A Fix For Mismeasured Custom Drawers

When drawers in the custom cabinet open into the toilet.

“We drew the proposed cabinet in elevation, concentrating on coveted details. I didn’t refer to a room plan.” – Peter Carlsen

Illustration: Brett Affrunti

As a serial renovator, I already had a rapport with my cabinetmaker. We sat down casually, early in an extensive job, to sketch up a Victorian-style bath vanity. The working drawing for the cabinet shop was done in elevation. When the cabinet was delivered—to the newly built room—I realized that the tall section, with drawers as deep as the cabinet, was blocked by the toilet. Oops. —Peter Carlsen

This was not a disaster as renovation mistakes go. But our long-time reader was horrified at his “novice mistake” all the same. So was the cabinetmaker, who graciously accepted responsibility and made a new side piece—a satisfactory fix. The remade section has a false back and a single narrow cabinet door, which opens to reveal shallow shelves. The redundant (original) side piece was repurposed as a built-in set of drawers for the bathroom upstairs.

How did this happen? The usual ways: 

(1) Over confidence: The renovator trusted the cabinetmaker, who assumed the renovator knew what he was doing. Hah! 

(2) Getting lost in the reeds: Clearances were overlooked in the excitement of researching and then specifying period details like wood species, ogee edges for the marble, and Eastlake-style cast brass hardware. 

(3) Not having a full set of detailed plans: The size of the new powder room was known, but a floor plan showing placement of fixtures was not done before the cabinet was ordered. Novice mistake, indeed!

No big deal. Had this been a run of kitchen cabinets, though, or the placement of a staircase, it could well have cost a lot of time and money to fix. Always a good idea to have a full set of plans from the outset! 


Tags: bathrooms cabinets Mismeasured OHJ October 2017

By Old House Journal

Founded in 1973, Old House Journal is the original authority when it comes to old-house restoration, traditional house styles, period kitchens, bath & kitchen restoration, DIY projects, gardens & landscaping, and more-- from Colonial and Victorian through Arts & Crafts and Mid-century Modern homes. 

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