Imagine you are lost in the woods and need a few basic needs for survival.

1. Food

2. Shelter

3. Clothing

The good news? You're not lost in the woods! You're renovating!

Here are some tips to address your basic needs, as well as a few wants that probably feel like needs.


Now is not the time to learn how to make a risotto. If your project involves making any changes to the kitchen, or losing kitchen function for a few weeks (months?), you'll need to plan ways to nourish your body without adding additional stress to your life. I strongly recommend setting up a temporary kitchen. This can be kind of like camping, or it can be kind of like living in a dorm again. Here are my tips for eating well while your living in a mess.

  1. Make Good Choices. This means not eating fast food every night for the next 2-6 weeks. Eat food that nourishes your body, pleases your palette and gives you the energy to push through the renovation.

  2. Temporary Kitchen. A temporary kitchen requires only a few components. A fridge, Sink (camp style or temporary hook-up) microwave and hotplate.

  3. Eat Out. If you are going to eat prepared food, you'd might as well escape your project and sit down somewhere that is not dusty, dirty, and noisy. Take advantage of this time to invite friends and family out for a nice meal to break up the chaos of your renovation. Take everyone up on their invitations to feed and entertain you in their homes, and enjoy their company. You'll return the favor when you get back into your own space.

  4. Embrace BBQ cooking- Pre-made salad from the grocery store + a nice steak= a really great dinner. Your BBQ has the benefit of not requiring a pan for cooking meats while keeping the smells out of the house while you don't have a range hood.

  5. Go easy on the dishes- Compostable paper plates are a great way to cut down on dishes while you are working in your temporary kitchen. There are also options for cutlery, but honestly, it's not much work to wash a few forks and spoons, so its probably not worth investing in compostable forks and spoons.

  6. DIY Meal services. All the ingredients for 3-5 meals a week come in one box, with just enough of everything to fully prepare your dinner. Bonus-If you are cooking for two, order the meals portioned for 4, and you have lunch every day for a week too! I really like Hello Fresh for this.

Do you have any tips from surviving your renovation?

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I'll be vulnerable here for a minute. Full disclosure. The real deal.

I don't use my dining room table for meals.


Well, unless we have company, or a party, in which case the adults stand around the kitchen and the kids eat there, but that is the exception, not the norm. At one such party last weekend, a friend and realtor asked me what people are doing with their formal dining rooms these days, and how I'm seeing them used in re-design projects, and it got me thinking about how to get the most out of what has become a seldom used space in many homes.

So, here are my 5 ideas for re-purposing your dining room!

1. Create more space for your kitchen!

By taking out the wall between the oversize dining and undersized kitchen spaces, you have the opportunity to expand your counter space, or explore creative options you may not have considered yet.

2. Home office escape

Years ago when we renovated our current home, we opened the dining room up to the kitchen, took down all the walls, stretched the kitchen half way into the old dining room footprint, and used the remaining space to create a home office space. I'd show you pictures, but it's a mess, so here is a shot of someone else's dining room transformed into a home office, no walls removed. What a great space for your 'from home' business venture!

3. Gym or Yoga Studio

Lets imagine for a second that you have to walk past your gym everytime you go to the kitchen for a bag of doritos? or you can do your morning yoga routine within earshot of the kids having breakfast? maybe even create a family friendly home gym space to share with your partner or kids for a quick workout, rather than sitting around the TV while waiting for dinner?

If that appeals to you, this idea may be worth exploring!

4. Craft or Hobby Space

Getting into winter has me thinking of crafting and home hobbies again. If you love exploring different creative mediums and are currently lacking a space to spread out and create, consider transforming your dining room into a home studio space.

5. Kids Play Room

If you are a young family with kids under 10, a play room is a great way to get more utility out of your dining space. The benefits are three fold- the toys have a place to live, kids have easy access to their own space, and you can keep an eye on them when they are young, while working in the kitchen.

Obviously, these solutions won't work for everyone. If you still need a formal dining space, but want more ideas for how to create a Multi-Purpose dining space, stay tuned. I'll write about that idea soon!


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OK, so lets talk about pictures. This project is big. IT IS SO BIG! You will spend more money on your home than you will anything else in your life, and put great trust in the contractors and suppliers you will worth with throughout this project.

Wouldn't it be helpful if you could tell them what you are expecting? some sort of tool to communicate what you want the finished product to look like?

ah, a finished picture of what it will look like when its done!

Doesn't it help when you can see the results for themselves? before committing to tearing down walls, ordering windows and signing the dotted line on your cabinet order?

One of the key benefits of working with a space planner directly, rather than going through the kitchen cabinet maker, or contractor, is that we get to sit down and do this together. 'What would it look like if' is not a question, but a strategy for designing a space that is a reflection of you, while considering where to best put the garbage, cutlery and microwave.

As they say... a Picture is worth a thousand words.

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