Tips for Surviving a Live-In Kitchen Reno

Tips for Surviving a Live-In Kitchen Reno - roomfortuesday.comAs you know, we’re smack dab in the middle of renovating our kitchen. You guys have given me SO many good tips and suggestions for surviving my kitchen renovation, I thought I’d share a bunch of my favorites here on the blog. If anyone is in the same boat… living amongst a mess and renovation- this post is a must-read! This may not be the prettiest post, but trust me when I say- there are so many amazing hacks to help you keep your sanity if you’re also planning to survive a reno. 

Living in a reno is a difficult task in itself, but living through a KITCHEN renovation is a totally different ballgame. I’m not going to lie- it’s miserable. Imagine going two or three months without a sink, oven, cooktop, or in some circumstances, a fridge. Over the past couple months I’ve picked up some invaluable tricks that are helping Emmett and I survive the day-to-day without a kitchen.


First I’d like to chat about keeping the rest of the house as clean as possible while the kitchen is in shambles.

Tips for Surviving a Live-In Kitchen Reno -

1. Give Up Some Control

This might seem counterintuitive, but trust me- it’s better to let some things be. Depending on the scale of your reno, the house will get messy. That’s just a fact. It’s impossible and tiring to clean every single day for months on end. The end will come soon enough and there will be a day where things are neat, tidy, perfectly organized and clean once again (at least I hope so). However, until that day comes… I’ve found it’s not worth it to obsess. I had to limit my cleaning to 2-3 times per week because it was stressing me out and taking so much valuable time. There is NO way to keep up with the dust, so eventually embrace what is out of your control.

2. Section Off the House

Obviously there are some things you can do to keep the dust and dirt from spreading to other sections of your home. Here’s a list of things we’ve tried that I’ve found to work:

  • Plastic and Tape (tape off doorways)
  • Flat Sheets (wet the sheet and hang in the door way, in front of the plastic, when sanding- it helps to attract and catch drywall dust)
  • 2 Pairs of House Slippers (one for the clean areas and one for the workspace… the easier to slide on and off, the better)
  • Shop Vac (if you don’t want to ruin your regular vacuum cleaner)
  • Moving Blankets (so much better than contractor paper to protect your floors- especially in the winter or rainy seasons)
  • Dusting Mit (this is my favorite because it doesn’t require cleaner… super quick and easy for keeping surfaces in other rooms drywall dust free)

Tips for Surviving a Live-In Kitchen Reno - roomfortuesday.comMy favorite from this list is probably the house slipper trick. Our kitchen is in the center of our home. We cross through it so many times each day. It’s not like we’re wearing work shoes in the space all the time. Having a “dirty” and a “clean” pair of slippers means less tracking dust and dirt from room-to-room. The dirty slippers obviously stay in the workspace, and the clean ones are for the other areas.


During most full fledged kitchen renos, there will be a point where it’s out with the old appliances and in with the new. We’ve been without appliances for almost two months now and it’s about as fun as you’d expect.

1. Food Prep

Without an oven or cooktop, food prep takes on an entirely different meaning. A lot of this depends on your diet, but our main goal has been to keep things quick and easy. We both work late and afterwards devote time to the reno- so the last thing we feel like doing is making an elaborate dinner or cleaning up after working on the kitchen. These are the items that have been saving us:

Tips for Surviving a Live-In Kitchen Reno - roomfortuesday.comWe try to select food that is ready-t0-eat (like fruits, veggies, pre-hardboiled eggs, etc), or choose easy recipes that we can easily throw into the crockpot. Our entire kitchen is packed away, but I think it’s important to share what items we had to pull back out…

2. Do NOT Pack Away These Items

We have a small house, so another big goal of ours was to pack away as many kitchen items as we could. It’s amazing once the cabinets and countertop are demoed, how little space you have to store kitchen goods. Less is more when it comes to living amongst a reno! We bought a plastic cabinet from Lowes to keep our few kitchen items in (shown above and below).

3. Dishes

Although our goal is to avoid dishes altogether if possible, you will get the inevitable dish or two. If you have a small bathroom sink like us, the best option is the bathtub. Before you gasp, it’s not as bad as it sounds, thanks do these handy products I found:

  • Wash Basin (seriously a lifesaver… it even has a drain)
  • Drying Rack (it fits right inside the basin and folds when you’re finished)

Tips for Surviving a Live-In Kitchen Reno -


I never thought I would utter the words, “I’m SO sick of carryout”… eating out always felt like a fun and east treat to me. Today, if I don’t eat carryout for a year, I’d be thankful. If you’re planning to eat a ton of fast food or carryout during your kitchen reno, these suggestions might keep you from getting sick of it:

  • Portion Your Meal in Half (often times, order sizes are SO large, you can split it up for dinner and lunch the following day)
  • Try for Variety and Explore Healthier Options (at first, we went all in and ate the guilty pleasures, but quickly learned if we were eating out every single day, we should be healthier about it)
  • Don’t Forget About Grocery Stores (we frequent Wholefoods and Sprouts for their salad bar, hot items, and soup stations)
  • Make A List (when choosing dinner on the fly, a list is helpful… we made a big list of our options and try not to eat at the same place twice in a week- it’ll keep you from getting sick of it)

After eating out all the time, I’m even more excited to have a beautiful kitchen to cook in. Emmett and I have already planned our first week of meals once the reno wraps up. The other thing I’m excited for? To move everything back into the kitchen where it belongs. Right now it’s piling up in the guest room.

Tips for Surviving a Live-In Kitchen Reno - roomfortuesday.comI have to give a giant thank you to everyone for being super encouraging and for sharing your ideas with me! I never would’ve implemented these great tips and tricks without you.

After renovating our previous home while living in a different location, I can safely say- next time around, that’d be ideal. Ha! For those of you who have been through this… I feel for you and hopefully this will help our friends who are venturing into the live-in reno territory. You just make it work!

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  1. Great tips! We renovated our kitchen last year, so all of this (dust everywhere despite daily cleanings, a guestroom overridden with everything kitchen) is so familiar!

    We did something similar to what it sounds like you’re doing and made an “auxiliary kitchen” in the adjacent family room. We plugged in our old fridge (sans water) and set up a folding table with a microwave, coffee pot, and toaster. I put a floor-length tablecloth on it so we could stash the kitchen supplies we did need regularly on shelves underneath. It worked well and actually had a cute little “break-room” vibe. For food, we ate a TON of salads: pre-prepped or easy-to-prep vegetables and rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. We had fun experimenting with different ingredients (goat cheese!) and salad dressings to keep things interesting.

    The other tip someone shared with us is to close any vent registers or intakes in the greater vicinity and tape plastic sheeting over them. Kind of a “duh!”, but I likely wouldn’t have thought of it until dust had been blown all over our house.

    Good luck! It’ll be over soon! :)

    1. Thanks, Julie!! Great tips… how could I forget to include there register trick?! We’ve been turning off the furnace while we work, and then turn it back on after we’re finished cleaning.

  2. Sarah – thanks for sharing! I chuckled as I’m right in the thick of a kitchen remodel and can relate on so many levels.

    All your tips were spot on! The wet sheet idea is brilliant- the drywall tape, mud and sanding is about to begin. I wonder if I can get my contractor to put up a wet sheet!?!

    You’re so right about the cleaning – just got to do your best to keep the dust at a minimum. Containing the construction zone and 2 pairs of slippers is key! My one tip: I would suggest not swiffering the construction zone- a futile task! Yes, I have actually done that a couple of times! I wonder if they can tell I have swept, swiffered and used their shop vac!?!

    I hope your remodel continues to go smoothly and I look forward to seeing your progress and the end result!!!

    1. I feel for you Julie! Definitely try the wet sheet idea. Readers have also recommended leaving a damp towel on the “clean side” of the construction area… that way when you enter the space, you can step onto that first and it will catch the dust. I think that’s a good alternative to the slippers. Good luck in your reno as well! We’ll suffer through it together :) xo