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The natural beauty of San Francisco’s Outer Sunset neighborhood is impossible to ignore for two reasons: the long stretches of sandy beaches and Karl the Fog (yes, San Franciscans named the fog).

That set the scene and inspired the impressive remodel of a two-bedroom 1940s condo. Design studio Alter Interiors looked for common threads to tie together a mix of materials and “in this case, it was foggy beach vibes, sand dunes, and California modernism,” says Principal Jenny Magdol.

Better Left to the Pros

The original kitchen was in shambles. “The previous owners had attempted to DIY a plaster finish on the walls that crumbled when touched. The kitchen, before the renovation, felt very cluttered, dated, and busy,” Magdol says.“We wanted to create a clean, functioning space that feels modern and unique with natural materials.”

Going Custom-ish

The design was one thing but the clients —a young family with a new baby—also needed a functional kitchen with maximal space and storage. In order to accomplish this, Magdol and her Alter Interiors partner, Steffie Oehm, got to work implementing a mix of open shelving and closed cabinets. “The last thing we wanted was to bring the walls in closer,” Magdol says. 

Because they needed unique cabinets that would provide storage without swallowing precious square footage, they opted for a modular option. “We like how IKEA cabinets are, but not the way they look,” Magdol says. Instead of sticking with the stark fronts, they outfitted the modular units with Semihandmade’s Impression fronts in Tahoe.“This was the first time we worked with prefabricated kitchen cabinetry, and we think that Semihandmade is a great solution,” she muses.

A Love Letter to California

With a mix of natural and nature-inspired materials, such as the Napolen Gray limestone countertop sourced from the Ozarks and the eco-friendly Salton Sea subway tiles from Fireclay, the kitchen is right at home amid it’s location.

The area is known for its redwood trees, which further inspired the project’s design. Magdol and Oehm saved the existing oak flooring, which was refinished, and added custom-built ebonized oak shelving, which is used to showcase various ceramics, including vintage vases and pottery from Hasami Porcelain.

In deciding how to choose what wood or other natural materials to use, Madgol’s advice is to go outside the box and mix styles. “We love choosing interesting grains and textures and applying them in a more contemporary and unexpected way,” she says. “Since the other materials that we chose are modern and on the cooler side, we like that the wood is a little more rustic with the variation in grain.” The wood textures add warmth to the kitchen and make it feel more like a home. “Wood is definitely timeless, as are all things that are found in nature,” she concludes. 

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