/ Budget & Planning

Staying (Relatively) Calm Under Remodeling Pressure

A kitchen remodel can cause tempers to flare and create overwhelming stress. Remodeling setbacks can manifest in ugly and unfortunate arguments with significant others, family members, and even your pets (who are surely not to blame and can't even talk back). Remember, a behind-schedule remodeling project is not a metaphor for the lack of control you have over your life; it's just a remodeling reality.

Still, even the most rational people can lose it. Jack Gilhooly remained calm throughout most of his 2006 kitchen remodel, but displayed an uncharacteristically testy attitude by day 72: "...we have hit the wall! Patience is running thin. We are ready to have the project over with and get on with our lives."

Therapist, licensed clinical social worker and mediation specialist Erin Johnston — who, along with her husband, recently endured a kitchen remodel — offers some sound, sane advice for dealing with the stress a remodel is sure to bring along:

"I would recommend that the owner ask as many questions and clarify issues as much as possible as things occur, even if the contractor appears dismissive and annoyed with the questions. Addressing your concerns and assessing your options along the way is going to reduce the stress and frustration you experience during the remodel. Issues not addressed, but noticed by the owner during the process, are likely going to become the focal points in living with the space, resulting in a feeling that things are not complete or done poorly."

"Arguments with significant others should be expected. The best thing to do is to remind one another that the arguments are most likely stress related and not personal. Waiting to address the issue until tempers have cooled and each person has had a chance to understand the issue will help prevent escalation in the argument. Sometimes there is no issue to be discussed; it is simply an occasion when everyone is testy and the circumstances cannot really be changed."

"Try and steer away from an emotional decision or argument. Focusing on the use of space, reasons for the design preference, personal priorities, project timeline, etc. will assist couples in keeping away from the emotional arguments and indecision."

"Parents should consider and engage children in the planning process. Giving kids a chance to express their opinion and take ownership of the process helps them deal with the disruption. Having kids look at the remodel as an adventure and posting a kid-friendly timeline can be helpful. Giving kids age-appropriate remodel responsibilities is also a good idea."