Congratulations, you’ve got yourself a brand new kitchen! Now, this is the part of the movie where the high-speed rewind gives you a glimpse of all the acts and happenings that got you here. The mess, the noise, the dust, the nails, the fumes, and the empty space which was once the hub of the house. Some people are lucky and have the advantage of taking off and staying elsewhere for at least some of, or the entire duration of the project; but if you’re like most families, you’re going to have to deal with temporarily living in a construction zone. 

The kitchen is arguably the most important and utilized part of a home — a necessary resource, and when the entire space is gutted for a remodel, you’re going to need to be prepared and get creative to survive without losing your mind and your wallet. Sure, you’ll probably dine out & take-out a little more often, but depending on the size of remodel and competency of your contractor, you’re looking at an average of at least 6 – 8 weeks. Larger scale projects that include floor plan reconfiguration, wall removals and structural changes can take up to 10 – 12 weeks. So buckle up and buckle down for some lifestyle changes and life hacks to get you to the finish line. 

Here’s what you can do prepare yourself mentally and logistically while your kitchen is being demolished and renovated:

Know What You’re in For

The first thing you need to do is gather ‘round the household and lay out what will be your reality for the next however long — you won’t have a kitchen. Want a late night bowl of ice cream? Doh! No kitchen. Sleepy trek to the coffee maker? Ah! No kitchen. Need to rinse out that cup of coffee you just had? No sink, no kitchen. The point is in order for you to prepare for the changes in your daily routine, you have to think about all the things you do and the equipment you use in your kitchen. Make a list of the portable appliances and gadgets you can still use, what kinds of foods will need to be stored accordingly, access to electricity and plumbing, etc. 

Organize & Declutter

Now that you know what you need, you can go through your kitchen and start organizing. We recommend four different categories: Keep, Store, Donate/Sell, Throw Away. This will help with setting aside all the things you can still use during the remodel, and getting rid of anything you don’t need that is just taking up space. Storing your necessary items in clear storage bins is a good way to know where everything is at a glance. Anything you keep that you won’t be using during the remodel should be stored away from the kitchen, so it’s not in the way and doesn’t get damaged during the process. 

Designate a Space for a Makeshift Kitchen

Whether it be your garage, an extra guest room, the laundry room, or the corner of your dining room, it will be easier for you to set up the interim kitchen in one spot. Ideally, if you have a garage or laundry room with a sink, this is a good space as it will be easier for immediate clean-up. We also recommend that the space you choose is a good distance away from the kitchen so both you and the crew can go about your business without getting in each other’s way. If your dining space was within or adjacent to the kitchen, think about getting a folding table and chairs to set up elsewhere for sit-down dining. 

Essentials for Home Cooked Meals

Since you won’t have access to your stove, oven and fridge for some time, you’re going to need some temporary solutions to make do. Some people may have the advantage of an extra refrigerator in the garage, which is great — but if that’s not you, look into renting one or investing in a mini-fridge to store your perishable food. Electric hot plates, slow cookers and conventional toaster-ovens are life savers for cooking up a nice hot meal, and they don’t take up too much space. Make sure you have an accessible inventory of cutlery, utensils, cutting boards, and other items that you’ll need for food prep. Having paper plates, plastic cups and utensils is great for avoiding manual labor cleanup, but we also suggest that you try to designate a few plates, cups and utensils for each member of the family to be more environmentally conscious and less wasteful. Buying a water filter pitcher is a great way to avoid an economy sized pack of plastic water bottles.

We know a kitchen remodel can be one of the most stressful experiences for a household; so having a realistic knowledge of what to expect, and a game plan for adjusting to circumstance is essential for surviving it without ripping your hair out and looking up divorce lawyers. And in the end, when the dust has settled (and promptly wiped off) you get to waltz into a kitchen that was worth the work and the wait.