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How To Stay Organized While Renovating (+ Free Project Planning Worksheet)

Today I’m sharing a few things that we’ve learned along the way on how to stay organized while renovating. The best part is that I’m also giving you a free project planning worksheet too!

After living through 3 years of continuous renovating in two different homes, it’s safe to say we’ve had to learn a thing or two about staying sane while living in a renovation zone. Things have definitely been worse….as I think back to memories or sleeping with the mattress on the floor in the living room for about 5 months. But things have also been better…remembering when everything was unpacked at the old house and decor was actually up on the walls.

This post contains affiliate links, but nothing that I wouldn’t wholeheartedly recommend anyway! Read my full disclosure here.

Flat lay image of tools laying on a wood surface with text overlay that says how to stay organized while renovating

Right now we’re in a bit of what you could call the messy middle. We have some projects done and prettified…like Quinn’s nursery (ok…ALMOST done, I swear the big reveal is coming soon).  Other projects, like our One Room Challenge bathroom build, are in progress….and boy, is it messy. There are tons of other projects that are years away from completing.

Today I’m sharing a few things that we’ve learned along the way on how to stay organized while renovating. The best part is that I’m also giving you a free project planning worksheet too!

Picture of large trash can inside holding renovation debris

Shopvac cleaning subfloor in bathroom renovation

Keep your workspace as clean as possible

When you’re renovating (especially if you’re on a tight timeline), it can be incredibly frustrating to stop working and take time to clean up your workspace. But…here’s the thing…I can tell you that based on experience – if you don’t keep your workspace clean, it will be even more frustrating. You’ll be tripping over things. You’ll be making mistakes. You’ll be taking way too much time looking for what you need.

  • Keep your shop-vac handy and clean frequently.
  • We keep a large trashcan nearby to throw all trash in directly rather than leaving it around the room.
  • Clean up before you start a new project and after you finish.
  • Keep the door closed to help prevent dust from getting all over the house.

Pile of plumbing supplies in hallway

Create “zones” for the mess

Even if you are diligent in keeping your workspace clean while renovating, there will be messes. There are always piles of supplies and tools that need to be handy when you’re working on projects. The best trick we’ve learned is to create “zones” for the mess.

  • Keep likeminded things in cohesive piles (or even boxes if you’re more organized than we are).
  • You’ll see in the photo above that we’ve got a corner of our hallway right now that is reserved for plumbing parts.

Overcommunicate with your DIY partner

One survey by Houzz found that 12% of couples consider divorce while going through a home renovation. The stress of a renovation can definitely put strain on a marriage. Every relationship is different, but with Logan and I – we have to communicate, communicate and communicate even more when we’re stressed and renovating.

  • Each of us have different roles, so it’s important to keep each other informed and up to speed of each other’s tasks.
  • Speak up if you’re getting overly stressed or frustrated (in a nice way…)…preferably before you start snapping at each other.
  • Remember that you’re in this together…you aren’t enemies.
  • Work regular date nights into your renovation schedule.

Expect hurdles

One of the more frustrating things you run into while renovating are all of the unexpected hurdles. Even you have a full proof plan, there will be things that pop up unexpected. So far in this bathroom, countless things have popped up… we uncovered that we had galvanized steel water pipes when we were planning on having copper, the subfloor under the tub was not level, the wall where the tile is going behind the vanity is completely not square…I could go on and on.

  • You can’t plan for everything that you’ll run into while renovating.
  • It’s important to stay flexible and not get too disappointed when expected hurdles do pop up.

Online project management calendar on Trello

Utilize online project management tools

One of the most important ways to stay organized while renovating is utilizing some sort of project management tool….namely, a calendar. Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s something great about putting your pen to paper and writing down a list (which is why I created this free project planning worksheet), but when it comes to calendars – I’m all about keeping things online.

Perhaps the best thing about online project management tools is the flexibility. Like I mentioned in the previous tip, you can always count on unexpected things to come up while renovating. As things change, you can just drag and drop the tasks to different days and change your timeline.

  • Trello – For this bathroom renovation, we’re using Trello as a shared calendar between the two of us. Not long I was using Trello to organize tasks for just about every facet of my life, but I recently found a new system that I love even more.
  • AirTable – While I do love me some Trello, I recently discovered AirTable…which is much powerful and diverse. It’s kind of like a mix between Trello and Google Sheets. It was exactly what I needed for my blog and I’m loving it.

Have a good plan

Of course, if you’re looking for how to stay organized while renovating…it all starts with the plan, right? Now if you’re anything like me, your head may be spinning just thinking about trying to manage a big renovation project. Even the little DIYs can be overwhelming at times.

The thing that we’ve found out after years of renovating homes, countless DIY projects, and a few tight turnarounds thrown in there – it’s all about the plan. 

I wanted to create something to help you get started with your plan. You can grab your your free project planning worksheet below.


You looking for the free project planning worksheet?!

Clipboard with project planning worksheet with cup of coffee and man and woman's hands discussing the worksheet

This project planning worksheet sums everything up on one sheet of paper.

The why (ya know, why you are putting yourself through this)…it’s so important to remember WHY you are doing a project. This is front and center in case you forget.

And then there’s a place to list all your supplies. Even if you think you have everything you need, getting it all written out can be helpful before you get started. It helps prevent those back and forth trips to the home improvement store – I know you’ve been there too….all you want to do is just work on the dang project, but you’re spending all of your time driving around town.

Lastly, there’s a spot for your to-do’s and boxes for you to check off (because we all know there’s nothing better than checking a box!)… It is so important to think through all of the steps of the project before you get started. You can brainstorm the most logical order of steps and even set yourself a couple of deadlines.


Ready to see our week 3 update on our modern farmhouse bathroom renovation?

First of all, let me remind you that we’re sharing the renovation as part of the One Room Challenge, which is a bi-annual event where hundreds of bloggers join together to renovate one room in their home and share about it over 6 weeks. Be sure to check out all of the rooms getting renovated here.

If you’re just joining us, be sure to go catch up on all of our One Room Challenge posts:

Since our week 2 update, we discovered that the floor under our bathtub wasn’t level, so we literally had to jack it up and level it out before installing the bath tub drain.

We finished up the rough in plumbing throughout.

Then we got the plastic sheeting up on the studs and hung all wonderboard where the tile will go (including installing on the subfloors).

Plastic sheeting around tub on studs to waterproof a shower

It was looking a bit like a haunted house when it was just the plastic sheeting!

Hanging wonderboard up in shower before tiling

This week has been a doozy and a bit of a holding pattern, while waited for the rest of the shipments to arrive. Most notably the tile…As I mentioned last week, we’ve got a crazy couple of days here. The tile arrived yesterday (Tuesday). Then, the vanity needs to be installed by Thursday for our appointment with the countertop guys. That means that we had to texture drywall yesterday, tile all night last night (we were up til 2:30am!), seal the tile today and move the vanity into the bathroom tomorrow morning for the appointment, then move it back out to grout the tile, seal the grout and then move the vanity back in. It’s quite comical at this point. Yes, it’s a tight timeline, which is why it is SO important that we use all of these ways when talking about how to stay organized while renovating.

Applying thin set mortar with a trowel under tile flooring

I’m going to be talking a lot more about the tiling process next week!

Fingers crossed!

Renovation organization tips and tricks written on a notepad sitting on a wooden background


Here’s the full to-do list for our modern farmhouse bathroom renovation:

  • Build walls Learn how to build a wall here!
  • Install electrical
  • Rough in plumbing
  • Install exhaust fan/light in water closet
  • Installed insulation
  • Build divider wall for water closet
  • Install pocket door on divider wall Learn how to frame a door in a wall here!
  • Install bathtub drain
  • Hang dry wall
  • Hang wonderboard on walls & lay on floors
  • Texture dry wall
  • Lay tile floors
  • Seal tile floors
  • Grout tile floors
  • Install vanity
  • Paint ceiling
  • Paint walls
  • Install tub and toilet flange
  • Tile surround in shower
  • Tile wall behind vanity
  • Install trim & baseboards
  • Install countertop, sinks and faucets
  • Install toilet
  • Add vanity lights
  • Hang bathroom lights
  • Install bathroom accessories
  • Hang shelves above toilet
  • Decorate!

Huge thanks to our official sponsors of this renovation!

Dap  |  Avanity  |  eFaucets  |  The Builder Depot

Want more behind the scenes looks at our modern farmhouse renovation?

If you want tons of behind the scenes update on our modern farmhouse bathroom One Room Challenge renovation, the best place for you is my Instagram Stories!! If you want to catch up from the beginning, head over to my Instagram profile and click on the “New Bathroom Build” highlights button. Be sure to follow our account to see you can see the day to day updates and help us out with decisions like these below…Our IG followers helped us already by giving us feedback on dividing walls for water closets and the floor tile options!

13 thoughts on “How To Stay Organized While Renovating (+ Free Project Planning Worksheet)

  1. Wow! Lots of great stuff going on here and I love how you talk about remembering the “WHY”. Very informative post. I like the hexagon too and would for sure go for the water closet if you have time, space and budget available! Good luck!

  2. You really packed a punch with this post Chelsea! Thank you so much because I really needed to read this today. The Husband and I love to work on projects together, but it’s always a test when the unexpected happens. My biggest takeaway… remembering our “WHY”. Thanks luv!

  3. You are sop organized which is so impressive, every project needs that. I probably still have a sticky note attached to my forehead about my ORC room, lol. Great Post I would say that I am taking notes…….but lets be honest I still have a sticky note attached to my forehead LOL!!!!

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