My workday is punctuated by the sounds of sounds of drilling—and the occasional loss of WiFi. We’re on our fourth home renovation project right now (a bathroom this time), and like many people doing renovations, hitting the road for a few weeks to get away from the noise and the dust just isn’t in the budget.
So two teen girls, two adults, two cats, and a dog are making do with a single bathroom and early-morning wakeup calls (even on the weekends), as our main bathroom gets a full makeover.
While it pays to be focused on whether you’ll be able to recoup your renovation investment—and whether your renovation design choices will stand the test of time—it’s also important to minimize the stress of your home improvement project. Because being in the midst of a renovation, with all the noise, the people in and out, and the dust, is guaranteed to make you feel frazzled. Here’s how we’re surviving (and almost thriving) through our current remodeling project.
Do a heavy declutter before your renovation starts
Even our tiny bathroom produced several boxes of stuff that had to be cleared out and stashed—and we also had to make room for tools and supplies that the contractors brought with them.
In the weeks before your start date, take the time to get rid of whatever you can, so you can make some room. Bonus: You’ll have fewer things to keep dust-free throughout the renovation!
Budget extra for takeout or eating out
Even if you aren’t redoing your kitchen, there’s still a lot of stress and mess. And at times of stress, I definitely reach for the takeout menus a lot more often. Set aside some money to cover the cost of eating out (or even a night or two at a hotel during the worst of the renovation) so that’s one less source of stress in your life.
Try some creative cooking
This time around, my kitchen is relatively unscathed. But when my kitchen was being renovated, it meant a lot of dishwashing in the bathtub and bathroom sink, and prepping meals in my living room.
To make things simpler, I broke out a lot of those small kitchen appliances that can make putting together a meal a lot easier—my crockpot, electric kettle, microwave, and grill made cooking dinner without a kitchen a little easier. (One of my friends cooked out every night when her kitchen was out of commission.)
Plan ahead for pets
It’s hard enough for us to deal with a renovation—but pets definitely don’t handle this kind of disruption well. My dog spends most of the day trying to give the contractor kisses, while my cats hide so deep in our home that we think they’ve gone missing.
As someone who very recently spent an entire evening searching outdoors for a cat who reappeared as if from thin air in our basement, I can definitely tell you: Find a way to safely corral pets away from the work area and exterior doors that may be left open accidentally.
It may even be worthwhile to spring for a little doggy daycare time to keep your puppy out from underfoot.
Prep for the dust
It doesn’t matter how meticulous your contractor is about tarping and taping the renovation area—dust is inevitable.
Removing area rugs or putting sheets or heavy-duty dust cloths over upholstered furniture will help minimize hard-to-remove dust in your soft items, while clearing shelves of decorative items can make it easier to keep surfaces clean.
Invest in some noise-canceling headphones
Unless you have a mammoth house, you’re going to be within earshot of some pretty serious noise. Noise-cancelling headphones can help you minimize the disruption and make for a more peaceful work day, if you’re still working from home.
Have a plan B in place
Inevitably, the contractors start sawing when I’m on a call, or knock out the water when I’m about to take a shower. Sometimes, you may need to stop over at a neighbor’s to get some quiet time or wash up. I’ve also found that heading out to my car and using my phone as a hotspot lets me take calls or work more quietly.
Break out the air filters
Dust isn’t just getting on your surfaces—it’s staying in the air, too. If the weather’s nice, leaving windows open can minimize the dust, or consider investing in air purifiers to keep your air cleaner.