How To Survive a Remodel While Living In It

How to Survive a Remodel While Living In It

See that? That is the current state of my kitchen. Back in 2008, we moved in and knew immediately that a kitchen remodel was inevitable. It was one of those rooms where every time we set foot in it, we were transported back to 1960. The old cabinets were original with the house, with vertical grooves on the fronts and magnetic closures, and at some point were painted white. The layout was closed off and inefficient, and one of those decorative wooden facades hung above the sink. (What is the purpose of that, anyway?) While this might be appealing to some, my husband and I wanted an updated style with modern-day function at an affordable price. So we saved up the money and started the project.

Let me be honest… remodeling while living in it is not easy.

So far, though, I have survived. And I’m one of those people who likes to have things put away and organized, probably because of the fact that my job requires me to look at gorgeously staged homes for sale on a daily basis. My home is never “for-sale-perfect” because, hey, we actually live here, but normally it’s pretty orderly. NOT DURING A REMODELING PROJECT. Did I mention it’s not easy?

Although the lack of orderliness isn’t ideal, it is possible to get through the process, even while living amidst the mess. Here are my tips to survive a remodel — at least, with my experience so far. You’ll have to check back for the final product… both me and the kitchen.

Tip #1: Determine Your Budget

Enduring a remodeling project will be stressful enough as it is, so having your budget figured out will relieve you of further anxiety. “Do we have enough money for quartz, or should we go with solid surface?” “Can we get those really cool, long-lasting LED can lights?” “What if we rip out that wall?” “Stainless or white appliances?” You get the idea. With a budget in place, you’ll be able to answer those questions with ease. Bonus tip: it’s a great idea to consider leaving some cushion in your budget for unexpected costs that may arise.

Tip #2: Plan It Out

As a marketing professional, I’m a big supporter of preparing a plan. What are the goals, and how do we accomplish them? For me, personally, the kitchen needed to be more open — we had a majorly interfering peninsula with upper cabinets — plus provide more cabinet and counter space. Using your budget as a guide (if you can’t afford knocking down walls, don’t plan for that!), figure out how you can maximize your space to get what you want.

Once you have an idea of what you want, get some quotes from professionals. A contractor can take a look at the current status, listen to your desires and vision for the space, and give you an estimate of what it might take to complete the project. The quote is typically free of charge, so even if you don’t go with his/her services, you’ll have a good idea of what the total cost would be. Sometimes, you just have to hang on for a while and save more money. Other times, you can feel good about moving forward.

Tip #2a: Perhaps Go With DIY

After we received quotes on our kitchen remodel, we looked at the itemized list and decided to do some of it ourselves. This helped us save money and stay in budget. Fortunately, I’m married to a super handy guy!

Tip #3: Clear The Space

I can’t emphasize this enough. Seriously. Of course, you’ll have to clear the space that is being remodeled (so for us, we removed everything from the cabinets), but that means all that stuff has to be relocated to another place. If I could go back in time, I’d plan more effectively. Right now, all of our pantry staples are in boxes underneath card tables that are also stacked with kitchen essentials and sitting in our living room. So is our dining room table. And the dining chairs. And the little butcher block rolly cart thing. After a month, you’ll get ridiculously sick of all the stuff, figuring out where stuff is, re-organizing items, wiping drywall dust off of everything (like, three or four times), etc. With your plan, you should have somewhat of an idea of how long the total remodel will take. Store away anything you won’t need… like, away away. It will be so much easier to bring it back in after it’s all finished than trying to figure out how to live around it.

Tip #3a: Cooking Will Be Difficult, But You Can Do It

Thankfully it is summertime, and grilling is easy. If you’re remodeling your kitchen, get creative with grill recipes! It will require less clean up (I haven’t had a dishwasher for weeks now, and washing dishes in the bathtub is necessary, yet frustrating), and the flavors can be quite amazing. Other ways to survive without appliances during a kitchen remodel: use your crock pot; buy recyclable paper products (thank you, Costco!); eat nature’s finger foods: fruit; have side dishes like chips, pretzels, yogurt, carrot and celery sticks, bread… you know, things you don’t need to heat up.

Not going to lie, I won’t divulge the details, but we’ve definitely had interesting meals… however, we got to eat, and eating helps with the survival rate of a remodel.

Tip #4: Stay Hydrated & Be Patient

Staying hydrated should be a part of your daily routine even if you aren’t in the middle of a remodel, but it’s worth noting here because there have been days when I’ve completely forgotten to drink water and end up with a horrendous headache! So seriously… water is your friend.

And if you only remember one thing from this post, please… please remember to be patient. Your body and family will thank you for it. Go into the project knowing that it will be a mess sometimes most of the time, that unexpected costs might come up, and that it might take longer than expected. Relax. In time, you’ll see your final masterpiece come to completion. And at that point, you can say, “Woohoo! I did it!”

Tip #5: Enjoy the Final Product (and host a party?)

Well, obviously I’m not at this point yet, but believe me, when our kitchen is finished, I will certainly enjoy the remodeled kitchen and revel in the beauty of adding significant value to our home. Side note: Did you know that performing even a minor kitchen remodel gives you a return of 82.7%* on your investment? I keep envisioning the finished space and getting excited, which helps with perseverance. And, yes, I’m seriously considering throwing a party once it’s finished because all of my friends will want to celebrate the fact that I’ll no longer be posting kitchen updates on Instagram! (Shout out to my friends who’ve been supporting me in my insanity.)

Finally, here are a few photos from along the journey so far:
Kitchen Remodel Progress
Kitchen Remodel Progress
Kitchen Remodel Progress
Kitchen Remodel Progress
Kitchen Remodel Progress
Kitchen Remodel Progress
Kitchen Remodel Progress
Kitchen Remodel Progress

Stay tuned for a follow up post with before and after photos of our kitchen remodel, and to find out if I have anymore solid advice on how to survive something so epic!

Have you survived a remodel while living in it? What tips do you have? Please share in the comments!

*source: Realtor® Magazine

About Lisa Oates

Lisa is the creative mind behind The Harrisonburg Homes Team, providing streamlined content management, quality authorship, and graphic design for Harrisonblog. She's passionate about blogging, enjoying life, and a good cup of coffee.

5 thoughts on “How To Survive a Remodel While Living In It

  1. Pingback: How To Plan and Budget for a Remodeling Project [Printable Worksheet] » Harrisonblog

  2. Barbara M. Kiracofe

    Lisa! You should come by and see our whole house remodel thatt we did in 2013. Took down ALL walls in LR, DR, K area so its all one big open space. New kitchen cabinets, new floors throughout, new paint, new interior doors and hardware and woodwork. It was pretty much gutted. But gosh do we love it now!

    1. Lisa Oates Post author

      I know, Barbara! When you had your open house I believe I was about 9 months pregnant. I’d love to stop by and see it!

  3. Mariana Rooker

    When you are packing up your kitchen, go ahead and get rid of items you never use. That’s less unpacking when you finish…and more space for the items you love.

    Since you’re on your knees washing dishes in the bathtub…I did that for 6 weeks…it’s a good time to give thanks for the wonderful dishwasher that you’ll be using someday along with your other blessings.

    1. Lisa Oates Post author

      These are excellent tips, Mariana! I agree completely, and won’t ever take my dishwasher for granted again!

Comments are closed.