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8 Tips to Survive a Live-In Kitchen Remodel

You’re tossing around the idea of remodeling your kitchen, huh? Yay! That’s so exciting and I can’t wait to see your space! Before you begin your demo, I’d like to give you a few bits of advice to help you survive your live-in kitchen remodel.

Live-In kitchen remodel

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Before I even start on the advice, you should know that THE most important thing is to make a flexible plan! Take that from someone who went home on a Friday afternoon thinking she was replacing her backsplash and painting countertops, and ended up looking around a trashed and partially demolished kitchen by Saturday night. I wound up with an unusable kitchen for eight months. The good thing about my experience? I have some great tips to help you survive your live-in kitchen remodel!

Table of Contents

  1. Create a temporary cooking space
  2. Plan for dirty dishes
  3. Pack away the non-necessities
  4. Prepare for food storage
  5. Keep a trash can handy
  6. Contain the mess
  7. Plan your meals ahead of time
  8. Declutter your kitchen

You may have it planned that your kitchen remodel is only going take 6 weeks… ? I’m not laughing at you. I’m NOT! I’m just here to say that things often don’t go as planned, so it is best to be prepared.

I’ll also disclose that my husband and I did all the work ourselves (except the electrical stuff). That’s part of the reason it took so darn long. If you’re using a contractor, it’ll likely go a little quicker. Regardless of your method, these tips will help.

1. Create a temporary cooking space

Depending on the types of foods you enjoy, the time of year your remodel is taking place, and how often you’ll eat out, this temporary space may look different for every household.

I’m going to mention our dining room numerous times. That was our temporary kitchen because it’s a large room that easily held all our stuff, plus we were able to keep the dining table where it was. I know others who have had to use their basement or a spare bedroom. As long as you have a makeshift table set up to hold the following items, plus another table or tv trays to eat from, then you’ll be set.

Here are the appliances we set up to survive our live-in kitchen remodel:

  • Our Traeger. We had lots of grilled meals. The bonus to using the grill was that it stayed outside, so took up no extra space in our house.
  • We love our Ninja air fryer. It doesn’t take up a whole lot of counter space and could easily be moved into a less conspicuous spot when needed.
  • We purchased an inexpensive electric skillet. It was great for browning ground burger for easy meals. Hamburger Helper Cheesy Italian Shells, anyone? Mmmm. It, too, could easily be hidden away when not in use. We still actually use it often, enev though our kitchen is done!
  • Programmable Coffee pot. If you know me, then you know it was ALWAYS plugged in (and probably on).
  • Our microwave stayed plugged in on the sideboard in our dining room. Having a toddler who LOVES oatmeal meant it was a must-keep.
  • We also kept our refrigerator plugged in in our dining room. If you don’t have the space to keep a large refrigerator plugged in, then I’d highly recommend getting a smaller mini fridge for the must-have items such as veggies, milk, etc.

Other Optional Appliances:

It is also good to note that you’ll want to know which appliances are plugged into certain outlets during this temporary time. You don’t want to come home one day to find your refrigerator breaker blown because it was plugged into an outlet that couldn’t handle both it and the microwave.

2. Plan for dirty dishes

If you manage to eat out for every single meal of your remodel, then go you! That definitely did not happen for us. Our bathtub got more use for dish washing than it did for bathing. Here are a couple ideas to avoid a massive pileup of dishes:

  • Use your bathtub/laundry room/extra sink area for dishwashing.
  • Keep one plate, fork, spoon, knife, cup, and bowl handy for each person in your household.
  • Wash those items after every meal. I know it’s a pain, but it beats spending 45 minutes bent over the bathtub trying to clean days worth of dishes.
  • Use plastic utensils and paper plates.

3. Pack away the non-necessities

A kitchen remodel is going to be messy. No matter how hard you try to contain the dust and debris, it will settle throughout your house. You’re not going to be using your fancy China and favorite casserole dish handed down from your great-great grandmother during the remodel, so pack those items away in boxes or air-tight storage containers to keep them safe.

4. Prepare for food storage

Keep some of your food storage containers and plastic food storage baggies handy. Cooking a large meal resulting in days worth of leftovers is wonderful until you realize that all of your storage containers are at the bottom of that box you packed away last week and stuck in the back of your basement.

We kept a smaller plastic tote in our dining room that held the plates, cutlery, cooking utensils, food storage containers, plastic bags, cups, and other odds and end we thought we may need.

You’ll also want totes for pantry items, such as canned goods, crackers, cereal, chips, etc. Don’t use one huge one, or else things get lost in the bottom. I don’t know from experience or anything. ? Use several smaller ones so that items are only a layer or two deep and easy to locate.

5. Keep a trash can handy

We kept our lidded trash can next to the refrigerator. I don’t think any more needs said. It’s a trash can – you’re gonna need it.

6. Contain the mess

Whether you’re doing a mini renovation or a full-on knocking-out-walls renovation, you’re going to have a mess. Keep it mostly contained by using tarps or large plastic sheets stapled up as doorways between the kitchen and rest of the house.

7. Plan your meals ahead of time

  • Meal prep. Write out your meals for the week on Sundays and get your grocery shopping done.
  • If you’ve got a few weeks before your remodel starts, then it may be a good idea to whip up some homemade freezer meals that you’ll be able to use.
  • Purchase a handful of frozen meals to keep on hand for the “I don’t feel like cooking” nights. Frozen pizza on the grill is one of my favorites. Almost zero cleanup!
  • Keep it simple. A kitchen remodel is no time to learn how to become a master chef. We had lots of Hamburger Helper, chili, spaghetti, etc. These were all meals that only required one or two pans.

8. Declutter your kitchen

Since you’re going to be throwing most of your kitchen stuff into storage bins anyway, slow down and take this opportunity to clean out and declutter your kitchen. You don’t have to pitch or donate your unused items immediately, but you should at least put them into a separate bin. (When that bin hasn’t been opened for two years after your remodel, you can get rid of it all then :D) Your new, clean, decluttered kitchen will thank you.

Final Survival Words

The kitchen is one of, if not the most, important and highly used areas of the home. If you’re living in your home during your remodel, there are going to be stressful moments. Do yourself a favor and heed these tips to help ease some of that stress later on. There is no need for you to go into your live-in kitchen remodel completely blind (like me) and figure it out along the way.

Last, but not least, be excited! You’ve got a new kitchen in your near future. The demo and mess will all be worth it, I promise.

I’d LOVE to hear your comments!

Have you completed a live-in kitchen remodel? If so, I’d love to hear any other advice you may have to offer! Please drop your tips in the comments!

Know someone starting a kitchen remodel or preparing for one yourself? Don’t forget to pin this for future reference!