A kitchen remodel is one of the most exciting and rewarding home improvement projects you can undertake. A renovated kitchen not only increases the value of your home but also improves your quality of life. However, a kitchen remodel also requires careful planning and preparation to execute smoothly. Here is an in-depth guide to surviving a kitchen remodel with your sanity intact.
Planning Your Kitchen Remodel
The key to surviving any significant home renovation is meticulous planning. Rushing into a kitchen remodel without proper preparation is a recipe for stress and disaster. Here are some tips for planning your kitchen remodel:
Set Your Budget
The very first thing you should do is set a realistic budget. Kitchen remodels can range from a few thousand dollars for minor upgrades to over $100,000 for luxury, gut renovations. Be honest with yourself about what you can afford. Get quotes from contractors before setting a final budget.
Decide on the Scope
The scope of your remodel will be determined largely by your budget. Are you doing a full gut renovation or just replacing cabinets and countertops? Make a list of every improvement you hope to make. Prioritize the must-haves and nice-to-haves.
Hire a Contractor
Unless you plan on doing it yourself, you’ll need to hire a general contractor. Get referrals and check reviews. Make sure they have experience with kitchen remodels. Agree on a detailed contract.
Choose Design Elements
This is the fun part! Select cabinets, countertops, flooring, lighting, appliances and other finishes. Spend time gathering inspiration photos. Don’t rush this step.
Create a Timeline
Work with your contractor to develop a start and end date. Allow plenty of time so you don’t feel rushed. Factor in potential delays and problems.
Arrange for Temporary Cooking
Your kitchen will be out of commission during the remodel. Decide where you will cook and eat meals. Options include eating out, using the barbecue, setting up a temporary kitchen, etc.
With careful planning, you can eliminate a lot of the stress of a kitchen remodel. Always build in contingencies in case things don’t go exactly according to plan.
Preparing Your Kitchen for Remodeling
To make the renovation process go as smoothly as possible, you need to thoroughly prepare your kitchen ahead of time. Proper preparation will help the project stay on schedule and within budget.
Declutter and Clean
Remove everything from cabinets and drawers. Donate or trash unnecessary items. Deep clean the entire kitchen including appliances, cabinets and floors.
Cover surfaces like countertops and floors with protective materials like cardboard or plastic sheeting. You want to prevent damage during the demolition process.
Photograph the Space
Take detailed before photos from all angles. This provides a helpful reference for putting things back together later. Photograph inside of cabinets too.
Turn Off Water and Electricity
Shut off the water supply to the kitchen and turn off power at the breaker box. This is an essential safety step before demolition.
Detach and remove existing hardware, lighting fixtures, sinks and other removable elements. These may be reused, donated or put in storage during the remodel.
Create a Temporary Kitchen
If possible, set up a makeshift kitchen in another area with a microwave, mini-fridge, sink, etc. This will make your life much easier during the remodel.
Preparing your kitchen properly before the contractors arrive will get the project off to a good start. Remove potential obstacles and protect your belongings from damage.
Handling Demolition and Construction
The demolition and construction phase is typically the longest and most disruptive part of a kitchen remodel. Issues like dust, noise and workers in your home can be stressful. Here are some tips to better handle this tricky stage:
Have a conversation with the contractor about daily start/end times, cleaning up debris, giving advance notice if changes to the schedule are needed, etc.
Create a Temporary Entryway
Designate an entry point other than your front door for the contractors to use. This will prevent traipsing dust throughout your home.
Visit the Site Frequently
Check in on the remodel several times a day if possible. This allows you to quickly address any questions or concerns that come up.
Control Dust and Debris
Ask workers to contain dust by taping plastic sheeting over doorways. Provide a space for tools, materials and debris to be stored.
Pack an Overnight Bag
Spend a night or two away from home if the demo work will be especially extensive. This avoids having to sleep amidst a dusty construction zone.
Take photos and notes throughout the process to document the work. This provides proof if any problems need to be addressed later.
The demolition and rebuilding will test your patience. Staying organized, proactive and calm will help you effectively collaborate with your contractor during this disruptive time.
Living Without a Functional Kitchen
One of the biggest challenges during a kitchen remodel is figuring out how to cook and feed your family without the use of your regular kitchen. Here are some creative tips for living without a functional kitchen during renovation:
Stock Up on Microwavable Items
Microwavable frozen and packaged foods like frozen pizzas, mac and cheese cups, frozen burritos etc. come in handy. Stock up your temporary fridge.
Use Your Grill, Slow Cooker and Toaster Oven
These small cooking appliances let you prepare simple meals and don’t require a full kitchen. Get some extra foil pans.
Have food delivered from your favorite local restaurants. You can still eat healthy by ordering grilled chicken, salads, etc.
Explore New Cuisines
Look at it as an opportunity to try takeout from that new Thai or Indian restaurant you’ve been wanting to sample.
Pack a Cooler Bag
Keep a cooler bag stocked with items like fresh fruits, veggies, cheese, deli meat and yogurt for quick, healthy snacks.
Eat on Paper Plates
Skip doing dishes by using disposable plates, cups and utensils during this temporary period. Stock up on paper towels too.
Ask for Help
See if a neighbor would mind if you used their oven occasionally. Or invite yourself over for dinner!
With some flexibility and creativity, you can eat well even without a kitchen during your remodel. Look at it as a chance to try new foods and eat out.
Staying Organized During the Remodel
Remodels involve keeping track of hundreds of moving parts and pieces. Staying ultra organized can help reduce lost items and mistakes. Here are some strategies:
Create a Contact List
Compile a list of every contractor and worker’s name and phone number. Include any delivery or service companies as well.
Use a Planning Calendar
Note all important dates such as each project stage’s estimated start and end date, appliance delivery dates, countertop template date, etc.
Label Absolutely Everything
As elements are being removed, label each box, bin, bag, or item with detail about where it came from and what it is.
Maintain a Punch List
This is a running to-do list of all outstanding items needed to complete the remodel such as ordering replacements, installing hardware, etc.
Save All Receipts
Whether it’s for a microwave, takeout meals, or other remodel-related expenses, carefully file and organize receipts.
Back Up Photos
As you take progress photos, be sure to back them up either on your computer or a cloud-based service so images aren’t lost.
The amount of details during a renovation can be overwhelming. Staying on top of all the moving parts will ensure your kitchen is put back together properly.
Selecting Temporary Kitchen and Appliances
You’ll need some essential appliances and fixtures to create a makeshift kitchen during your remodel. Consider incorporating:
Countertop Convection Oven
A compact oven is great for baking, roasting, broiling and more. Models start around $100.
Double Burner Induction Cooktop
An induction cooktop provides a stove-like cooking experience and is very safe. Prices start around $100.
A microwave is a kitchen essential. Look for models with sensor cooking and inverter technology for about $100 and up.
A mini fridge gives you some refrigerated storage. A 2-3 cubic ft. model can cost between $150-$300.
Portable Air Fryer
An air fryer lets you make “fried” foods like fries, wings, etc. without all the oil. Prices range from $50-$200.
Slow Cooker Multicooker
A multicooker like Instant Pot offers options for slow cooking, pressure cooking, sautéing and more. $50-$150
Sink Utility Basin
A utility sink provides a space for washing dishes. Look for a stainless steel model with a drain board. $100-$300
Having backup cooking options during your remodel lets you survive without a full functioning kitchen. Buy or rent appliances as needed for the interim.
Staying on Budget During Your Remodel
Sticking to your budget is crucial during a kitchen renovation project. Here are some tips to avoid going over budget:
Get Detailed Upfront Estimates
Get line-item quotes for every aspect of the project so there are no surprises. Expect the total to be over your initial budget.
Interview Multiple Contractors
Meeting with a few general contractors allows you to compare quotes and make sure pricing seems fair.
Inspect Materials Closely
Review all product specifications, sizes, colors etc. thoroughly before purchase. Returns can be difficult once custom products are cut or installed.
Research Options Extensively
Take time to weigh the pros and cons of different products and materials. Avoid choosing something too quickly only to second guess it later.
Add a 10-20% Contingency
There will always be unforeseen expenses that come up during a remodel. Pad your original budget with some extra as a cushion.
Say No to Change Orders
Avoid making changes mid-project as this leads to expensive change orders. Stick to your original scope and design plan.
Kitchen remodels have a habit of costing more than originally expected. Careful planning, research and contingencies will help you stay on budget.
Maintaining Safety During Your Remodel
Safety should be your top concern during a major renovation project. Follow these guidelines to ensure your remodel is danger-free:
Keep Dust Contained
Have workers seal off the kitchen with plastic sheeting taped to ceilings and floors to prevent dust from spreading through your home. Open windows to increase ventilation too.
Deal With Fumes Safely
Paints, adhesives, sealants and other products used in remodeling produce strong fumes. Turn on exhaust fans, ventilation systems and open windows to allow fumes to dissipate. Leave your home if fumes are overwhelming.
Protect Flooring and Carpeting
Workers should put down construction grade drop cloths, Masonite board or plywood anywhere they are working to protect floors from damage. Don’t allow construction debris into carpeted areas.
Use Electrical Safety Gear
Ask workers to wear rubber gloves and shoes to avoid shocks. Never touch wires with wet hands or when standing in water. Make sure power tools are properly grounded.
Wear Protective Equipment
Workers should use safety goggles, masks, ear protection, gloves and steel-toe boots during the demolition process and when using power tools.
Address Tripping Hazards
Extension cords, tools and materials on the floor can cause trips and falls. Keep high-traffic areas clear and well-lit. Mark any tripping dangers with warning signs.
Your safety should never be compromised, even if it slows down a remodel’s timeline. A safe work environment is a more productive one.
Deal With Delays and Mistakes
No matter how carefully you plan, delays, setbacks and mistakes happen. Here is how to deal with them smoothly:
Plan for Lead Times
Order products and materials with long lead times like custom cabinetry early. Build delays of a few weeks into the schedule as a buffer.
Ask for Discounts if Deadlines Are Missed
If hired help causes delays by missing agreed upon deadlines, ask for a discount on service fees as compensation.
Swap Delayed Items out for In-Stock Products
If a long lead time item like an appliance is held up, have your contractor source a similar in-stock option from another supplier.
Assign Someone as Project Manager
Have a family member or friend oversee timelines and communication. This takes the burden off your shoulders.
Take Progress Photos
Document each project stage thoroughly. If a mistake happens, you’ll have proof of what it looked like before and can show exactly what needs remediation.
Fix Mistakes ASAP
Don’t let an error sit and become a larger problem. As soon as a defect is noticed, have the contractor resolve it.
Delays and mix-ups are frustrating but common in remodeling. Stay calm and take action quickly to get the project back on track.
Have a Game Plan for Pets and Kids
Juggling pets, kids and a remodel can be challenging. Here are tips to keep everyone safe and your sanity intact:
Find Pet Boarding
Pets may need to be boarded temporarily if the dust, noise and workers will be too stressful or dangerous for them.
Set Up a Kids’ Playroom
Give kids a designated playroom stocked with toys, books and activities away from the construction zone.
Send Kids to Camp or Daycare
Summer camp or a daycare program gets kids out of the house during the busiest demolition and rebuilding times.
Schedule Activities and Playdates
Keep kids occupied with scheduled museum visits, movies, playground time, and playdates at friends’ houses.
Assign a Relocation Space
Pick a bedroom or basement where pets and kids can be when workers need full access to the kitchen area. Close doors to keep them away from the activity.
Lay Down Ground Rules
Explain any safety concerns to kids. Establish limits like not interrupting workers or entering the kitchen. Implement consequences if rules are broken.
Pets and kids can make remodeling challenging. A combination of entertaining distractions and removal from the work area will keep them safe.
Renovation Stress Relief Tips
Even the most well-planned remodel causes stress. Here are some tips to keep your stress managed:
Take Time for Yourself
Get out of the house while work is being done. Take breaks from the chaos by going to the gym, seeing a movie or visiting a friend.
Add Mood Lighting
Counter dreary demolition lighting with upbeat lamps, candles and strings of lights. This instantly makes the space more relaxing.
Keep Your Cool with Contractors
Avoid yelling, arguing or micromanaging. Project stress can lead to blow ups. Stay solution-focused.
Use Noise-Cancelling Headphones
When the demo work gets too loud, put on headphones and listen to soothing music or podcasts to block it out.
Seek Emotional Support
Turn to family, friends or even a therapist to talk through any renovation-related relationship issues or anxieties.
Book a Massage
Treat yourself to a therapeutic massage mid-project to work out all the knots and tension in your shoulders from the stress.
Maintain Your Routines
Try to stick to daily routines as much as possible like getting ready in the morning, winding down before bed, etc. Familiar habits are calming.
Be kind to yourself during the chaos of a kitchen renovation. Monitor stress levels and utilize healthy coping strategies when you feel overwhelmed.
It’s easy to get caught up in the demands of a kitchen remodel and forget to celebrate victories along the way. Mark major milestones with fun activities:
On the first day the sledgehammers come out for demolition, feel energized by blasting some upbeat music and getting the whole family involved!
When the new cabinets go in, share the excitement on social media! Post before and after photos of the progress.
Countertop Template Day
Take silly photos posing on top of the plywood template once your countertop measurements are done.
Crack open a bottle of champagne when the final trim, cabinets and other carpentry details are finished to cheers your almost-completed kitchen.
Appliance Delivery Day
Appliance delivery day feels like Christmas morning! Unbox each one and take selfies posing with your awesome new appliances.
First Meal Cooked
Host a fun dinner party and cook your first test meal when the kitchen is functional again. Enjoy showing off your hard work to friends and family.
Mark major milestones during your remodel to maintain excitement. A sense of accomplishment helps combat stress.
Cleaning Up After Your Remodel
Once construction is complete, you’ll need to thoroughly clean your transformed kitchen and remove all signs of construction.
Perform a Deep Clean
Scrub all new surfaces like cabinets, walls and floors to remove lingering dust, adhesive and debris from the project.
Replace Air Filters
With all the dust generated, your A/C system air filters will need replacing following the remodel. Vacuum ducts if needed.
Builder’s film will likely coat your windows. Give them a good cleaning inside and out to let natural light back in.
Fix Scuffs and Scratches
Despite your best efforts, some minor cosmetic damage is inevitable. Use toothpaste, touch up paint and other quick fixes to repair scuffs.
Re-Caulk As Needed
Examine the perimeter of countertops, around sinks and other areas for gaps needing fresh caulk. Smooth away imperfections.
Touch Up Paint
Carefully inspect walls for dents, marks or other flaws. Spot paint these areas so no signs of construction remain.
Replace Damaged Fixtures
If any hardware, trim, fixtures or fittings got damaged during installation,