Living without a kitchen for an extended period of time is a daunting undertaking. As intimidating as it may be, we’re here to tell you that it’s doable and that you’ll come to appreciate making your meals (even if you don’t like cooking). All it takes is planning, patience and a continued eye on your vision. Follow our kitchen remodel survival guide to help you get through to the other side and save some money along the way.

How Long Does a Kitchen Remodel Take?

According to Bryan Sebring, the president and founder of Sebring Design Build, a kitchen remodel can take anywhere from one to three months. That’s a long time to go without a home-cooked meal and dishwasher. Of course, the actual timeline can vary based on the scope of your remodel. Sebring estimates that the typical timeline for a kitchen project is as follows:

  • Interviewing contractors: 2-4 weeks
  • Designing, making material selections and estimating costs: 1-4 weeks
  • Ordering materials, waiting for products to arrive and gathering permits: 1-4 weeks
  • Building: 2-4 weeks

5 Kitchen Renovation Survival Tips


1. Prepare for Your Kitchen Remodel

If you needed an excuse to clean out your kitchen and get it organized, you just got your wish. Before you begin the remodel, it’s a good idea to get rid of anything you don’t use and put aside anything you’ll need for a temporary kitchen setup.

“Go through a kitchen purge and separate everything into four groups: keep, donate, temporary kitchen and sell. Get rid of anything you don’t use, Tupperware without lids, etc. And think about what you will need for your temporary kitchen during the remodel.”

Alushia Fitzgerald | Designer, Staging 2 Sell It

“Store your rarely used items where they’ll be out of the way during the renovation. The less clutter you have in your other living spaces, the more bearable it will be to live through the renovation.”

Ashley Wilson | At Home With Ashley

It’s also important to mentally prepare and know what to expect during a kitchen remodel. Keep an open mind and plan delays – they will happen. Knowing that changes will be made and extensions may be necessary will help you keep your stress at bay. Most of the time, it’s out of your control, so just make a plan to survive without a kitchen and stick with it.

2. Make a Temporary Kitchen During the Remodel

Having a makeshift kitchen at home while the real one is being renovated will allow you to continue to make food as best as you can in order to avoid spending too much extra money during the already-expensive remodel. Experts Sebring and Fitzgerald both say that creating a temporary kitchen is like preparing for a camping trip. Think about what you will need to survive and to make meals over the months your kitchen will be out of commission.

Where Should You Set Up Your Temporary Kitchen?

The two most important things you’ll need when deciding where to set up your temporary kitchen during a remodel are plumbing to wash dishes and an electrical outlet to plug in appliances. The laundry room or basement are often good options. Another is to take a corner of your living room or home office to make and store food, and use the sink or bathtub in the bathroom to wash your dishes.

Things to keep in mind when choosing the location for your temporary kitchen:

  • Keep it away from the kitchen remodel where dust is flying around and people are constantly walking in and out.
  • Concentrate it to one area. Don’t have it spread all around the house.
  • Stay away from rooms with carpet. If anything spills, it will be more difficult to clean up.

“We recommend setting up an area outside the kitchen near a bathroom or laundry sink to stage a space to eat and cleanup. We usually move the old fridge and microwave to that space, so our customers can still have a home base to store and prep their food.”

Bryan Sebring | President & Founder, Sebring Design Build

What Should Go in Your Temporary Kitchen?

It’s helpful to keep your routine as normal as possible in order to survive your kitchen remodel, so keeping items you use every day in your temporary kitchen will help you live through the chaos. Do you drink coffee every morning? Keep your coffee maker or Keurig handy. Do the kids go for the Pop-Tarts when they get home from school? Make sure the toaster oven is accessible.

Another important factor is knowing whether or not you’ll have access to your fridge and freezer. Consider moving your fridge to the garage or another room so you can continue to use it during the remodel. Being able to store cold things and freeze meals will make it easier to plan ahead, stick to your normal routine and save money on takeout.

Another kitchen renovation survival tip is to keep small appliances handy to make it easy to cook without a stove. Here is a list of suggested items to help you get through your remodel without having a fully-functioning kitchen:

  • Coffee maker/Keurig
  • Hot plate
  • Toaster or toaster oven
  • Slow cooker
  • Electric griddle or skillet
  • Electric kettle
  • Microwave
  • Mini fridge
  • Chest freezer
  • Tupperware
  • Good knife
  • Grilling tools
  • Hands Framing Custom Kitchen Design

    3. Make Meals Easy

    Cooking

    Planning meals around small appliances is a great way to prepare for your kitchen remodel. This will make it easy to keep your routine as normal as possible and help you save money. Here are some ideas to help you start planning:

    • Slow cooker: This is the perfect excuse to try new slow cooker recipes, and if you use liners, you don’t have to worry about washing the pot.
    • Microwave: It’s easy to pop in a microwaveable meal. You can also make meals before your remodel and freeze them, so all you have to do is put them in the microwave. Another option is to make enough food to have leftovers and reheat them throughout the week.
    • Toaster oven: Believe it or not, you can put more in your toaster oven than toast and frozen foods. Try making pizza, roasting asparagus or even broiling salmon.
    • Electric griddle or skillet: It’s basically a portable stove, so it’s easy to make eggs, sauté vegetables or cook chicken.
    • Grill: If the weather is nice, break out your grill.

    Takeout

    It’s inevitable. No matter how much you plan, there will be days when you just won’t be able to stand cooking with limited appliances, won’t want a microwaved meal or will be too burnt out on the remodel chaos to figure out how to make food. When you decide to get takeout, here’s what we suggest:

    • Save some for later. Takeout orders often have enough for you to have at least two meals. It’s like creating your own buy-one-get-one deal.
    • Try the grocery store. Most supermarkets have an entire prepared foods section and a salad bar.
    • Find your favorites and rotate so you don’t get sick of them.
    • Designate certain nights of the week for takeout.

    On the plus side, there’s a chance you’ll get sick of ordering food which will make you that much more excited to finally use your beautiful new kitchen.

    “Know that you’ll be eating out more and factor that into your kitchen renovation budget. It’s tough to live through, but it’s definitely worth it for the beautiful kitchen at the end.”

    Ashley Wilson | At Home With Ashley

    Phone a Friend

    See if a friend or family member will let you use their kitchen to prep and/or cook meals. You can prep items in bulk so you don’t have to resort to chopping and marinating in your living room or laundry room. Then, all you have to do is throw it all in your slow cooker or skillet to cook.

    If you have a friend nice enough to let you cook some meals in their kitchen, you can put them in the freezer and reheat at home. This will help you avoid eating out too often to save money. We recommend making a little extra to offer to the person who was nice enough to relinquish his or her kitchen and invite them over for a meal once your new kitchen is complete.

    4. Keep Your Kids Out of the Construction Zone and in the Loop

    Losing your kitchen for an indefinite amount of time is stressful and chaotic, but making sure that stress doesn’t extend to your kids is important. Taking hold of the situation is not so difficult as long as parents plan and stick to a routine. Here’s how to survive a kitchen remodel with kids:

    • Be open about the process. Tell your children what they can expect during the kitchen remodel process. Make sure to communicate what is going on and if there are changes to the plan.
    • Ask your kids for their input on the remodel. What color do they think the cabinets should be? Does subway tile look good? It’s their home, too.
    • Find a way to make it fun. If you present the remodel as an adventure the family is taking on, it will seem more exciting.
    • If you decide to do construction while your kids are not in school, make sure they have something to keep them occupied while workers are in the house. Get them involved in sports, take them to camp, plan an activity for the day, etc.
    • Designate a play area. Make sure your child knows where he or she can and can’t be.
    • Buy extra baby gates to keep your younger children safe and out of the construction area.

    5. Protect Your Pets

    Like your kids, you need to set boundaries for your pets. Make sure they aren’t able to get to the construction zone to avoid injuries or disruption.

    “We use baby gates to section off areas of the house we are not working in. And always introduce your pet to the key workers so they know it’s safe having all these new people in their home.”

    Bryan Sebring | President & Founder, Sebring Design Build

    Pro Tip: Buy booties for your pet to protect its paws. This will ensure it doesn’t accidentally step on a nail or something else that could injure it.

    You’re Ready to Survive Your Kitchen Remodel

    When the going gets tough, just remember that you’ll be enjoying your beautiful new kitchen in no time! In the meantime, try to keep your life as normal as possible. Plan ahead, cook when you can and try to minimize any delays in construction.

    “Pick something you love and stick with it. Don’t keep changing your mind, because it will only prolong the process. Even little changes will cost you time and money.”

    Alushia Fitzgerald | Designer, Staging 2 Sell It

    If living amongst construction gets to be too much, it’s okay to give yourself a break. Take some time away from the construction and let yourself mentally reset. Book a hotel in town for a night, visit family or a friend and let yourself eat out if you need to. It’s going to get hectic, so use our kitchen renovation survival tips to find ways to help yourself get through it.

    Confident you can make it through a kitchen remodel yourself? Try out these cheap kitchen makeover ideas or follow our guide on how to remove upper kitchen cabinets. Once you have a beautiful new kitchen in place, keep it looking good as new with our guide to decluttering kitchen counters.

    For a more in-depth look at kitchen remodels, try our Beginner’s Guide to Remodeling a Kitchen on a Budget.