Tamara Day is remodeling homes on HGTV and helping us redecorate our own homes at her Growing Days Home store
Tamara Day answers The Pitch Questionnaire
Tune into HGTV and chances are you’ll spot Tamara Day’s show Bargain Mansions. The Kansas City designer, mom, and home-remodeling master flips run-down homes across the KC area into modern-day mansions—with her dad working right alongside her. And when Day isn’t knocking down walls or decorating new digs, she’s organizing all of her favorite picks at Growing Days Home, her Prairie Village store selling furniture, home goods, decor, and some deliciously scented candles (the Spring scent has been burning at my desk all week) that she also features on her show—and they have an aptly sale happening this week with 35 percent off furniture. Basically, Day is busy bringing remodeling and redecorating inspo to us all. So we convinced her to take a quick break and tell us more about what it means to be Tamara Day.
Hometown: Salina, Kansas
Current neighborhood: Kansas City / Leawood has been my home for the past 20 years.
What is your favorite part and least favorite part of remodeling a home?
I have a lot of favorite parts actually; I can’t say that one is my favorite. I love it when we walk into a home, and I know what walls are coming down and when they come down and you can actually feel the space and like the vision is starting to happen. But then the day that drywall goes up, which is typically months later, is really rewarding because of the same thing. So it’s kind of like you get the walls knocked out and you get the walls back up and you really feel the space coming together. But then of course I do love staging and putting all the pretty things into place and seeing it all finish up. It’s very rewarding.
Least favorite? I really hate mice and the nasty things we find. If I didn’t have to deal with the gross factors, I’d be ok with that.
What does Kansas City need more of?
We need a lot of things right now, don’t we? We need more independent businesses opening up. I think that throughout the city, more boutiques, more independent stores, whether it’s home clothing, food, small businesses coming back to life. I think that’s really the biggest thing we need right now. And I think that’s where our community is going to shine.
What’s it like getting to work so closely with your dad on Bargain Mansions?
Well, it’s awesome actually. But then also, you know, he’s my dad, so it’s frustrating just like anybody. I’m the boss, and so that’s different. And he has stick to my design plan even when he totally disagrees. But it’s kind of fun for me, probably frustrating for him. We we have a ton of fun, and it’s great. He has years of experience and years of knowledge that I don’t have. And so it’s really nice to have him by my side.
What is the last thing you laughed at?
It was definitely my kids, and we were just, just laughing like yesterday. It was 85 degrees and sunny, and my daughter, just like me, is cold and was wearing a parka, because it’s ridiculous. But yet, we’re both freezing to death in a picture of a gorgeous sunset on an 85 degree day. I was just showing the office how crazy we actually are.
What’s your go-to piece of decor that you recommend adding to any home?
Beads and artwork. Good artwork is huge, but I love the accent accessories. It just adds another layer of texture to a space. And it’s that last finishing piece that I put in all my projects.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Ice cream. Vanilla. I like plain, old vanilla. I think we eat ice cream with my kids at least three times a week.
The best advice you ever got:
Don’t be afraid to try. You know, like I think a lot of people can just give into fear a lot of times and not, not be brave and go for what they want to do. So, what’s the worst that can happen? That’s usually how I look at things.
You have new candles in your shop. Where did the inspiration for your candle scents come from?
I love smells and candles. I’m a very picky candle connoisseur, and so it was one of those things when I was thinking about it, I wanted something that was timeless and fresh. So the grapefruit mint is really a good fit in the winter. And I’m a big fan of layering scents, so when I’m picking the secondary scents that we have—so we have spring, summer, winter, fall candles—how they compliment and burn together is really important to me. The grapefruit really goes well with everything else we burn, because you know, when you walk in the front door of the store, the first thing everybody says is, “Wow, it smells good in here.” And it’s that combination of the scents that is so nice. So like our spring scent is a fresh cut grass, which just blends so nicely with the grapefruit because it’s fresh and clean smelling. But then our spring and summer candle has a little bit more of Rosemary and mint scent, which also blends really nicely. I always have multiple scents burning in my own home. I think it makes it unique in your home.
How do you balance the history and character of a home with the modern twists they need to stay fresh?
I think architecture is the number one thing I try to save. Saving the shape and style of the home is the first and foremost goal. It is also what gives us the best charm and character when we’re finished, it’s staying true to the flow of the house. But then at the same time, it has to work for a modern family. So opening things up and making the function of the home work is a top priority. So when I’m placing everything, I’m always thinking, how do we save what was here, but make it flow and function so that a modern day family can enjoy the space?
The goal is saving windows and woodwork, and a lot of people get upset with me when I paint woodwork, and I never paint good woodwork. I only paint it a bit if it’s in really bad condition and we can’t sand it down.
That’s one of those things that a lot of the time on TV, it looks like the wood work is really gorgeous and great, but in real life it’s dry and brittle, and if I start sanding it, we’re going to have to rip it out and replace it. I try to examine that and figure out, can we save it? What’s the process to save it? And also budget. There’s that “B” word that you gotta pay attention to. So figuring that out is how I make those decisions.
What do you do to combat gentrification when choosing which homes to flip Kansas City?
Generally the houses that I buy they’re on the market, they’re for sale, they’re in neighborhoods that have already started turning around. I don’t know of any situation where we’ve displaced anyone in projects that we’ve worked on. Most of the time, the houses that we get our hands on are in such bad shape. Nobody really wants them, or they are essentially potential to be condemned. So I don’t feel like we are part of the problem. We’re hopefully solving the problem and saving these historic homes.
Who did you want to be when you grew up?
I want to be a mom, but Martha Stewart with a close second.
You’ve been renovating long before your HGTV show aired. What makes renovations different being on TV?
Timelines. For TV, we don’t have a choice, it’s gotta get done and get filmed. We have to make sure that the cameras are there when things are happening, so scheduling adds an extra layer to it that wasn’t there before. And also just making sure it’s done on time is tremendous. It’s always important, even when it’s not on TV, but the deadlines aren’t quite as steep. It just means you’re paying the mortgage an extra month.
What advice would you tell your younger self?
I wish that I had known that Design was a degree. I didn’t know that that was something, you know, I grew up on a farm. I’d never met a designer. I’d never met a woman in construction. And so I didn’t realize this was something I could even think about doing. I didn’t know it was a career. And so I think that kids nowadays have so much more opportunity to see their passions realized because of social media and the internet and being exposed to so many more opportunities. I think there’s definitely a trend of find something you’re passionate about and figure out how to make money at it. When I was a kid, I don’t remember it feeling that way. Maybe it was, I just didn’t catch on. But for me there wasn’t Instagram to see beautiful pictures of gorgeous rooms and realize, Oh, that’s somebody’s job to make that happen. So I wish that I would have researched more to figure out what options there were for me. I got a communications degree, which obviously I talk every day, and fairly well, and it comes in handy, but I would’ve loved to have gotten a design degree.
What will people find in the Growing Days store?
At Growing Days Home, everything that is in the store, I hand-select. So it’s all things that I personally like or love and have either in my own house or have used in staging the houses for the show. Especially the accessories, but pretty much all of the furniture has been in a show at some point. A lot of it has been replaced with new items, but we can order a lot of the furniture that’s been on the show. We have it on the floor and we use it fairly often. So when you walk in the door, at first you notice immediately it smells fantastic, but it also has the same feeling as the show of layers of interesting artwork, beautiful furniture, great accessories. And it’s, it’s really everything from the lighting and wallpaper that you see on the show to the little knickknacks, like the beads and fall accessories. So it’s top-to-bottom everything you see on TV.
Growing Days Home
5324 W 95th St, Prairie Village, KS 66207
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 11am-3pm