Our Remodeled Beach House and Unexpected Surprises

Now that our remodeled beach house has been done for a year, I wanted to remind you all that no remodel ever goes perfectly. Things happen.

You all know how much I love our newly remodeled beach house. I cannot believe how much better it is than I ever imagined, and every time we visit, I have to pinch myself. Ninety-nine percent of the remodeling experience was wonderful, and I am so thankful to our contractor, who helped us complete this project. But sometimes, bloggers and social media creators forget to mention that nothing is perfect—especially during a remodel! So, let’s share some of the surprises.

A staircase with a landing and a see thru gate with a chandelier hanging behind it.
The Beach House
Family living room at the remodeled beach house with white couch and chair, frame tv, and a window with a beautiful view.

Our Remodeled Beach House Story

Anyone who has remodeled a room or an entire home knows there are unexpected issues and surprises. That’s why most budgets have a “contingency fund”.

But I rarely read about the issues. Today, I am sharing some things that needed creative solutions during the beach house remodel. Why? Sharing the good and bad of a remodel is an essential reminder that you must be flexible and creative to make a remodel work.

It also reminds us that in every project, there will be surprises.

The Stairway Debacle

An opening in a staircase remodel

Our extensive beach house renovation included adding a third-floor deck with an outdoor kitchen. The plans included a new stairway to the new third floor. Once the stairway was framed and drywalled, we discovered we couldn’t close the wall at the stair landing. Why? Because the walls on either side of the opening were not aligned.

Oops. Of course, it had to be enclosed. But maybe not with a solid wall?

Technically, we could have enclosed it entirely, but it would have been a big box on top of the wall instead of a seamless one.

An opening in the wall in a staircase remodel
Looking at the top and bottom of the opening, you can see how they don’t line up.

The large opening allowed a lot of light into the space, and I decided to take advantage of the light.

I suggested we use an old gate that I found on FB Marketplace, so my contractor built a extended frame to create an even plane.

An opening in a staircase remodel

Next, we attached a vintage garden gate that we sandblasted and then antiqued in white and gold. My contractor then built a frame for the gate that provided safety (there is less than a 4″ opening in the entire gate) and offset the misalignment of the walls. The gate is bolted into the frame and then bolted to the walls.

A staircase with a landing and a see thru gate with a chandelier hanging behind it.

The gate looks like it was planned to be there all along.

Go figure.

A metal gate painted white and gold installed in an opening on a staircase remodel.

The Appliance Mistake

Bright, modern kitchen with white cabinets, stainless steel appliances, a wooden dining table with wicker chairs, and pendant lighting.

We started the beach house home renovation during the pandemic, and the supply chain was a significant issue. Lead times on products like windows and appliances were long and erratic. Product delivery needed to coincide with the building timeline on the construction end, so coordinating the two was quite a dance.

I ordered the appliances for the kitchen in April of 2022. The delivery date for the appliances moved in and out and in and out, and most of the appliances were delivered to my contractor’s warehouse in December of 2022. The dishwasher arrived separately (and three months later) and was also stored in my contractor’s warehouse. The appliances sat in the warehouse for months until the kitchen was ready for appliance installation.

GE Cafe white refrigerator

We were given a 24-hour window to inspect our appliances, and the stove, two refrigerators, and range hood were all checked for damage.

This is where I learned a precious lesson that I want to pass on to you all. It is common that when you buy appliances, you have a defined window to inspect them. Once your appliances are delivered, you must inspect them and accept or return them. Check their policy with the source from which you are ordering yours.

What I learned the tough way was that I had mistakenly ordered a refrigerator that was not counter-depth. Once it was installed, it was immediately visible, but because the refrigerator sat in a warehouse for a few months, the timeline to return it had passed.

The lesson here is that you can’t just inspect the appliances for damage; you also need to make sure they are the right ones you should have ordered. Duh.

The dishwasher delivery was rescheduled three times, and unfortunately, when it was finally delivered, we missed the 24-hour inspection window. Of course, once unpacked, it was damaged. There was a massive dent in the front panel that could potentially affect the control panel. Again, it had been accepted and sat in the warehouse, and we didn’t know about the damage until it was installed.

I went back to the retailer and begged and even cried. Couldn’t they take back a perfect refrigerator? After talking to three managers, they all told me no. And the manufacturer (GE) couldn’t help me either.

Lesson learned: Never buy an appliance from a retailer with a 24-hour window. It is almost impossible to time it, so you can install it and ensure it fits and works within one day of delivery!

I was so distraught. It had taken months to get the appliances; now, two were unusable. And with the supply chain issues, I couldn’t wait another six months for delivery.

But there is good news. I found my exact dishwasher and refrigerator on Amazon! The next day, I ordered a new counter-depth refrigerator and dishwasher, which was delivered in under a week and was in perfect condition!

GE Cafe white dishwasher

I also managed to sell the refrigerator and the dishwasher at a discount. And yes, the price I sold the dishwasher for was heavenly discounted (almost free). I hope you will learn from my mistakes and make sure to inspect appliances upon delivery and that the inspection delivery is realistic for your situation!

These appliances caused us a lot of stress, but now that we enjoy our remodeled kitchen, it is all almost forgotten.

Bright, modern kitchen with white cabinets, subway tile backsplash, stainless steel appliances, and a dining area with wicker chairs.

I may sometimes use affiliate links on this blog, which means a small commission is earned if you purchase via the link. The price will be the same whether you use the affiliate link or go directly to the vendor’s website using a non-affiliate link.

The Island That Doesn’t Fit

This is one of those things that looked fine on paper but did not work at all in real life. The island that was designed for the kitchen appeared to be the right size on the drawings, but once it was built and in the kitchen, it was way too big.

For example, I couldn’t open the oven door all the way. Yikes!

With the beach house remodel completed, I can now share some of the good, the bad, and the ugly that happened along the way.

We discussed solutions until we realized that the center section of the drawers on the island could be removed. That solved the problem!

But I did end up with less storage and counter space.

Bright modern kitchen with white cabinetry, floating shelves, a central island with a marble countertop, and rattan bar stools under pendant lights.
We removed the island’s center section and moved it out by 12″, so we now have enough room to access the oven! With the new countertop, you cannot even tell.

As a benefit, because we had ordered quartz to fit the bigger island that had not yet been fabricated, we had leftover quartz that we could use around the fireplace in the living room.

Interior of a coastal living room with a fireplace, abstract art above, wicker baskets, and a view of the ocean through a large window.
Does the quartz on the fireplace look familiar? I love it.

Window Hardware in Three Different Finishes

The primary bedroom in our beach house with five windows and an ocean view.

I am still trying to figure out how this happened, but our remodeled beach house has three different window hardware finishes. The primary bathroom has black hardware, the primary bedroom has white hardware, and all other windows have chrome hardware.

New beach house kitchen. White kitchen with white tile, quarts island, appliances, wood table and white cabinets.

Interestingly, the window order clearly states that all windows were ordered with chrome hardware. I am working with the manufacturer to swap out the requested black-and-white hardware for the chrome.

The fix remains outstanding (and is taking forever), but it is in motion. Thank goodness the hardware can be swapped out after installation!

The Washer/Dryer Vibration Issue

Two wire baskets sitting on top of a washer and dryer.

Before the beach house renovation, our old washer and dryer were in the garage. I wanted to move the washer and dryer inside the house, and we found a tight fit under the stairs. Of course, we had to order a new washer and dryer.

This seemed like an easy install. I ordered the washer and dryer, and they were installed without issue when they arrived. They fit perfectly and looked great.

Once I started the machine, I went upstairs, and about half an hour later, I heard a terrible, loud noise. It was so noisy that I thought maybe we were having an earthquake. I ran downstairs, and the washing machine had been shaking so violently that it managed to turn itself completely around.

How is it possible that the machine managed to fil all the way around in this tight space while running the spin cycle? Seriously?

The plumber confirmed the washing machine was faulty and said I needed to return the machine.

Of course, they weren’t returnable because they had been sitting in the warehouse for months.

I decided to do some research and learned another crucial lesson I want to share with you. When a washing machine is shipped, shipping bolts are installed to keep it stable during transport.

If the shipping bolts are not removed, as mine were not when installed, the machine cannot function normally and fights against the bolts.

A quick internet search led me to learn that the shipping bolts, if not removed, would cause this behavior. I was able to remove them myself!

Luckily, there was no damage to the machine or the laundry space. Long story short, you need to remove the shipping bolts before you run a load of laundry in your brand-new washing machine!

The Downspout Location

new beach house with white plaster exterior, windows and this floor deck on the beach house tour.

For the beach house remodel, we expanded the front of the house out to the street. The vents on the deck were installed, and four months later, when the downspouts were installed, we discovered one led straight to the top of the side garage door.

What the heck?

We got creative and decided to add an awning on top of the door so the downspout could connect to the awning and drain from there.

The remodeled exterior of our beach house with new windows, plaster finish and new front and garage doors.

I think the result looks pretty good!

The Door to the Third-Floor Deck

While this last surprise is small, it posed a problem. The new stairway to the third-floor deck has newell posts at the bottom, the turn, and the top. Each newell post has a cap on top. When constructed, it looked beautiful. However, when we reached the top of the staircase to open the door to the deck, the door could not clear the post cap.

Opening and closing the door is critical to using the third-floor deck! Duh.

So, my contractor shaved the newell post cap on one side just enough so the door opens and closes. The cap is a different shape than the other two, but it works! And you can’t see it until you are up there.

beach deck with two swivel chairs and a fire pit with the sunset in the back ground.

Home renovation can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but it can also come with its fair share of problems. From surprises and problem-solving workarounds to unexpected expenses, it’s essential to be prepared for the unexpected and to have a plan in place for when things don’t go according to plan. I hope you have learned from some of my mistakes and that your home renovation goes smoothly when you start or complete it.

I promise you, it’s all worth it, even if it may seem you will never finish.

We love our remodeled beach house. We had some surprises, but it all worked out fine.

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A gate installed in a wall on a staircase landing.

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19 Comments

  1. Are those the Arhaus Hampton chairs on your deck upstairs? I’m still trying to pull the trigger on those. I love them but the price is killing me! 🙂 Do they hold up well under the elements outside?

    1. Pam,
      The Arhaus Hampton chairs are amazing! I have had them in our Pasadena home for four years, sitting outside, and they still look really great. I love them so much and they are very comfortable.
      Leslie

    2. I bought those exact chairs and they did not hold up in the sun. Within one month the finish blistered. I was very disappointed because as you know the chairs are expensive. Plus Arhaus was very difficult to work with.

  2. I can only imagine myself dealing with those issues!!! However, it all turned out great and looks beautiful! Also, your advice is beyond helpful. I checked Amazon’s link for your fridge. Looks like they mixed up the dimensions of 70” D and 31” H.

    1. Becky,
      I love the beach house and yes, it turned out great! But these things do happen and I felt it was important to share. We all make mistakes, including ordering the wrong refrigerator. But Amazon did save the day which was great!
      Thanks so much.
      Leslie

      1. Leslie, we just bought a new counter depth fridge. I did have the advantage of seeing it in person at the appliance store and measuring H/W/D several times over. Even with that I was a little stressed!

        1. It was totally my fault. I knew the counter depth was what I needed and somehow I clicked on the wrong one when I ordered it. Duh!!!!!!!

          1. You’re certainly not alone with that kind of mistake. The online measurements for our fridge were off. Online gave 70.25” for height at hinge tops. The actual height is 69 5/8”. I would not have ordered it online based on that since our clearance is exactly 70”.

          2. It’s all part of the remodel process I guess haha glad I’m not alone! 😆

  3. Everything looks nice after your reno, but I don’t understand how there could be so many mistakes? How could blueprints be made without measurements? Wouldn’t they know how much room was in the kitchen and whether an island of that size would fit? Or room for opening an oven door? Sounds like your contractor wasn’t very observant of what was happening. He should also be aware about appliances and timelines. Surely this wasn’t his first build? Maybe he couldn’t read a blueprint..😳 ( I’m not trying to be vindictive or critical, what wow! Something or someone was to blame here!

    1. It was the architect. They were all his mistakes. The contractor was amazing. And the timelines were met. It was the vendor where we bought the appliances and supply chain that caused all of the delays. And since I ordered the appliances I made the mistake and ordered the wrong refrigerator that was my fault!

    2. Curious if you said anything to the architect? Those are costly errors. I know how overwhelming a reno is and also building a home. We built our new home in 2018 and wow.! That was an experience and such a stressful time. I don’t think I’d ever do that again! You’d think people like them (architects) would be very mindful of what they do. Word of mouth and reviews can ruin them. Glad you were able to rectify everything. But, yes..it’s true, nothing ever goes smoothly or how you think they will go! I don’t many think people realize that unless they go through it themselves.

      1. We are working on that delicate situation as we speak! It’s a lot and there are always hiccups- never straight forward but we are so happy with the house! ☺️

    1. Hi Bev! GE Cafe Matte White Stove. I don’t have a link for this and Amazon does not offer it- they do offer other GE cafe products though. Hope this helps 🙏

  4. Leslie, it is these hiccups along the way that make us appreciate the finished project and all those who helped us get there that much more. Enjoy your beautiful beach house.

  5. Ha! You had a total Escher thing going on with that wall opening on the landing! The grate is a fabulous solution. You never cease to amaze me! I’ve had similar remodel problems, but fortunately none with the appliances. I’m going to remember that approval window – thanks for telling us about that one! So much more fun to look back on a successfully solved remodel problem than to be actually going through it! Thanks for sharing the good and the bad of your beautiful home!

    1. Haha yes I did! Thank you, it ended up being a fun challenge. It’s so interesting to look back on and nice to have it be done!

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