Thursday, June 7th, 2012...9:15 pm

Remodel: Week 4

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We are officially a month into the project now, a month of no kitchen, of living in closer quarters than we are used to. A month of washing dishes in the laundry room sink. A month of noises and inconveniences that will lead to a new and improved house.

This week. Ken took out the old windows and reframed for the new ones. Our old living room was dark and separated; the new one will be lighter and more open. We will be able to see our huge magic tree in the back yard and the light will stream in. That was what we missed most about our old house – the light.

Right now we don’t have more light, necessarily, but we certainly do have more gaping holes in our house! Which makes it interesting (as if it wasn’t already interesting enough…).

After surviving a full month in remodel mode – and a full week at home full time with the kids – I’ve learned a few things that make this easier, more manageable. Here are five things I’ve learned are well worth having if you are going to jump into a remodel, especially with kids:

1. Having a laundry sink is so much better than washing dishes in the bathtub. In our last remodel we did dishes in the bathtub for a long time. We broke glasses. We hurt our knees and our backs. It was hard and not pleasant and really sucked. The laundry sink cures all those bathtub dish woes. (And, really, I LIKE doing dishes at the laundry sink. The kids aren’t allowed out there! I get more privacy doing dishes than I do going to the bathroom!)

2. Having a grill makes a huge difference for cooking good dinners. I thought by now that we would have sunken into old habit of just ordering out. But we haven’t. We don’t order out now any more than we did when we had a kitchen. Ken cooks hamburgers, quesedillas, baked potatoes. With the grill we can cook fresh vegetables without steaming them on the hotplate or microwaving them. And we can feel like we are eating just as we would have if we had an actual kitchen.

3. Having a plan gives me some semblance of control over the uncontrollable. Even if the plan doesn’t always happen as it is supposed to, having one will make the days better. Ken has planned a whole remodel menu that he hung over the coffee maker, microwave, hot-plate kitchen we have in out entry-way. He makes lists of his daily tasks. I have a plan for what to do with the kids each day (even if it is only to take them outside and play in the sprinkler). Having a plan makes me feel like I have at least some control over this chaos.

4. Having a back yard to play in makes a huge difference. And I guess this would be true whether we were remodeling or not, but I am totally in love with my back yard. Last summer Ken built the play fort (Camp quarantine) and we have used that thing almost every single day since he finished it. Nora plays up top with her princesses while Miles perches in the bottom and sorts the leaves. We have a sprinkler (and plans to get a new plastic kid pool), water table, tee ball and riding toys. We spend a HUGE amount of time out there. The shade of our magic live oak makes it almost ten degrees cooler out there, so it is almost like another living room for us.

5.  Having good friends makes all the difference. And, yes, this is a cliche that is true of all aspects of life (that’s why it is a cliche), but really. If you have friends (or relatives) who will climb into your small attic space to help clean out old and disgusting insulation; if you have friends who will sit in your demolished kitchen even after you’ve gone out to dinner and scrape at 50 year old linoleum tile with a two inch razor knife; if you have friends who will pull nails while adding a rational perspective on the seemingly irrational, then you’re all set. We have awesome friends. And all this is easier because they can come and help Ken while I am taking care of the kids.

Next week Ken has big plans to finish framing and finish the plumbing rough-in. Still not so exciting on the “pretty” front, but getting us closer none-the-less.

Want the back story?

The Plan

The Preparation

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

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  • Love your lessons! We’ve thought about doing a kitchen remodel but living in NYC, I’m not sure how I would survive! There would definitely be dish washing in the bathtub or bathroom sink, no yard and no grill! I think that we’d have to move out for sure :-)

  • I know what you’re going through! We redid our kitchen a couple of years ago. We had a makeshift kitchen set up in the garage complete with counterspace, a few cabinets, a microwave and George Foreman. We also had a gas grill. I cooked every day -it wasn’t really that bad. And we went downstairs to do dishes in the laundry room sink (wouldn’t have liked doing that in the bathtub either). Our garage is off our kitchen so when we were working on the floors, we had to do some pretty creative things to get from one room to another. But we made it work.

    Surviving remodeling is possible and you have some good tips there. The biggest things I would add is to clean as you go and try to live life as normal as possible. We also involved our kids as much as we kid. They thought it was all pretty interesting.

    Sounds like you’re on the right track and you’ll have a beautiful new kitchen before you know it.
    Visiting from SITS.

  • Hi Sara, I’m on the same page with you except I’m planning a move to another city. I’ll be so glad when this is finished, although it will be the end of summer! Stopping by from SITS!

  • Hey there@ I’m visiting from sits! I love your site and the title too. Summer is my favorite time of the year. Your kids are lovely. Like Nora, I sucked my finger. It seemed like forever before I stopped! Thank goodness I never needed braces. Can’t understand why. lol Congrats on the remodeling. Torn whether or not to do more myself. My hubby and I recently remodeled our bathroom.

  • Saw you over at SITS. Great tips on surving a kitchen remodel. We gutted our kitchen almost two years ago and it was really challenging having to cook and clean up in the kitchen! Really made me appreciate the new kitchen when it was done.

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  • This is quite the work. I would know. We did the same thing when our children were still toddlers. We have three and they have a two year age gap. It worked for the best though since it’s for the person you truly love.

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