McClurg's Home Remodeling Blog

Mary’s Kitchen Remodel: Preparing for and Coping with Construction

Posted by Brian Ciota on Tue, Nov 22, 2011

The following article is submitted by one of our long-time customers. Please read her previous  kitchen remodeling project articles and follow her kitchen project on our Facebook page.

By Mary Karpinski:

A complete kitchen remodeling project will disrupt everyday life for a period that can last several months. Here’s how we managed to maintain our sanity:


  1. Kitchen StorageWhere to find boxes. A kitchen contains so many items. One of our biggest challenges was finding boxes for everything. I asked friends, visited our local liquor store and went to BJ’s Wholesale in search of boxes. BJ’s has an area for boxes since the store does not provide bags to customers. Liquor store boxes with dividers are great for packing glassware. I found that small boxes are the best.

  2. Use bubble wrap and packing material for only the most fragile items. When packing for a remodeling project, items will stay in your home, it’s not like you’re shipping them cross-country.  I stacked cookware and everyday dishes in open boxes and stored them away from the work area. I was more careful with expensive china, crystal and other delicate items. While I moved them to another room or closet, I took the time to use protective wrapping.  Construction can be chaotic and things can get damaged. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

  3. Storing boxes, furniture and other items. Boxes were labeled and stacked in corners of a room or under tables. Spare bedrooms are being used for storage. We used “moving discs”, available at Lowes or Home Depot, to move heavy furniture to areas of our home that are not part of the construction zone. To protect furniture from the dust and paint splatters, most items are draped with protective plastic. One of my concerns was where to store our drapes and valances. I managed to find a spot to lay them out to avoid wrinkles that could be difficult to press when it is time to re-hang the window treatments. We will be removing blinds before the hardwood floors are sanded. Every picture had to be taken down from the walls since dust and vibrations during demolition could damage them or cause them to fall.

  4. Items to reserve for a “make shift” kitchen. Here is my “list of essentials” for preparing meals. The idea is to minimize clutter and the number of items requiring hand washing in your temporary kitchen:

    • One or two crock pots

    • Coffee maker

    • Electric teapot

    • Microwave oven (a stand alone convection oven would be a major asset if you have one)

    • Toaster

    • Knife set including knives for food preparation and cutting cooked meats

    • Can and bottle openers

    • Crock of kitchen utensils, most of us have them, if not grab the utensils from the drawer and place them in a container where you can readily access them. Be sure you have mixing spoons, spatulas, measuring spoons, a meat fork and slotted spoons.

    • A mixing bowl

    • A serving plate

    • Two or three sauce pans

    • A skillet

    • A pot for pasta

    • Pot holders

    • A trivet for setting down a hot pot

    • A colander

    • One or two cutting boards

    • A dinner plate, bowl, cup and drinking glass for each person

    • A dish drainer and mat

    • Hand and dish soap

    • Dish scrubbers

    • Kitchen hand towels

    • Storage bags and wraps

    • A grocery list pad


  1. Temporary Kitchen SetupFirst and foremost, ask your contractor to help. McClurg loaned us a two-burner countertop stove, which has been greatly appreciated. They also moved our refrigerator to the garage and hooked it up. If needed, a contractor should set up a temporary counter and storage shelf from remnants of old cabinets to create a place to prepare food. Most of the work on our project is scheduled for November so cooking on an outdoor grill is not a viable option.

  2. You will need water for food prep and clean-up. My temporary kitchen is in our laundry room where there is a utility sink with a spray faucet. If you will be using another source for water (such as a bathroom sink or tub), you will need a dishpan to wash dishes. I found mine at Wegman’s. A dish drainer with a tray or a dish rack is helpful too.

  3. Purchase lots of disposable dinnerware. Our kitchen will be out of commission for two months so I purchased paper plates, disposable cups and bowls and plastic utensils in counts of 100. Paper towels and napkins are a must and can be used as a “plate” for a sandwich. I use the “regular” cups, bowls, glasses and dinner plates on my “list of essentials” only when I make a dish that a paper or plastic plate won’t hold, like my chili or crockpot stew. The key to survival is minimal dish washing.

  4. Organize packaged foods, mixes, cans, bottled items, spices, potatoes, cereals, crackers, oils etc. in small open boxes to readily access and contain the contents.

  5. Look for quick recipes and prepare simple meals. During the week I grill chicken or hamburgers. Pulled pork in barbeque sauce is a crock pot classic that can be served on rolls. Spaghetti is easy, especially when you use bottled pasta sauce. My favorites are Wegman’s “Grandma’s Pomodoro Sauce” and “Chunky Marinara Sauce”. I  also make creative sandwiches. I have to confess that we eat out a couple of nights a week but it grows old fast and the cost and calories add up. I use my crock pot on weekends to create stews, chili and chicken and rice dinners.

At the end of each day, when the crew leaves, I walk around and inspect the progress and think about how much I will enjoy cooking in our new kitchen.

Do you have any simple recipes to share with someone who has a make-shift kitchen?


Follow my project on Facebook.

McClurg Facebook Page

Topics: Kitchens, Mary's Kitchen Remodel