How to Survive a Kitchen Renovation

It is hard to believe that this time last year, we were basically living in a construction zone. Weeks before Christmas we had embarked on a major home renovation. Literally the day after Christmas, our kitchen was demolished. Despite the dire predictions of my family and friends, I survived our kitchen renovation.

Admittedly, I am not known for being flexible and easy-going. I like order and routine. I getting cranky when I’m not eating healthfully for extended periods of time. So, I don’t fault anyone who predicted I would have a meltdown. I wasn’t so sure I’d weather the construction with much grace either. But, I did. So, I am here to tell anyone who is considering a kitchen renovation that it can be done!

It takes some planning and the right attitude. Below are my top 8 tips.

kitchen demolition
This had been our kitchen

Tips for Living without a Kitchen

1. Make sure you can set up a temporary kitchen

Most of our first floor was involved in our renovation not just the kitchen. So, I did panic just a little when our contractor hesitated at my request to use our dining room as a temporary kitchen. When all was said and done, we had the refrigerator and microwave in the dining room and other small appliances in the living room.

Wherever you set up, make sure you have access to a refrigerator, microwave and toaster oven. For me and my husband, our coffee maker was perhaps the most important appliance. We used a folding table in the living room to store it along with our Instant Pot which I can’t imagine living without for the three months our kitchen was out of commission.


Part of our temporary kitchen
2.Make sure you can have access to water — preferably a utility sink

Our house pre-renovation did not have a first floor bathroom. Without the kitchen, our only source of water was in our basement laundry room or our two bathrooms on the second floor. The thought of washing dishes in the bathroom was unappealing to say the least. We made sure to set up a dishwashing station in the laundry room. Not ideal by any stretch but it did the trick.

3.Pack away unessential items

Be brutal. Chances are you will not be entertaining during your kitchen renovation. Buy boxes as if you were moving into a new house and pack up most of your kitchen. Food included. You need much less than you think. I left out one plate and bowl per family member, two sets of cutlery per family member, and several coffee cups. Many people use a lot of paper goods and plastic utensils. And we used our fair share but I did my best to limit it as much as possible.

A couple of serving bowls, a cutting board, a cutting knife, and food storage containers were the only other items I left.

4.Prep some freezer meals ahead: things that can be made or reheated in microwave, slow-cooker, Instant Pot, etc.

I did a little bit of this but I wish I had done more. Thankfully, a friend dropped off about 8 containers of soup which I stored in the freezer. It was a blessing! I am also lucky to leave very close to my parents. It became my routine to spend a few hours at their house once a week prepping food. I washed and cut veggies, made ground beef, and prepped as many lunches as I could.

5.Set up area to store food and clean dishes

You don’t know dust until you live through construction. Despite very proactive contractors and our efforts to keep the dust contained, it got everywhere. And I do mean everywhere. It has been almost ten months since our project was complete and I STILL find construction dust lurking in places. Find convenient but covered places for your food and dishes. I used plastic drawers similar to these.  

6.Bin for dirty dishes

No sink. No dishwasher. Those dirty dishes need to go somewhere. I used a plastic laundry basket to carry dirty dishes down to the laundry room to be washed. Luckily for me, washing dishes tends to fall to my husband so he had the pleasure of carrying those dirty dishes up and down for three months.

7.Plan for drinking water

I will be honest the accessibility of drinking water was not something I had considered. With our fridge not hooked up to a water line, we had no access to water or ice. I bought gallons of water which was helpful but not ideal. In hindsight, I should have rented a water cooler for the nearly three months that we were without a kitchen.

8.Be positive

Planning and organization are super important to surviving a kitchen renovation. But your attitude is the most important. Before the process even began, I adopted the motto “Don’t treat a gift as a burden” which I heard Liz Craft say on the Happier in Hollywood podcast. Being able to renovate our kitchen was a blessing, a gift. We were lucky to have been able to do it. Yes, being without a kitchen was burdensome but not once did we treat the gift as a burden.

Completed kitchen was well worth the invconvenience

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