The past few posts (part I, part II, part III, and the result ) have been devoted to describing my kitchen remodel from which I learned many things. Below is a list of what I think are the most important and helpful things you can do to help yourself survive your own kitchen remodel:
1. Make an alternative cooking plan: How will you cook while your kitchen is under construction? Will you relocate your appliances and sink? Will you rely on a crock-pot, toaster oven, and microwave (you'll still need some type of sink preferably larger than a bathroom sink)? What about a fridge? Will you hire a personal chef or perhaps you will you eat out all of the time? The last two are both very costly options, you'll still have to deal with breakfast and lunch, and they may not be the most healthy options.
2. Cook meals before the kitchen goes away: If you'll have any way to keep your freezer running during construction then make a stash of meals. But don't use them all at the beginning - pace yourself! You'll appreciate a home cooked meal, albeit previously frozen, at the 75% mark a lot more than at the 5% completion mark.
3. Make friends: Friends, neighbors, and families are great places to borrow a kitchen from! Use their generosity to make large dishes that will last many nights like lasagna or other large casseroles.
4. Keep an eye on the progress: Not everything about a kitchen remodel focuses on food. You also need to monitor what is happening during the remodel. Walk through the kitchen and try to visualize what the result will be. The more frequently you do this, the more likely you will be able to “catch” any oversights or other potential problems before it is too late.
5. Make a list of easy meals: In the months, or in some cases years, before construction starts create and maintain a list of dishes you've made that are easy. This should be things with limited pots, limited ingredients, and limited clean-up. You'll be surprised how many such dishes exist but if you try to think of them on the fly you'll be hard pressed to come up with any!
6. Make a list of things you'll need: Sounds simple - keep out the pots, bowls, utensils, dishes, and staples you will need. But when it comes time to figure out what to keep the process can be difficult. To help yourself make a list of the items you will need before you need to pack. The trick is to keep the essentials but not the frivolous. You don't want too much stuff out but you also don't want to be going into your packed boxes to find something. While you're at it you'll also want to find a place to store the stuff. We used an old dresser. The drawers were a little heavy, especially the ones with the pots, but they worked.
7. Practice using new items before purchase: Buying new things for the kitchen is difficult. Reading reviews and talking to people who've used the things is helpful but everyone is unique. I recommend trying things out. For appliances, such as a dishwasher, take some of your dishes to the store to see how they fit. For some stoves and ovens, you can test them out in test kitchens. Play with the fridges in the store and pretend you are putting your stuff in them. For countertops, take a sample home - granite and marble places will happily knock off a small sample. Once home try using it - get it dirty, open a can of vegetables on it, try to stain it (pour wine and lemon juice on it), get it wet to see how it dries, etc. You'll be amazed at what you'll learn and what you won't want after you've tried it.
8. Have a refuge: Find a place either in your house, your yard, a friend’s house or even a library, bookstore or mall where you can relax and take refuge. Trust me some day you will just want to get away!
9. Make a list of cheap, but tasty restaurants: Even if your remodel is short, some days (potentially many days) you just won't want to, or perhaps even be able to, eat in the house. Either you'll need to just get away, you won't have time to deal with the temporary kitchen, or you'll just be sick of the limited range of meals you can prepare. For these times, I highly recommend you start now in your quest to find a list of restaurants to eat at. They should be cheap - remember your money is going towards the remodel. They should be tasty. And if possible try and find ones where you can eat something at least moderately healthy. Otherwise, you'll be joining the Remodel 20 club; yes its just like the freshman 20 but since you're no longer in college the weight will be much harder to take off!
10. Have Patience: Most importantly have patience. Nothing whatsoever related to remodeling happens quickly no matter what you do!
I wish anyone embarking on a kitchen remodel an easy and quick process but most importantly a great result!