DIY, Kitchen

How to Survive a Kitchen Remodel in a Small House: 7 Tips

We are close to the end of our kitchen renovation journey! It’s been a lot of work (mostly for Dave) and quite stressful at times, but the part that I thought would be the most stressful turned out to be the least stressful, and things that I had not accounted for caused me the most stress.   I realize that this is one of life’s refrains and I also realize that I still haven’t mastered that lesson.

I guide people through kitchen renovations almost every day (I have 10 going right now), but most of my clients have larger homes than we do.  We have about 1300 square feet on the main floor and about 600 square feet in our basement.  Every inch of our main floor is used and the basement is dark, crowded and creepy.  Here are my tips on how to survive a kitchen remodel in a small home:

  1. Set up a small shop:  Choose a corner of a room (if you have an entire room available for this, all the better), and organize your pantry goods and dishware like you would organize a tiny grocery store.  We used big plastic tubs and put breakfast things in one, baking items in another, etc.  Grouping things this way and having it all in one place was really helpful.  Need to get your hands on some sugar?  Check the “baking aisle”.  This is great if you have a guest room handy – we don’t, so the miniature grocery store was in our bedroom.  Not ideal, but that’s a small house.  I stored some things in the basement, but we just don’t have the room to put it all down there.
  2. Lightweight Tables:  We used a tall, industrial kitchen table and a rolling metal tea cart.  These acted as a food prep area, microwave and coffeepot area, and storage for everyday things.  Lightweight tables, or tables on wheels are really helpful.   We moved our wheelie table around based on the work that was being done in the kitchen.  It lived in the dining room for a while, but mostly was able to stay in the kitchen.

    during kitchen remodel
    An action shot! You can see the two metal tables that we used.  The “table” that’s covered with green felt is the dishwasher. It was probably 87 degrees in here when I took this photo. Also, I did not clean up any of these photos for you.  I think it’s nice to see something real every once in a while.
  3. Air-Conditioning is Great:  If  you are renovating in the summer, don’t have your AC die a slow death on you during the months of June and July.  Especially don’t do this when it’s over 100 degrees outside on what seemed to be a daily basis.  Dust, heat and construction chaos make you just want to give up and eat cookies all day long.  With ice cold milk.
  4. Keep the kids rooms renovation-clutter free:  I should have been better with this one.  Most of the time Sylvia’s room was untouched, but towards the end of the renovation things spilled into her area.  I did not realize that it bothered her until I cleaned up her room with her and set things back up the way they were pre-construction.  She was so appreciative and happy and I felt bad that I didn’t keep her space “normal” the entire time.
  5. Hook your dishwasher up: If you are able, connect your dishwasher to the sink plumbing.  This has been nice.  We’ve got it taped together to the sink pipe and have been running it almost the entire time.  It beats constantly washing things in our small bathroom.  We also kept our sink base in as long as possible.  I have been hand washing things in the bathroom sink and currently, there’s a dish drying rack in the tub.  It’s a good look.
    during kitchen remodel
    This was earlier on in the process. We kept our sink base in as long as possible. We also kept our old stove in as long as we could too.

    kitchen renovation photos
    We put the new stove in after the floor was installed. Here it is surrounded by our tables and another shot of Nelson who enjoys just standing in the kitchen.
  6. Keep the old stove around:  This may not be possible for a lot of people, but we kept our old stove in the kitchen for almost the entire renovation.  We did get a new stove – but we didn’t put that in there until towards the end of the major work.  When we didn’t have a stove, we used our Colman stove and the grill.   For budget reasons, we didn’t eat out much at all during the renovation.

    Renovation process
    Here’s another shot of our makeshift kitchen from last week. The ugly cardboard looking thing on the left is the stair header to the basement. Don’t worry, it will be covered up.
  7. Perspective:  I am so happy to be able to afford and create a new kitchen for and with my family.  All of this construction nonsense didn’t bother me that much – I’m grateful for a chance to gently complain about the inconvenience.  I’m not the most organized housekeeper in the world, but I was forced to be organized and set up a mobile kitchen and run a micro grocery store out of my bedroom.  This stuff is not a big deal, and, when you think about how most of the world lives, this is luxurious and I am grateful.

“Laugh as much as possible, always laugh. It’s the sweetest thing one can do for oneself & one’s fellow human beings.” – Maya Angelou



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