Organization and photo courtesy Kitchen Design Concepts.

Move It, But Don’t Lose It: Tips for Surviving a Kitchen Displacement

How to maintain your sanity while moving

While May is official “Moving Month,” summer in general seems to be a very busy time for relocating homes or starting major renovation projects. There’s no getting over the dread of packing up your belongings into unknown boxes, but the one room that can really throw people into a tail spin is tearing apart the heart of the home: the kitchen. (After all, there’s no further indignation to switching spaces than not even being able to locate a corkscrew amongst the chaos to open that much needed bottle of wine!)

To help make packing the kitchen a little less traumatic, we provide a “Kitchen Care Package” to clients with all the tips and tricks they need to set up temporary kitchen. And whether you are moving homes or just updating your kitchen space, many of the same ideas apply. In addition to surviving the move, sorting through the kitchen is your chance for a fresh start on layout, functionality, and keeping only the items you plan to use.

Before you just start dumping everything in boxes, here are a few simple ways to save your sanity:

  • If you’ll be setting up a temporary kitchen during construction, identify an area of the home that will serve as your new home base—such as a dining room or out-of-sight guest room. Invest in a small fridge to keep things cold, a microwave for heating pre-planned meals and a few storage tubs to organize dry and can goods. Don’t forget to make a space for the coffee pot, too, for that morning cup of Joe!
  • Pack one box of kitchen “must haves” that will be the first thing you unpack in the new space (be it new or just temporary) to avoid frustration and chaos.
  • Remember to set aside basics like one or two place settings per person, cups, and plastic utensils that can be used until you get set up.
  • If you won’t have access to your boxed kitchen supplies for a while, make a list of tools you’ll need such as a can opener, bottle opener, measuring cups, and cutting boards. A little pre-planning can save you from a hair pulling, late-night run to Wal-Mart for a can opener.

When unpacking in a new space, use it as a time to perfect the flow of how things are laid out in the kitchen:

  • Make a numbered list of your kitchen inventory and cross-reference where those items will go in the new space (include space to add kitchen “wish list” items).
  • Pack all numbered items for a specific drawer/cabinet in a packing box with the same box label and number.
  • When in doubt, throw it out: purge unused items while packing and use the unpacking time to really audit items again. Do you really need six muffin tins?

With just a little bit of pre-planning, you’ll soon be back to business as usual in the kitchen whipping up meals for friends, or at least ordering in some great take out claim as your own.

Mary Kathryn Reese is vice-president of Dallas-based remodeling firm Kitchen Design Concepts. An accomplished hobby chef, prior to organizing kitchens Kathryn organized businesses as a management consultant with PriceWarehouseCoopers.