Sometimes this do-it-yourself remodeling stuff is simply about surviving it.

After many years and MANY projects, you'd think I'd have some great tips, wouldn't you?

You'd be wrong.

My best advice for surviving a bathroom remodeling, for example, is … have another bathroom.

My best advice for surviving a kitchen remodeling is … eat out.

(Actually, it's "have another kitchen," but I'll get to that.)

My neighbors set out as summer was turning into fall to refinish their living room floor.

That doesn't sound too bad, does it?

Some sanding, some patching, some cleaning, some varnishing. It'll be work, sure, but nothing intrepid do-it-yourselfers can't handle.

Until they were standing there looking at those cabinets and chairs and couches and big-screen TVs and realized every room in the house already was full.

And the basement was full, and the shed was full and even the garage was crammed to the rafters with stuff they couldn't bear to part with.

Luckily, their neighbor not only could park in his garage, but he had room to spare. Even luckier, he was a kindly sucker and fellow do-it-yourself survivor.

I had to leave the car in the driveway for a couple of weeks, but I harvested a lot of good-neighbor points.

Surviving any remodeling project takes a lot of planning and preparation.

If what you contemplate is a kitchen tear-down, for example, you have to figure out how you're going to feed yourself. Eating out gets old (and expensive) very quickly.

The last time I tackled such a job, we set up a minikitchen in the dining room.

We moved in the refrigerator and set up the microwave oven and toaster on a counter-height table built for the occasion. Our "cabinets" were a couple of cardboard boxes that lived underneath the table, and our "dishware" was plastic and cardboard. We strove mightily to avoid getting anything dirty, because there are few things more awkward than washing dishes in a second-floor bathtub.

After six weeks of sandwiches and pizza and cold cereal for dinner, we celebrated the new kitchen by making macaroni and cheese and frying a mess of pork chops.

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One of the best meals I ever had.

The big challenge of any major indoor remodeling project is dust.

Had it been up to me, I'd have recommended using plaster dust as a lubricant on the space shuttle. Surely, there is nothing finer.

No matter how much plastic you hang over doorways and how much painter's tape you use to seal the edges (and you should do both), plaster dust will get through.

Not only will it coat every surface in the house -- and even migrate from the first floor to the second -- it will seep into such things as factory-sealed cake mix boxes and flour canisters. Of course, in the case of the latter, it's not much of an issue, although your next few pie crusts may be a trifle dense.

Happily, your beer will be safe. Apparently, even plaster dust cannot penetrate a pop-top or a bottle cap.

Which is good, because your very survival will depend on that beer.

Trust me.

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