4 Tips to Stay Sane During a Remodel

Living in a home remodel, either in a single room or a whole house, can really take a toll on your mental fortitude over time. Not everybody has the time or money to flip their own home in a matter of weeks. We’ve taken the approach of doing things ourselves when the time and funds allow us. Spoiler alert: it’s not always glamorous. We’ve been living and working in our current house for 12+ months. At times it feels like we’ve just scratched the surface.

Jump to the tips below:

  1. Tidy as you go
  2. Contain the mess
  3. Start a Tool Table
  4. Create a happy pace

Don’t get me wrong. It is fun… and empowering… and really quite amazing what you can do with your two hands and a few Youtube searches. But, what most DIY/Home Improvements shows don’t reveal is how it feels to live in that space day –  after day – after day during the remodel. 

You are constantly surrounded by exposed beams and wires, mopping white drywall footprints, and vacuuming random nails (where do these keep coming from?!). All real scenarios, all a big pain! That being said, we’ve learned and implemented a few tips/tricks that make the construction and remodel of a house just a bit more bearable.

Tidy as you Go

This may sound simple, but it is effective. It’s really easy to get excited about “Demo Day!” Much less exciting to think about cleaning up demo day. Not only that, but having to clean up the same space again and again as new projects bring new messes.

If you are actively working in a space, plan to do a 10 minute tidy each day. Invest in whatever materials will make that easy for you.

Demo day = cleanup day!
After view of the space after cleaning up
Plan time to clean up during your demo days

Must-Have’s in the Murray House:

Wet/Dry Shop Vacuum

Steam mop

Commercial Trash Cans

Contain the mess (when possible)

If you are undertaking a project that will make a mess (especially one that will take multiple days/weeks), it’s best to take steps to contain the mess. Cutting, drilling, tearing down – all activities that have the potential to spread dry wall, plaster, and wood shavings everywhere. Before you dive in, be proactive and create a means to contain the mess the best way possible. It can be as simple as shutting a door (that way you don’t have to look at the madness) or purchasing some reusable canvas to hang.

Truth? When you know you will be replacing things – cabinets, floors, carpet – it’s hard to stay motivated about keeping those spaces clean. Meh, I’m getting rid of them soon. But trust me, you don’t want to live with drywall dust covering your ugly replaceable stair railings for months.

canvas closing off the drywall work
You can purchase packs of canvas from Walmart to keep dust and particles enclosed

Tool table

When you take on projects inside and outside your house, it seems like every counter space becomes fair play as a dumping ground. It’s not intentional per se. It starts with having a screwdriver handy. And a drill. Nails. Nail gun. Suddenly half of your tool box ends up strewn across your various projects

Not only does it create clutter, it quickly becomes difficult to find that tool you need when you need it. A good compromise? 

Create a tool table. Set rules (and abide by them) that all tools end up back on the table at the end of the day. It can be a spare table you already have or you can purchase an affordable folding table.

Having everything in one place will cut down on time spent searching for the tools you need

I’m a bit of an organization freak and ideally live by “every part has its place.” I would love nothing more than to tape off and label where every item should be placed. Blame it on my 6S training. BUT – it would drive Jimmy nuts. He lives in a state of organized chaos. While I might not be able to keep track of his system, he knows exactly where things are. The tool table is a good compromise.

Every tool we use and need goes on the table at the end of the day. I don’t micromanage or over-organize the table. He doesn’t have to go room to room looking for the hammer and we have a clear table to eat at every day. Win-Win.

It’s the little things.

Clear dinner table for the win!

Create a happy place

This might not be applicable for some people, but having just one place in the house to retreat to can feel really good. If you’ve been in your house for years and are taking on one room at a time, this might not feel relevant since your house is still intact. But if you come into a project which requires a full remodel and you have no “happy place” it can feel really miserable.

We moved into our house with little, to no furniture. We bought only what we needed to get us a started: 

  • A bed frame plus mattress
  • 2 desks +2 office chairs (since we work from home) 
  • 2 lawn chairs (easy to move when we needed a rest)
  • Gifted: 2 rocking chairs for our back porch from our realtor – thanks Marianna!

That was it. Some obvious creature comforts missing for the first 6 months: a couch, kitchen table, TV, nightstands… you get the picture. We couldn’t justify purchasing too much out of the gate with all of the demo and painting to be done. More stuff would just get in the way.

That being said, I wish we would have committed to have just one place to retreat to when we got started. It could have been a bedroom, bonus room, a bathroom, ANYTHING. When you live in a constant state of construction with debris and exposed walls it can really f*** with your head. First world problems? Maybe. But it’s true.

Our retreat corner

6 months into our project, I hit a breaking point. There were definitely tears shed while sitting alone on the ground in an empty room covered with sanding debris. It seems silly, but that was the catalyst to create just one corner that was off limits. Right now it’s the family room.

I bought a second hand couch, discounted rug, a small side table, and even some plants/pillows/blankets. No dirty work shoes, no construction allowed. While the rest of the space may be utter chaos, there is at least this one corner for a mental break. For $600 – WORTH IT!

It’s terrible lighting, but you get the point. Try to have a space that is off-limits to demo

Bonus Tip from Jimmy

“Don’t start a remodel.”

He secretly loves it

Comments 1

  1. This is such a helpful post! Nobody talks about the reality of a remodel – it’s always about the before/after photos with no mention of the in-between. Can’t wait to see the place in December! Also, I trust Jimmy’s advice at the end 🙂

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