How One Designer Created Two Center Islands in This Sunny San Francisco Kitchen

Two center islands in a sunny san francisco kitchen

Design: Jennifer Robin; Photo: John Merkl; 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.

“My clients are a young couple who were doing an extensive renovation on their 1914 Craftsman-style San Francisco bungalow,” says interior designer Jennifer Robin. “The kitchen is truly the heart of their home, where they love to entertain family and friends. They needed a better layout and a more updated design to suit their lifestyle.”

Meet the Expert

Interior designer Jennifer Robin, Founder of Jennifer Robin Interiors in San Anselmo, California, blends organic materials, traditional elements and modern lines to create curated interiors full of warmth and elegance. She partnered with Wade Design Architects in San Anselmo, California on this project.


Old small kitchen with no light

Courtesy of Jennifer Robin

“The previous kitchen was small and compartmentalized with walls separating the room from the main living areas,” notes Robin. “Plus, there was very little natural light,”


bright white kitchen with modern touches and natural light

Design: Jennifer Robin; Photo: John Merkl

“Enlarging the room by opening it up to the living and dining areas provided the space the homeowners needed to entertain,” shares Robin. “In terms of design, my goal was to blur the lines so someone would be hard pressed to know what was new and what was original. I kept some architectural details and existing flooring, added more windows, then chose vintage-inspired plumbing, lighting and appliances before giving them not one—but two—huge center islands!”

What Changed:

  • Color theme: White along with dark walnut and black create a soothing and modern palette. 
  • Cabinets: Beaded shaker-style cabinets are painted in Benjamin Moore Swiss Coffee and include leaded glass uppers inspired by the home’s original windows.
  • Center island: One center island provides an entertaining area where people can gather, while the other is used for food prep and storage. 
  • Countertops: Three different tops include Calacatta Oro marble, wood and a black honed granite.  
  • Backsplash/hood: Tile-shaped Calacatta marble is featured on the backsplash and hood.
  • Pendants: Clear and milk glass pendants over the center islands honor the home’s historic roots.
  • Sconces:  Four antique sconces add ambient lighting over the windows.
  • Shades: Natural white linen shades have a soft look while providing privacy.
  • Stools: The cushioned walnut and rattan bar stools add modernity and comfort. 
  • Stove: A La Cornue stove is both vintage and elegant. 
  • Faucets/pot filler: Unlacquered brass plumbing fixtures will patina over time.
  • Floor: The existing oak floors were refinished in an ebony stain. 
  • Runner: A tan jute runner provides foot comfort in front of the stove.
  • Wall art: The copper framed landscape painting adds color and texture to the white wall. 

Shop the Look:

A La Cornue stove

Design: Jennifer Robin; Photo: John Merkl

The Future Perfect Throne Rattan Bar Stool $3,175.00

“I appreciate these stools for their modern lines yet vintage style,” says Robin.

Rejuvenation Cabinet Maker's Picture Light $399.00

“These bronze lights add visual interest and can be used to highlight art and other details,” notes Robin.

Easton Classic Two Hole Bridge Gooseneck Kitchen Faucet
Waterworks Easton Classic Two Hole Bridge Gooseneck Kitchen Faucet $3,505.00

“A classic gooseneck kitchen faucet pairs well with an apron sink,” notes Robin.