6 Tips to Help You Survive a Kitchen Remodel

Written by Ben Carnes of Ben Carnes Construction
Updated July 21, 2015
kitchen with white cabinets
Before starting a kitchen remodel, recognize there will be dust, discomfort and decision fatigue. (Photo by Summer Galyan)

Consider these tips to minimize stress during a kitchen remodeling project.

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One day it hits you: those turquoise enamel appliances date from the 1960s. Even the throw rug over the hole in the linoleum is worn through. You face the awesome possibility of remodeling your kitchen. But where do you start?

Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking this is going to be difficult. Remodeling a kitchen is easy. First, find a contractor you trust. Next, give him the keys to the house, go to Maui, and tell the contractor not to call you until the job is finished. This works every time unless you live on Maui, in which case, you’ll have to go somewhere else.

If that isn’t an option and you have to live in the house while your kitchen is remodeled, here are a couple of suggestions.

1. Find the right kitchen remodeling contractor

If you have a recommendation from friends who remodeled their kitchen within the past year — friends you visited during their remodel and who stayed reasonably sane in the process — you can interview him, too, but I specified “within the past year” for a reason.

RELATED: Where to Find Big Savings in Your Kitchen Remodel

One family I know hired a highly recommended contractor who, in the course of a four-month project, took three two-week vacations, during which no workmen came and he didn’t return calls. This guy was lean and hungry 15 years earlier, when he’d done a great, efficient job for their friends, but he’d become fat and arrogant since then.

The right contractor will be realistic — that is, honest — about the duration of disruption to your daily routine. In addition to the noise and mess involved, the simple fact of people showing up day after day at the haven that is your home is going to affect people in different ways. For some folks, the work crew turns out to be your new BFF — for others, not so much. There’s no way to know ahead of time how that will pan out for you, but you can make an educated guess by paying attention to what your gut tells you when you interview.

2. Set up a camp kitchen for your meals

Think this through. You’re going to get tired of takeout food in a surprisingly short time. Set up a temporary kitchen so you can keep preparing some meals at home. A microwave and a toaster oven will get you through, and you might be able to move your refrigerator.

3. Expect the unexpected

One homeowner said the thing that made her the most disoriented was not having her usual place in the house to drop her handbag and keys.

4. Take precious items out of harm’s way

Jewelry, cash, musical instruments, artwork, and items of sentimental value should be stored off the premises, for everyone’s peace of mind. Breakables should be packed away.

5. Keep out dust

Drywall and plaster dust is superfine, and it floats into unbelievably remote areas of your house, so do the best you can to seal off the work area by hanging plastic sheeting. Otherwise you could find drywall dust in your sock drawer — seriously. Discuss this with your contractor if he doesn’t bring it up. If possible, have a separate entrance to the work area so the crew doesn’t come through the main entrance every day.

MORE: 4 Things to Do Before a Kitchen Remodeling Project

6. Prepare yourself for decision fatigue

Start choosing appliances, color scheme and all the rest as soon as you’ve decided to do the project. Nothing is quite as frustrating as a job that stops cold because you haven’t found the right microwave, light fixture, backsplash tile, flooring — well, you get the idea. Ideally, all your decisions should have been made before you sign with the contractor. And after you make your choices, invite his input.

These are some thoughts for anyone who isn’t going to Maui. Most people find that, once the dust settles — and I mean that literally — the new kitchen was worth doing, but if you just can’t bear the thought, you can always buy a new throw rug and go on as before

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About this Angi Expert: Ben Carnes, owner of Ben Carnes Construction, has been a licensed general contractor in Los Angeles since 1984. Based in Woodland HIlls, Calif., he specializes in residential additions and remodels, tenant improvement, and light commercial work.

As of July 21, 2015, this service provider was highly rated on Angi. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angi for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angi.

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