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How to live in a house you're renovating

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Olivia Lowry
How to live in a house you're renovating

With house prices on the rise, many are choosing to get their sleeves rolled up and renovate a new home. We can all agree that there’s something exciting about the freedom to decorate and make changes to a space that’s totally yours. However, if you’re watching the pennies, sometimes renting whilst renovating just isn’t doable. 

Renovating a property whilst living in it is no walk in the park, but careful planning combined with a healthy dose of creativity can end up saving you additional cash. This can be put back into building your dream home - and we reckon that’s worth shouting about. To find out how to do it without your stress levels skyrocketing, we’re on hand with the below plan of action. Grab your DIY tools and a builders brew - it’s reno time.

Paint roller in tray of white paint

Plan, plan, and plan some more

There’s an old saying that goes “fail to prepare, prepare to fail” which rings true here. Anyone who’s done a renovation will tell you the biggest part of it is project management. In this case, it means working out what needs doing, and in what order. Speak to your individual contractors for advice, and make sure they’re giving you a clear view of completion dates and relevant milestones. 

Creating your own calendar for a house renovation project will: 

  • Allow you to know where to keep free so you’re not in the contractors’ way
  • Help with tracking budgets
  • Flag up any sticking points or delays so you can rework the plan
  • Give you milestones to look forward to, including that all-important finish date

Paper diary and tablet with calendar app

Designate work, living and relaxing zones

Renovating a house whilst living in it is all about being super flexible and expecting it to change. Before you go headfirst into tearing out kitchens and knocking rooms through, think about the minimum amount of space you and any others in the house need, to live day-to-day. This might mean living in just the upstairs for a while, and then swapping when the downstairs portion is complete, or if you’re renovating a smaller place, being able to function out of just one or two rooms. 

a couple carrying a swyft sofa box down stairs together

It’s important to plan in advance and identify areas that are not for use during the renovations to avoid dust, noise, hazards, and most importantly, not getting in the way and slowing contractors’ progress. Make sure everyone in your place is clear where they can and can’t go, and consider sending kids, dogs and the like away to be looked after whilst the major parts of the project are underway (you’ll thank yourself for doing so!).

Protect your belongings and furniture

If you’re staying put with your stuff, think about how you’ll protect it from damage throughout the renovations. One thing that always surprises first-timers is the amount of dust that redecorating can create, and how it has the ability to somehow get everywhere! Speak to your contractors about getting air vacuums with filters, and keep on top of hoovering and sweeping surfaces regularly to avoid build-up.

person puts together a model 05 sofa using swyft-lok system

Make sure your furniture and belongings are protected from damage too. Wrap things like glass tables, mirrors and tableware in bubble wrap or similar, and keep them well away from any machinery or tools. Clearly label these items as fragile so they’re easily identifiable. Use plastic covers and dust sheets to protect fabric items like sofas, armchairs, curtains and mattresses from dust, debris and damage. If possible, it’s a good idea to move these to a storage unit temporarily. Thankfully, our furniture’s easy Swyft-Hook and Swyft-Lok systems make disassembling and transporting furniture stress-free. 

Create a bathroom plan

Having a plan of action for bathroom access isn’t just important for you, but also for your contractors. If there’s only one bathroom and you plan to redecorate it, think about where else you could use temporarily. You may need to ask family and friends for daily visits, or make use of a local gym- it’s all about getting creative!

If you’re lucky enough to have a spare bathroom, create a schedule for use to avoid clashes between routines if you live with others. Try to keep bathroom products to a minimum to save space, and consider where you could set up a ‘get ready’ area with hairdryers and a mirror in another part of the house. Although this is one of the most inconvenient parts of living in your renovation, it’s always worth it for that satisfaction when done.

Image of hands with soap washing in a sink

Get inventive with food

Having a plan for your kitchen is a little trickier, as this isn’t really something most people have two of (if you do, we’re very jealous!). Think about where your appliances are going to go during the renovations and if you’ll need a hand moving them. 

When it comes to keeping yourself suitably fed throughout for that all-important energy needed for renovating, consider adjusting your usual weekly menu to accommodate a lack of chilled and frozen storage. Where it’s safe to do so, get inventive with portable stoves, kettles, and microwaves in other areas of the house.

String bag of fresh groceries


Consider investing in a mini or worktop-sized fridge for daily essentials like milk, for all those builders’ brews! Setting aside some budget for convenience, food deliveries or eating out is a good idea to keep things stress-free. In sunnier weather, cracking open the BBQ at the end of a hard day’s DIY is a great alternative when the oven’s out of use.

So, there you have it! Renovating a place you’re still living in can be tricky, and you’ll have to get inventive, but it is achievable. Enjoy saving the pennies in the short term, and remember to look forward to your completion date when all your hard work will pay off. You’ve got this!

If you found this article useful, you might like: A Complete Sofa Dimensions and Measuring Guide, Interior Trends This SS22 Season or How To Pack For a House Move.

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