A remodel can upend your whole world, especially a kitchen remodel. In the restaurant business we called the kitchen The Heart of the House. And that it is. This really rings true when your kitchen is OUT.OF.USE., and I mean completely, for several weeks.
Mike and I are somewhat fortunate that it is just the two of us. No littles to try to appease throughout the process. But even without the little people, remodels are challenging and test your patience EVERY.LIVING.DAY.
Here are a few tips I wish I would have known before we started:
Expect Delays -
There is really no way around them. So many factors come into play that change the course and timeline of your project. It's easier if you go in knowing there will be delays. Don't trick yourself into thinking, "Well, they said a week but I really think they will get it done in three days (like I've seen on HGTV)." They won't. Plain and simple, there will be delays.
With one another. With the crew. With the process. I cannot stress this enough. You will drive yourself, your spouse, and everyone else crazy if you do not have patience. Everything takes time and everything takes longer than you think it will or should. Something that helped me maintain my patience was picturing the end goal and knowing we would eventually get there.
Seal it Off -
As best you can, seal off the remodel area and try to maintain that seal for the duration of the project. Painter's plastic is not quite thick enough. If you use painter's plastic (like we did), double it up. Depending on the duration of your project, you may have to reapply new plastic. Believe it or not, it gets very heavy with dust. Cover everything in the adjoining rooms in plastic as well. The dust is indescribable and unfortunately, just part of the process.
Invest in Ozone-
If you are having anything done that causes tremendous fumes, invest in an Ozone/Air Purifier machine. You may be able to rent one but I think they are only a couple hundred dollars on Amazon. It really helps knock out the fumes faster and makes your living space much more comfortable.
Create Your Space -
This was key for me in maintaining a certain level of sanity. Everyone has daily routines whether it's making their morning coffee, morning newspaper, daily email check, or whatever, create a space you can stick to your routine. I setup a table in our living room with the coffee and tea makers and all of the necessary supplies. It wasn't perfect and I later learned it was the one piece Mike couldn't wait to put away once the project was complete, but it gave us, or me rather, a place of normalcy. One thing to bear in mind, kitchen appliances do not have very long cords so you may need an extension cord.
Keep It Tight-
Keep the places you have access to as clean and organized as you can. Again, your level of comfort is hinging on your ability to manage this project on an emotional level as well as being creative and flexible with the space you have. If you normally buy flowers, buy them. If you normally burn candles, burn them (assuming it is safe to do so). Try to maintain your level of normalcy as much as you possibly can.
Meal Plan -
This is more critical for couples with families; however, equally important to the DINKS of the world. Crock pots, instant pots, air fryers, electric burners, propane grills are your best friend. But keep your meals simple because you don't have space to prep, clean, etc. Also, remember the extension cord. Small Kitchen Appliances have very short cords. Be prepared to eat a lot of meals outside of your home. Which gets REALLY.OLD.
Dish soap, dish towels, cutting board, knife, utensils, plates, cups, paper towels...All of the things you use on a daily basis you will still need. A lot of our stuff was buried deep in the dusty heart of our dining room which adds a stress and frustration level of not having access to things you need. The simple things, dish soap for example, can be such a point of frustration. Our dishes are nice and moisturized after three weeks of being washed with our hand soap.
Move it out of the kitchen. You will need/want your refrigerator and even if you have others, take out what you use frequently. If you leave it in the kitchen, clean it out first. Even if they tell you it will only be a "couple of days". A couple of days means at least 10. Nobody wants to see the contents of a refrigerator that has not been cleaned in 10 days.
Budget for EXTRAS-
This might be the part I didn't exactly tell the boss (Mike, my husband) about...Plan for wanting to replace EVERYTHING! Because, you have this brand new, sparkly kitchen, bath or whatever and now you put back all of your OLD stuff!!! NAH girl, no way. You want new towels, new dishes, new utensils, new curtains, new...new...new...EVERYTHING! So, just plan for this. Trust me, it will happen.
Ship 'Em Off-
Grandmas, sleepover with friends, camp...whatever your options are, let the kids go on some adventures. You will need a break and so will they. Because it is so trying and draining, let your village help you with your littles.
Things will get damaged. Period. So protect the things that are near and dear to your heart and the others, well expect a dent in your brand new refrigerator, or a chipped cabinet. Unfortunately, it is all part of the process. Cover, wrap, move... do whatever you have to do to try to mitigate the damage but be prepared for something to suffer the wrath of construction.
Get What You Pay For -
If you are redoing countertops, make sure they either only charge you for the square footage of your countertops or give you the remaining pieces of the slab. Or if you don't want the leftover pieces negotiate only paying for what you use, because they will use it on other projects. Also, keep extra pieces of your materials. In the event you have a broken tile, handle, or whatever you want to make sure you can replace it and items may get discountinued and not available for purchase in the future.
Against The Grain -
Make it yours. All of the decisions can be so stressful. Which tile, which grout, which direction does it lay, etc, etc. Don't be afraid to do something that is "uncoventional". This is your space and you have to live with it, so just because "that's not what people normally do" (which is what I heard over and over), doesn't mean it's not what you should do.
It's easy to get caught up on the "poor me, this sucks" bus. It takes effort and intention, but be grateful. Grateful that you have the ability and opportunity to transform your space into exactly what you want. Grateful for everyone working on the project, even if they don't show up on time. Grateful for your spouse and family toughing out the situation with you. Just be grateful.
Ok, so this one TOTALLY caught me off guard. I didn't even really put it together until the project was almost complete. Take extra care of your skin. My skin broke out like a 14 year old. It was awful, and I wash my face twice a day. It's not enough. Do masks, cleanses, peels, book an extra facial, (or a facial, I didn't at all) seek guidance from your skincare specialist, but be prepared for your skin to need some extra love. In hindsight, I can definitely see what happened. All of the dust that was settled ALL OVER my house, also settled nicely on MY FACE.
Professional Cleaning -
Once it's all over, do yourself a favor, take a spa day and hire a cleaning crew. You've lived in an abnormal level of chaos, treat yo' self. Seriously, the dust is everywhere. The task of cleaning it all up, because it is not just the area you remodeled. I hate to break it to ya, but it will consume your WHOLE HOUSE! A cleaning crew is the last vital step for sanity sake.
Out with the Old -
Now it's time to most likely wash EVERYTHING and put it all back....NO! Take the time to purge. We had junk buried in the way back of our cabinets. I shipped all of it out of here. We never use it. We probably honestly didn't even know we had it. Purge! Purge! Purge! Except my jar opener. I really wish I had that thing back. It's such a beautiful, clean slate. Don't junk it up with stuff you never, ever use.
I hope you took something away from this blog post that will help you should you choose to remodel an area of your home. If you have been through it and have advice, recommendations, or pain points I failed to mention, please comment below to share with others.
I'm off to enjoy my coffee in my new kitchen! Cheers everyone, we made it!!