Kitchen remodel lessons learned

Or “How to remodel a kitchen while six months pregnant with kid #2 and be so happy you could cry!”

I don’t know whether I can actually reach that very small target audience of parents of babies and toddlers that live in their own 100+ year old bungalows and are desperate for a kitchen remodel… let alone those of you who need to have it done NOW because another baby is on the way, but isn’t that what the Internets are for?

Top five must-have improvements (if you live in my house):

  1. Dishwasher. The appliance that started it all. We moved heaven and earth (and stove, fridge, and sink) to get a dishwasher before Milo was born. And I love it every day.
  2. Instant Hot. We debated this and decided against it for cost reasons before changing our minds and doing it anyway. I use ours every day for tea, oatmeal, soup, quickly making veggies, melting butter, sterilizing pacifiers, you name it! We got the one that does cold water too and chucked out the Brita.
  3. “Green-ness”. We got cabinets made with FSC certified wood and ultra low VOC, urea-formaldehyde finishes from Eco-Home so we feel good that it’s healthy for our kids and the environment. Some sort of Mother Earth thing I guess. It all cost about the same as something from Home Depot, so we felt good about supporting our local shop without having to suffer too much for it.
  4. Granite. I feel silly extolling the virtues of a granite counter top, but here’s why: it magically defrosts bricks of food in the time it takes us to spend an afternoon at Totland. (oh yeah, and the granite counter was the only non-green upgrade to our kitchen. shhhhh)
  5. Big sink. We got a big ol’ baby-washing size sink from eBay. So I’m recommending a big sink that can fit a baby or a roasting pan (not both at the same time!) and also looking for deals on eBay.

Our contractor, Chris Paganelli was awesome, professional, green, and mighty timely. I needed someone to respect that the baby was coming and we didn’t want to live in the back of the house forever. Chris was a rookie parent himself and was excellent to work with.

Tips for living in a small space with no kitchen:

  • Toys. We had to swap our playroom for the office because of the location of our kitchen. Consequently we hid 75% of the toys in boxes and untouchable closets for the duration of our short remodel. Legos, blocks, and other small creative toys are key.
  • Play outside. If it’s winter, bundle the kids up and get out of the house anyway. We spent our time splashing in puddles and seeking out playdates.
  • Food. Yeah, we still had to eat. We moved our microwave to the office (now dining room/play room) and bought a mini fridge from Craigs List. After the remodel, we sold the fridge back to the world for the same price. We ate lots of prepared grocery meals, takeout, and anything requiring limited prep (no cutting).
  • Dishes. Disposable (sorry to admit it) and non-breakable melamine dishes from Target. We each got one bowl, one plate, one camping cup, and a few pieces of cutlery. Since dishes were being done in the bathroom, it’s best to limit the amount. I recommend a washpan and good scraping.

Well, those are some of the highlights… I’m happy to answer any and all questions!