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Home renovation survival tips

Canadian celebrity designer Jo alcorn talks about living through a home renovation.

As you may or may not know from my constant social media updates, I have been living through a massive kitchen renovation since September. That means three months without water, counters, floors and more.

Did I move out? No. How did I cope? Here I share a few tips and tricks on how to live in a home that is under construction and not go crazy in the process (okay, maybe just a bit crazy but that’s acceptable).



The inspiration collage is what kept me sane and helped me to keep the end product in mind when the going got tough. I would look at that gorgeous inspiration and know that — one day — it would all be mine. No pain, no gain right?

home reno survival



Compare that beautiful inspiration image to this, which was my reality for three months. To stay sane, and functional, and still live there, I had to find ways to make things work for all of us.


I have two sweet dogs that live with me, so I desperately needed to keep the space clean and tidy – not only for my own health but for their health and safety as well. I can’t tell you how many Swiffer pads I went through each day. I was constantly whipping that magic tool around, day in and day out. I’d start with the Swiffer Sweeper to trap and lock in all the dirt (and let me tell you there was a lot of dirt). Next, I’d use the Swiffer Wet Jet on the finished hardwood floors to clean up any remaining dirt and grime and make it a safe haven at the end of the night … until the dirt and dust appeared the next day and then I’d repeat.

jo alcorn



I’m not sure if you can tell but I am a bit obsessed about cleanliness. It’s pretty hard for someone like me who lives in a tidy home to live through a reno. I turned to tools and products that would give me peace of mind, knowing they’d help keep my space as clean as it could be, for all of us. I tried Scrub Daddy for the first time during my renovation and it was life changing. This little sponge doesn’t scratch delicate surfaces and doesn’t require harsh chemicals, which I am totally against for my own health but also the health of my furry friends. The power of this little scrubber is amazing.

jo alcorn


On top of cleaning the floors, it’s so important to clean surfaces, windows, tops of furniture and anything the might be mingled with dust. Because I am so against toxins and chemicals, I was thrilled when I found out about Thieves. This is an all-natural, 100 per cent pure, plant-based, essential oil cleaner from Young Living. Half a capful makes a full bottle of this cleaning goodness. One single Thieves bottle will make 26 full bottles of cleaner, and at $27.50, that is a steal. In addition to being all plant and essential oils based, it kills 99.96 per cent of airborne bacteria and germs, it’s safe around kids, and I don’t need to worry when my sweet pups come into contact with it. You can get Thieves from The Oil Girls Canada.

jo alcorn


Speaking of cleaning, people often overlook cleaning the inside of their appliances. After, or even during a reno, if you still have appliances up and running it’s important to take care of them. Did you know that only 27 per cent of Canadians have cleaned the inside of their dishwasher in the past 12 months? Ewww! There are specially formulated tablets that actually clean the inside of dishwashers called Affresh. They clean the hard water and mineral deposits that accumulate in your dishwasher over time. During and after a reno is possibly the most important time to tackle this task.

jo alcorn



Living without a kitchen is hard. U don’t mean kinda hard, I mean really hard. To stay sane I had to make sure I had access to appliances and alternate items so I was not breaking the bank every night eating out. My KitchenAid six-quarter slow cooker was my saviour. All you have to do is throw in your ingredients, let them simmer and have a meal at the end of the day. It also automatically goes into keep warm mode for up to four hours so you know you’ll have a hot meal to look forward to.

The KitchenAid compact oven is also great if you are going to have to go longer periods of time without a kitchen (and mine was pretty long). It takes up a very small footprint, you can plug it in just about anywhere to make anything from roasted meats, fish and vegetables, to quiche, pizza, muffins and more.

jo alcorn



Clean air is so importance to me because I have severe allergies. If you are living through a reno, or you have kids or pets, clean air should be a top priority. The Philips Air Purifier is proven to reduce allergens, odours, volatile organic compound emissions and even certain bacteria. The filter removes 99.97 per cent of allergens and pollutants while the active carbon filter reduces gases and odours from the air.

jo alcorn




This might seem like an odd recommendation but another key to surviving a reno is to decrease your stress (and trust me I had a lot of it when there were hiccups in the delivery times, delays and changes that needed to be made, all which inevitably slowed down the process). Make sure you have a safe, clean retreat to get away to where you can rest and restore before conquering an entirely new set of challenges the next day. Soft pillows and a comfortable mattress (my new Bills Bed mattress sure came in handy these past few months) are absolute musts. You might also want to try out my new washable, hypoallergenic, cruelty-free, Canadian-made sleeping pillows and duvets — a good night’s sleep is just the blink of an eye away.

jo alcorn


All in all, I think I am surviving just fine! My pups and I still live at home, eat at home and enjoy the rest of the house – no easy feat in these conditions! But these are sure to help you through the long weeks of a reno. Keep looking at your inspiration photos — it will all be worth it in the end.

jo alcorn

Written by Jo Alcorn

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