A major home renovation is one of the most expensive and potentially stressful projects you can tackle. We’ve come up with some tips and strategies that will show you how to renovate a house in an organized and clutter-free fashion.

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Updated on 4/20/16 from an article originally published on 11/3/15.

How to Fake an Organized Home While Undertaking a House Renovation

How to Renovate a Home with as Little Stress as Possible

Whether you prefer to do it yourself or hire a contractor, a home renovation project will definitely disrupt your lifestyle for a season. You can minimize the inconvenience, however, by learning how to renovate a home effectively. Planning ahead, getting your home organized, and setting your expectations will not only save you money but could also save your sanity. Here are some practical home renovation tips from experts that will keep your home (and your mind) tidy and clutter-free before, during and after your renovation.

1. Make Living Arrangements Well in Advance

With smaller projects, like bathroom and kitchen renovations, you can probably stay in your home without too much trouble. For long-term and larger projects, one of the best organizing tips may be to stay with family or in an extended-stay hotel. “If you opt to stay in the home during renovations, pick a room in the house that is off-limits to everyone but you,” recommend the experts at David Gray Design. “This should be a quiet room where you can go to relax, get work done, etc., and escape the noise and chaos of renovation.”

2. Set Up a Temporary Kitchen

If your kitchen will be unavailable for more than a few days, find a different place where you can prepare meals. You’ll want this space to be readily available to you and other family members, but you also want it out of the way of any ongoing construction. “Include a refrigerator and microwave oven, so you can continue to make light meals at home,” advise the writers at Better Homes and Gardens.

Keeping a small file folder with your favorite take-out menus will help alleviate the stress of cooking out of your makeshift kitchen. If you’re going through a major kitchen renovation, your local take-out businesses may be referring to you on a first name basis.

3. Protect Yourself with a Detailed Contract

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Firm up a detailed contract with your contractor before the project begins. This will give you an idea of what will take place and the timeline you should expect, which will help you determine your organizing tips throughout the remodel. If you go into the project without a contract or if the contract isn’t specific, you could easily find the project stalled or worse. “The contract needs the right address, a start date, a completion date, and a detail of what is and is not going to be done,” says Rosie Romero, founder of Legacy Custom Builders in Scottsdale, Arizona.

4. Keep ALL Your Receipts

Even if you are 99 percent sure you will like those new lighting fixtures for your dining room, they may look kitschy once you hang them up. Hold on to receipts for everything related to your renovation, not just the obvious things, like screws that don’t fit, but anything that a store would take back—just in case. And even if you don’t return things, Sharkey explains that those receipts will be helpful at tax time.

5. Organize and Remove Items in Cabinets and Closets

Take all of your belongings out of cabinets and closets; then, categorize and label them. Set aside things you will need to use regularly during the renovation by keeping them in an easy-access storage box. As you come across items you no longer need, consider selling or donating them. “If there is something you use only a few times a year…those items can be stored away in a basement or closet,” says professional organizer Debbie Lillard. Make sure boxes are clearly labeled to make reorganizing after the project quicker and easier.

6. Save Decor Ideas in a Special Decorating File

After your space is renovated, you’ll want to decorate and make it your own. You may want to reuse some décor that you already have, but chances are you’ll want your furnishings to match the updated areas. Before and during the house renovation project, Kevin Sharkey of Martha Stewart Living suggests creating one of the best organization strategies: create a decorating file. Gather “everything and anything that you like or think you would like to see in the space” and include it in the file. This will inspire you throughout the project.

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7. Protect Against Dust, Debris, and Damage (as Best You Can)

Even if your contractor plans to prep the site, you may want to do your own work to minimize your exposure to dust and other allergens. “Take down any curtains, put a protective tarp over the floors and cover furniture, bookcases and anything else not easily moved that you don’t want to be piled on with dust,” says David Gray Design. Since you know what is most important to you in your home, doing your own damage control will leave you feeling confident throughout the project.

8. Learn to Love the Dust

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When you’re in the middle of a home renovation project, there’s inevitably going to be a lot of dust. You can get annoyed with your contractor (even though it’s not his fault), pretend like the dust isn’t there, or you can make plans to regularly clean in and around your living space. Either way, there will be dust. “Keeping a work site clean will make you feel less helpless,” Sharkey advises. “You do have to live with dust, but your space doesn’t have to look like a war zone.”

Taking the above precautions in step 7 will help eliminate some dust, but it is important to have realistic expectations when going into a home renovation. If you are prone to severe dust allergies or just can’t stand dust, you might consider step 1 and make living arrangements elsewhere throughout the heavy demo and sanding.

9. Use Movable Storage Solutions

Rolling clothes racks, lightweight bins or a chest of drawers with wheels can be helpful as you need to shift your belongings from room to room. If you are renovating your bedroom, for instance, a rolling clothes rack makes it easy to move those items right over to the guest room. Clear plastic bins can also protect the items in your bathroom while easily allowing you to see what’s inside.

10. Store Your Favorite Belongings Far Away

“A remodeling project is going to affect every room in the house,” says A.J. Paron-Wildes, general manager of DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen. “The homeowners need to take down pictures, move vases, and pack away valuables before work begins.” Even if you’re doing a renovation on the first floor, dust will magically find its way throughout the entire house. Not only that, your belongings could get in the way of contractors and risk getting damaged.

To keep your important belongings out of harm’s way during the renovation, consider renting a storage unit to keep your items secure and organized. David Gray Design further recommends, “If you pack out items to take to a storage unit or place in another area of the home during renovation, always label the boxes and place the items that you’re more likely to use near the top to minimize the hassle of having to sort through piles of boxes to find what you’re looking for.”


There is no way to completely eliminate the inconveniences that come with house renovation projects, but you can reduce the stress of it all on your home and your family by preparing in advance. Give these tips a try and when your beautiful home makeover is done, you’ll be ready to enjoy it.

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About the Author

Lauren Thomann

Lauren Thomann is a contributing writer covering home, moving and storage topics for the Life Storage blog.

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