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How to Prepare for a Kitchen Renovation

During a renovation, there is a pretty predictable emotional roller coaster that homeowners go through - the highs of progress and completion to the lows of budget issues and construction. Today, I want to talk about the anticipation of a project and how you can prepare specifically for a kitchen renovation to set yourself up for success.

Emotional Rollercoaster in a Renovation

I've found that while the renovation itself is stressful, sometimes the anticipation of the project and the preparation can cause just as much stress.

One of the biggest questions I hear from full-design and consult clients is something to the effect of, "How does this work? Where do we start? How do we live through this?"

First, take a deep breath. With a little patience and flexibility, you will live through this and come out on the other side (with a kitchen you love!) That's honestly, my biggest piece of advice.

But you're probably here for logistics. So let's dive in...

First, you'll want to order everything you can to have it "staged" and ready to go. This will make your project infinitely easier and faster. I'm talking appliances, tile, cabinet hardware, lighting, plumbing fixtures....everything! (Some contractors will buy all of this; just make sure you communicate beforehand to establish who will be buying what.)

Second, you'll obviously need to clean out your cabinets. This is a great time to purge. Get rid of those things you haven't used since you moved in 8 years ago. Let go of the dishes that you literally never use. Throw away the plastic cups that have seen their better days and have bite marks and disposal nicks (or is that just mine?) Then, if your kitchen has been gotten out of hand over the years with random things stuffed here and there, store it NOW into logical categories. This will make your life so much easier when you unpack everything.

Next, figure out your temporary kitchen solution. You'll need a sink, a prep space, and a somewhere to cook food. For this, most people use their bathroom sinks but I've had a client even buy one of those cheap garage stand-up sinks and put it on their back porch attached to a hose. I thought that was brilliant! For prep space, this could be your dining room table, a bar area, or a fold out table in another room. I also recommend having a plan for food and utensil storage. I personally used one of those wire bakers racks in our dining room. We set our food, paper plates, and microwave on there. Once the renovation was complete, we moved it into our garage for additional storage! And then obviously, you need to actually cook your food (believe me, 2-4 months of eating out will get old fast) - think outdoor grills, crockpots, instapots, toaster ovens, electric skillets. I've even had people put their camping stoves outside and use that alongside their grills. You will get very creative during this time. Embrace that and have fun with it.

Along these lines, figure out what you can live with in terms of dishes. It can go one of two ways, really - all disposable products for a time or the task of washing dishes in a bathroom or makeshift sink. There are pros and cons to both, obviously.

Likely, you'll be moving your refrigerator out of your kitchen. Whether you're getting a new one or not, usually people use their old one during renovations. While unsightly, most people move their refrigerator into the area where they've set up their makeshift kitchen (dining room, garage, etc.)

Another thing clients ask me about is the mess. There WILL BE a mess. But a good contractor will do his/her best to lessen the mess as much as possible. They should put down a paper covering to protect your floors and some sort of plastic barrier from floor to ceiling between your kitchen and the rest of the house. On particularly messy days, they might ask you to turn off your a/c or close the vents where they will be to avoid dust being circulated throughout the house. But as much as they try to prevent that, dust still circulates, so prepare for that. At the end of the project, be sure to change your air filters and I highly recommend hiring a cleaning crew for a deep clean of your whole house, but especially of the kitchen.

Lastly, be flexible and have patience. Like I said in the beginning, this is my best piece of advice. Your kitchen renovation will likely last longer than you think or than planned. Things happen. Be flexible. Know your contractor is doing their best (they want the project finished, too!) And be patient through all the highs and lows of your renovation project. It will all be worth it in the end!!

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