Home Improvement

Surviving a Kitchen Renovation

September 3, 2015
how to survive a kitchen renovation

As I type, I am on my living room couch surrounded on all fronts by snack boxes, plastic dinnerware sets, and takeout menus. Everything that used to be in our kitchen, including our refrigerator and a large china cabinet, are also in the living room. Along with boxes full of everything else we unpacked before our kitchen renovation. 

How to Survive a Kitchen Renovation

Exhibit A: Living Room

And then there are the boxes of tile, new appliances, light fixtures, tools, extension cords, and all of the other things our contractor needs to work his magic. Those are currently occupying the dining room.

How to survive a kitchen renovation

Exhibit B: Dining Room

We don’t live in the sort of house where we can just hang out in another wing. It’s tight quarters in here, even without a major renovation going on. And since we’re spending all of our money on the kitchen, we can’t afford to jet and hang out in a hotel for 2 weeks. We are currently squatters in our own home.

First world problems, I know

The hardest part, honestly, is waiting for our dream kitchen to happen! But I thought I would offer a few tips for surviving a kitchen renovation — and being a squatter in your own house.

1. Put the following on your grocery list. You’ll have no kitchen sink, so while you’re renovating your kitchen, life’s going to be a “picnic.” When you’re not eating out, you’ll want to make clean-ups as easy as possible, without that handy kitchen sink and dishwasher. Luckily, we were able to keep our fridge plugged in in our living room. If you can’t do the same, consider borrowing (or buying) a “pony fridge.”

  • Bottled water
  • Ice or ice trays (that ice in the freezer is going to run out quickly)Dish cleaning wipes (like the kind you may have used in your college dorm)
  • Dish cleaning wipes (like the kind you may have used in your college dorm)
  • Ice or ice trays (that ice in the freezer is going to run out quickly)Ice or ice trays (that ice in the freezer is going to run out quickly)
  • Propane for the grill
  • Disposable cutlery
  • Paper towels
  • Disposable plates and bowls
  • Disposable cups (don’t forget the coffee cups!)

Now, I am sure there are more eco-friendly ways to get through a renovation, without creating this much trash. While we are recycling everything we can (like the paper plates and plastic water bottles), we’d love to hear your ideas for cutting back on trash.

2. Fire up the grill, and go for the pre-marinated meat and basically anything where the “prep” work is done. There’s no reason not to eat healthy…actually, being limited to the grill might make you eat even healthier. Fill that baby up with fluid so it’s one less thing to worry about during your reno.

Dinner ideas (when you’re limited to picnic-ware for cooking) include: 

  • Grilled, pre-marinated pork tenderloin w/ a salad kit (you can mix up the salad in the bag, so you don’t have to wash a bowl)
  • Grilled, pre-marinated chicken breasts w/ frozen veggies (prepared in microwave)
  • Salads with pre-cooked chicken strips and pre-cut veggies
  • Sandwiches

Since you won’t have all of your knives or a cutting board handy, pre-cut fruit (like bagged, sliced apples and baby carrots) are the way to go for healthy snacks.

3. Save money eating out. We’re eating out a few times a week, at least, especially on those weeknights where we have to make a last-minute run to Lowes (which is often). Try making your dollar go further.

Cash in your credit card rewards points. We cashed them all in on restaurant gift cards right before we started, and were able to get around $200 total. We did a combination of chain restaurants and fast food/pizza.

  • Clip coupons and search online for restaurant deals. Every little bit of savings adds up!
  • If you have kids, see which nights of the week kids eat free at your local chain restaurants. There’s a handy list of Atlanta-area “kids eat free” restaurants here.
  • Hit up the restaurants that are having “spirit night” benefitting your kids’ schools. If your school is like ours, they’ll be sure to remind you by sending your kid home with a sticker on her shirt.

4. Don’t forget to leave the wine opener unpacked, and in a place you’ll remember where it is. Because priorities.


We’re less than a week away from the final reveal, and couldn’t be more excited! I’ll be sure to update when it’s finished.

Have you been through a kitchen renovation? What are your tips for living out of your living room?

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