How to Survive During a Kitchen Renovation

Since were technically finished with our kitchen remodel, (even though we've still got a couple "punch list" items to complete before I can take pictures), I thought I'd share how our family of 2 1/2, (since our cat, Benelli, definitely had to adjust during the reno I'm including him as a half), survived over 3 months of renovation to almost half of our main floor, and came out on the other end better people for it! 

When I was younger, (maybe middle school), my parents had contractors renovate our kitchen.  All I remember was eating a lot of Wendy's.  Whether we actually ate it all the time, or it's just my adolescent memories, I definitely couldn't look at a Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger for some time afterwards.  What I do remember for sure was that for the most part it wasn't as disruptive as our family's one and only full bath remodel.  The kitchen was sectioned off and we were able to use the rest of the house without much of an issue.       

Our house is not like that:

The kitchen took up roughly 1/4 of our main floor, and also had the back door and the basement stairs with the only access to our new family room and laundry room.  While we would have loved to keep the dining room open and utilize it as a temporary kitchen, we were removing the wall between the two rooms and also the entire ceiling of the kitchen and dining room.  That meant we had to take out of commission the entire half of the first floor.  It also meant we wouldn't be able to use the back door as our main entrance during construction.  This was something we had to get used to since the only times we use our front door was to get the mail.

We knew it would be a long remodel since we are night and weekend warriors, and we were also starting after Thanksgiving which meant we would have the holidays to deal with.  I also knew the only way we would survive was to set up a temporary kitchen.  We moved our old fridge into the living room and used a folding table with some storage units we bought at Target to set up make-shift food prep area.

We actually had everything we needed in the form of a steamer, crockpot, toaster oven, and microwave.  While we only used the steamer once, and the crockpot a handful of times, we used the heck out of our toaster oven.  I had to reduce my cooking portions to what could fit into the toaster oven, (even though we're only 2 people I cook full recipes that make 4-6 servings and have leftovers), and things like soup and anything with liquid was cooked in the microwave.

We used plastic silverware, (tip: splurge for the heavy duty clear plastic, not the dinky white plastic), and paper plates and bowls.  While it's not the most environmentally friendly, I knew my weakness would be carrying down dishes and cleaning them in the utility sink, (and it's important to not only continue living but to keep your sanity as well!).  I also only used glass containers for leftovers, that way we could reheat them without using extra plates or bowls.

We did have a plastic tub that sat on the top of the fridge that I would put dirty dishes in, (the placement allowed for easy access, but also couldn't be seen from the rest of the living room), that I would take down whenever it got full and clean in the laundry room.

As far as Benelli's food, we moved that into the living room and continued to feed him on his regular schedule.  He didn't seem to mind, or atleast didn't tell us if he did.  His water though, was moved upstairs.  Without quick access to a faucet on the main floor we figured we would be better moving it upstairs.  The truth is he rarely drank out of his water bowl.  He preferred the bathroom faucet upstairs or basement faucet, he wasn't discriminant.  The routine was he would follow anyone into the bathroom if he was thirsty, or would beg until you followed him to the closest faucet and then jump on the counter giving us the cue to turn on the water.

I tried not to make eye contact whenever he was drinking.  #vampirekitty

We moved his water dish upstairs to the bathroom and coincidentally enough, he stopped drinking out of the faucet!  We haven't moved it back next to his food container yet, and we may just keep it up there and see how it goes.

Another major issue we had to deal with was the large opening between the living room and dining room.

Embarrassingly, the only photo that shows the entire opening.

Our house has it's original plaster walls, (any room that hasn't been completely remodeled, that is), and anyone that's worked with plaster walls knows, it's messy.  Walls can usually be somewhat contained when removing, but the ceilings are a giant mess, no matter what you do. 

The closest I got to the demo.

We knew we needed to plastic and tape off the opening in the living room as well as the stairs to the basement, but we also needed to access each area.  That's when we found these zipper things from Home Depot.

They have adhesive which sticks to your plastic, and then you cut down the middle and you're able to zip open and close.  They were kinda pricey at $20 for 2 of them, but we needed 2 and they were priceless by the end of the project.

This is the only part that disrupted Benelli.  He's used to having freedom around the house so it was hard for him to take being sectioned off like this.  Especially when people are on the other side.  It seemed to be fine for the first couple months, he would just sit near the plastic and meow if we were both on the other side doing work.  That was until one evening I came home and couldn't find him.  I called his name and he casually came out from under the plastic.  Like no big deal.  I turned around and he had slithered right back under again.  I caught it on video to send to Mike our newest problem.  It's dark, but you can figure out what's going on.

The problem was we couldn't tape down the sides or else we wouldn't be able to use the zipper opening.  We ended up putting a heavy blanket down in front of the plastic so the darn cat couldn't sneak under.  It also helped reduce the amount of dust that made it's way under the plastic, because plaster dust gets everywhere, no matter what you do.

While it wasn't dust proof, having semi-permanent (at least for the entirety of the remodel), barriers to the openings was essential.  While it was a hassle getting the basement to do laundry, (carrying dirty clothes through a dirty reno isn't a big deal, but carrying clean clothes through said reno is tricky), we were lucky enough to still have access to an outside door.  Making the provisions to have a temporary kitchen and moving things to areas that made the most sense kept us sane during the 3 months of our biggest remodel to date!

M&M Wedding | Reception

So far I've shared our ceremony and the formal photos, now it's time to show you the party!  We held our reception at an old school house that is now a facilities hall with all the vintage and old character.  While I chose to keep the decorations to a minimum at the park, here I tried to utilize all different decorations to give a lot of detail.

I'm mildly obsessed with the giant balloons, as seen here at the bridal shower, so I added some to the entrance.

I designed this using the font from the invitations and a projector to draw with chalk markers on the chalkboard.  I also added a hashtag for all the instagramers in attendance.  It's also where my photographer got the "Mallory and Michael" and date for the group photo.

Inside, you travel up a small set of stairs and in the hallway between the two rooms were mason jars with everyone's names on them as well as tags with the table numbers.

These served double duty as our seating chart, cool drink glasses, as well as the favors.  My favorites were ours, of course:

I used my silhouette and this outdoor vinyl to create all the names.  It was tedious, but well worth it!  I did some dishwasher tests, and was happy to report that the vinyl lived up to it's claims and was permanent.

From the mason jar table the large room on the right held all the tables for dinner.

When we first saw the rooms we immediately thought of string globe lights.  It was part of the feel we were going for and the height of the room was perfect.  The hall asked that we don't tape anything to the walls, so instead of asking to use command strips to hold globe lights up, we decided to use the old, "better to ask for forgiveness, than permission".  The day before the wedding, Mike and some family members took a ladder and hung all the lights to get the spacing and to stick all the command hooks.  We took them down afterwards, (because the hall manager would be locking up for the night and unlocking in the morning), and set the rest of the room up, our photographer took the photos above after we finished, and the morning of the wedding Mike and some friends quickly hung all the lights back up.  I know we were breaking the rules, but it looked awesome and no damage was done because we used the command strips!

For the table centerpieces we had large paper flowers that I made, candle holders made from logs and fake candles, wood slices for height and a table number that was also made from wood slices and painted with chalkboard paint and chalk markers.

The flowers were a mix of a several different types and three basic colors to create multiple different combinations.

 I also printed out thank you notes for each place setting.

Since there were only a few kids at the wedding I added a couple things I picked up at the dollar spot at Target to each of their tables.  There was basically four kids, two around 2 years old, and two that were closer to 5-6.  This is one of the younger kids seats. 

And, the older kids got markers and stickers.

On the gift table Mike found me an old mailbox and cut a slit in the top and I painted it with the pin-popular "P.S. I Love You".

Next to the gift table was our awesome cupcake display.

Mike made the stand from giant wood slices and logs and it was one of the coolest things ever, not to mention the seriously amazing cupcakes that were awesome looking on their own.   

I didn't really want toppers since we were only doing cupcakes, so I just made little signs and they were set on the top layer.

I made a little chalkboard sign to describe what each flavor was. 

They were all seriously delicious, but I let Mike pick the one we would cut and feed to each other and he, of course, picked the one with bacon.

There were some things in the room that we couldn't remove, like a piano, that I just pretended weren't there.  I basically just 'put a flower on it' (any portlandia fans?).  There were also these two pictures, one of George Washington and the other Abraham Lincoln that I thought were kinda ridiculous, so instead of hiding them somewhere I embraced them and added little mustache clings.

via instagram #mmdankswedding

After we arrived, Mike and I chose to have our first dance after being announced.  This way everyone was already looking at us and it was a nice segue into the speeches.  We set the tables up to have a small dance floor between the head tables and the rest of the guests.  Our first dance was to "You Make it Real" by James Morrison.

Our best man, one of Mike's best friend, and our maid of honor, my sister, killed their speeches.  There were laughs and tears. 

After we were done with the formalities, guests were dismissed to get dinner.  The food was set up in a smaller room off of the main hall and had all the food, drinks, small high top tables, and the photo booth.  One of my favorite parts was the giant chalkboard in the room that I was able to utilize as the drink menu.

I designed each section in photoshop, then brought a projector to draw it in chalk.  Thankfully I was able to get into the hall a couple days before the wedding, because the whole chalkboard took 4 hours or so to draw!

Mike made his own kegerator system to dispense the beer.  He stored all the kegs on ice in a large metal feed bucket and all the lines fed to taps that he drilled onto posts and logs.   

Each groomsmen had their own beer, and he also had a collaborative beer made with one of the best brewers from his homebrew club.  Mike came up with the names, and I made labels for each tap.

On the other side of the table we had our wine.  We made a red, white, and blush.  The white was divided and back-sweetened differently, so that one was semi-dry, while the other was semi-sweet.  We also used frozen water balloons to prevent the wine bottles from eventually sitting in water.

I made labels for each of the wines and printed them on labels I found online that were waterproof. 

We registered for a table-top wine opener and some of my family members gifted it to us at the shower so we were able to use it at the reception.  We encouraged people to drink one glass at a time, or take the whole bottle to the table.  We even told people to take bottles of their favorite wine home.

We had collected bottles from family and friends and some were giant bottles, so we placed these on the head table so the bridal party didn't have to worry about any lines at the wine table.

This picture perfectly describes Mike and I.  

That bottle also is the reason for this gem later in the evening:

Next to the drink table was the photo booth. 

I used photoshop and my silhouette to make the sign and props.  Most of our guests hadn't been to a wedding with a photo booth so it was awesome seeing everyone have a great time with it.

Here are some of my favorites from the night.

The other form of entertainment of course was dancing.

While people were busy eating and hanging out, the mason jar table was turned over to an M&M table.  Come on, you know we had to.  We used the aluminum M's that Mike salvaged, (one of them lives down in our family room when it's not moon-lighting as an M&M table decoration), and the wood pieces from the mason jar set-up.  I found 12 different types of M&M's and bought them in bulk, or on sale when I found them.  My favorite? Peanut butter.  My least...raspberry, eww.

I printed a "logo" on each paper bag.  It took a long time, but I was able to use a regular computer printer at work and fed them through individually.

Our photographers got creative with our rings and the m&m's.

While everyone was partying away, our photographers and the bridal party sneaked outside to take a couple photos that I requested using sparklers and cigars.  I wanted artsy, smoky photos of the guys with their cigars, and they turned out perfect. 

It was the first time they had used sparklers for photos, so it took a bit to get them right, but they turned out amazing as well.

We had an awesome time and it was a great moment to look back inside and reflect on what a great day it had been.

I loved our wedding so much, and hope you enjoyed my recaps as much as I did revisiting all the details!