Kitchen Renovations

How to survive a kitchen renovation

6 tips to stay sane
Derek Swalwell

Many of us would rather avoid a kitchen renovation altogether, instead opting to live with a poorly-functioning kitchen simply because the idea of a renovation seems like a more challenging prospect. 

It’s true that once the renovation is underway there are plenty of factors in the process that can put pressure on householders and how the family functions on a daily basis. Ideally, you’ll move out while the work is done but of course, this is not always an option.

Take heart. With forward planning and some simple hacks, it’s possible to lessen the burden on the household.

1 month before the renovation


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  1. Be realistic about exactly how things will play out. Consult with your builder or kitchen specialist to find out what to expect and plan a timeline if possible so you can work around.
  2. Do a big clean of your kitchen. This may seem fruitless but it’s a great way to take stock and have a close look at what you need to store and what you can throw away. It’s also a nice way to remember your old kitchen as it was – in a clean state. Remember to take “before” photos!
  3. Pack away items that are seldom used in the kitchen. Large appliances such as deep fryers, seasonal items such as slow cooker and bulky things whose function can be performed by more rudimentary tools such as frypans and saucepans – just for the short term.
  4. Let your pantry stock run down by first taking stock and doing a good clear out of old and out-of-date food supplies. Get inventive with your recipes and plan meals around the supplies you already have to use them up, rather than adding to your pantry.
  5. Cull your cupboards of old and unwanted items. Be ruthless but keep a box of “maybe” items if you’re unsure what to keep. You’ll likely find that once you unpack into your new kitchen you’ll do away with more than you originally expected.
How to survive a kitchen renovation
(Credit: SIMON WHITBREAD)

2 weeks before the renovation

  1. Have a big cook-up of freezable meals that can simply be reheated for the family whilst the renovation is underway. Stick to family favourites and simple meals that are easy to prepare.
  2. Enlist the help of friends to get you through the tough times. Book in a few dates to dine in with other family members or friends to regroup and enjoy a home cooked meal. Offer to cook them a meal in their kitchen for the whole gang!
How to survive a kitchen renovation

1 week before the renovation

  1. Pack away items into boxes with labels as you use them for the final time. This will make packing day that little bit easier.
  2. Keep a shopping list of all the pantry items you’ve run out of so you can do an informed grocery shop once you’ve moved in to your new kitchen.
  3. Ask everyone what they think they’ll miss about having a kitchen and find ways to recreate these elements elsewhere in the home, at friends’ homes or local eating places.
  4. Seal up other areas of the home that will be affected by the building process. If there are rooms nearby that will suffer from excess dust and building debris. Cover carpet and/or stair treads with taped-down heavy plastic sheets and line walls with heavy cardboard to protect them from goods being carried through.
  5. Set up your fridge and freezer in another room, preferably close to your temporary preparation area.
  6. Set up a temporary kitchen. Use a garage, laundry, verandah or closed in area with a designated workbench to work on for the duration, which may be weeks on end.

Include the following essentials:

  • Coffee and tea making provisions (think motel)
  • Toaster or sandwich press (which may double as a grill)
  • Electric frying pan (try op shops for a temporary solution)
  • Knives, utensils and cutlery (think camping essentials)
  • Electric or gas hotplate (better still, a BBQ is possible)
  • Saucepan and frying pan
  • Chopping board
  • Washing basin and washing up detergent if no sink available
How to survive a kitchen renovation

During the process

  1. Make it fun! Get everyone on board in the process and make sure the whole family knows what to expect and contributes ideas and airs their concerns.
  2. Keep meals simple – think glamping and don’t overdo it.
  3. Set up a designated dining space, or one that can easily be set up and pulled down at meal times.
  4. Schedule downtime along the way to relax away from the process.
  5. Treat yourself to a takeaway occasionally – you’re only human!

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