How We Simplify and De-Stress Home Renovations

posted by Andrea | 08/12/2015

home renovations

As many of you know, Dave and I have been faithfully working on renovating our 125 year old farmhouse for the past 4.5 years. It’s definitely a labor of love, but we’re hoping we will be able to enjoy all our renovations for many many years to come.

We have spent a ton of time, energy, and money renovating our house, and so far, I’m thrilled with how everything is turning out.

However, as I’m sure many of you realize, the process of living through constant renovations can be draining, stressful, crazy, and overwhelming at times (especially once kids enter the mix!)

nora in a box

Recently, I’ve gotten a few reader questions about how we keep the rest of our lives running relatively smoothly in the midst of all our construction… so I thought that might be a good topic to write about.

As I thought about these questions, there were 5 ideas that came to mind regarding the things we’ve done to try and simplify and “de-stress” our home renovations.

1. We keep the construction area separated.

Whenever possible, we try our hardest to keep the construction area separated from the rest of our house. Obviously, this doesn’t always work perfectly, but it’s definitely the best way to keep the craziness, the chaos, and the mess out of the rest of our house and lives.

This might be as simple as closing a door and putting rugs down, or as elaborate as completely walling off the kitchen with heavy-duty plastic and only being able to access it by going around the house.

We also close the vents in the area we’re working in, and tape off the return vents so they don’t suck in the dusty air.

Although it’s a little bit of extra prep work before we start a project, keeping the construction area as separated as possible really helps me keep my sanity (which is worth A LOT!)

2. We clean up our mess daily.

Most of our home improvement projects last for multiple days (sometimes weeks and months!) and I refuse to live in a huge mess for that entire time.

Depending on the area that’s being renovated (and if we need to use that space or not) I might just do a quick clean up, or I’ll scrub it super clean.

For example, when we were renovating our kitchen, we weren’t actually using the kitchen, so we usually just picked up the mess and ran a shop vac over the floors. However, when we were renovating the upstairs bathroom, we were still using it throughout the renovation so I made sure to clean it up really well each time we were finished working.

Again, this might seem like a bunch of extra work, but for Dave and my sanity, a little cleanup is necessary for us to feel like our home and lives are not completely overrun by our projects.

3. We allow give and take in other areas of our lives.

Normally, we don’t spend a lot going out to eat… but during home renovations, we allow more room in our budget for fast food, restaurants, and convenience food from the grocery store.

We also make sure we don’t have a lot of extra time commitments during big renovations. Even fun time commitments like vacations or parties can add a lot of stress and busyness when we’re just trying to plow through a renovation.

nora in the bumbo

4. We set stopping points for projects, even if we aren’t finished.

When we start a project, we usually give ourselves a target “stopping point” where we’ll call it quits for a bit, even if we aren’t totally finished.

It might be for a day, or even a whole week. We clean everything up and try to get our house back to “normal” for a bit. After our break, we get back to work and finish the project (usually with a lot more energy than we had before)

By giving ourselves a set stopping point, we can make sure our projects don’t go on an and on forever, and also, make sure we don’t burn ourselves out.

Also, we rarely work on big projects during the school year — especially big projects inside the house. This has always been important for us because Dave’s schedule is just WAY too busy during the school year to fit house projects in without driving ourselves completely crazy.

5. We continually remind ourselves that it will be worth it in the end!

We’ve done enough renovations now to realize that although the renovation process can be horrible, messy, stressful, etc. it will be over eventually, and the end results will totally be worth the extra time, mess, energy, and stress.

As we continue to add more children to the mix, it gets harder and harder to find time for home renovations. Often, we’ll work late at night when they are sleeping — and often, it’s the last thing I want to do late at night. However, I know it will be worth it (it always is) so I keep plugging along.

See what I mean 🙂

Obviously, these 5 things don’t always happen 100% of the time during every one of our home renovation projects; but for the most part, we try to implement them as much as possible because we know they help us feel more “normal” and less stressed during the crazy renovation process!

Are you in the middle of a home renovation? Are you a “veteran” renovator? If so, what are your tips to simplify and de-stress the process? 

Filed under: LifeHomeOur Farmhouse

Leave a comment


  1. Miranda


    Just wanted to say I’ve read several blogs and yours is by far the most helpful. Thanks!


    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Miranda! Glad to be so helpful 🙂


  2. Erin


    We are also renovating a very old house and your number 2 and 5 are spot on. When the MESS is all cleaned up, you really feel like you’ve done something and can see it! We constantly tell ourselves “it’ll all be worth it” when we’re deep in demo or laying tile (which was just recently and probably the worst day or my life). Our changes (and yours) look awesome after all that hard work.


    Andrea Reply:

    Yes yes yes! Clean up the mess and we instantly feel more “normal” ! We have not tried doing our own tile yet… we always talk about it, but then chicken out and end up paying someone!


  3. Lindsey T


    Great post, Andrea! I admire your get it done attitude – something I’ve been lacking in my life and house renovations lately! Trying to hop back on the wagon and not leave projects unfinished for weeks on end. Going to put some of your tips into practice and hope it helps me FINISH them!


    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks… and good luck!


  4. Mrs. Crackin' the Whip


    We did lots of projects at our old house and it was impossible to keep the construction area separated in a 1200 sq. ft. home. We always cleaned up but there was no escaping the feeling of living in a construction zone! Now, living in a larger home, we are always amazed at how we can work in one area and live a completely “normal” life in the rest of the house.


    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, it is more difficult in smaller homes. Our home isn’t huge, but it’s laid out in a way that has made is possible to (mostly) stay out of the mess.


  5. Sherry


    Thank you for this, Andrea! I live in a 113 year old Victorian mansion (4500 sq feet) and we always seem to be renovating something. This summer it has been the two main living areas of the house, the kitchen and my office/sitting room. We spend most of our day in these two rooms. They are both almost complete and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

    Thank goodness for prepared, frozen food that is just popped in the oven and heated at the end of a long day! Another thing that helps me is that I buy all my brushes and paint tray liners at the dollar store. The quality of the brushes may not be very good but at the end of the day I have no problem with just throwing the whole thing out instead of spending more time trying to get all the paint out of the brush. Same with the liners. I try to make clean up as easy a possible because I know that my energy level will be low after painting all day.


    Andrea Reply:

    amen — so thankful for the first glimpses of the “light at the end of the tunnel” I remember when we got there with the kitchen… and suddenly, it was all worth it. Enjoy your Victorian mansion… it sounds glorious!