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Home Renovations - Tips to Reduce Stress


Published: 04/10/2014

by Hellen Buttigieg

When we moved into our 1970s home three years ago, we knew we’d eventually have to renovate the kitchen. We put it off as long as we could, but when the dishwasher started to leak, the food in the fridge started to freeze and even frozen pizza became a challenge to cook in the ancient oven, we knew it was time.


We decided to renovate the entire first floor because, as anyone who has renovated one room in the house will tell you, the other rooms suddenly look dated. And it’s easier to do it all at once, since you have the mess, the dust and all the tradespeople there anyway.


Renos are as exciting as they are stressful, and staying organized before, during and after the reno was the best thing I did to keep the stress level down.

If you’re planning a reno, here are my top tips to help you make it as painless as possible.


Plan ahead. Good tradespeople need to be booked in advance, permits take time, and some materials, like kitchen cabinets, need to be ordered six to eight weeks ahead of time.


Get referrals, check credentials, meet the people you will be hiring, and make sure you feel comfortable communicating with them.


Set a budget and choose an easy method to keep track of payments.


Start a file to keep all relevant paperwork organized – quotes, invoices, receipts and contact information. I used an accordion file; choose what works for you.


Give yourself plenty of time to pack up the items in the areas to be renovated – especially kitchens (or consider hiring someone to do it). If you pack carefully, the unpacking goes quickly. We used liquor boxes (with the dividers inside) for things like mugs and glasses. We removed the dividers for dishes and other flat items. Label each box clearly, in case you need to find something during the reno.


While you are packing, take advantage of a perfect opportunity to get rid of things you don’t use or that are worn out or damaged; the less you have, the easier it will be.


Set up a temporary area to replace the rooms that are getting renovated. Thankfully, we already had a bathroom and family room in the basement, so we just had to set up a kitchen. We used a folding table, a small fridge and our microwave on a stand. We purchased disposable plates, glasses, cutlery and napkins, because washing dishes was a hassle. Thankfully, our reno took place in the early fall, so we were able to barbecue and eat most meals on the deck.


If you’ve followed my packing suggestions, this will be the easiest part. Once everything has been cleaned, just unpack and put it all away.


Although there were a few things that didn’t go according to plan, everything worked out in the end and all we can say now, as we enjoy our newly renovated home, is “why didn’t we do this sooner?”


I hope these suggestions will not only inspire you to renovate but also assure a smooth transformation.


Hellen Buttigieg, CPO, is a Certified Professional Organizer, life coach, TV personality, author and speaker. For details, visit 

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