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How to Stay Organized During a Kitchen Renovation

Home Renovation Checklist

We recently remodeled our kitchen and as much as we were excited about the new plans, it was inconvenient to have our normal routines disrupted. The decisions are endless: the floor plan, cabinets, appliances, lighting, tile, countertops, sinks, faucets and on and on! Taking time to carefully plan out the logistics of the project resulted in a much smoother transition and less stressful experience for the whole family - especially for our dog, Boomer.

Here are a few tips to help you stay organized and cool as a cucumber throughout the kitchen renovation process.

Ask Your Contractor for a Timeline

The average length of time to complete a kitchen is 6-8 weeks. A project that involves moving walls and structural changes could take 10-12 weeks. Be prepared for delays, they will inevitably happen.

It’s Just Like You are Moving, but…

Remodeling a kitchen is a major project. Think of it as moving – just to other parts of your house! Everything needs to be removed from the kitchen. Contractors should protect light fixtures, cover floors and put up plastic sheeting to keep dust confined to the kitchen. Ask them to confirm what they will do to prep the area vs. what they expect you to do ahead of time.

Set up a Temporary Kitchen

The laundry room was a great place for our mini kitchen. It has a sink and a countertop to store our must-have items like a coffee pot and toaster. A countertop microwave is a life saver. I used small bins to store pantry staples and other kitchen supplies and a plastic tub for dirty dishes. They should be able to relocate your refrigerator so you can access it easily. However, you will have to go without a stove for the entire time. Think ahead about meals you can plan using your outdoor grill.

Remember the part where I said the renovation would take six to eight weeks? Determine what you need on a daily basis and arrange them so they are easily accessible. Here are the basics:

  • Paper plates, bowls and plastic silverware or a minimum amount of dishes you’re willing to wash.

  • Ziplock bags, plastic wrap and plastic containers for leftovers

  • A variety of utensils: knives, mixing spoons, spatulas

  • Food prep items: mixing bowls, cutting board, measuring cups

  • Paper towels, napkins, dish cloths and dish towels

  • Coffee maker, filters, coffee/tea, cups, toaster and/or countertop microwave

  • Basic condiments such as salt & pepper, butter, etc.

Paper plates and plastic silverware & cups
Mini kitchen in a laundry room

Clear out the Kitchen

Empty the entire contents of your pantry into clear plastic bins and sort items by categories such as: canned goods, condiments, sauces, pasta, snacks, beverages and fresh produce. This is a great time to declutter and edit kitchenware. Toss or donate broken items and duplicates. When you are clearing out your cabinets and drawers, keep like items together so it’s easier to put things away when the remodeling is complete. Place silverware in gallon size plastic bags for easy storage. Shoe boxes are excellent for keeping larger utensils and spices organized.

Choose a temporary storage area that is easy to access, because you will no doubt need to find that pizza cutter or cheese grater at some point! Use a dining room table and portable tables and use a spare bedroom in a dust-free zone for all other kitchenware. Keep in mind that a dust-free space can be impossible to find during a remodeling project! Be prepared to wash everything when you are ready to move into your new kitchen.

Repurpose Your Old Kitchen

Rather than sending your used cabinets, appliances and lighting to the dumpster, consider donating them to organizations like Habitat for Humanity, Donation Town or Freecycle. Veteran’s groups will also gladly accept your donations. You can score a tax deduction for your charitable contributions as well.

Prep the Kitchen Before Contractors Arrive 

  • Move the refrigerator into an area that is easily accessible (if possible) or relocate items to a spare refrigerator in the garage

  • Remove window blinds and curtains

  • Remove pictures and artwork from walls

  • Cover furniture in adjacent rooms

  • If you are replacing your cabinets, do you want to keep, sell or repurpose the door knobs on your cabinets? It’s little details like these that are often overlooked.

They’re Here!

The workers have arrived. Get to know them by name and understand their start and stop times for each day. There will be some days when no workers will be onsite. This is a nice, quiet time to map out where you will store things in your new cabinets and drawers. Organizing by “stations,” is the best approach. Identify specific cabinets for baking supplies, cooking supplies, dishes, etc. and what you will store in each of the drawers.

Keep Pets Safe and Calm

If possible, let your pets meet the construction workers so everyone is more at ease. Give dogs plenty of outside time to reduce stress and keep them away from loud noises. Crate pets to keep them safe and out of the way of constant traffic in and out of the house.

Eating Out or Cooking at Home?

Getting out of the house is a welcome break from the dust and the clutter. Your house isn’t going to feel like home for a while. If you’re lucky enough to schedule the remodeling project during warm weather, plan picnics for a welcome change of scenery.

Plan meals you can make on a grill or in a crockpot, toaster or microwave.

Life without a kitchen may feel a lot like camping, but there are plenty of alternate ways to cook meals that don’t require an oven or stovetop. Try these recipes for the dinners on the grill or get your comfort food with these slow cooker meals.

Plan Recipes That Don’t Require Cooking

Meat, cheese and fruit platter

Think summertime meals and lighter fare that you can pull together easily.


  • Salads

  • Sandwiches and wraps

  • Soups

  • Charcuterie board

  • Ready to eat pantry items: beans, tuna, peanut butter

Try these quick weeknight no-cook recipes.

Keep the Image of Your Dream Kitchen in Front of You

There is a reason for the madness. Manage your expectations. There will be times you will feel frustrated and stressed with the inconvenience. Trust me, the amount of time you have to deal with the disruption is so insignificant compared to the number of years you will enjoy your beautiful new kitchen.

I’m still loving mine and so is Boomer.

Dog laying down in a kitchen

Happy Organizing!



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