Pack up and get ready

How to make a big reno (sort of) easy

By Francie Healy

Your renovation project is nearly upon you. Your house is going to be taken over by workers, dust, tools, new appliances, paint, and who knows what else.

What will you do with all your stuff?

If you’re not actually moving out during the reno, pretend you are, that’s all. Pack away anything that will be touched by dust and disarray. And then pack some boxes as you might if you were going camping for awhile, and this is the only stuff you would take.

Like anything, there’s an art to the way you should pack, especially if you’ll need to access some everyday items over the next several weeks.

Make a master plan of everything you will pack. Then make a separate list of what you will need, like toothbrushes, toiletries and cooking utensils (if you’ll be able to cook) on a daily basis. Keep that list simple.

Get good boxes, ideally of a similar size so they’re easy and tidy to stack. Plastic storage bins with lids are the best.

Invest in some good adhesive shipping labels, size large. Get lots of them. Buy permanent-ink markers (black), both fat and fine. Buy a wide shipping-tape dispenser and lots of clear shipping tape.

Every non-essential item should be packed well beforehand. As you go, make a detailed list for each box and exactly what goes in it. Mark the list “#1” or #2” or any other name or system you like. Mark each label with the corresponding name of the list.

For the things you will need every day, make enough labels for the box or boxes they go in. Use one label for each side and for the top. That way you’ll see what’s in the box no matter which way it gets tipped or moved or stacked. Pack those daily items on the morning or the day before the renovation begins. (Don’t forget to refer to your list.) Attach the labels with clear shipping tape.

Put the non-essential boxes out of the way, lids on firmly. Stack them if you can. Keep your corresponding lists handy. And then forget about them. Consider them gone until the renovation is finished, the house is sparkling, and you’re ready to move things back into place.

Francie Healy is Editor and Art Director of Ottawa Renovates Magazine.

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