How to Survive a Kitchen Renovation

By | August 18, 2016

Now that we’ve been finished with our kitchen renovation for awhile, we’ve had some time to reflect on the process and some of the things that helped us and that might help you survive a kitchen renovation, or any major renovation project.

Not that we didn’t have issues with the mess and the chaos and the unending about of dishes that were washed in our hall bathroom. After all, it did take us many, many months and we were pretty crazy by the end. Yikes. But, it could have been worse. And there were a few things I think are worth keeping in mind for future projects.

Want to go back and see the kitchen recap post for a rundown of this entire project? CLICK HERE. Or, to see our budget breakdown, CLICK HERE

  1. Make a storage plan before you start.

One of the worst parts of the renovation was having our food and dishes feel like they were all over the place and covered in sawdust and drywall dust all the time. When we first started, we just filled boxes with the stuff from our pantry and piled them up in a corner of the kitchen. That meant we had to reorganize and move that stuff several times. Finally, we set up a table and even ordered a little stackable shelf for an area in our living room that we devoted to a makeshift pantry, which did help. I mean, you can only live like this for so long:

Messy Kitchen Makeshift Pantry

2. Find some sort of food routine.

Eating take out is a great way to survive any crazy times in life (new baby?) but when your renovation takes over a year, you have to cook, occasionally. at least. We set up a makeshift “kitchen sink” in our bathroom and it was nice to at least have a place that felt “normal” when we needed to wash a pot or a pan. We also managed to come up with several stand-by recipes that were quick and easy to prepare. We ate a lot of frozen pizzas and a lot of soup and a lot of sandwiches and a lot of hot dogs. But it worked and we survived.

Dishes in bathroom sink

3. Keep things as clean as possible.

We swept our floors at the end of pretty much every single work day. Even on days that we didn’t tackle messy stuff, there was always a lot of mess on the floor. It was amazing how dirty everything always was, and I can only imagine how much worse it would have been without all the sweeping. Plus, I mopped multiple times after every time we worked with drywall dust. It took a few extra minutes at the end of long days when we were already tired, but I think it was worth it to not track dust even farther into the house.

Sweeping Dirty Kitchen Floor During Messy Remodel

4. Take your time packing things up.

Some of our stuff was in storage for over a year, which is a long time for things to have the opportunity to break. It’s worth it to take your time packing things that could break. One of my best tips is to use old grocery sacks since we always have them in abundance and they are nice and cushy when you wad them up and use them between breakables in boxes. Newspaper also works well, and we always have plenty of both in our garage because we never remember to take our recycling to the center. Oops. Reusing is just as good, right?

We didn’t break a single thing using this method, so I swear by it. In fact, it’s also how I pack up breakable Christmas decorations and other decor items.

Packing Away Breakable Kitchen Dishes

5. Be reasonable with your timeline. 

I know, I know, I’m the worst at this ever considering how many times I complained about how long the renovation was taking us. Black kettle moment, anyone?

Anyway, as much as you can, try not to budget doing too much at one time, especially if you have kids, and full time jobs, and friends you want to see occasionally, and a general understanding the projects always take way, way longer than you think they should. I guess what I’m saying is that it’s pretty unreasonable to expect a renovation that you’re doing by yourself to be completed in a few months. I mean, some people might be able to do it in that time (but not us!), just make sure to think about how much time you’re really going to commit to projects each week before tackling one.

6. Ask for help, but know when to say no. 

Don’t say no when family or friends offer to come pitch in, within reason. For example, when Wyatt’s parents came up to help us demo the old kitchen out? That was a big “yes, please!”

Demo Upper Kitchen Cabinets

Same when my dad and brother-in-law helped Wyatt with our crazy electrical work. But, I also know I’m sort of picky about some things, and that’s why I didn’t accept every offhand comment from a friend or family member who was willing to come help us paint or move in, or even pack things up. I may not be a fast worker, but I know my limits and know when I just need to take my time and do a job myself in order to be satisfied at the end of it. I often don’t even want Wyatt to help with certain jobs because he tends to rush me along and make me frustrated. Just know it’s okay to say yes, and to say no.

7. Get out of the house occasionally.

Go on a family vacation. Take a date night break. Sometimes, you need some time to reset and come back to a project energized. For example, we worked really hard to get the drywall all done and painted before going on a quick weekend getaway, and it felt so good to walk back in feeling excited and refreshed for the next step in the process, rather than worn down and weary.  Plus, we had a chance to do some talking and planning about the project in a neutral location. It can be hard or make decisions when you’re blinded by the mess and ideas you thought you wanted. Sometimes taking a step back helps clear the air for a better idea.

I remember sketching ideas for our entryway nook area at my parents’ house one afternoon after being stuck in a rut of indecision for several weeks of staring at that corner. It took us a long time to settle on the plan that was perfect for us, but I’m so glad we took the time to get some fresh perspectives.

Kitchen Cabinet Sketches

Those last two tips are probably mostly related to your personal sanity and your family or marriage’s well-being. Renovations are tough on relationships. Remember that show Renovation Realities? There’s a reason the couples were always fighting!

Also…so cheesy. Someone tell me if we had a show about our renovation it wouldn’t be so ridiculous. Call us, HGTV, we’ll be your next breakout stars.


Anyway, I think my best relationship-specific advice is to just remember you’re on the same team with things get tough. Wyatt and I say that to each other a lot when we’re feeling stressed, but it helps. When projects aren’t going well, it’s us against the drywall, or the garbage disposal, so-to-speak—not us against each other.

Wyatt Covered In Drywall Sanding Dust 2

We certainly could have benefited from following a few of these tips a little better (time management, anyone?) but the ones we did get right helped a lot. It will probably be awhile before we tackle a project as big as the kitchen again…but I’m confident we could do it if we really put our minds to it. Being determined to accomplish a goal is certainly the first step to success.

And, remember, the end result is worth it. As my mom would quote Dory, “just keep swimming” and you’ll get to the end eventually.” And the end is so beautiful.

Finished White Kitchen Renovation 2

To go back and see the kitchen recap post for a rundown of this entire project, including the crazy before and afters, CLICK HERE. Plus, check out our budget breakdown, CLICK HERE.

What are some of your best tips for how to survive a kitchen renovation, or any major renovation project? Leave a comment with your suggestions and lessons, below!

3 thoughts on “How to Survive a Kitchen Renovation

  1. Linsey Styles

    You made some great points about kitchen renovations! It can be really tough, especially with kids around, but by the looks of it the finished project looks amazing. Congrats on that beautiful kitchen, love the white, blue, and yellow.


Join in with a comment! (Let's all agree to be constructive here, okay? Thanks!)