Owning a nearly 100 year old home means that in just 5 years, we’ve lived through our fair share of renovations big and small. And we’ve done them all with kids, starting from the time our twins were babies to now that our youngest are 4. Renovations have taken me to the darkest of places and, like childbirth, the pain of them tends to fade. I believe that is the only way anyone ever decides to tackle yet another renovation.
A lot of people have asked me what it’s like to live through a renovation…and in particular, what it’s like to renovate while living in your home, with kids. Should you do it? That is entirely a personal decision, but I can tell you that over 2 years into living with a new kitchen, it was worth it.
I decided to write this post in the middle of what has been a hellish renovation. Long story short, but after months of dragging us along, our contractor straight up bailed on our basement renovation project leaving us in literal rubble.
The last month was a hard one, to put it lightly. But, we mobilized as quickly as we could to find a new contractor and got things back on track. Because I’m still in the thick of things so to speak, I thought my mental state was such that I’m not removed from the “living in it” to truly tell it like it is. So here goes.
Set your expectations based on worst case scenarios
Anyone who has ever done a renovation will tell you that nothing ever goes according to plan. If there’s a budget, you will exceed it. If there’s a timeline, it will lapse. Assuming that things will 100% go wrong, I think that it’s better to go in bracing for the worst and being pleasantly surprised if you come out on the other side pretty unscathed. Celebrate the small wins along the way, make sure that you’ve over-budgeted so that money isn’t a constant stressor, and consider what you’re willing to let go of and what is a non-negotiable.
Embrace the chaos
Admittedly, I’m still working on this one. But the truth of the matter is that your renovation is going to throw your routine out of wack. You might be cooking all of your meals in an Instapot and washing your dishes in the bathtub. You may not have your washing machine for days or weeks at a time. Your spare bedroom might turn into a storage unit. Heck, YOUR bedroom might turn into a storage unit. For the duration of the renovation, you must let it go.
Carve out fun
Renovations are stressful…for the entire family. This one ties a little into the above, but trying to think about the renovation as an adventure vs. a full on disaster in your home can really change everyone’s outlook. If you’re renovating a kitchen, find creative ways to use your grill. Make s’mores in the fireplace. Don’t feel bad about takeout nights. The reality is that you won’t be able to change the immediate situation, but you can change how you look at it.
Ask for help
I know I keep going back to the parenting analogies, but hear me out. We are not handy people. We don’t know anything about construction. But we have friends who do. Whether you’ve hired a full-service, white glove crew, or have family and friends who know more than you, ask lots of questions and get everyone’s opinion. Gut check your ideas. A renovation is a big deal. A smart renovation is a game-changer for you and your family. A winning combination is both form and function. Treat the process with respect.
Remember that it will end
Urgh. This is perhaps the hardest and worst part of the renovation. Whether it’s a 6 week or 6 month project, when you’re in it, it feels like it will never end. But it will. And eventually you’ll be so far removed from it that you might actually consider another renovation. Do what you need to take care of yourself, whether it’s going out on a few more date nights (esp. If you’re renovating while parenting, and working!), hire a housecleaner (for the part of your house you’re NOT renovating), meditate, book a trip you can look forward to after the renovation…Whatever it is, make space between yourself and your renovation.
Have you lived through a home renovation? How did it go? Any tips for survival? Share them in the comments or tag us on social (@turntablekitchen on Facebook and Instagram, @ttablekitchen on Twitter).