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From Spotlight: Home Habits to Nurture Your Well-Being

Renovating? 4 Ways to Stay Zen While Living in a Disaster Zone

Simple ideas so you can enjoy your home despite the dust and chaos of remodeling.

Buddha statue under renovation
Image: Amnartk/Shutterstock

Congrats! You finally got that fixer-upper you've been eyeing like you used to do to your high-school crush. Now it's yours, but your budget's tight, so you're planning to move in and live there as you remodel

Wow, that's a stressful thought.

Just thinking about it makes you feel exhaused and excited at the same time. Sigh.

Well, you can let your excitement win that battle with these four strategies to ease the stress of living in the middle of a construction zone:

#1 Designate a Place for Stuff You Need to Move of the Way

Plastic tubs on a wall organizer in a garage
Image: Country Bohemian

Homeowners ride an emotional roller coaster during a remodeling project, says Dave Lupberger, veteran remodeler who wrote the book, "Managing the Emotional Homeowner."

To give your emotions some grounding, come up with an organization plan. It's a lot easier (less stressful) to renovate when you've got the room. 

Think about it:

Where are you going to put your piles of pots and pans until your kitchen cabinets are ready

Set up a storage place that's reserved for stuff that needs relocating as you move from project to project. Such as:

  • Install an organization system in the basement or garage.
  • Reserve one room (future guest room?) if you can.
  • Rent a pod; you can even keep it at your home.

For items you'll need to use more frequently throughout renovations, build shelves in closets or create storage space under a window seat or banquette bench.


#2 Make the Space You'll Live In a True Retreat

Maybe your master bedroom or kitchen will need a total remodel in a few years, but other rooms of the house need more attention now.

Because you spend the most time in your bedroom and kitchen, take this opportunity to make at least one of them really cozy with a quick makeover before diving into any heavy-duty projects elsewhere.

The fastest way to change a room is with paint and accessories. Use paint to create an accent wall in your bedroom and try your hand at crown molding to make a room seem polished. You can even add new lighting for ambiance.

In the kitchen, paint the cabinets, add new hardware, and -- voilà! -- you have a new kitchen. Install a backsplash over a weekend, and one of your most commonly used rooms will feel peacefully polished -- even if there's chaos right down the hall.

#3 Make a Door One of Your First Projects

New entry door

Your new home might be a mess inside, but you can feel great about pulling into your driveway.

A new front door, or newly-painted one will remind you how much of an impact your work is making on your home. And give you a reason to smile as you walk through the door.

#4 Create Outdoor Places to Escape to

Lovely back yard relaxation area with Adirondack chairs
Image: Hope Kay

Have a spring move in?

If you have months of good weather ahead, take advantage of your new yard to create a retreat where can truly get away from the clamor of renovation project. Some simple ideas:

  • On your patio or deck, go ahead and "furnish" it -- even if it's just a few lawn chairs. 
  • Create a picnic spot on a nice shaded spot.
  • Hang a swing.
  • Turn a shed into a temporary hideout


RelatedHow Long is That Remodel Going to Take, Really?

Author photo of writer Stacey Freed
Stacey Freed

Stacey Freed writes about homes, design, remodeling, and construction for online and print national trade and consumer publications, including "Better Homes & Gardens." Previously, she was a senior editor at "Remodeling" magazine. Follow Stacey on Twitter.