The idea of a complete transformation within 48 hours may seem a little daunting to some people, but not to Gina Cook, owner of Gina’s Design Center, located in the business district of Spokane. Embarking upon a DFAD makeover, she embraced the opportunity to partner with her community to do what she does best; design and build with excellence.

In 2013, Design For A Difference debuted across the country, and Spokane’s makeover at Transitions, a shelter for women and children, became a shining example of how communities, businesses, and designers can come together to impact lives. “DFAD has been a good fit for us. About 35% of our business is kitchen remodels, and 50% construction, and because of this, I think we were uniquely qualified.” And this proved to be true; almost five years later, Gina’s Design Center is sponsoring annual DFAD makeovers and her business is reaping the rewards of giving back.

Revenues have exceeded her expectations over the last couple of years, something that Gina looks back on with a grateful spirit. Growing up working for her family floorcovering business, the idea of starting a small showroom with a focus on selling high-end carpets was the product of her appreciation for luxury design. “I tend to be a perfectionist,” she says, “and I love being surrounded by excellence. I want to be able to dive-in to every aspect of a project, so when it’s finished, I can stand back and say, ‘Yes, that’s ours.’” 

But getting started didn’t go as planned. Shortly after acquiring her small showroom, Gina’s family was devastated by the loss of their original store and warehouse to a fire, leaving Gina with the overwhelming task of making some tough decisions. Could she rebuild the family business from the ground up? And what would happen to her dream of high-end design projects? The answers lied in the support she received from her community. “Everyone reached out; even our local competitors stepped in to help. Whatever we needed, they were there to make it happen and opened their doors. And we did eventually get back on our feet.” 

But doing so meant Gina had to choose: She didn’t have the means to recover the old space and keep the new. So she went with her gut and put everything she had into her design showroom. And what started as 1,800 square-foot space, tripled in size and included ownership of the building, exceeding the goals she had from the beginning. Today, Gina and fellow designer Samantha Burbank head up a team that truly does it all. And the opportunity to take on one charity makeover a year is just one special way to pay it forward after experiencing a first hand loss.

Gina’s team is currently working on their latest transformation at the YWCA Women’s Shelter. 

Because Gina is known in Spokane for her pro-bono work, the non-profit approached her with a sizable grant and the need for her expertise, so once again, it was a perfect fit. “They were actually just looking for pro-bono design work, but with my DFAD partnership, I was able to take it a step further. And what’s exciting, is that we procured enough discounted product to double the value of their remodel, and leaving enough funds to support the hard-working contractors, which is a win for everyone.” 

And a step further than design work is what this space is receiving. The project is a complete renovation of the 10×30 kitchen and dining area that will feature mirror- image kitchens, with one that meets ADA guidelines. The breakfast bar will also be revamped, along with new flooring, baseboards and paint throughout. This caliber of renovation for such a space is going to improve the quality of life for the women residing in this shelter and we can not wait to see it when completed.

If we’ve learned one thing from this story, it’s that giving is a two-way street. And as evidenced by the tremendous success of Gina’s Design Center, sometimes it gives to you first. Gina’s commitment to excellence far exceeds her love of design and the multitude of challenges in managing large-scale projects. It has given her the opportunity to design for a difference and ultimately reap the benefits of a job well-done.

To learn more about Gina’s Design Center, visit her website at:

Watch the Spokane unveiling video >