Kitchen & Bath Design News

FEB 2019

Kitchen & Bath Design News is the industry's leading business, design and product resource for the kitchen and bath trade.

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SAN RAFAEL, CA — One of the most fasci- nating aspects of the kitchen and bath industry is the diverse, winding paths many profession- als took to get here. Bay Area-based designer Barbra Bright, CKD, is an excellent example of this. For years, she worked with a show band as a dancer and costume designer. When she decided it was time to pursue a new career, an intriguing avenue was open to her: "The band's agent's best friend was Larry Lowenthal, who at the time owned four kitchen showrooms called Gilmans Kitchens and Baths," Bright explains. Lowenthal, who knew Bright and her penchant for costume design well, offered her a position as a design assis- tant. Humorously, Bright notes, she has never been an avid cook. Despite this, the position ended up being an excellent fit. "I loved [working as a design assis- tant] because I have what I've always described as a good eye," Bright says. She also credits her various mentors throughout her life with help- ing her to hone her design instincts, starting with her mother, who was a gifted seamstress. During the time she worked as a design assis- tant with Gilmans, she also took design classes at Kenyatta College under well-known designer Mary Jo Camp, who became a strong influence in the early days of Bright's career. After spending four years working under Lowenthal and developing a unique design vision of her own, Bright found herself feeling restless during showroom down time and look- ing forward to her next challenge. She recalls, "I had a lot of repeat clients, and I just thought, well, I seem to be doing really well. Maybe it's time to hang out my own shingle, which I did." Well over a decade later, Barbra Bright Design is going strong, catering primarily to clients looking for a fresh and inviting aesthetic. MODERN AND WARM Bright has developed a name for herself as a de- signer of California modern spaces. "[My typical client is] someone who wants a clean design, but [also] wants it to function first, and they want it to be warm," Bright notes. "Because when you say 'modern,' oftentimes people think of – and I don't think that it's fair – a very sterile environ- ment, and it really doesn't have to be." Bright is very focused on taking what she calls "the fluff " out of design – that is, the un- necessarily elaborate details and fussy flourish- es – choosing instead to focus on crafting spac- es full of clean lines and high functionality. In order to warm up these no-fluff designs, Bright zeroes in on bringing pattern and texture to the space, with a heavy emphasis on utilizing natural materials wherever possible. "[I love] natural wood, and I really love real stone. There's nothing wrong with man-made stone – I use it when it's called for, in the right projects…But in general, I tend to think: 'What do I want to look at in 10 years? How is it going to age? Will it patina?' And I just find that stone is very organic, and it changes, and you spill things on it and mostly it comes off, but it just tells a story…I want something that feels alive." For Bright's upscale Bay Area clientele, this sleek yet organic California aesthetic is highly appealing. "Also, my clients travel a lot, which means that they've been exposed to nice hotels. They've gone around the world and they've seen all different kinds of materials. And a Designer Crafts Warm, Modern Spaces BY AUTUMN MCGARR Barbra Bright's natural eye for design has taken her on a journey from dancer to sought-after designer and blogger. Bright's client loves to cook for family and guests, so function was the driving factor in this remodel. Additionally, the client wanted a clean, modern aesthetic. The island is the work center of the kitchen, with storage for small appliances, various cooking utensils and a second sink and dishwasher. Photos: McKinney Photography 38 Kitchen & Bath Design News • February 2019 DESIGNER PROFILE

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