Thoughtful and focused, San Francisco-based interior designer Gina Gutierrez makes her own luck and turned her passion for interiors into a successful namesake design studio tackling commercial and residential builds of all scopes. Since starting Gina Rachelle Design in 2012 inside the modest confines of her 650 square foot apartment, Rachelle has continued to soar higher every year, winning clients over with her trademark ease and clean aesthetic. A longtime Schoolhouse fan, she often incorporates our signature lighting, hardware and lifestyle accessories into her various projects. We chatted with her about her process and design inspirations below.
Describe your aesthetic when it comes to decorating. What styles are you drawn to personally?
"Personally, my core design elements include blending modern style with traditional looks. With my clients, I use this as the fundamental design, then I work with them and use their unique taste as a guide. From bohemian to eclectic, industrial or coastal, the ultimate goal is to put something together with thoughtful curation and functional beauty."
Where do you find most of your inspiration and who are your influences?
"I find most of my design inspiration when I travel. Not only from surrounding nature that’s brimming with unique colors and textures– but I also love to see how other creatives approach designing a space, whether it be a coffee shop, hotel or restaurant. I also find brainstorm sessions with GRD’s photographer and my now fiancé particularly inspiring. I have long list of design influencers who’s work I admire:
Charles and Ray Eames: "His iconic modern design."
Frank Gehry: "I appreciate his forward-thinking and experimental approach to design."
Emily Henderson: "She’s one of today’s best designers. I especially love her subtle design of blending modern with eclectic."
Nate Berkus: "He has a talent for designing in several different styles. He always listens to his clients’ wishes and help them tell a story."
Favorite color palette or materials to work with?
"I’m really into monochromatic palettes right now. Whether it be sticking to one particular color such as a blue or even neutrals – I love working with clean, white walls and then bringing in color through art, plants, and styling pieces. At the same time, I love a dramatic wall color. Working on a variety of projects really lets you experiment and branch out. When it comes to materials, I love mixing metals such as brass and matte black. I also love incorporating tile, marble, walnut and leather for dimension and texture."
What's your top design trick?
"Editing. It goes a long ways. I always think of Coco Chanel’s quote 'Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take at least one thing off.' I do this in a home as well. On install and photoshoot days, I stand back and think about, what can I remove or edit? I believe in letting the eye rest and letting simplicity shine."
Tell us a little about your process when it comes to designing a space for clients.
"We always start with a detailed questionnaire, so we can get to know the client better. We want to know what is the story they want to tell in their home. How do they want to feel? We like to find out what their days are like, are they introverted/extroverted, do they like entertaining, do they work from home, what colors speak to them, do they like pattern? The list goes. We want to know every detail so that our clients aren’t only happy with the look of their space, but its function – which is key. We are all about collaborating with our clients and want to make the process easy and fun. So, we communicate as often as needed (or based on what the client desires). We then breakdown the design process so they know what to expect:
Phase I: Creating concept+ inspiration board, building floor plans and renderings.
Phase II: Initial sourcing, and quoting labor for construction or custom furniture
Phase III: Pulling together specs for contractors and purchasing.
Phase IV: Delivery and installation. This is where the magic happens!
Favorite projects you've done?
"This is such a hard question! Throughout the design process, you really get to know your clients and they welcome you into their home day in and out with a lot of trust. With that, every project has been memorable. Of my most recent projects, I have to say designing my home has been a favorite of mine. I loved collaborating with my fiancé, as we have similar taste in design, and it was wonderful to really make our house a home. We saw so much potential in our Edwardian in San Francisco that we knew it was the house for us!
Additionally, in 2014, I designed a bedroom for two children (a boy and girl) who were highly involved in the process. With their parents, they expressed what they dreamed of and what they needed in the space. We had a local artist create a beautiful mural in the space, customized reading nooks for each of them and furnished the space with bunkbeds, as requested. This room will always be close to my heart because just this past year, this young, vibrant and talented girl passed away. Seeing the love for her brother, parents and home will always make me smile."
Favorite design trends or timeless looks you love?
"I love any architectural detail of a home. At GRD, we try our best to always salvage and work with original designs such as arched entries, wainscoting, crown molding, trim, door plates and more. I’m also a sucker for custom millwork and built-ins! Lastly, I love the look and feel of marble in a house."
Least favorite design trends?
"I am open to a lot of design styles because, just like art, it’s open to interpretation and there is always something out there for someone. However, I have to say that I am taking a break from the rustic look such a salvaged walls or furniture."
Finally, what makes a house a home to you?
"Thoughtful and intentional design. When people weave in family heirlooms, photos, vintage items and pieces from their travels or outings– you really see a space come alive."
Photography courtesy of Gina Rachelle Design