How to Survive a Kitchen Remodel

After years of being in the kitchen industry, I have walked with homeowners through hundreds of remodels. It’s not easy, and it’s very much like a rollercoaster ride. One minute everything is wonderful and you’re excited to see all of the beautiful things you’ve chosen come together in your new kitchen. Then, all of a sudden, you find yourself paying an extra $1,000 to get rid of mold that you didn’t even know existed.

I’m going to answer a few of the questions I hear most often and offer some advice to help you survive it all.

What does a kitchen install look like?

What can you expect during the process?

Most importantly, I want to help you manage to stay sane while getting from THIS…

Herold Kitchen - Before


Herold Kitchen

Hire the right people.

Decide what kind of help you need. Are you a DIY person? Do you just need some consulting help along the way? Do you need to hire an architect or designer to help you draw plans and navigate all of the decisions that you’re going to be faced with? These are important questions to ask yourself before you begin the planning process.

Once you determine who you need to hire, ask friends and family for recommendations of professionals they have worked with. Scout sites like Houzz or Home Advisor to find pro’s in your area. Take your time and make some phone calls. Interview contractors. Ask for examples of their work, and for references. Don’t skip this step! These people will be your life preservers throughout this process. They will be in your home.. even when you may not be there to supervise. You must be able to trust them to do the job the way you want it done.

interior design.jpg

Planning is Key.

Instant satisfaction is not possible with kitchen design. I’ve had clients that took years planning their kitchens. I have also had clients that decided they were going to remodel their kitchen and ripped everything out the same day.
{…Want to take a guess as to who had the better experience?}


You can never overplan when it comes to a project of this size. There are thousands of options when you consider everything there is to select for your kitchen. Cabinet color, door style, size, storage options, hardware, countertops, appliances, flooring, paint colors, backsplash materials, lighting, accessories… you can even choose the style of RECEPTACLES you use! Take sufficient time to plan your kitchen. I recommend planning your kitchen no less than 2-3 months in advance of when you want to begin the remodel.

Make sure you get what you want.

I know after reading this you are going to hire the right people. But sometimes people are a little opinionated, you know? Remember that your house is supposed to reflect your own personality and style. Even if your designer or contractor has some really great ideas, if you feel like you’re being led in a direction you don’t want to go, speak up! This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for most people, and you deserve to have it done well.

This custom backsplash mural was created from a photograph taken by my client’s late husband. It’s the perfect way to both honor his memory and include him in her new home.

Speaking of having it done well… make sure you talk about the insides of those cabinets. Construction is important. You should also know the available options so you don’t miss out on a feature that might be beneficial to you. Don’t skimp on updates, especially in the way of electrical and plumbing. Add extra receptacles and lighting while the room is gutted.

Understand that it’s not going to be CLEAN.

There’s lots of dust and debris. If you can, taping plastic in the doorways of the room under construction is always a good idea. It will reduce the amount of dust that gets to adjacent rooms. If you have an open floor plan, you may want to cover your nice furniture with an old sheet or a tarp. You might consider even hiring a cleaning service to come and take care of things when the job is finished.


Setting up a temporary workspace or secondary kitchen {out of the mess} will greatly reduce your stress. I prefer to schedule kitchen installs during warm weather. Having a grill, microwave, or hotplate available to help with meals is always handy. Paper plates and plastic silverware helps a lot. If you must do dishes, be prepared to wash in the bathroom sink or tub. Just remember – even if it seems like it at the time, this won’t last forever!

It does take time.

The job is not done in one day. Although cabinets can be installed in a matter of hours, you still might have to wait a few weeks for countertops to be installed. During that wait; painting, flooring, or other items can be worked on. If your wait time is extra long, a temporary sink may be hooked up. Once the countertops are installed, appliances can be delivered.


If you are not gutting your room but just replacing your cabinets & countertops, the process can be somewhat expedited. Choosing laminate/Formica for your countertops makes it possible to have a working kitchen the same week your cabinets are installed. No matter what, coordination between your contractor and installers is very important.

IMG_1821 (2).JPG
The kitchen in this flip house couldn’t wait a few weeks for countertops. A stone-look laminate does the trick!
Expect setbacks.

When an old kitchen is torn out, you almost always run into an issue or two.. or more. Gutting the old kitchen ahead of time puts you without a useable kitchen for longer, but it can also bring to your attention any issues you need to address. You never know what you’ll find behind the walls in an old house! I recommend having 10% of your budget reserved for unexpected expenses.

We expected to find hardwood floors in this kitchen that we could finish..
Know Yourself.

If you cannot handle the stress of a remodel, I HIGHLY suggest staying away during the process. This is a great time to take a vacation or stay at a local hotel. You trust your contractor and designer, right? They can take care of anything that should arise during this time. If they need your input, they will tell you. Otherwise, you can step back and let the professionals handle it. After all.. isn’t that what you pay them for?!


Published by CDH Designs

I am a Mom and self-employed Interior Designer. I own a small design studio & home decor shop in downtown Emporium, PA. It’s a small town in the PA Wilds of north-central Pennsylvania. We have some of the most beautiful scenery, and Fall (my favorite season) is breathtaking. I blog for fun to keep my friends and clients informed of what's going on in the design and decorating world, to share my designs, and to show what we're working on in our own home.

2 thoughts on “How to Survive a Kitchen Remodel

  1. Hii,

    Thank you, I’ve recently been looking for info about this topic for a long time and yours is the best I’ve came upon till now. Great article and some wonderful tips!
    Remodeling the kitchen is priority number one on most homeowners? list of desired home improvements. But with all the money, time and temporary inconvenience that a kitchen remodeling project entails, it’s very important that you be happy with the finished product for years to come.


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