Kitchen Renovation Survival Guide: The Substitute Kitchen

From the first demolition day to the end of installation, the kitchen renovation site will be a construction zone. During this time, your home may be without a usable kitchen. While this time can be stressful, we at Cabinet Creations have some suggestions for creating a substitute kitchen to help while your kitchen renovation is underway.

If you are fortunate to have a wet bar in your home, that would be an ideal location for your temporary kitchen. Otherwise, please continue on.


Consider where you will be getting your water over the course of the renovation. You will need water for meal preparation and cleaning dishes. If you have a utility sink, and depending on its location, determine whether you can set up your substitute kitchen in the vicinity. If this is not a feasible option, transporting water to your makeshift kitchen may be in order.


Wherever you choose, the location of your substitute kitchen should have enough space to prepare meals, allow for storage of your necessary dishes, cooking appliances, and non-perishable foods you may want to keep close by. Popular locations for a substitute kitchen have been the basement, mudroom, or garage. Check with your contractor to determine what areas of the home may be high traffic areas, or used for storage of installation materials. During the process of demolition of the old kitchen, and installation of the new kitchen, it’s important to note that a lot of dust will be present. You may want to choose a location for your temporary kitchen as far from the worksite as possible.

Food Storage

Dry goods can easily be organized in various storage containers, bins or drawers. Whether or not you have access to refrigeration will determine what food you can store. If space permits, you may be able to move your refrigerator to your substitute kitchen. A mini fridge is also an option for smaller spaces. If you don’t already own one, a friend or family member may be willing to lend you a fridge. Alternatively, second hand options may be available.

Cookware and Flatware

For your substitute kitchen, you obviously need bowls, plates, flatware, etc. These can just be the dishes you already own. With limited space in your substitute kitchen, it’s best practice to only bring the dishes that are used most frequently. The cooking methods you’ll be using in your substitute kitchen should also be a factor in which dishes you want to include. Limit the number of duplicates you bring to your substitute kitchen. You don’t need to include a full service for eight if you have a much smaller household.

Cooking Appliances

This is the big one. Exactly how are you going to be cooking your food? An obvious choice is to have a microwave available. If you’re someone who likes their morning joe, don’t forget the coffee pot! Slow cookers and rice cookers are versatile and can be used for steaming vegetables and some select baking. Including a toaster or toaster oven are also good choices. An electric burner can be a life saver and are reasonably priced. Other options include an electric griddle, electric kettle, and a pressure cooker.

Other Considerations

Some kitchen renovation veterans have offered further suggestions to help you.

  • Ask if a section of your old kitchen cupboards can be moved to your temporary kitchen area. This will provide some storage space. If a countertop can’t be salvaged, use some plywood for some counter space.
  • If you’re renovating during the summer months, don’t discount your grill. In addition to that kabob, try a few grilled veggie skewers!
  • Missing that homemade meal? Ask a family or a friend if you can cook dinner for them at their house.
  • If you’ll have access to a freezer, prepare before demolition begins by cooking several meals and freezing them.
  • Don’t count on eating out frequently. It can quickly become expensive and you’ll never want to go to another restaurant again!
  • Packing up your kitchen is a great opportunity to evaluate whether it’s time to retire or donate some of your kitchenware.

While being without your kitchen can be stressful, don’t forget, it’s only temporary. Utilizing our suggestions will get you through your renovation and soon you’ll have a new and improved kitchen in your home.

Kirk Richardson
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