While a few of our projects have been winding down over the last few weeks, a few more have started up. The few days prior to demo is always a bit hectic for a homeowner…it’s hard to know what to do when you don’t know what to do! I’ve learned over the years to be a little more assertive about the planning phase. I used to not want to meddle or interfere. I wanted to let people go about doing things on their own until they asked for my input. Sometimes that hands-off policy works, but other times I’ve come to see that my clients really appreciate a little bit of unsolicited help to put a little fire under their you-know-what.
I’ve treaded lightly in the past, but now I’m flat out asking “do you want me to help you set up a temporary kitchen?”
Right before staring demo last week on one of my projects, a client came up a with a fabulous idea while we were rearranging her boxes and furniture and setting up her temporary kitchen in the living room…she said “you’re really good at this, you should write a kitchen renovation survival guide!” And voila! Here’s the first in a series of posts that we hope will help any of you embarking on a remodeling project. It was sort of an eye opening experience…I mean, I know I’m a kitchen designer, but I never really considered how my design skills translated into organizational skills. This client had though she’s just put the existing refrigerator in the foyer…since there didn’t appear to be any other place to fit it. I had horrifying images of this poor family trying to navigate boots, winter coats and sports gear around the refrigerator for 2 months. No way.
So much of a homeowner’s peace of mind depends on having some space, some little corner of the house that is somewhat of a sanctuary. That means you have treat your temporary space during construction the same way you’d approach the ‘after’ of your dream kitchen. Everything in its place…to the best of your ability. That means all the food you’ll be using should be stored in one spot, I prefer large clear tupperware boxes with lids. That way you can see the food, but also protect against little critters in old houses. A table that is the ‘kitchen’ with a microwave, toaster over, cutting board, knife block, etc. and a separate table and chairs as a kitchen table. If you don’t have 2, go buy a folding table! This is no time to be cheap! This will save your marriage, your sanity, maybe your childrens’ lives. I’m not exaggerating. You can always reuse the folding table for a future holiday party, birthday party, garage sale, etc. This is where the temptation for denial kicks in, and you have to fight it, and if you can’t do it yourself, ask for help! From a friend, sister, anyone. Do not wait for your spouse to have time to help you over the weekend, chances are other things will come up and it won’t happen. The most important thing is being prepared and just getting it done. Here’s a few tips:
- Pick a room for the temporary kitchen that makes sense. If you’re doing work on the entire first floor and living in the house during construction, can the kids share a room for a few months while you use one of their rooms for the temporary kitchen? If there’s room on the first floor for it, then move out all unnecessary furniture to another location, basement, bedroom, etc.
- The most frustrating part of a temporary kitchen is often having no sink…so if you can put it near the bathroom sink, you’ll be much happier.
- This is the time to embrace paper plates, cups, etc.
- This is an opportunity to get ready for when you move back into your new kitchen, so if you have the time, use it to throw out all those old spices, and tupperware’s without lids. If you don’t have time, don’t avoid organizing because you can’t do it 100% perfectly the way you had hoped. Throw all the stuff you don’t need and won’t be using into one set of boxes, and everything you will need and use in another set.
- Clutter makes us crazy. Don’t be tempted to just drop the boxes right as you get into the storage room – think about how to organize the boxes and furniture you’re not using to maximize storage – as if you had only a set size storage locker to work with and have to make the best of what you have. Having to walk around boxes and furniture that are in your way for 2 months can be one of the most annoying things about renovating
- All extra furniture you don’t need for a few months need to go in one room with all the boxes kitchen and foodstuffs you don’t need right away. Side chairs, little side tables, whatever – get it out of the living room. The more space you have the saner you’ll be.
- Set up one table with a microwave, toaster oven, knife block, paper towels and cutting board
- Set up another table for eating meals
- Have the contractor move your existing refrigerator into the temporary kitchen space
- If you don’t have any extra bookshelves or metro shelves for kitchen stuff and food storage, go invest in some – you can always put it in the basement or laundry room later…Tall shelving gets stuff off the floor and really maximizes the square footage you have left to live in. Think hi-rises..that’s why they build them that way in cities
- Accept the dust. It’s just going to be a fact of lift for a bit. I strongly encourage you not to cancel your cleaning crew during this time if you have one! The more it’s kept up with, the easier it is to maintain.