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How To Survive A Kitchen Remodel

Updated: Dec 22, 2021

Photo: Courtesy of Krueger Architects

Here's the deep dark secrete that the design shows and magazines won't tell you when you tackle a kitchen remodel: Between the before and after photos you will live without a kitchen. This could be for weeks if your lucky but more than likely it will be months and that gets ugly. 

Being the daughter of a builder I have lived through several kitchen remodels and am currently in the middle of my own kitchen remodel so I wanted to give you some tips of how to survive the whole process.

1. CLEAN HOUSE When preparing for your kitchen makeover/remodel make sure you do a good purge of your kitchen before you start packing things up. I always suggest a multi-box system for this: Toss, Donate, Recycle, Temp Kitchen, and Storage. It is very important to really evaluate all of the items in your kitchen and figure out what is going to move to the new kitchen, what needs to be replaced, and what you just don't use anymore (like that storage container set that is mostly lids now, none of which fit the containers for some reason).

2. SURVIVAL BOX During your kitchen purge you're going to want to create box for your temporary kitchen. Try to think of this step like you are going camping for a certain amount of time and you need to plan for what you will and will not have access too. This box should include your commonly used kitchen items that you absolutely can't live without during the renovation (hello coffee maker I'm looking at you). You'll need to figure out if you are going to leave out actual dishes and silverware or go the paper plate and plastic silverware route, either way it's always a good idea to get a storage bin with a lid to store as much of your dishes, cooking utensils, etc. This will not only keep things tidy and out of the way but will also keep any dust off of cleaned items. If you have a crockpot, electric skillet, hotplate, microwave, or a grill (weather permitting) these are all going to be your new best friends for cooking meals so make sure to put those with your temporary kitchen. If you do have a freezer you're able to use during construction think about making up meals ahead of time that can be frozen then reheated to save time and clean up. Basically you want to prep and have a plan in place for your meals and cleaning dishes before construction starts as doing this after will feel next to impossible and honestly you'll eventually tire of going out to eat or ordering delivery for every meal after so many weeks.

3. SET UP A TEMPORARY KITCHEN This will help keep your sanity and a little bit of normalcy during construction. Make sure your temporary kitchen is located away from where the construction zone will be to avoid being in the way and to keep the area clean of all construction debris. Choosing a location that is close to a sink (not your kitchen sink as that will not be available) will make your life easier. If you have a secondary fridge, freezer, or mini fridge think about utilizing that area as well but be aware if they are located in a garage that will be a no go as your construction crew will more than likely be taking over that space as well.


Depending on how large your kitchen remodel project is you are probably looking at anywhere from 4-6 weeks to 6 months for it to be completed. This will wear on everyone eventually so to help get everyone through the process without having a breakdown plan times to get out of your home. Take a mini staycation at a local hotel for the weekend, visit family or friends for a few days, or plan some kind of outing that gets everyone away from the chaos for a bit. 


Lastly, you are going to want to plan for delays and cost overruns. Sure you're going to get an estimated date for project completion and when certain items will be installed but inevitably something will happen, products will be delayed or back ordered, or during demo a fun new problem will be unearthed that will cost money to repair before the project can continue. To ease the blow of these unexpected surprises have an emergency construction fund for these random incidentals of about 20% of the total cost of the project budget that way you are not having to scramble or make the tough decision to fix an issue or not based on funds.

When all is said and done if you are going through a kitchen remodel remember to be patient and kind to all of your friends and family in the mix. You tend to forget just how important a kitchen is until it is gone and things get tense. Realize that there will be arguments and stress but remodeling is just temporary (no matter how long it seems to be dragging out) and in the end you will have this great space to gather with the same friends and family.

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