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!