We are currently in the middle of the largest, most life-disrupting renovation yet – our kitchen! Living without a kitchen kind of sucks, and we’ve been living without one for over two months now. The whole house is turned upside down. Our fridge is in our second room, along with the stack of drawers we removed from the demolished cupboards, and multiple Rubbermaid bins filled with dried foods and pots and pans. I’ve replaced books on our bookshelves with dishes for easy access, but they’re frequently covered in a thick layer of dust. Thank goodness we found a two burner electric element on Used Victoria or we’d be in deep trouble!
Of course I’m not complaining – I know we’re so fortunate to be able to tackle a project like this… and it’s going to be amazing to have a clean and functional space we’ll love to use for years to come in the not-too-distant future! And task lighting! I can hardly wait.
This project has been particularly challenging – the mess, the scope, the joys of running between three rooms to create a meal – but through it and the other projects we’ve worked on, I’ve learned a few things that stop me from losing my mind while living in chaos. Here are my top 8 tips for surviving a renovation while keeping at least some sanity intact.
1. Buy a good mask
Totally crucial, please get one before you begin! I use this respirator-style mask which is rated for asbestos and lead. It lets me breathe easy knowing that I’m not totally endangering myself*, and it lets me breathe without fogging up my glasses. Oh, puns.
*please hire a professional for asbestos removal and have the material you’re demo-ing tested for asbestos before you begin.
2. And… a pair of work gloves
It’s the cheapest path to feeling invincible! Plus they help keep your hands from getting destroyed. At around $5 a pair, you can buy yourself a new set when they get gross (like after you clean up rat poo from your crawl space.)
3. Downgrade your old favourites to your work clothes pile and invest in cover-alls
- A toque. A ‘work’ toque saves the (hair) day when you’re making a renovation-sized mess. Your shower drain will thank you!
- A pair of pants that you like, and fit well. One sad day my favourite pair of cords got some bleach on them at work. Even though they aren’t ‘fit’ for the office or much else, they’re still a well-fitting, comfortable pant that I enjoy putting on. Turns out it’s made every renovation day since a little more enjoyable.
- Cover-alls. Want to feel like a super-hero? Wear cover-alls. They’re a girl-going-in-a-crawl space’s best friend.
4. Allow yourself a reason to stop working
Just because you’re renovating doesn’t mean you need to decline every invitation on the horizon. Is your friend having a birthday party? House-warming? Don’t say no, say yes! It’ll give you a reason to shower, eat something and get out of the house – you’ll be ready to go the next day and you won’t hate your life.
5. Include take-out in your budget
It doesn’t matter what you’re renovating, you will find yourself starving at the end of the day with no will-power to cook for yourself. Include take-out in your budget and you won’t have to feel so guilty about it!
6. Give attention to your relationship
If you’re doing this project with your boyfriend/partner/spouse/friend/whatever, don’t forget that they’re under pressure, too. If you’re not careful, renovations can be as destructive on relationships as they are on your house on demo day! Be aware that your partner likely feels stress for different reasons than you, too. Talk about it. If you want to relieve some tension (or stop it from building in the first place), say thank you frequently – show you appreciate the work they’re doing. Lastly, try not to fall into ‘gender’ specific tasks – do what you can to keep the workload even.
7. Don’t stop cleaning just because it’s going to get messy again
Throughout this renovation we’ve had a few friends and family come to visit which has forced us to clean the bathroom and other rooms throughout the renovation. You wouldn’t believe how good it feels to have a clean(ish) house even if it is short-lived. It’s definitely a sanity booster – kind of like how you feel after showering when you’ve been at a music festival for a few days… so fresh!