When planning for a major kitchen remodeling project, if you are going to set up a makeshift kitchen anywhere in your home, keep in mind…Location, Location, Location! In our previous post, we talked about what ‘season’ is the best time for a kitchen remodel, especially if you live in south Louisiana. We also mentioned how planning, preparing, packing, and purchasing items before a kitchen remodeling actually begins is vital! In addition to setting up a ‘makeshift kitchen’, both a ‘staging area’ and a ‘construction zone’ need to be considered and established in separate designated areas. Try to keep these areas orderly and tidy so you can at least survive in organized chaos for the duration of your project.
Right now is a good time to think about where your temporary kitchen will be located. Understand, the ‘staging area’ and ‘construction zone’ will be off limits for your personal use. If you do not have an attached garage, another large area in your home that is close to the kitchen, like your living room, will be claimed by building materials and tools. Consider using an area that can be closed off and is out of the way, so that the construction crew keeps their work tools out of your space.
If your home does have an attached garage, you might designate it as the secure ‘staging area’ to hold or store all of the items and materials purchased ahead of time for the remodel. Open metal shelving units in this space will come in handy for easy access to and storage of small and medium sized boxes of items and materials, such as plumbing and lighting fixtures. The garage may also become an extended part of the ‘construction zone’ where your general contractor stores his tools and equipment on-site, such as a table saw and jobsite tool storage chest. Your contractor will need as much clear floor space in this area as possible, so plan for your car(s) to be parked elsewhere for the time being.
Do you have a formal dining room, game room, or guest bedroom that can provide space for a makeshift kitchen? If so, will you be able to move the full-size refrigerator into the other room for perishable foods? If that is not an option because space is tight, get an under-cabinet or mini refrigerator.
Know that you will be without a working kitchen sink for a period of time. Do you have a large laundry room with an oversized sink? If not, consider setting up a counter with dish washing area outdoors near a water spigot with a large bucket, an ice chest, or cooler on a stand or shelf.
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Once you decide on a place where you can prepare and cook food inside, set up a counter space that is either 24” or 30” deep by at least 60” long for small cooking appliances. The following items are a few worthwhile investments to make home cooked meals in a makeshift kitchen. If you do not have any of these small appliances, then keep an eye out for ‘big box’ store sales or online sales promotions during the upcoming holiday season and get a few of them:
- Microwave Oven
- Toaster Oven
- Hot Plate or Induction Cooktop Countertop Burner
- Crock Pot or Slow Cooker
- Electric Griddle or Electric Skillet
- Rice Cooker
- Professional Style Blender
- Electric Hand Mixer
- Electric Wok
- Panini Maker
In addition to counter space, open shelves are useful for storing small appliances once the old cabinets are pulled out and the existing kitchen is completely gutted. Check out home improvement stores, restaurant supply warehouses, hardware stores, consignment shops, a nearby Habitat ReStore, local Craigslist postings, and online to find open shelving units at reasonable prices.
Also, you might want to set up a separate small beverage station area for your coffee maker, single cup home-brewing system, or an electric kettle. And, possibly a countertop ice maker if you will be using an under-cabinet refrigerator.
Does your home have an outdoor covered patio where you can set up a portable grill? Maybe you have some kitchen camping equipment, like a camp stove, outdoor camp oven, or a chuck box in storage. If you go camping or tailgate a lot and own an RV, mobile home, or mini-camper with a compact kitchen, you will be in good shape and easily adjust to dealing with the inconvenience of a temporary makeshift kitchen.
Also, use this time to assess, clean out, and throw away any out-of-date spices or expired food from your cabinets and pantry. Gather clear plastic bins with lids and moving boxes to have on hand when you empty everything out of the Kitchen. You should pack up as if you are moving to another town instead of putting everything in a disorganized pile in another room. It will only turn out to be a messy project you will not want to deal with later. Instead, plan to put everything you will not be using regularly in labeled boxes or clear plastic tubs. Pack all of the non-essentials and remember to label the contents on the tops and sides of boxes.
The dust from sheetrock and wood floats everywhere and into everything, so before construction begins, you should put drop cloths over the boxes and as much furniture as possible. You should also separate your temporary makeshift kitchen area(s) from the construction zone with plastic barrier(s). Also before construction starts, plan to put filter media cloth over your air conditioning ‘return air’ vents, and change frequently. At some point during the renovation when a subcontractor shows up on the jobsite, ‘The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly’ theme song from that Clint Eastwood movie might start playing in your head. Things will definitely get messy during the renovation process, so keep a lot of dusting cloths handy. And by all means, do whatever you need to do to maintain a positive mental attitude until your remodel is complete! Do not be afraid to remind your renovation contractor to maintain an orderly and trash-free construction site… and make sure to have ‘NO SMOKING’ signs posted inside any areas of your house!
Simple meals can be made using a crockpot and microwave. Try this Louisiana cookbook, Tout de Suite a la Microwave, for cooking some of the best French, Acadian and Creole recipes using a microwave oven. If you have never used a crock pot before, get one now and a new cookbook with slow cooker recipes. And, if you are not familiar with tailgating, Southern Living’s tailgating cookbook and this new cookbook will come in handy if you decide to get an outdoor camp oven or a small cast iron charcoal grill. In the meantime, take some healthy cooking classes to make some delicious meals in your new kitchen when it is completed.
Truth be told, the infamous ‘kitchen triangle’ rarely, if ever, exists in this temporary set-up. But, with a little pre-planning, this ad hoc space will provide the basic necessities for cooking, cleaning, and storage. Keep things simple, organized, and to a minimum in your makeshift kitchen, and you will have a much better experience overall during the remodel. Just remember to plan ahead, take it easy, and you will have a wonderful kitchen when it is all over.
Have you ever had to set up a temporary makeshift kitchen? Feel free to share your experiences and words of wisdom!