Worktable - Workbook Fall Edition

Q & A with
Barbara Westbrook

Interview by Kyle Tibbs Jones

Photos by Philip Ethan Grossman


So Barbara, what is WORKTABLE?

In the office, we lay out materials on our big farm table. Fabrics, stone samples, tiles, paint chips, photos from books and magazines - sometimes fashion and art. It's how I establish the overall theme, keep us on track and help a client see and feel the direction for their project.

Worktable - Workbook Fall Edition
Worktable - Workbook Fall Edition


Your kitchen cabinetry drawings are beautiful. Did you study architecture? Did you draw interior spaces as a child? 

I did not draw space as a child, but I've always been a doodler. (I drew lots and lots of fashion.)  I took art lessons when I was very young, but stopped by the time I was 14.  When I was in college, I enrolled in two drawing classes.  In each class, we had a perspective segment. I loved it - drawing with a straight edge came more naturally.  You do not have to be particularly talented...just replicate what you see!

Worktable - Workbook Fall Edition


Your biggest disaster in the kitchen?

A few years ago, I had a dinner party with a group of friends at my home. They were relatively new friends at the time and are all accomplished cooks. Cooks who loved to tease me about my (lack of) cooking. I decided on a delicious baked enchilada casserole recipe that another good friend takes to functions. It's (usually) Mexican comfort food. Anyway, because I do not use the oven much, I had no earthly idea it was broken. That day it never heated past 250 degrees. The enchiladas were a complete disaster, but we still managed to have fun. Some of it at my expense, ha!

Worktable - Workbook Fall Edition


One mistake you see people make over and over in designing kitchens?

Easy answer. They get caught up in the "cooking triangle."  It’s important to make sure that you have easy access to the appliances, but your workspace does not have to be triangular.  Everyone uses their kitchen differently. I ask a lot of questions about what my client loves and/or hates about their current kitchen as well as what they have always dreamed of having in that space. Also, I think it is a mistake to gravitate towards every gadget out there. In other words, please take a hard look at that swiveling shelf before you decide it's a must have. 

Worktable - Workbook Fall Edition




Do you have a favorite countertop material?

Calacatta Borghini, hands down.

Worktable - Workbook Fall Edition


The kitchen on this month’s WORKTABLE ...which magazine?

House and Garden, June 2006. Oh how I miss that magazine and how I love love love this kitchen. Perfection to me - tasteful, timeless, but not boring. It is the personal kitchen of Kevin Roberts and Tim Haynes of the design firm, Haynes-Roberts. I’ve not researched their firm so I do not know much about them, but I (really) dig their Kitchen.

Worktable - Workbook Fall Edition


One thing you would NEVER put in a kitchen?

Wow, that is a tough one. I am not a big fan of granite countertops except when they are solid in color.

Worktable - Workbook Fall Edition
Worktable - Workbook Fall Edition


Okay, you don't cook often. Anything you might design into your dream kitchen that would inspire you to, say, use your oven?

Very funny! I really do design my dream kitchen over and over and it's always changing from modern to traditional to crusty to sleek to something in between. One thing I would add, huh? A chef, maybe? (laughs) Actually, I know what it would be. I’d install a great Julien stainless steel sink. They are gorgeous


~ W ~

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