A playful 6" triangle tile fireplace draws you into this bright white living room designed by Gina Rachelle Design for her San Francisco flat. We talked to Gina about this project, designing for clients vs. yourself and of course, the tile!
First, can you tell me about about yourself?
I made my way into interior design through passion and curiosity while actually growing a career in a completely different field. I studied Kinesiology and Sport Management throughout undergrad and graduate school. Throughout my years devoted to fitness and health, design was my creative outlet. I was always strategizing, sketching, organizing, researching, and changing things up in my own home as well friends’ spaces. As I started to work with more and more friends, my work organically evolved into a business.
Gina Rachelle Design began to take shape in a 650 square foot one bedroom apartment in the Presidio of San Francisco in 2012. I found myself juggling design and holding my own as associate partner at SF’s premier fitness performance studio, DIAKADI. At the end of 2016, I decided to jump all in to the design industry! Today, we are established as a full service design studio in San Francisco, California tackling design challenges on all levels. From complete gut renovations to simple styling, we love collaborating with clients to create custom, thoughtful and detailed spaces for the home or workspace. Our mantra is: “thoughtful curation and functional beauty.”
Can you tell me about this project? Is there a story behind this home you'd like to share?
My fiancé, Max, and I purchased our home in 2014 and had planned from day one to renovate the back half of the house into an open floor plan. Our house is the quintessential SF Edwardian flat, built in 1912. In our search, it was difficult to find an Edwardian or Victorian home with a layout that is conducive to opening up the floor plan, so we knew this was the winner when we found it!
Our goal was to make the kitchen and living room the focal point of our home as we love to entertain and gather with family and friends. I wanted our space to feel fresh, bright and modern while keeping the 100 year old detail and charm. We also wanted to make sure that our small home felt spacious and had an abundant amount of storage which is often challenging to find in San Francisco homes.
How is it different designing for your own space vs. a client?
There is definitely less back and forth when it comes to design iterations and revisions. Max and I have very similar taste so that made the design process quick and easy. I tend to lean a bit more toward feminine styling and taking bigger risks with color and pattern so when that happens, Max was able to reel me back to our initial vision of the space. We had a great time inspiring and challenging one another.
Was this living room a part of a remodel or renovation? What about the space did you want to change?
Yes! Our remodel consisted of taking out a wall and closet to combine the living room and kitchen and foster an open floor plan. We also remodeled our laundry room that is just off of our kitchen and completely gutted our bathroom down the hall. Needless to say, it was a BIG project that required a collaboration of us as designers, architects, engineers and our contractors but we were excited to make our home our own.
All Images by Max Maloney
For the living room, we wanted to recreate the style of the original built-ins and fireplace. The original design lacked the height and storage we wanted so we decide to reconfigure with a combination of high and low materials such as Ikea cabinets, Semi-handmade door fronts, custom millwork and of course finishing details like traditional hardware, lighting and your stunning tile!
What type of look or aesthetic were you going for?
Definitely a blend of modern and traditional. We wanted a clean, white, airy space that felt bright and inspiring. The simple and stark palette also allows for all of our belongings such as decor from travels, family photos, books and plants to really stand out and shine.
As for the tile for the Fireplace, what sort of look were you going for?
We played with the herringbone pattern a few times in our space and so we knew we wanted a similar pattern with those lines for our fireplace. My design plans always ensure continuity throughout the home and so I wanted to make sure we took that into consideration.
Furthermore, when I think about relaxing by a fireplace, whether it be watching a movie, reading a book, playing games with friends or even cooking in the kitchen and looking across the room, I wanted to ask ourselves, ‘how do we want to feel?’ As an introvert that takes her home space very seriously, I wanted to feel calm, inspired and comforted. Therefore, I knew I wanted a pattern but nothing too loud. I also wanted texture but nothing too strong. I then ruled out color to bring a sense of stillness.
What made you choose the 6" Triangles? Were there any other contenders?
We were originally leaning towards Hexite, but after modeling several Hexite layouts in Sketchup, we tried the 6” Triangle. We were surprised at how much better it fit with the space. The square shape of the fireplace and the mantle played well with the triangles, and the pattern showed much better in this small space than Hexite. If we had a larger surface area to work with, Hexite would have been beautiful, but for this small area surrounded by 90 degree angles, the triangles worked perfectly. We played with the diagonals to echo the herringbone pattern that we used on the kitchen backsplash and bathroom floors.
Tile Shown: 6" Triangles in Frost
Design Tip: Make your chosen shape pop in a subtle way with a slightly contrasting grout like this silvery gray.
And how about the color Frost?
Again, we wanted to keep it clean and bright. We also love the deep, three dimensional look of the thick crackled clear coat on the Frost color - it makes the tile very interesting if you are up close. We thought about having a playful color like teal that would match our sofa but decided to keep it classic. We know we won’t be in this home forever so we wanted a pattern that was classic and timeless that we could enjoy while living here and that hopefully someone else will also enjoy in the future.
How did the installation process go? Did you face any challenges?
Very smooth! We started the design from the centerline of the fireplace and used the recommended grout width. The biggest challenge was chiseling out the old mantle floor brick so that the new tile would end up at the same height as the previous brick. Our team listened to what we wanted and strategized to make it happen. They were quick but very focused.
And lastly, are there any other shapes and colors you are currently using in other projects or wish to use in future ones?
We are finishing up a project in which we utilized 2x6 Field Tile in Foggy Morning in a small kitchen upgrade. We stacked the tile horizontally and it looks beautiful! The same house also has a moody and sexy water closet utilizing 3” Hexagons in both Akoya + Wrought Iron on the floor.
We have a few projects in the works in which we are brainstorming tile for kitchens, fireplaces and even bathrooms. A few of our favorites are the Mini Star and Cross in Tusk, the
Kasbah Trellis in Neutral Motif, and Chaine Homme in Morning Thaw. We also love the color Cyclone and can see this in a few different shapes and patterns. We’ll keep you guys posted on how things shake out!
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