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Makeshift kitchen during restoration or remodel

When doing a [godawful] long kitchen project, where do you set up your makeshift kitchen and what items do you find most useful?

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  1. That's tough. If you have a garage or shop a few steps outside, and it has a sink, benchspace, and a beer fridge, you're set without messing up your laundry or baths. Even better if it has a 220V receptacle for a range. Otherwise, hotplate and MW/toasteroven.

    Psssst! If you may find your SO more motivated to get the project done faster with the beer fridge all tied up.

    Or maybe it's a stretch to go outside in the winter in Kansas.

    1 Reply
    1. re: kaleokahu

      We were able to set up a temporary kitchen in our basement, using the utility sink in the laundry room for clean up. We moved (or to be more accurate, our contractor moved) the old fridge into the basement for the duration of the project, and even put a couple of the cabinet bases from the gutted kitchen down there. We had a MW, toaster, and coffee maker too, although we mainly did a lot o carry-out food until the weather warmed up & grilling was feasible. Biggest problem was the house is old and this was before we rewired the electrical in the basement; ended up that there was not enough juice to both brew coffee and run the MW or toaster at the same time, so we were constanly blowing circuit breakers. Of course, we were in the basement, so we were only a few steps away from the fuse box to reset the circuits

    2. We moved the fridge and microwave into the dining room, and used an electric skillet for cooking. Our skillet had a cover, so we could use it for braises, as well as for frying and things you might use a saute pan for. I don't remember what we did about a sink, although we had plenty of bathrooms. I do remember we went through A LOT of paper plates, cutlery, and towels during that time.

      1 Reply
      1. re: E_M

        ditto on everything. Fridge and microwave in the dining room and one of those two coil hotplates on top of the micro for cooking. We did a lot of takeout! and we really didn't try to wash stuff if we didn't have to. Lots of paper and plastic. Ours was only four weeks so it was bearable. But I hated washing stuff in the bathroom sink so the paper and plastic was worth it.

      2. In addition to the things mentioned, I also had a two burner hot plate. I covered the dining table with multiple layers of protection and kept it there. With that, the MW and toaster oven, we weren't in bad shape. The worst part was washing dishes in the bathtub. I was lucky though. Mine was only six weeks as we weren't even living there when the worst of it was occurring.

        1 Reply
        1. re: c oliver

          This is an up coming event, so I have particular interest in this thread. Most of the work will be contracted, but I'm doing my fair share as well, plan on some vacation time.

          Anyway, we have a jacuzzi tub, I wonder if that works like a dish washer? Just fill it up and turn on the jets. Otherwise we're going to use up a lot of trees for paper plates.

          Planning on the two burnner camp stove to provide a little relief. But that has to be used outside and not in this weather, that's for sure. The freezer is moving to the garage and the old fridge is moving into the laundry room where the freezer is now.

        2. Make good use of your bbq grill :)
          dishes can be done like a camping setup, one bin with water/soap for washing, another for rinsing.
          hopefully it's not too cold out for that

          1 Reply
          1. re: cannibal

            I live in snow country and it's never too bad to use the grill. Doing dishes would be something else though. My bathroom sinks were too small to use, hence the tub. Paper plates for ALOT of things.

          2. Washing in a bathroom sink or bathtub/shower gets real old real fast--it kills your back. If you have someplace to hook up a cheap laundry sink--with legs and add a faucet for about $65--it can save you many painful nights. Especially if your sink with be out of commission for a long time. Believe me, this sink can make it all bearable.

            1. Adding a portable Fagor induction hob has made a big difference -- and in fact, we like induction so much we're totally rethinking our appliance choices. And even though we were happy w/ our Cuisinart convection toaster oven, we got a Breville. It's enough bigger that we have a lot more options when it comes to cookware.

              We've ordered a utility sink for the laundry and a commercial faucet w/ pre-rinse sprayer. The 3.5" drain opening means we can hook up a disposer. Next best thing to a DW.

              For storage & work space, we have an old baker's cabinet (like a Hoosier, sort of), some pantry shelving (both those wooden ones from Sweden (?) & some Metro), and an old dresser. To protect the hardwood floors, we got a big indoor-outdoor rug.

              Mikie: Good luck w/ your project!

              2 Replies
              1. re: KansasKate

                I've been cooking with induction for a year and would never go back. There's tons of info here about it. You sound in great shape. I agree with all who say that the sink (or lack thereof) was the biggest problem. Backache indeed. Sounds like y'all are well prepared.

                1. re: KansasKate

                  Sounds like you found the setup I would recommend. That Toaster oven was expensive at ~$250 but, I use it more then the main oven now. It sure does Pizza's nice, along with all sorts of meats and whatever my imagination comes up with.

                  Washing dished in a bathtub .... had to do that for 7 months with my big stock pots and slow cooker (great for beans and soups). What a pain, literally.

                2. Hi,

                  Why isn't it possible to temporarily install/ rig up a cheap utility sink in your kitchen while you're waiting the 2 - 4 weeks for your countertops? I'm not talking about tremendous use but instead of hauling dishes to a distant inaccessible bathtub or small bath sink?

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Batleby48

                    I don't know how the builders could do their work if there were any type of plumbing hooked up. We went all the way down to studs (50 y.o. summertime cabin that needed insulation). It was simply a shell.

                    1. re: c oliver

                      I agree. That's also spending a lot of plumber $ to put in input and output piping-- temporarily

                    2. re: Batleby48

                      It would be more sensible to install and hook up a utility sink in the mudroom, laundry room, or basement...and leave it there. That way it has a useful life after renovations: laundry, mud, flower cutting, craft projects, etc.

                      1. re: E_M

                        Our laundry room is too tiny and we have none of those other rooms.

                    3. We just started the demo process this week. I got my new micro convection oven set up on a table, a hot plate, toaster, coffee maker, and elec. tea kettle. All of this is down in the finished basement, at the bar area. There is a small undercounter fridge for breakfast goodies. I have the garage ref. / frzr for all other food including about 30 freezer bags full of food I prepped ahead of time. Paper plates are a must, I do have a few reg plates for those steak nights. The other night I BBQ a flank steak in 4 degree weather, it was woth it!!! The real pain is the cutlery, some plastic forks are just too flexable. The most important thing you need is a good sense of hummor.

                      1. I think others have said where do you have a sink and a bit of counter. Maybe a laundry room, an extra bathroom, a bar in the family room?

                        When we redid our kitchen my contractor made me a temp "counter" of plywood near a bar sink. The basics that got me through were a microwave, a two burner hot plate and a cheap lift-top roaster of the type that turns up around Thanksgiving.

                        It's not really efficient with the top that allows all the heat to disperse when you lift it, but still I was able to do casseroles and even bread in that roaster oven (that I believe was around $50.). I found it so useful I hung onto it so I can do some things like baked beans or mac & cheese outside in the summer when we're BBQing and real estate on the grill is too limited for stuff other than meat.

                        1. Hey, thanks for all the good ideas. I do have a large buffet cabinet in the dining room I'm could use for toaster oven, coffee pot, microwave, etc. There is no water anywhere near except outside or downstairs. If it was warmer, I would use the outside hose bib.

                          I neglected to mention that we are older couple who run an active business from our house. We are here in the house 24/7, every day, all day long.

                          Our contractor is planning to demolish, place new cabinets, stove, microwave and then he expects 2-3 weeks of complete inactivity while he waits for the Silestone counter. It just seems like it will be an impossible situation.

                          Now you know why this much need remodel has waited 22 years. If he isn't willing to hook up a sink, I'm probably going to hire a plumber or rig one up myself... I'm not planning on heavy use but it unrealistic to not figure something out. The cost of hooking up twice is not an issue, if there is no harm to my remodel.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Batleby48

                            If everything will be together before the counter comes in, couldn't you just make a plywood counter to have a somewhat functional kitchen?

                            1. re: LaureltQ

                              We did that exact thing. Except for the aesthetics, it was a real kitchen. And much appreciated.