Prior to the beginning of a new project I always say this to my clients, “at some point during this process, you are going to hate me, hate the contractor, hate your life and curse the day that you decided to do this. However, in the end, it will all be worth it! ” Saying those words, I hoped the client would understand the amount of inconveniences and frustrations that lie in store for them as a functionary space in their home is demolished and rebuilt. I had no idea how correct I was. Eight months ago my family and I began a similar adventure of buying a junk house and rebuilding it. While my husband and I have the knowledge to create something from nothing, what we lacked was the experience of living in a hotel for a month and then in a completely demoed home devoid of most modern convenances. My kitchen became a folding table, a microwave, crock pot and a hot plate. My coffee pot sat next to my toothbrush in the bathroom. And even though I vacuumed daily, everything was covered in layers upon layers of fine drywall dust. Because of these experiences, I now have much more respect for my previous warning and my client’s feelings as they go through a similar process.
I have, however, learned how to function and cope with the daily chaos. Here is my advice and some advice from other local professionals on how to relax and make it through your next remodel.
- Pack what you don’t need, leave what you do. Before demolition begins, take stock of what you use daily and condense it down to what you can get by without. For example, in a kitchen remodel, it might be easier to grab coffee than constantly clean dust from your coffee pot or use just a few key pots and pans than to put your whole kitchen into tupperware.
- Make a dust-free plan. If you are undergoing a kitchen remodel, think of where you will you store your dinner and silverware, your pantry items, and things like napkins and paper towels. Everything will have to be put away where dust cannot gather, but yet be easily accessible. Tupperware is fantastic for this. Your local Home Depot store has a surprising selection of lid and drawer models. Label each one so you can remember where you put your spatulas. Trust me, when you are already frustrated, the last thing you want is to have to search for something you desperately need.
- How will you cook? If you will be undergoing a bath remodel I do hope this question is self-explanatory. However, for a kitchen remodel, you might end up like me, having to get very creative. Hopefully you can use a second kitchen in either the basement or bar area, but if it’s warm outside, your grill can do far more than just burgers and brats. My husband and I have perfected the grill for everyday cooking. For example, I have made grilled chicken, avocado and roasted red pepper quesadillas, fried egg sandwiches, chicken nuggets and fries (for the peanut) pasta, potato gnocchi, fresh baked bread, bacon, toast, and the best ham and cajun bacon frittata. Get creative with your cooking and you might be surprised with what you can create!
- Remember the dust. I realize I have already spoken on this, but drywall dust deserves two points. Drywall and plaster dust is extremely fine and has a mind all of its own. Even with doors shut, and plastic taped to openings, it will find it’s way onto everything. Anything that you do not want covered with dust needs to be boxed away for the duration of the remodel (like your beautiful wool coat) or covered with a drop cloth (like your new sofa). When it comes time for cleaning, vacuuming is the best way to rid your house of this dust (moping just creates mud, think of cleaning up flour). Just be mindful of fans that only serve to stir up the dust and the type of filter in your ac unit and vacuum. If the filter is not designed for super fine dust (such as a HEPA filter), then the dust will simply float through your vacuum or HVAC and back out into the room.
- If you can stand to wipe them down every day, keep several potted plants in your remodel room. These plants will serve as a filter for any toxins or bad odors that might result from the work being done.
- Breathe, Meditate, and Focus. Things will go wrong, be ordered wrong or break. That’s just the nature of things. So make sure you have breathing room, a place you can go to escape. Whether it’s a friend’s house for coffee (with Bailey’s), or the local pub for a guy’s night out or the gym (to punch things and not get into trouble), make sure you have some place on standby to go when it all gets to be too much.
Okay, that’s enough of me and my soap box. For a different perspective, here are what some of your local designers have to say.
Reflections Interior Design
12423 Cedar Road Cleveland Hts.
“It is very hard to prep a client for what they are about to undertake. The most important thing to do is let them know that no matter how hard you try to plan ahead there are always unforeseen issues that might arise during the project. The best advice is to make sure your client thinks about the big picture ahead and the final result. Any challenge during your project will usually be forgotten (hopefully!) and the newly finished and well designed space is what takes place of a bad memory. I also try to be as involved as possible during the project to make sure the client knows they have someone who understands the process to lean on. I try to get them excited about the new space and remind them that in the end it’s going to be a finished room for them to enjoy and showcase! It’s a tough job but I enjoy every minute!”
Faralli Kitchen and Bath
2804 SOM Center Road, Willoughby Hills
“When I am working with a client and we are getting ready to go down the treacherous road of construction, I always make sure that they have a back up or “make-shift” kitchen to try and ease the pain and inconvenience that they are about to face. I also make sure they know where the takeout menus are, just in case. “
Studio 76 Kitchens & Baths
9122 Ravenna Road Twinsburg,
“Based on my experience in K & B remodeling for 22 years… It’s really important for me, as a designer/remodeler, to accommodate the personality of the homeowner. The differences are amazing: some people are very involved, wanting to know what each step is and how it will be done, etc; others are completely hands-off. Preparing a client involves knowing how the project will impact them emotionally and communication is always the key! I don’t like to sugar-coat it too much…. there’s going to be some noise of the saw and hammering etc. We like to have a meeting up front as to where the equipment will get set up and how the tradesmen will enter and exit each home. If there are kids…. it’s always an adventure! A temporary kitchen can be set-up with moving the fridge and microwave somewhere else in the house. Paper plates are a must…. and of course area restaurants profit from someone remodeling their kitchen! The homeowners need to have realistic expectations about the disruption. But during the project, daily communication is key. There will be dust, but we can tape-off areas with plastic to minimize the mess. We always reassure the homeowner that we are only a phone call away… Exchanging cell phone numbers.
On the lighter side, one of our designers suggested a trip to Europe and another designer highly recommended a vacation!!”
Hope this helps you prepare and survive your next remodel! I know it is going to be fantastic!