There’s nothing more exciting than finalizing the design and signing off on a brand new kitchen for your home… The excitement can often be overwhelming! Especially if your kitchen has needed a remodel or renovation for a few years.

While updating your kitchen can make you feel extremely inspired, the before and after shots you see on social media doesn’t happen overnight! There is so much time, effort, and work that goes into a successful kitchen renovation that everyone needs to be made aware of before they embark on the journey. There is nothing worse than having work start on your home and not realizing the scale of disruption or not having everything prepared. 

Don’t get us wrong! This isn’t to scare you or put you off embarking on a kitchen renovation… Absolutely not! It’s that quite often the before and after of a project is shared and everything in between is left out. Of course – it’s not as glamorous! – but all the decisions along the way and preparations should be just as openly spoken about as the dramatic final reveals.

Today, we’re going to take you through the actual renovation side of a kitchen upgrade/remodel/renovation so you know exactly what to expect and how to prepare before the work really starts. Like they say, “fail to prepare, prepare to fail” – this definitely applies even to a kitchen renovation!

Let’s have a closer look at the realities behind a kitchen renovation…  

Don’t Believe What You See on TV

A kitchen renovation is not like HGTV…

What you often see on home improvement television shows are just snapshots or glimpses into the journey, and not the full picture. This can give a lot of homeowners a false impression of what a renovation is really like. And when they come round to updating their kitchen they are surprised and shocked at the process!

Instead of what you see on those shows, you should expect to lose the functionality of your kitchen for a good few weeks at a time. You may be able to use part of the kitchen for some of the time but you shouldn’t rely on it. 

We always recommend to our clients that they set up a temporary kitchen area outside of the main work zone. This could be done in the dining room or a corner of the living room. It’s important that you have a separate temporary kitchen area set up so that basic food preparation can be done and so you don’t need to eat out every night for a month or more!

You should expect to lose all functionality of your kitchen for weeks at a time. Set up a temporary kitchen elsewhere in the home that is away from dust so you can still prepare basic foods during the project.

The Renovation Itself

Expect there to be dust everywhere. Plastic will be taped up to help contain the dust and keep it under control, but it is important to remember that you will be living within a construction zone for a while. Keeping the dust under control will be particularly difficult if your kitchen is open to other areas of the home. Always try and cover any pieces of furniture that are open to the renovation area just in case. If someone you live with has sensitive lungs, it may be beneficial for them to relocate for several days when the work is at its messiest. 

Something that always surprises homeowners is that there are some days the contractor won’t be in your home. For example, once the cabinets are installed, the countertops usually take 2-4 weeks to come in depending on the material availability. The countertop supplier may also need to take site measurements before the material itself can be ordered to ensure it’s all accurate with the cabinets. 

While we always try to stagger tasks in projects as efficiently as possible, sometimes there are a few days that go by when you won’t see tradespeople. We’ll let you in on a secret here – your contractor uses these days to conquer small projects for other clients, but don’t worry! You’re still number one.

Another thing to keep in mind is that most materials and labor are paid for in cash. Many people don’t think about the money transfer aspect of a project before going all-in with it, but renovations are mostly a cash business. You won’t literally hand over cash to tradespeople on-site, the fact is that most vendors only work with checks or bank transfers. There’s normally a cap on credit card purchases during the process. If you have any concerns about this area of the project always speak to your contractor.

For large renovations, you should expect to have a dumpster take place in your driveway. The contractor needs a place to easily dispose of trash. Check with your village or town if this means parking on the street to make sure you don’t get a ticket or towed. 


Normally you will have several legal agreements in place. An agreement with the contractor, designer, and architect are usually separate. 

There are occasions when the designer may be covered under the architect’s fee, but the designer and contractor are typically separate. I handle my relationships this way too as it means I can truly advocate for my client throughout the whole process and the waters don’t get muddied along the way.

There will be several legal agreements in place for a renovation project. Always check before a project starts who is responsible for each area and what to expect from all parties involved.

The most important thing is to trust the process when the work starts and let the contractor and tradespeople carry out the work when they need to. If you suspect things are moving slowly, always check with the contractor to see what’s happening. You should always be kept up to date with the renovation progress.

We hope you have enjoyed this blog post! If you’re about to start on a kitchen renovation project but it feels too overwhelming – please send us an email and we can chat it through together! We can help hold your hand throughout the process and give you advice and direction to help you.

Have you recently undergone a renovation at home? We would love to hear about your experience and how it measures up with the areas we have covered in this post… Please drop us a comment below!