Remodeling a kitchen is ALWAYS a long proposition, and it can certainly be stressful. But here’s the thing – I don’t actually think the remodel is the hard part. It’s doing your dishes in the bathroom sink and the setting up of the makeshift kitchen. There’s nothing more infuriating than trying to wash a full-size baking sheet in a too-small basin.
If you’re planning (or dreaming about) a kitchen remodel, then chances are you’ve also won the very sexy prize of setting up a makeshift kitchen! It’s kind of like cooking in college was, but now with the added difficulty of feedings kids and a spouse. And I guess less beer pong happening in the background. Don’t worry though, I’ve already waded through these treacherous and murky waters and have some survival tips for you. Seriously Pinterest-worthy spaces ahead, friends…prepare to be amazed.
PS: Wanna catch up on the renovation so far? Check out our plan to deal with a load bearing wall, how we framed a wall directly over our ceramic tile, how we planned for our first three-way switch, when shared some tips for the IKEA delivery day, and how I messed up my first tiling job. We’re finishing drywall this weekend, and I should have another update for you Monday!
Remodel In Phases
I think my favorite thing we’ve done in our remodel so far is to do it in phases – I actually built one wall of cabinets before even demo-ing anything else. While it would have definitely been faster to demolish everything all at once (and way more fun), having those cabinets in already means that all of our kitchen stuff is still actually in our kitchen. It’s not organized at all, and everything is kinda shoved in there, but it works.
Obviously, the idea of phases isn’t going to work for every kitchen remodel, but if you’ve got any hope of keeping at least SOME cabinets accessible, I think it’s totally worth the extra hassle. Right now, even though our kitchen is torn apart, we still have a microwave, fridge, and stove (though it’s so caked with drywall dust I don’t want to touch it right now), as well as plenty of space to store food. Without doing it in phases, that wouldn’t have been possible.
If you don’t have the luxury of a phased renovation, then you’re gonna have to find a place to put all your stuff. It’s amazing how much junk kitchen cabinets can hold! The best solutions I’ve seen to this problem involve setting up bookshelves (either borrowed from other spots in your home, friends, or thrifted) like an open-door cabinet or pantry.
If you don’t have access to a bookshelf, those clear organizational bins are a great way to store kitchen items. I have all of our pots and pans that wouldn’t fit in our ‘phase one’ cabinets in a bin in our dining room, and it has worked out extremely well. Laundry baskets would work, too, and that serves as a GREAT excuse to not have to do laundry!
There’s one more thing that I did that really helped when we started this renovation – I got rid of a ton of stuff. From old waffle irons that we rarely used to chipped plates, bowls, etc…a lot got donated. It feels good to go into a renovation a little lighter, and if we truly miss any of those items in the future, we can always repurchase them. Basically, call me Marie Kondo. (hahahahahahaha)
I really want to save our beautiful planet, I do. We use cloth diapers and wipes, I drove a hybrid car for a number of years, and we fill up our (HUGE) recycling bin every pickup. But during a kitchen remodel, you’d better believe I’m stocking up my makeshift kitchen using paper plates. And cups. Also mugs. And everything. (Don’t hate me…I’ll plant a tree or something later, I promise)
I set up our new disposable dishes in the ‘phase one’ cabinets, and even put together a little utensil caddy to wrangle everything. My favorite disposable purchase though, hands down, are the hundreds of insulated coffee mugs that make mornings SO much easier. I don’t have the energy to wash mugs when I DO have a kitchen sink, so coffee that doesn’t need extra cleanup is a win in my book.
If I was a better cook, I would invest in some of those disposable casserole pans that people use to cook freezer meals. They are great – I used a ton of them when I was prepping for Tyler’s birth, and they saved my butt with dinnertime more than once. Which leads me to my next point.
Bless you, Costco. Thank you for low prices and free samples, for paying your employees a living wage and having fantastic produce. But most of all, thank you for delicious pre-made meals (especially those stuffed peppers GAHHH they are so good). I stocked up on basically any non-prep meal Costco had to offer during the first few days of our renovation, and it has been so nice. Pretty much all their pre-prepared meals require an oven at 400 degrees for an hour, and you’re ready to go. Throw some foil over it if there are leftovers, and pitch the whole thing when you’re done. (Eek…maybe I’ll plant two trees, just to be safe!)
If you don’t have a Costco, don’t worry. There are all kinds of delicious freezer meals out there these days! I picked up a few things here and there, and have been pleasantly surprised with what I could throw together.
Other than that, I’ve been serving simple stuff – bagels and cream cheese, cereal, etc for breakfast, lots of applesauce and yogurt for snacks…you get the picture. If ever there was a time to justify buying the pre-packaged stuff from the grocery, this is it.
Finding a place in our makeshift kitchen to prepare everything during this remodel hasn’t been too rough because of that phased renovation concept I talked about earlier. That being said, prep space has been a little bit harder to come by. Beyond our desk counter pictured above (which is lower than a regular counter anyway), I’ve been doing some preparing at the dinner table, as well as at our makeshift countertop in the dining room. I just have to remember to NOT step in the dog’s water bowl with new socks on…not that that has ever happened or anything.
I hate dishes. I hate them I hate them I hate them. Definitely my least favorite household chore. But even with all the disposables in the world, they’re still going to accumulate. We’ve set up a little washing station in our guest bath, and a makeshift drying rack on a step ladder next to the sink. And yes, it is as cramped as it looks in that picture. Get yourself some tunes, a soap that you like the smell of, etc. Doing dishes during a renovation just sucks, there’s no way around it.
My only word of advice in terms of dishes? The shower helps. Yes, I’ve done my dishes in the shower. Large pots and pans just don’t fit, and I miss my sprayer. And what looks like a giant sink sprayer? A shower head. Did I get a little wet? Yep. Worth it to rinse off the spaghetti pot NOT in the comically small sink? 1000x yep.
It really isn’t that hard to live through a kitchen remodel (says the girl who still has working major appliances) if you plan ahead of time, manage your expectations, and put together a makeshift kitchen. Try and do it in phases if you can, and run to Costco if you can’t.