Renovation Curveball: how the unexpected has us changing our plans

Renovation Curveball: how the unexpected has us changing our plans


We have recently started two new projects and can you believe both projects had renovation curveball thrown at us?

First of all, what do I mean when I say there was a curveball? Here are my two projects that we are currently working on and what we found.

Project 1 Renovation Curveball

For a kitchen renovation we just started, we had a feeling there may be a beam. Since there was a sunshine ceiling, it really was hard to tell. Prior to demolition, we could see where the potential of a beam would be.

When demo was completed, I was happily notified that there was in fact, no beam! Less than 20 minutes later, I got the call that there was a surprise. Yup, you got it. There was a beam – but not in an area that we would have ever guessed.

Do you see where I have marked it with red marker? This is where we thought the beam would be, if there was going to be one. Do you happen to see the beam at the front of the picture? Yes – that was the surprise!

When this home was built, the homebuilder staggered the beams instead of using one consistent beam throughout. Insert very large sigh here.

Project 2 Renovation Curveball

At the same time, we are also working on a master bath renovation. During the rough-in plumbing stage, it was determined that the planned location of the steam shower generator would have to change. The new location would have to be on the top shelf of the existing closet. Insert a smaller sigh here for this renovation curveball.

As you can see, the white plumbing is for the steam generator. While there is a linen cabinet being installed in the small space, it is not large enough for the steam generator. As such, it will need to be placed on the top shelf of the closet (where the red box is marked).

Handling Changes

It is quite common to have to tweak a plan once demolition is completed. We can not guess what is behind walls and what is under the floor until we open things us. While sometimes there are tweaks, other times there are significant changes. I had one of each this week.

Project 2 Minor Tweak

I’m going to start with the easiest one first. The minor tweak was to steal space from the master closet (top shelf).

This little tweak saves some money as we no longer have to make a custom cover for the steam generator.

‘X’ is where the steam generator was originally going to go

Project 1 Major Tweak

For our kitchen project, the surprise beam caused a major tweak. This beam is right in the way of our upper cabinets that we had planned. This was a major renovation curveball that we needed to address ASAP!

renovation curveball
The original plan for the kitchen prior to identifying a beam that we can not move.

Option 1

The first option was to create a wine rack under each beam.

renovation curveball
As you can see from the rendering, the wine rack would sit just below the beam.

Option 2

My clients really loved the idea of the wine rack but did not need 2 of them. This lead us down the conversation of opening up the cabinet on the stove wall (under the beam).

We could leave the cabinets open, like the inspirational image below.

renovation curveball
I can not find the name of the designer who designed this image, but I did find it on Better Homes & Gardens. If you know the name of the designer, I will happily give them credit!

The issue with this idea is that the upper cabinet was going to be less than 12″ wide. This cabinet looks to be at least 24″ – 30″ wide.

Option 3 (which IMPO is really not an option).

We also discussed the idea of keeping a closed cabinet. By doing so, one door would need to be shorter than the other.

renovation curveball
Detailed drawings by Casa Flores Cabinetry.

Even though I asked for this, I knew how much I detested it the minute I saw it. In fact, I think I used pretty direct words with my clients. I may have said something like,

Normally, storage and function trump everything however, I really do not like the look of the short door and tall door.  We have done them in the past and I think it looks horrible.  I have to give my opinion.  That being said, it is your house – I’m just giving you my strong 2 cents.  

Sheri Bruneau

As a designer, I always need to remember that I am hired to give my suggestions. In the end, it really is the clients’ home and their final decision. I think I was pretty clear on my opinion with Option 3, do you think?

The final design

With my clients, we met on site and starting looking at the options. In the end, we decided to wrap the open shelving around so that it falls under the beam. For the other side, we are going to keep the wine rack.

renovation curveball
The final design working around the new-found beam

In the end, this is a great solution for having to work around the beam and my clients are happy.

Handling Changes throughout a renovation

I am a huge believer that there will always be a solution to any issue – especially a renovation curveball. The best advice I can give you is to keep your mind open to changes. There is no point losing sleep over something that may need to be changed. I like to remind myself to think of the big picture – you know – when the project is done.

  • How beautiful is the space going to be compared to what it once was?
  • The joy are my clients going to receive, for many years to come, with their new space, is invaluable.
  • How is the health and wellbeing of my clients going to improve with their new space?

I often will need to remind myself of all of the above. While I sometimes lay awake at 2 am trying to come up with a solution, there will always be one. In the end, it is the big picture that keeps me going!

Open Shelving – Shop the Look

For both of my projects, we will have some open shelving in the spaces. I’ve pulled together some accessories and decor that would look really great in either a kitchen or open shelving in a bathroom.


I’ve decided to take a little break from the majority of our social media accounts. The short version, I’ve had enough of the negativity that seems to be throughout the channels. As I posted on my our business Facebook page

We’ll still be blogging about our projects (weekly) as well as renovation topics. If you wish to keep in touch, you can sign up and get things delivered right to your inbox! http://eepurl.com/TpUHr

Sheri Bruneau

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