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!

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