Kitchen Remodeling Survival Tips

Preparation is key to getting what you want from a kitchen remodel. Here are tips for surviving the process and ensuring it goes smoothly.


Prepare for a Kitchen Remodeling Project

Kitchen remodeling is more disruptive to your everyday routine than any other single home renovation project. An extensive project can require weeks or even months to complete, so you need to have practical alternatives for food storage, cooking, and cleanup. These basic remodeling tips can get you started:

Start Planning Early
Begin your planning and preparation months before the demolition hammer meets the drywall. The last thing you want is to be making kitchen design and product decisions after the old kitchen is gutted.

For starters, get a professional planner or certified kitchen designer on board right away. They'll help you make decisions about layout, cabinetry, appliances, and lighting, so you can get product specifications and installation info in hand well ahead of time. Budget for this expertise; it's a bargain compared to fixing avoidable mistakes later or living with a new kitchen you wish had turned out differently.

Secure Building Permits
Be sure your contractor has pulled the necessary permits before starting and knows the schedule for inspections. Until things like electrical and plumbing get signed off, work has to stop, even if it means your kitchen sits torn apart for an extra week.

Order Everything Early
Whenever possible, purchase appliances, cabinetry, sinks, and other fitted items well in advance. Inspect the condition when they arrive, and confirm that they are the right items. Manufacturer delays, freight damage, incorrect dimensions, and other problems are best managed or avoided by building a lot of lead time into the process. If you don't have a dry and secure garage or similar space to store these goods, try to arrange storage with your designer or contractor, or rent a storage unit.

Create a Temporary Kitchen

For large kitchen remodeling projects, it's best to create a temporary substitute kitchen. The dining room, family room, or other adjacent area is likely the best candidate for this role.

  1. Lay down plastic sheeting (4 mil or thicker) on the floor, and then top that with some inexpensive 1/2-inch plywood sheathing or oriented strand board (OSB). A couple of full sheets will give you an 8x8-foot work area, plenty for setting up a makeshift table/countertop.
  2. Even if you aren't keeping your old appliances, for now retain at least the refrigerator and microwave oven to set up in this area. For even more versatility, look into a European tabletop cooking center. Designed for use in dorm rooms and small apartments, these units are about the size of a large microwave oven and feature a small convection oven topped by two electric burners. (Some kitchen contractors give or loan these to their clients to use while their kitchen is out of commission; ask to see if that's an option.) As for plumbing, use a laundry or utility sink if you have one.
  3. Adopt a simple menu that involves minimal fuss and lends itself to eating on disposable dinnerware. Frozen prepared foods, canned soup, and microwave entrees might not be everyday fare in your house, but the convenience they offer is exactly what you need. Salads, sandwiches, and fresh fruit are easy to prepare and keep cleanup chores to a minimum. Pizza and takeout fast food is fine one or two nights a week, but you'll tire quickly of that kind of fare. Try to mix it up a bit, and if possible, budget for one restaurant meal each weekend as a reward to keep you going. Finally, let good friends and local family members know that the occasional dinner invite would not only be greatly appreciated, but also reciprocated when your new kitchen is up and running.
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