the project, and have a communing moment with one's spouse! I really appreciate it - even the negative responses and doubters :) FWIW, my contractor put in the contract that he owes us a generous sum per day that he's over the deadline - I'll certainly report back!

  • 8 months ago

    Nothing we type will prepare you for the amount of dust that will get EVERYWHERE. Even with the plastic partitions, you will find dust in the rooms furthest from the construction. It is awful. We stayed in the house during our kitchen reno and after about three days of washing plates, we changed over to paper everything. No matter how eco-friendly you try to be in normal, daily life, this won't be normal, daily life. Please keep us posted on how that 8-week timeline works out!

    Sally T thanked BPMBA
  • 8 months ago

    I thought of one more thing - you're on houzz so you probably are doing this already, but be prepared with a decision about every little detail. They're going to ask you exactly where the cabinet hardware should go, what kind of reveal you want for the sink, where every outlet and light switch will go, and things you can't even think of right now. I was decisioned out when he asked where I wanted the cabinet knobs, and I realized I had never gotten around to thinking about it, so I told him to do what he said they usually do. Well, unfortunately that was not the best choice and I'm a little disappointed about where he put them. Also, be prepared that everything is not going to be 100% perfect - hindsight is 20/20 and all that. There are plenty of posts on here of people freaking out about how things turn out, but quite often it is just an overreaction due to stress and the huge cost and permanence of everything relating to a kitchen remodel.

  • 8 months ago

    @skitt - thank you! It's so funny that you said that because I just visited a friend's recently renovated kitchen and told her I was obsessing about outlet placement, and she said that she hadn't even thought of it during the reno but was fine with the outcome. Wise words! Now I'm curious - where did they put the cabinet knobs and where did you wish that they'd put them? Thanks!

  • 8 months ago

    Our company won’t start until all items are in and would have made the 6 week scheduled except- 1 upper cabinet size was translated wrong on order and 1 lower cabinet had some damage- both needed to be reordered. That delays backsplash, electric (under cabinet outlets and lights), etc. so we are probably another week once the new cabinets arrive which will hopefully be less than 2 weeks. So for now we are partially done and hopeful for full completion for first day of autumn (anniversary)

  • 8 months ago

    They put the knobs 3" above the bottom of the door. On reflection this makes no sense, because aesthetically it depends so much on what kind of door and what it looks like, 3" is meaningless. I wish they had lined them up with the top of the bottom rail(?), just a little lower.



  • 8 months ago

    We did many of the things others have suggested. I also made many meals we could freeze while we still had a functioning kitchen so we could just microwave them. Living in the house during a full kitchen renovation is an arduous process. Having just gone through it, you have my sympathy.

  • 8 months ago

    @skitt - I know what you mean - it's my platonic ideal to have the bottom of the knob line up with the bottom rail, whatever that's called! - but if you hadn't pointed it out, I never would have noticed. Your cabinets are GORGEOUS and I love the inset and the color. Please post more pics!


    @Cathy CIolek - happy anniversary! My contractor wouldn't start until everything is in as well. We have a local cabinet company who does everything custom so hopefully that will make the timeline easier.

  • 8 months ago

    Lots of good advice above. We are wrapping up a kitchen reno and I’d add just a few things. Renting a water cooler with hot and cold water to set up in our temporary kitchen area in an adjacent room was a HUGE help for us; so much better than trying to get water from an upstairs bathroom sink for our tea kettle/coffee maker and travel water bottles. A camp sink on our front porch worked for washing a few dishes. Paper takeout containers were great for storing leftovers in the fridge. We ate pretty well using a slow cooker, Breville smart oven, microwave (for steaming vegetables and reheating things).

    Sally T thanked robinmdc
  • PRO
    8 months ago
    last modified: 8 months ago

    SKITT, with your taller doors, I like the knob a bit higher. I think it looks great!

    I think the knob much lower wouldn't function as well either.

  • 8 months ago

    @robindc - you are a GENIUS with the water cooler. I just rented one and it's so reasonably priced and I bet we'll drink more water :) Great suggestion and I've passed it along! Thank you!

  • 8 months ago

    @Sally T We are currently in week 10 of a Kitchen, all new wood flooring entire 2nd level, Master bath remodel. Ours is taking longer than expected due to adding on a total plumbing repipe and having problems with the flooring. Lots of great advice here, we have done a lot of the same. At this point we are so so so tired of it all and can't wait for it to be over. When problems arise and they typically do, it can be overwhelming and I just have to keep my eye on the prize! Instead of renting a water cooler we purchased a automatic water bottle pump, USB charging. that works like a charm, inexpensive as well. Best of luck!

    Sally T thanked vicbayside
  • 8 months ago
    last modified: 8 months ago

    Air purifiers in each room that isn't under construction. You will be shocked at how much dust escapes, even with a careful contractor.

    Grilling! It's a way to enjoy cooking and avoid takeout, which you will get sick of pretty quickly. And the weather will soon be great for it.

    Plan ahead for weekend activities/trips away from home. Living in a construction zone makes hanging out at home a lot less fun, especially on rainy days.

    Try to make as many decisions as possible as far in advance as possible. You don't want to be under the gun when choosing finishes, fixtures, etc.

    Have a design-minded friend or two at the ready for gut/sanity checks and advice.

    Remind yourself from time to time that getting to renovate your house is a privilege few people get to enjoy.

    Sally T thanked HU-918119203
  • 8 months ago

    @HU-918119203 - THANK YOU! These are excellent suggestions especially the last one - the gratitude will help, for sure. I *think* that all the finishes are chosen, but you know...

  • 8 months ago

    @robinmdc - THANK YOU for the amazing tip re: water cooler! I've told everyone I know. Ours was delivered yesterday - to our dining room, aka new kitchen


  • 7 months ago

    updating that we're in a month in, and all is on schedule - demo done, rough electrical done and passed inspection, rough plumbing done and passed inspection, plastering, painting, floors. Waiting on cabinets. We're surviving - much less messy than expected due to plastic barriers between other rooms and kitchen.

  • 4 months ago

    hi - you all were SO helpful - and @HU-918119203 was right on the money about last minute decisions/gut and sanity checks. I have several friends I called my "kitchen doulas" who were my sounding boards when I had to make decisions - and some of them I called on my own.


    We did make it from start to finish in 12 weeks- some unavoidable delays from cabinets and the electrician getting the flu.


    Here's my post with the rundown of materials, process, and the before and after pics - feel free to ask any questions. I love my kitchen SO much, am so grateful, and wouldn't change a thing.


    https://www.houzz.com/discussions/6418776/1920-house-before-and-after-kitchen-long-lots-of-pics

  • last month

    @sushipup - I don't get it - what does she do? @Elena Zzzz - my reno was done months ago - see my post below yours with the details.

  • last month

    Older threads are resurrected by spammers with seemingly relevant content, then within 7 days, the post is edited to add a spam advertising link, This is not one individual person, but rather usually a bot using AI generate the post. In this case, the bot is responsible for other spam posts in the past.

    Sally T thanked sushipup2
  • PRO
    last month
    last modified: last month

    I often see them. Pretty frustrating, really.


    For those who are doing a renovation now, based on my experience last year, here are a few tips.

    Make sure to pack away any kitchen essentials you'll need during the renovation. Clear out cabinets and drawers, and label boxes clearly so you can find things easily.

    Set up a temporary washing station somewhere nearby. A utility sink or a bathroom sink for cleaning dishes and utensils.

    With kids in the mix, simplicity is important when it comes to meals. Embrace the chicken nuggets and microwave mac and cheese—they're lifesavers during busy times like these.

    Another thing that helped us during our renovation was hiring a junk removal service. They quickly hauled away old furniture and appliances, freeing up space and reducing clutter in the midst of chaos. It's worth considering if you have a lot of waste to deal with. We used the services of dumpsterrentalslafayette.com, in case someone lives in Lafayette.

    Don't forget to communicate with your contractor throughout the process. Keep an open line of communication so you can address any concerns or unexpected issues that may arise. It'll help things run smoothly and minimize stress for everyone involved.