Behind the Design with Tamara Day of 'Bargain Mansions'

Peek behind the curtain at some of our favorite designs from season two of Bargain Mansions with host Tamara Day.

Photo By: Matt Blair







Photo By: Matt Blair




Tamara Day

For two seasons, Bargain Mansions' Tamara Day has restored dilapidated mansions to their former glory, bringing back the original charm with a dash of modern flare. We caught up with Tamara to get the scoop on the biggest transformations and challenges, and how what you seeing on TV doesn't always reflect her real life. (Spoiler: She may create incredible master bathrooms on the show, but her own isn't exactly a stunner!)

Question: How would you describe your design style?

Tamara: Laid-back Luxe! I love high-end design and style, but I also recognize it has to be livable and attainable. Nothing can be too perfect or too precious, but it can always be beautiful.

Q: What’s one thing you love to use in every space?

T: Killer light fixtures. To me, bigger is always better. I like big lights and I cannot lie!

Q: How do you preserve the charm of these homes?

T: When I walk into a house, I always go with the mindset of: "What can I save?" I try to save anything I can, even if it is something as simple as registers or mail letter slots. It’s the little details like that that make all the difference. I try and use every inch I can and create intentional spaces with what is already available. I try and save the trim work, windows and any of the architectural details that make it unique.

Q: What’s your favorite room in a home?

T: I’d have to say laundry rooms and half baths because there are no boundaries. I love to make these rooms fun and powerful. I almost always go outside of the box. I consider them the jewelry box of a home.

Q: In my opinion, bathrooms are your specialty. Every single bathroom looks like a spa. Is yours at home just as dreamy?

T: Have you ever heard the saying, "the cobbler’s children have no shoes"? [laughs] Sadly, no. We redid our house in 2008 and our bathroom was one of the things we just cobbled together. It is in desperate need of a makeover.

Q: What’s it like working so closely with your dad? Does he have a favorite moment or renovation from season 2?

T: Dad is super fun. He’s hysterical and is constantly providing comic relief. I love having him around. His favorite renovation was definitely the Tudor. (The one that looks like Snow White’s house!) He loved the Old World charm. We had a lot of fun on that one.

Q: Do you prefer style or function?

T: Both. I think good style means good functionality. If it isn’t functional, you aren’t going to enjoy it or love it! If it isn’t functional, what good is good style?

Q: One of the homes that stands out in season 2 is the renovation from episode 205 — those giant windows in the living room are incredible! Tell us a little more about that build.

T: That house had amazing bones from the beginning. It was just outdated and dreary. For a space so large with so much potential, leaving it the way it was [would’ve been] sad. As soon as I walked into that house, I knew we had to take it on. As beautiful as the living room windows were, the functionality of the room didn’t make any sense. You have this gorgeous backyard with a huge pool and a pond, and no way of getting there from the living room. So, as beautiful as those big windows were, we added even more because they just weren’t enough.

Q: What’s been your favorite project so far? Why?

T: Definitely the cottage house. Turning a garage into a living room and a dilapidated room into a kitchen is a serious transformation, but having those vaulted ceilings and that incredible 8-ft window was EVERYTHING. That house just felt like home to me.

Q: What home has been the most challenging? Why? 

T: Definitely the ranch house with the second-story addition. Adding a second floor and starting in the spring was a bigger challenge than I expected. Weather came into play and it wasn't good. With that house, it probably would have been easier to tear it down than do what we did.

Don't miss Bargain Mansions, Mondays at 9|8c.

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