If you’re looking for smart kitchen remodeling ideas—and you have kids in the house—I have a handful to share after living through our recent two week renovation. From how to feed a family when you don’t have access to water, how to keep the kids away from wet paint and functional kitchen design for life with kids, I’ll try to touch on it all!
Kitchen Renovation Ideas
After living in our house for almost 7 years, we were just able to update our kitchen to be more functional—and also less brown. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen for work and with feeding my family that I was so excited to brighten it up and make it work for the way we really live and cook. But since we also have three little kids, going into this had a layer of anxiety since I knew we’d be without normal access to our kitchen for two weeks.
TIP: We didn’t do a gut remodel, so we still had some access to the room while it was being worked on.
Kitchen Sink Before and After
The main things we did in the kitchen were to update the countertop and backsplash. My goal was to give the kitchen a light and bright foundation since the rest of our life is fairly colorful (and messy!). I added tiny suction hooks to hold bibs and we hooked up our reverse osmosis water filter to work with the new sink too.
Sources: white matte subway tile; Mobe Pearl grout and caulk from the Tile Shop; Stratus White polished quartz countertop; Moen smart faucet (This turns on with a sensor so you don’t need to touch the faucet to wash dirty hands, though we only have the top sensor on since it was turning on all the time by accident when we had the bottom one on too.)
LED Under Cabinet Lighting
We upgraded all of the under cabinet lighting (what we had was SUPER hot to the touch and the bulbs were expensive to replace) with thin and sleek LED lights. They are a nice clean white color and aren’t hot, which is great with the kids.
Source: LED under cabinet lighting
Cabinets Before and After
The cabinets in our kitchen are numerous and solid wood, so there was no way I was going to replace them all. But the cream color had a lot of yellow, which made the whole kitchen feel yellow and dark. We had everything painted and it looks much brighter now!
Whenever I’d get home with the kids on the days that work was being done, I’d take them right upstairs to play to keep them out of the work zone. That was a good routine—especially since the cabinet doors were removed for over a week and the baby was otherwise into everything.
Sources: White Chantily Lace paint from Benjamin Moore
Breakfast Nook Before and After
We had thick, chunky shelves on the wall next to our little breakfast area and they were always too big for the space. I wasn’t planning to take them down, but when I was taking them off so the wall could be painting, I realized how much more giant the space felt without them. So, no shelves! I put up a large art piece there instead and moved the cookbooks to a cabinet.
We took down curtains and had the window trim (and all of the trim) painted. It’s so much brighter on this side of the room now that I find myself constantly staring at it on sunny days because I can’t believe how much different the light is.
Sources: Lowland art print from Juniper Print Shop. I printed the digital file large on Mpix and choose to have it “mounted” so it’s on a thick, hard backing. I put two adhesive picture hangers on the back and hung on picture hangers.
Kitchen Wall Paint
We originally painted the kitchen walls a sage green (since that’s my husband’s favorite color), but with the overall yellow of the kitchen, the effect was a pretty dark room. I love this blue color and we have it in the dining room, so I knew that it would work well with the rest of the house. It’s completely transformed the room and the end of the room is much happier. Just a little proof that color can totally make or break a room!
Source: Blue wall paint is Palladian Blue from Benjamin Moore in the Low VOC Natura line.
New Round Dining Table and Chairs
We replaced an old rectangular table (which we moved to the basement for crafts!) with a new round one that fits the space much better. This is big enough for our family, but also doesn’t feel too massive for the small area. We also replaced the dining chairs with ones that fit the table better too.
Best Microfiber Kitchen Towels
This may seem like a little thing, but I’m working to replace all of our old kitchen towels (some of which are a decade old and have stains and holes!) with these awesome microfiber ones. They are super absorbent and wash really nicely.
How to Feed a Family During a Kitchen Renovation
We were without water in the sink for three days, and without regular access to the kitchen for two weeks. Which means that I had to rethink how I was preparing family dinner since I simply couldn’t be cooking at 5pm. Here are a few ways I helped us to get through this.
1. Make-Ahead Dinners
For the first week. I made two full dinners ahead and then planned to go out for the third meal. We had easy Burritos and Pizza Rolls with fresh veggies and fruit. Those were easy for me to make in advance and everyone was happy to eat them.
2. Meal Prepped Lunches
Since I work at home and usually make myself lunch, I made Carrot Soup, Veggie Muffins, and hard-cooked eggs for myself. These were easy to warm up when our contractor went out for his own lunch break and lasted for most of that first week. (The kids ate at daycare and school, so that was helpful too!)
3. Keep Meal Simple
We started having sandwich nights on Thursday nights during this process—just basic turkey and cheese sandwiches, which I served deconstructed for the one year old—and it was so freeing to serve a meal everyone liked that I didn’t have to cook. Totally keeping that in our regular rotation! I also did a lot of Instant Pot meals with precut veggies from the store like these Chicken and Bean Tacos.
4. Rely on Shortcuts
Maybe takeout would simplify meals for you or a box of toaster waffles and fruit would be an easy way to serve up a fun family dinner. Maybe you buy a rotisserie chicken at the store or batch cook chicken nuggets and simply warm them up. However you prefer to make your meals easier, embrace them! This is not the time to prove anything to anyone—your house is a mess and the only goal is to get food onto the table!
5. Use Disposables if Needed
For the days that we were without water, we used disposable plates, which was really helpful. I wiped down the baby’s highchair tray with a wet paper towel.
6. Know that Things Will Be Dusty
I 100% underestimated how dusty EVERYTHING in my kitchen would be—inside the cabinets, every surface, the walls and trim. Which meant that cooking took even longer to get back to normal because it took me a while to get everything clean again. Keep that in mind when you head to the store after things are actually done—you might need a few more easy meals before you’re back to your normal.
Living through a kitchen renovation with kids isn’t the easiest thing, but if you remember that it’s temporary and for a good cause, it’s obviously so worth it in the end!