A couple of weeks ago, I told you that we were finally going to start the kitchen renovation I’ve been hinting at for quite some time. Our architect and friend Emily has created a wonderful plan for us. We’ve chosen the builder. But, our start date has been pushed back to mid-September because we were concerned the work might not be done in the beginning of September when we have family coming for a week. We’re realizing have a flexible attitude is going to help us keep our sanity while all the work we’re getting done happens.


Instead of starting with the kitchen, we’re starting with the master bedroom on Monday. Again, we’ll need to be flexible. We need to move our oldest son into the basement for a while so we can sleep in his room. He wasn’t thrilled until he realized he’ll finally get to have a television in his “bedroom,” even if it’s only for two weeks.


Preparing for the renovation of both rooms is quite a task because we’re purging as we empty them. To be honest, there’s a small part of me that wishes I could turn my back on my sustainable values for a few days. It would be so much easier if we just had a throw away pile. But, we don’t have just a throw away pile. We have a keep pile, a donate pile, a recycle pile, and a trash pile.


Right now at the foot of my bed, there are eight boxes of items waiting to get piled into the minivan to go to Goodwill and a few other boxes in my son’s room because we purged his closet to fit things from my bedroom. The recycle truck comes today and our curb is extra full. Instead of the usual one (once in a while, two) trash bag the garbage truck will haul away tomorrow, there will be at least four on the curb.


We had purged about half the kitchen in the same way before we realized we were pushing the date for that room back. When it comes down to the final purging of the kitchen, there will be even more to decide.


  • Do we demolish the over 60-year-old particle board cabinets that have several coats of paint on them to make it easy, or try to remove them intact and see if anyone on Freecyle can make good use of them?
  • Should we donate the old sink to ReStore even though it’s in desperate need of reglazing? We know if we put it out at the curb the night before trash night, someone will come along with a truck and pick it up to put it to some use. That would be easier.

There are several decisions like that to be made. And even though we decided weeks ago that we weren’t going to replace the appliances, now we’re considering buying a new refrigerator because the door on our current refrigerator isn’t optimal for the design of the new kitchen. Ugh.


I’d love to be able to say every decision we’re making is the absolute most sustainable one we can make, but I can’t. I can only say this. We’re doing our best to balance sustainability with our budget and our time constraints.


I know six months from now when everything is done, and my home is updated and more functional, I’ll be happy we did all this. I’ll be ecstatic. But right now, it’s all a little stressful. And don’t get me started on trying to buy new bedding to go with the paint color we’ve chosen for our bedroom walls. That might just put me over the edge.


Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Tales from a kitchen renovation: What to donate, what to toss
When purging for a renovation, it would be easiest to throw everything to the curb. But, taking the easy way out goes against sustainable values.