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.

How to Renovate Without Stress

A home renovation project can dramatically disrupt your lifestyle for a season. However, you can minimize the inconvenience (and stress) by learning how to renovate a house in an organized way. We’ve gathered some practical home renovation tips that will keep your remodeling projects ordered and stress-free.

Planning the Details

1. Get the details of the work in writing.

If you are hiring outside contractors, make sure all contracts are in writing. Print these forms that include the entire scope of the work and put them in a binder. A thorough contract will give you an idea of what will take place and the timeline you should expect, which will help you determine your organizing routine 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.

Each home renovation contract should include:

  • The address of the home
  • Start date and estimated completion date
  • Details of what is and is not going to be completed

If you need help getting started, here are some home remodeling contract examples.

2. Figure out how you are going to live in your home.

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 Airbnb. The choice here is personal and budget dependent.

Once you have an estimated start date, figure out how you will live in or out of your home during the work. You might need to get creative and reimagine other areas of your home for a different purpose. This strategy might mean using the basement as a bedroom or using the dining room as a temporary kitchen. Make sure you have this plan thought out before a single renovation task is started. The more planning of how you are going to live day-to-day, the better.

Here are some clever home renovation tips:

  • Keep a small file folder with your favorite take-out menus to help alleviate the stress of cooking during a kitchen remodel.
  • If you decide to weather the storm at home, maintain at least one safe space that does not have tools, paint, or dust. Retreat to this area of your home anytime you’re feeling stressed and need to recharge.
  • If it’s the kitchen you’re renovating, here are some stoveless meals to help you start thinking outside of the box.

Organizing and Prep

3. Protect your home from dust and debris.

When you’re learning how to renovate a house, one of the first things you’ll be taught is how to prep. Do not underestimate the importance of prep work. 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.

Consider the following steps:

  • Remove curtains and anything else that can collect dust.
  • Cover furniture with a protective tarp.
  • Remove fragile or expensive items.
  • Declutter your home of unnecessary items.
  • Keep essentials in an easy-access storage box.
  • Take belongings out of cabinets and closets.

RENOVATION TIP: Rolling clothes racks, lightweight bins, or a chest of drawers with wheels can be helpful if you need to shift your belongings from room to room. For example, a rolling clothes rack makes it easy to move clothing to the guest room if you are renovating the master bedroom. Clear plastic bins can protect items from dust while easily allowing you to see what’s inside.

4. Store belongings offsite during a remodel.

In most cases, even a small home remodel can infiltrate into the entire house. Consider storing personal items like picture frames, home decor, and other valuables far away from the housework. By keeping these items stored elsewhere, you minimize dust exposure and potential damage.

To keep important belongings out of harm’s way, consider renting a storage unit. Make sure to label the boxes and have a rolling inventory of your storage unit, so you know where everything is throughout the home renovations.

During the Renovation

5. 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, those receipts will be helpful at tax time.

6. Think ahead about how you will decorate.

You might know how to renovate a house, but do you know how to decorate it? 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.

During the house renovation project, create a decorating file on Pinterest or another platform. Gather any design inspiration that you like and include it in the file. This process will inspire you throughout the project when things tend to look a lot worse before they start to look better.

7. Learn to embrace the mess.

When you’re in the middle of a home renovation project, there’s inevitably going to be a lot of dust, even if you are a master cleaner. You can get annoyed with your contractor, 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.

Figure out a balance that works for you and your mental well being. Taking the above precautions 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 making living arrangements elsewhere throughout the heavy demo and sanding.

It’s challenging to eliminate the inconveniences that come with house renovation projects, but you can reduce stress by preparing in advance. We hope this guide showed you how to renovate a house effectively. Hopefully, when your home makeover is done, you’ll be ready to enjoy it!

Related: How to Plan a DIY Home Renovation + Budget Spreadsheet

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on November 3, 2015, and was revised on April 24, 2020.

About the Author

Lauren Thomann

Lauren Thomann has written about self storage and moving since 2015, making her our storage expert. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in English and Linguistics and has published over 150 articles on moving, storage, and home organization. She is also a contributing writer at The Spruce and Martha Stewart.

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