How a Simple Tweak Created Better Flow in a Small San Francisco Kitchen

Bright white Scandi kitchen with wooden stools.

Design: Gina Rachelle Design; Photo: Max Maloney; Graphic: MyDomaine

If there’s something we never get tired of seeing, it’s a great makeover. Whether it’s transforming a retro bathroom into a modern oasis or giving a lackluster bedroom a fresh look, pros perform these design miracles all the time.

To give designers a chance to showcase their favorite makeovers—and to bring you plenty of inspiration for your own home—we’re sharing the best before and afters we’ve seen in our series, Makeover of the Week. Take notes for your next renovation.

“The homeowners fell in love with the open floor plan of this charming Edwardian-style home, however, after living in the house for a few years, they were ready for a kitchen refresh,” interior designer Gina Gutierrez says. “They wanted the space to reflect their more modern aesthetic while also creating a better flow and more storage.”

Meet the Expert

  • Gina Gutierrez is the principal designer of Gina Rachelle Design in San Francisco, California.
  • Ariel Richardson is the founder of ASR Design Studio based in San Diego, California. Both designers like to blend traditional and modern styles while incorporating their clients’ personal tastes and lifestyles. 


Tight cramped white kitchen with stainless steel fridge.

Courtesy of Gina Gutierrez

“Although filled with white cabinetry, the kitchen’s overall vibe was dark with black concrete countertops and gray travertine tiles on the backsplash and floor,” Gutierrez shares. “The kitchen and dining area were divided by a peninsula that didn’t provide seating or storage, and the sink was on an angle next to the dishwasher, making cleanup after meals difficult.”


Small white kitchen with light wood cabinets and island.

Design: Gina Rachelle Design; Photo: Max Maloney

“Our clients love natural materials, so our goal was to create a bright, boho-style space,” Richardson says. “For contrast, we used two different cabinet styles from Semihandmade, then tweaked the layout by moving the sink and adding an island, which resulted not only in a better flow for entertaining, but more storage space as well.”

What Changed:

  • Color theme: Earthy wood tones create contrast with the room’s black and white elements.
  • Pendants: The round pendants add softness to the room’s hard lines and tie in with the other matte black elements. 
  • Sconce: The brass library sconce adds personality to the corner while highlighting cookbooks and decorative objects. 
  • Cabinets: White and natural woods project an organic feel, while a single glass-front cabinet rests on the countertop.
  • Center island: The island is topped with a durable quartz slab and features storage drawers, a built-in microwave and trash bins. 
  • Stools: The curved wood and leather stools blend in with the room’s natural design. 
  • Countertops: A soft white quartz countertop has subtle black and grey veining, adding contrast to the wood base cabinets.
  • Backsplash: The quartz countertop extends to the backsplash and features shelves for display items.
  • Sink: A traditional farmhouse sink is paired with a matte black faucet for a more modern statement. 
  • Floor: New honey-stained pine floor planks blend in with the rest of the home’s hardwoods.
  • Rug: A throw rug by the sink adds a pop of texture to the floor.  
  • Hood: A box-shaped hood is wrapped in sheetrock and painted white to blend with the walls. 
  • Wall paint: Simply White by Benjamin Moore is a bright yet soft white that works well within a neutral space.
  • Appliances: The appliances remain classic with their stainless steel finish. 
  • Accessories: Wood cutting boards, bowls, cookbooks and ferns placed in white ceramic vases bring movement to the countertops and floating shelves.

Shop the Look:

Wooden minimalist kitchen with black ceiling pendants.

Design: Gina Rachelle Design; Photo: Max Maloney

Terra Cord Pendant
Cedar & Moss Terra Cord Pendant $299.00

“I often recommend these handmade, unglazed clay pendants—not only because they’re timeless, but because the cord can be custom cut to any length,” Richardson notes.

Esse Stool
Article Esse Stool $349.00

“You can’t go wrong with these solid oak and leather seated stools—they work in most kitchen designs,” Gutierrez shares.

Ceramic Cylinder Vase
Sir Madam Ceramic Cylinder Vase $155.00

“I love to add an outdoor feel by filling white cylindrical vases with greens,” Richardson says.