Stephanie Boright gets things done

From the TV set to the construction site, Lewes woman is a logistics master
April 11, 2017

Stephanie Boright is a woman who just gets things done.

Whether on the set as a producer of Showtime's Emmy Award-winning "Homeland" or on the site of a home renovation, Boright's job is to ensure the project at hand is complete on time and the work is done well.

"Logistics is kind of my life," she said. "With a TV show, I make sure I have my actors, my location, my costumes and props. Everything needs to happen at a certain time. And it's exactly the same way with building a house."

Boright is in the midst of her second career. She formed Coastal Cottage Renovations about two years ago, and the business has recently taken off. Boright has partnered with Justin Travis of JT Homes to offer design-build packages in the Cape Region. She develops the design, and Travis ensures it comes to fruition.

"We're getting into our groove now," she said.

"We have a really good working machine because [Travis] knows how I like to design, so he knows on his end what needs to be done to implement those designs."

A few clients have compared Boright and Travis' partnership to that of Chip and Joanna Gaines on HGTV's hit show "Fixer Upper."

"Except we're not married," said Boright, who met her husband Barry while selling advertising in Vermont in the late 1980s. The two have a 17-year-old daughter, Sydney.

A television show isn't out of the realm of possibilities for the duo, either. They were recently interviewed by producers who were interested in their work.

Boright's renovation story begins in the early 1990s. After she and her husband moved to the Washington, D.C. area, they bought a row home in Fells Point in Baltimore for $16,000.

"Then we found out we paid way too much because the next one we bought was only $9,000," she said.

The couple had 15 Baltimore row homes at one point. "We would go up on weekends and renovate them ourselves," she said. "That's kind of where I got my start in terms of ripping down plaster walls, exposing brick, finding hardwood floors under linoleum ... all those hidden treasures in an old house."

It continued with five more properties in the Virginia suburbs of Washington and again in Lewes. The Borights moved to Lewes in the early 2000s, buying a home in the historic district on Mulberry Street. They renovated it, sold it and moved just a few doors down the street to another historic home. They again renovated it and moved on.

They now live in the historic Marjorie Virden House on Pilottown Road. Not surprisingly, they restored the home, and they received the Restoration Award at the Lewes Historical Society's Historic Preservation Awards in April 2016.

Before settling in Lewes, Boright and her husband lived and worked in the D.C. area. Boright knew from an early age that she wanted to work in the entertainment industry. "I knew since I was 14 that I was going to work in TV," she said. "I wanted to get into TV news and be a TV producer."

She interned in D.C., at CNN, while in college.

Originally from Massachusetts, she returned home after graduating with hopes of finding a job in Boston. But that didn't work out, and her mother wasn't enthusiastic about having her around the house. "My mom got sick of me and literally threw me out," she said. "It's the best thing she ever did for me. She said, 'Pick a state, you've got two weeks to pack your bags and get out.'"

She returned to D.C., where she started working as a bartender. She struggled to find a job in TV news until she met someone who opened a new door into the film industry. "They were doing research for a movie called JFK, and that was my very first movie, in 1991," she said. "I was a production assistant. We would work 16-hour days, then I would go and bartend at night."

Her first job wasn't all glitz and glamour – far from it.

"I had to stand out in this pathway ... you couldn't even tell there was a movie going on because I was so far away," she said. "I had a walkie talkie, and they would say, 'Rolling,' and it was my job to not let anyone through."

Her first day didn't go too well. An impatient bicyclist ignored her request and rode right through the period movie. "I hear on the walkie talkie, 'Who let that biker through?!'" she said. "I remember trudging back at lunch. It was my first day, and I'm the worst PA in the world."

One bad experience didn't ruin it, though. She eventually moved up to a production coordinator, then a unit production manager and eventually producer. Her credits include Forrest Gump, The American President, Zero Dark Thirty, Transformers, NCIS and seven seasons of The West Wing, among others.

While her main focus now is on home renovations, she said, she still goes back to Washington a few weeks a year to produce a TV show or movie. The two fields may seem extremely different, she said, but they are very similar. It's all about managing people, she said. And both require creativity, which she said she has thanks to her father.

"I have a degree in English," she said. "My father thought that would be the best degree to get because it would help me formulate thoughts." Now, when she walks into a client's home, she is able to work with the client and easily communicate her vision. Her style is clean lines with rustic touches.
She loves to add big windows and big doors, while incorporating salvaged materials back into the homes.

"When you start with those basics and then add in all the other elements, it really makes a house come together," she said.

Boright often posts progress photos of her projects on the Coastal Cottage Renovations Facebook page, so clients and others can follow a home's transformation.

  • The Cape Gazette staff has been doing Saltwater Portraits weekly (mostly) for more than 20 years. Reporters, on a rotating basis, prepare written and photographic portraits of a wide variety of characters peopling Delaware's Cape Region. Saltwater Portraits typically appear in the Cape Gazette's Tuesday edition as the lead story in the Cape Life section.

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