This Dreamy Designer IKEA Kitchen Reno Just Might Make You Rethink Pink

updated Feb 1, 2021
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Kitchen by Gina Rachelle Design
Credit: Courtesy of Gina Rachelle Design

Designer Gina Gutierrez, lead designer and founder of Gina Rachelle Design in San Francisco, isn’t afraid of a little color. She knows the right hue can be a game-changer when it comes to making small spaces look bigger and brighter. That’s why she took a chance on blush pink paint recently when a client came to her with a dated 150-square-foot cook space in need of a modern refresh.

“The kitchen had linoleum floors and only one window, making it quite dark,” says Gutierrez. That, coupled with a supporting wall that closed the kitchen off from the living room, was bringing the space down. So Gutierrez got to work, updating the appliances, adding more storage with open shelving and IKEA cabinetry, and setting off a subway tile backsplash with a pop of pink paint above it — all so the room could reach its full design potential.

“We wanted to bring in more light and make the space feel open and airy, even if it was small square footage,” says Gutierrez. Because her client wanted unobstructed views, they started the reno by bringing in a structural engineer, who recommended installing a beam to open up the space. The rest of the reno came down to a few key configuration changes for increased functionality and budget-savvy decorative finishes that would modernize the space. 

Credit: Courtesy of Gina Rachelle Designs

“Once we decided to take down the wall, I designed an L-shaped layout and mapped out a new arrangement with a small yet functional kitchen island that seats three,” says Gutierrez. “The most important thing is that there’s ample walking room around it.” Ideally, according to Gutierrez, you’d have 36 inches on each side of an island so multiple people can move unobstructed around it, whether preparing a meal, grabbing a drink, or otherwise.

To maximize flow, Gutierrez also considered the work triangle between the sink, the refrigerator, and the cooktop, so all are placed near the same corner in the space. Because a large portion of the budget was spent on that structural work, they needed to get creative with cabinetry. “I knew I could save thousands of dollars on the kitchen cabinets by installing IKEA cabinet frames with Semihandmade doors,” says the designer.

Credit: Courtesy of Gina Rachelle Design

At $8,000, the Shaker-style cabinetry certainly wasn’t cheap, but Gutierrez says totally custom cupboards would have run double that figure. She jazzed up the cabinet faces with brass pulls, which coordinate with the gooseneck faucet and lighting through the room. Slab-style open shelving on the sink wall rounds out the rest of the space’s storage offerings, and helps keep the look, on the whole, bright and airy. Matching wooden stools from IKEA turn the island into an ideal spot for meals.

Quartz countertops were another strategic decision. This type of stone can have the look of marble but often costs a bit less and can be far more durable. Similarly, instead of using pricey handmade tiles for the backsplash, Gutierrez brought in elongated zellige tiles from Bedrosians, which lend the whole project an updated, modern feel and still shimmer as natural light pours into the space. To make the $7 per square foot tiles go further, Gutierrez decided to only cover about a third of the wall from the countertops to the ceiling. Then came the idea for that pop of pink paint above the tile work, which is just saturated enough to give the space extra flair and personality.

Credit: Courtesy of Gina Rachelle Design

When considering any renovation, Gutierrez recommends listing your top three non-negotiable features or objectives. “This will help you form a realistic budget and project timeline, allowing for flexibility outside anything that isn’t a priority,” she says. For example, in this project, her client didn’t mind if the appliances didn’t match exactly. So they stretched the budget there, too, by shopping for deals on different branded appliances in the same stainless steel finish as the pièce de résistance, a Wolf range. 

The project took a little over two months, with various pros completing the bulk of the work in short phases. In the end, both designer and client were thrilled with the results. “What I love the most is that we were able to achieve all of the items on the homeowner’s wish list,” says Gutierrez. “This was her first home, and it was an honor to help make her dream kitchen a reality!”