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5 Ways to Prepare for a Kitchen Renovation

5 ways to prepare for a kitchen renovation
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What do Doordash, Swiffer, and Icy Hot have in common?  A kitchen remodel! That’s right, we’ve finally broken ground on our kitchen remodel and good gravy I have so much to share about this process. When Andrew and I bought this home in June of 2020 we bought it knowing that we’d almost immediately be gutting the kitchen and our master bedroom and bathroom. Let me just tell you, the quotes that came in for these projects were well beyond what we anticipated. In true “adulting” fashion we had to make the tough decision of prioritizing which project we wanted and needed more. That was very glaringly the kitchen. I will just have to deal with my shower that is the size of a phone box and the giant jacuzzi tub (that doesn’t work) taking up more than half of the bathroom space for a little while longer.

Our house is 100 years old and our kitchen had clearly been renovated at some point in its history, but that was at least 40+ years ago. We know this because we discovered that the company who had built the cabinets went out of business before Andrew and I were even born! The sink faucet wouldn’t move, there was not a garbage disposal, the dishwasher leaked and hardly cleaned anything, the freezer in the refrigerator did not work, the cabinets were so narrow they’d barely shut with our plates inside, part of the floor was water damaged and rotting, there was an original radiator taking up about 25% of our cabinet space, and there was no pantry – among other things. So clearly, the kitchen won.

We had multiple companies in the area come out to quote our project and offer up their designs. We had hoped that the kitchen designers that came to see the space would offer up creative ideas for how we could tweak the layout and maximize space. Apparently, most of them were just there to try to sell us their “top of the line cabinets”. We didn’t get much creativity or ideas, but we did get some ridiculously expensive quotes. After some consideration we decided to take on the project ourselves, which will ultimately saves us about $30-40k! If you are willing and able and trying to save money, this is certainly the way to go!

We are only one week into the actual renovation itself, but I’ve already learned so much about how we could’ve prepared better and kept our house a bit cleaner in the process. So PLEASE, learn from our mistakes! 

Here are my 5 Ways to Prepare for a Kitchen Renovation:


Timeline for kitchen renovationTo best prepare for our kitchen renovation, Andrew and I mapped out a timeline before we because I was adamant about not letting this project linger for longer than necessary. Unfortunately, the permit situation has thrown a wrench in our plan, but that will happen with any project and we were mentally prepared for that! So along with your best laid plan, plan for disruptions and set your expectations accordingly! Don’t worry if issues creep up, that is pretty much expected with any big home improvement project.

Also, be sure to plan how you will eat, cook, and clean dishes. After all, you won’t have a kitchen for 6-8 weeks best case. Luckily, we have a spare refrigerator in our basement so we were able to keep things for sandwiches, snacks, and cold drinks in there. We are using our utility sink to rinse out cups as need and we also set up a little card table for our makeshift kitchen. I stocked it with plastic silverware, paper plates, paper towels, a can opener, bottle opener, wine opener (the important things hehe), the coffee maker, and a few of our coffee mugs. I also used a plastic bin to hold various non-perishables to snack on. But ultimately we are living on DoorDash and any friends or family who take pity on us! Invest in the DashPass if you plan to order a lot. It pays for itself!


Kitchen RenovationSomething we didn’t fully vet when preparing for our kitchen renovation was permits. Depending upon where you live you may need permits before you can begin work on a home renovation. Andrew had researched this before we started, and thought we had everything we needed until an inspector from The City of Cincinnati slapped a violation notice on our front door. Turns out we needed something called an “adjustment permit”, which basically means we are changing walls in our home. To be honest, this fired us up, why do we need permission to change a NON load bearing wall in our own home?! But se la vie. We also needed to get an HVAC permit since we were removing an old radiator and replacing with a new one. I guess I can understand that one.

The inspector told us to submit our plans to get the permit and that these could just be a very simple sketch. FALSE! After three different submissions (one rejected because it was on graph paper), the city finally accepted the sketch. ALSO, Andrew had to get a document notarized that basically states he’s the “contractor” of this project. All this to say, only certain places require this level of red tape. If you drive five minutes down our road you wouldn’t need it.

How to find out what permits you need for home renovation?

  • Google the name of your city + “development services” and find the residential renovations option.
  • Have a sketch (to scale) of the before and after of your project.
  • Make sure you budget for the fees, they can get pricey.
  • Schedule the necessary inspections.
  • Find more here!


This sounds pretty obvious, but honestly I didn’t even think about it until it showed up in our driveway. When you are preparing for a kitchen renovation, make sure you rent a dumpster to dispose of all the cabinets, counters, floors, wall, and old appliances. We’ve also used Bagster and loved the service, unfortunately power lines would be in the way of this project so we opted to rent a dumpster instead. They’ll drop it off, you fill it up, and then schedule for them to come pick it up.


Kitchen demolitionArguably the most important way to prepare for a kitchen renovation is to cover everything! I cannot stress this enough. Our house has plaster walls, which are notoriously messier to take down than drywall, but regardless of which type of wall you have – THERE WILL BE GOBS OF DUST. We bought plastic covers and taped them over the doorways where the work was being done and it still wasn’t enough. We have dust all the way up our stairs and in all of the bedroom up there. It is quite literally everywhere.

Additionally, we are using our dining room that is attached to the kitchen as a work room. We covered the dining room table with a moving blanket to protect it from dust and scratches and removed everything else. This is great, but we failed to address the hardwood floors in our dining room and they’ve succumbed to some pretty gnarly scratches.

How to protect your house from demolition dust?

  • Cover your air ducts and doorways and make sure the coverings are securely taped down.
  • Don’t get lazy! We got lazy and let one of the door coverings come down. It was at the back of the house and so we didn’t think it would make a difference, BUT IT DID!
  • Invest in booties to cover our shoes to prevent dust from being tracked everywhere when you leave the work area.
  • Cover your floors with cardboard and tape it down to avoid scratches from dropping anything during the demolition. You can just use any old broken-down boxes that you already have on hand.
  • Invest in a shopvac. It can suck up all the dust and even big chunks of wall and sediment to make cleaning up so much easier. Seriously, a miracle worker.
  • Buy ALL of the Swiffer wet wipes or the Swiffer wet jet. No matter how much you prep to cover the air ducts and doorways, there will be dust. The best way to get rid of it is to vacuum and then go over it with the Swiffer.


Something you may not think about, but absolutely should consider when preparing for a kitchen renovation is how to protect yourself. Along with dust flying everywhere, there are wires, loose nails, chipped wood, and not only that, but it is literally what they call back breaking work! Andrew’s dad and I were using a crowbar to rip out the old hardwood floor and I don’t think I have ever been so sore or had more things flying at my face! Luckily, we were well prepared for this part.

How to protect yourself during a home renovation?

  • Make sure your eyes are protected with safety glasses. You’ll be amazed at home much flies up at your face.
  • When you’re crawling all around the floor to pull up nails you’ll be glad you had some knee pads. They don’t look beautiful, but they feel beautiful.
  • You will be sore in places of your body that you never knew existed! We stocked up on these and also had our massager running non-stop in the evening.
  • Stock up on Gatorade. It sounds silly, but it’s tough work and it’s so easy to forget to hydrate.
  • Get some masks so that you’re not inhaling all the bad stuff and dust when you’re tearing things out of the walls.

Throughout the process just remember to take some deep breaths and try not to stress too much. It is admittedly a stressful time and seems never ending, but it will be so worth it! As corny as it sounds, I’ve loved spending this time with my husband and learning all these new skills for how to renovate our home. I also have a massive sense of pride that we’re taking this on ourselves and I know you will too! It’s so worth it, friend! I hope these 5 ways to prepare for a kitchen renovation are super helpful and please let me know if you have any to add as you get going!

Good luck!


Liked this? Find more home inspiration on my post “How to turn a small room into a closet”

How to turn a small room into a closet!


In May my husband stumbled upon a gorgeous house back in our hometown of Cincinnati (we were living in Chicago at the time). I’m used to him showing me random real estate since he loves to peruse RedFin and Zillow, but this time we couldn’t let the thought of that house go. In a series of spontaneous and serendipitous events we made an offer on the house without having ever stepped foot inside of it and decided to pack up and move back home! And now, we are the proud owners of a 100 year old fixer upper – AKA our dream home!

You would think that one of the most exciting parts about transitioning from a small condo to a large home would be closet space, but apparently 100 years ago people didn’t have as much stuff! There are definitely plenty of closets in our new house, but they are tiny! I guess walk-ins weren’t a thing back then. So, I quickly decided that I was going to turn a small room into a closet. 

Luckily, the bedroom right next to the master is, shall we say, bite-sized, so perfect to make it into a little closet! One day we plan to knock down the wall between our room and the tiny room and make it one big room, but for now, the small bedroom is my closet. Since we have bigger plans for this room, I didn’t want to spend too much on custom closets or anything like that. I wanted to maintain the integrity of the room for now and just make the space work for my needs. I spent around $450 to turn this small room into a closet and here’s how I did it…

1. The big stuff you'll need to turn a small room into a closet

First I had to think about the overall layout of the room and where I could actually hang my clothes or put them into drawers. The room has a tiny closet already, but that wasn’t going to cut it for all of my clothes. I decided that a couple of wardrobes would be perfect for the space, much more affordable, and as close as I could get to a built in. 

If money weren’t an object then I probably would have purchased the Paxton closet system from IKEA to take this room to the next level. But since we are going to redo this space anyway, I wanted to save where I could. I actually LOVE secondhand shopping, it’s a hobby of mine, so I started perusing Facebook Marketplace to see if anyone was selling used wardrobes. I totally lucked out and got two IKEA wardrobes for $150. Such a deal! But still not enough space. 

Garment RackThe wardrobes have hanging space and shelves, but they aren’t super wide, so I wanted additional hanging space. This garment rack is perfect for additional hanging space and I love that it has shelves and is also somewhat decorative. I already had a jewellery organizer and shoe organizer so I was good to go on that front. 

I wanted some drawers for things like bras, underwear, camis, pjs – things like that, so I repurposed my old changing table. YES, you read that correctly. This is literally the changing table that my parents changed my diapers on, but it looks like a little dresser! I used chalk paint to cover the ugly brown and make it white and I changed out the hardware for cute gold/crystal drawer knobs. I love how it turned out!

If you’re on a tight budget then definitely consider upcycling, secondhand shopping, and looking for big sales to save when you turn a small room into a closet.

2. Clothing organizers

Turning a small room into a closet takes a lot of thought in order to maximize the space. Even after you’ve found your big storage pieces, your work isn’t done. You need to find ways to make those things work for you even more. I purchased A LOT of cloth bins to act as additional drawers inside the wardrobes and also to put on top of the wardrobes. Not only are they functional, but also cute and decorative! The bins hold my workout shirts, workout pants, swimsuits, cardigans, hoodies, panty hose, belts, and lots of hair accessories 🙂

I could have easily just folded things and placed them on the shelves inside of the wardrobes and on top of the wardrobes, but to me that would look so cluttered. This helps keep me organized and keep my clothes neatly folded and easily visible to find what I’m wanting to wear. 

I also decided to invest in better hangers. I found some great wooden hangers for my dressier pants. Since I don’t wear them very often I hung them in the little closet that is part of the house already. I also purchased some velvet hangers because they help avoid that hanger dimple in your shirts, which no one likes, plus they are pink and cute 🙂

I always struggle with how to organize my cute summer tank tops. Folding them and putting them away makes it so hard for me to see. I found these cool hooks that keep them all together and are much easier to sort through. They’re also great for hanging purses or belts!

3. Makeup and hair accessory organizers

My small bedroom turned closet also doubles as my vanity/getting ready area. At some point I plan to buy a cute vanity, but for now I use the top of my changing table/dresser. I have a decent amount of makeup (read more about my fave makeup hereMakeup must-haves for a fresh-faced look) and A LOT of hair accessories that I wanted to be sure I could see clearly, but also keep organized. I found this clear acrylic makeup organizer that spins – the spinning is super handy for small spaces. Also this acrylic hair accessory/headband holder is great and while it doesn’t fit everything, it fits my favorite things for now!

Makeup organizer I organized all of my makeup and other beauty products into this organizer and anything that I don’t use as often I stored in the top drawer of my little dresser. These little drawer organizers are the perfect size for hair clips and miscellaneous makeup. I’m obsessed with these little organizers and have them everywhere in my house! You wouldn’t think they’d be handy since they’re so small, but they are amazing for things like random batteries, screws, hair clips, chapsticks, coins – everything!

My curling iron, straightener, and hair dryer stay in this top drawer to make getting ready super easy and organized. This awesome makeup mirror that has a light feature, which is super helpful since I don’t have the nice bathroom lighting in this bedroom. I also have a tiny little fan here because it gets HOT blow drying all of this hair right after a shower. Can’t recommend this enough if your room doesn’t have a ceiling fan.Makeup mirror with lights

4. Jewellery organizer

One idea/life hack that I’m super proud of creating – is turning a lipstick/nail polish holder into an earring holder. It is a life saver for keeping all of your earrings, especially little studs, organized and easily visible so you can find them quickly. 

This jewellery stand is one of my favorite pieces, unfortunately it’s from Pier1 and they’re going out of business 🙁 but I found a similar one! This is a pricier investment for turning a small bedroom into a closet, but so worth it. And depending on which one you get, it could definitely be an heirloom piece – I know that’s what I plan for mine to be! 

This jewellery stand just holds SO much. I have no need for anything additional. All of my necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and even travel organizers are stored in this awesome piece.

5. the final touch to turn a room into a closet?! Decorate!

Turning a small room into a closet is definitely about functionality, but it was also about aesthetic for me! I wanted this to be a very girly, peaceful, fun space that I look forward to being in. The first thing I wanted was a white rug to brighten up the space since the floors are so dark. I also knew that I wanted a really cool standing mirror. They’re just such statement pieces and functional to be able to see your whole look.

I also wanted to display some of my favorite bags, so I used the shelves on the clothes rack for that since they are a bit narrow anyway. In the future I plan to add some floating shelves to display more bags!

I added some white, sheer curtains to keep it airy and feminine and am planning to hang some fun wall art, but I just haven’t found the right thing yet. More to come on the decorating portion. Ultimately, just make this space a reflection of you! A place that feels good and gets you in the best mindset  for the day 🙂

down to the nitty gritty

How to fold or roll clothesOnce you have everything you need to turn a small room into a closet then you just need to make sure that you use all of those things wisely. Here are a few more nitty gritty organizational tips:

  1. Separate your summer clothes from winter. I put my summer dresses on my clothing rack and winter dresses in one of the wardrobes. I plan to swap these out seasonally. 
  2. Separate clothing types: dresses from shirts from pants, etc.
  3. Color code – I have everything divided by clothing type and then also color coded. It makes getting ready for the day very easy breezy.
  4. Roll instead of fold, this saves so much space in your drawers!
  5. Where rolling isn’t possible, stack! I stack my bulkier items like jeans and hoodies.

HAVE FUN WITH IT! You’re lucky enough to be able to turn a small room into a closet! That’s so awesome!! So make it a space you love to be in and remember you don’t have to break the bank to make it an amazing space. You can upcycle, shop secondhand, and search sales to stay within your budget. 

If you end up turning a small room into a closet PLEASE share pics and tips with me! I would love to see your new space and I hope this served as helpful inspiration to get you started!

xx, Ashley