Ask A Pro
We get a lot of questions about the benefits of lighting when it comes to interior design and interior/exterior lighting. So we asked some of the frequently asked questions to Tamara Day, interior designer, and HGTV Star to get her thoughts.
How did you get started in Interior Design? Tell us a little bit about your background.
I wish I could say that ever since I was a little kid I knew that I wanted to be a designer, but I didn’t have that much insight. I had no idea that being a designer was even a thing. If I did, I definitely would have steered myself in that direction. I love all things decorating and the challenge of turning a house into a home. I got a degree in communications, so a BS in BS, which I seem to use every day. It would have been great to get a degree in design, but I think a design degree would have boxed into a specific look. One of the things I love about my style is that it is more organic and laid-back with a bit of luxe thrown in there. Being self-taught has let me have more creative flow in my designs, and hey, it seems to have worked out, right?
Can you remember your first project? Describe it if you can!
My first design project was probably my college apartment. It was a one-bedroom apartment in an older building. I had so much fun going from thrift stores and garage sales with my grandma. I spent my weekend painting and sewing to really make every piece of furniture and the apartment my own. It was a mismatch of furniture and accessories, but I loved every inch of it. I wish I could say I had photos of it, but sadly it was before cell phones.
What elements describe your style?
My Laid-Back Luxe Style combines casual, family-friendly items mixed with glam, high-end elements. The mix of the two styles makes spaces feel both over the top and easy to live in. Fabrics that can withstand four children and high-end rugs that will last forever are two of the most important elements in a family-friendly design. Original artwork is the cherry on top in spaces. I love mixing high-end pieces with unique finds from garage sales and a little from my Grandma’s attic. I love how every piece of art can have a story—a little bit of old and a little bit of new.
What type of services do you offer?
My design company, Growing Days Design, offers both in-person and E-Design services. We have four designers that work with us. We work on projects from coast to coast, but also right here in Kansas City. Of course, we also have Growing Days Home, where you can come and shop to find the perfect accents for your home.
Do you have a favorite type of project? Style? Room to work on?
My favorite type of project is one where I am not restrained and can be bold and creative. I love using lots of colors, textures, and patterns. My clients usually let me go over the top in spaces like laundry and mudrooms. They often become their favorite rooms in the house. Can you imagine the laundry room being your favorite room? If you make it fun, it can be!
What is the general design process with a client?
The general design process with a client starts with an initial consultation. We get into know the client, the project, and of course, the B-word budget. It is better to know what we’re working with right out of the gate from a financial standpoint. Every client is different, so I love to hear what is important to them in a space to know how to allocate the budget. After our initial meeting, we like to put everything into a follow-up email that gives the clients a chance to review what we talked about and make edits. From there, we start designing! We pull lighting, fabrics, tile, paint swatches, etc. After we pull everything, we meet with the clients again to show them the complete design concept. We love hearing their thoughts and collaborating with them, so the space is just what they are looking for. Once we finalize the design and get everything ordered, we schedule an installation day. We bring all of the furniture pieces and tons of accessories and artwork to finish off the space. We love having the transformation happen at once. It is always the most fun of the entire job!
Can you tell us about one of your favorite projects so far?
It is always so hard to answer this question! I can’t ever pick just one. There are certain areas of houses that stick out to me. The kitchen from our Cottage house in season 2 will forever be my favorite. It just felt so happy. But then the fireplace of The Farmhouse house that was multiple stories high was pretty epic. The barrel ceiling of the Sunset Hills main bedroom was so fun to design. The layout of the Beliender House was definitely number one. If I ever get to build my dream home it is going to be really tough to get all of these elements into one house.
What is the most difficult part about designing a home?
The most challenging part about designing a home is staying within budget. It doesn’t matter what house you’re working on, there is always more and more to be done. That is also the best part of designing a home. It never really ends. The best homes are created to look curated, not like you went and bought a room. So even if you can’t do everything all at once, your style can evolve, and plugin as your budget allows.
Where do you gather inspiration?
I am a huge fan of Instagram and Pinterest for inspiration. But if you saw my bedroom table, you would see the piles of magazines I have. They go back years and years, but there is so much inspiration in them. Your inspiration doesn’t have to be something new and trendy. Sometimes you find the perfect inspiration from something 20 years ago.
Do you have any favorite designers/influencers?
I have so many favorite designers and influencers. I love Relative Lighting; she’s brilliant when it comes to the perfect fixture. Kelly Wearstler pushes the envelope in all the right directions. Becki Owens nails it on that timeless, traditional, modern style. Alison Victoria has a beautiful style with big old homes really similar to mine. And of course, Nate and Jeremiah are known for adding soul to the house. How much time do you have? The list goes on and on!
If someone is starting a home renovation project, what advice would you give them?
When you start your home renovation project, the first thing you need to do is get your budget together. Then take 20% of it and stick it in your sock drawer for when the problems arise! I promise you there will be problems and surprises and they will be expensive. If you saved that 20%, you will be happy at the end of your project because it will keep you within your budget. If you are one of the fortunate ones that don’t have any surprises, you get to spend that on accessories and furniture!
If someone is unsure about hiring an interior designer, can you explain the benefits of working with one on a home project?
A lot of people think hiring a designer is going to be a super-expensive luxury. The reality is if you are hesitant at all on your design style, your designer will save you money! Mistakes are expensive, and a good designer can help prevent problems from arising down the road. I can’t tell you how many times people call us a little too late. They already bought this couch and that hutch and a couple of chairs, but none of it actually works together. We have to find ways to create a space with items that don’t go with the whole plan. Another huge benefit of a good designer is they take some of the stress away and make it fun! If you trust your designer, the project will turn out a million times better than you were imagining.
How do you help bring your client’s visions to life?
When we first meet with a client, we ask for 20 or more inspiration pictures. I love seeing the inspiration pictures. They help me figure out exactly what the client's style is. That step is crucial in creating their perfect space.
See more of Tamara's recent projects on her blog here.
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