A Vintage Revival

I just completed an extensive remodeling and furnishing project that the firm started work on in the Fall of 2014. We were called in to renovate a ranch house set on a gently rolling twenty acres on the East side of Santa Rosa at the foot of Hood Mountain. 

Here is a photo that shows the house before and after.  

Truly a transformation, or what I would call a vintage revival!

To read the full Revival story and see the materials we took inspiration from, visit our Project Stories page here. Be sure and view the after photos of the house here

Remaking of the Main House at Knowlton Farms & Vineyard

An unusual project for me, I was called in to completely furnish the two story, 2200 square foot main residence set in a bucolic and really a darn near perfect six acres just outside of Sebastopol. That in and of itself is not really unusual for us, but usually it occurs with a full renovation and over the course of a year or sometimes two. This needed to be done quickly and by quickly, I mean four weeks. 

Luckily for me, as we have grown and gotten increasingly more busy, we have been able to add team members like Lori in the office and my daughter, Lauren, out in the field. So, we were able to hit the ground running. 

We started with a floor plan to determine furniture pieces for what would amount to 17 separate areas, including a covered outdoor patio. With an idea of general furniture type and placement we set out to find product that was immediately available or with a quick order and delivery turnaround. We did this without giving up the aesthetic that seemed to speak to the house and the grounds. That, is really important to us as a team. We want it to be right.

The installation day crowd consisted of the three of us in the office, myself, Lauren and Lori, and two men, Jake and Mike, who did all the heavy lifting, assembly and hanging of items. Those two have the patience of saints, what with all the “move it a snitch” this way or that! It is really nice to see the team grow and see what we can accomplish together. 


Here are several before and after photos.
Living Room  |  Dining Room  |  Master Bedroom


I amazed myself that we were able to complete this project in four weeks. We provided the client with a beautiful end result, fitting of the lovely quality of the home. I could not have done it by myself. Thank you Team Tama Bell Design!

To read about the entire Remaking of the Main House at Knowlton Farms & Vineyard process, or to view photos the house after we finished, please visit the project story page (HERE) and  portfolio page (and HERE).

Here's a sneak preview of the Remaking.. to see the entire video of Remaking of the Main House at Knowlton Farms & Vineyard click HERE.

Meet the Team

Meet our growing team. The last year has brought many changes to Tama Bell Design. We are preparing for an office move to a much larger space in downtown Sebastopol, which will enable us to better provide for our design clientele.

We welcomed Lauren Bell in April as part of the design team. She is finishing up her interior design program at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) in San Francisco. 

Lori Olson came on board as Office Manager in February to better assist us with managing projects and client concierge. 

We are excited to announce our new design space!
961 Gravenstein Hwy, Suite #120, Sebastopol

Keep up to date with the progress on our new space
by visiting our website for more information (here).

I'm Starting A Design Revolution...Making Sophistication Comfortable

These times call for a revolution and the only revolution I may be formally prepared to bring is a design revolution. When things are unsettled and the unknown looms, it is even more important to have a soft, safe haven to come home to. I believe that in good times and in the bad. Your home or office should comfort you and provide peace.

My version of a design revolution encompasses clean, simple, natural lines presented in a way that makes sophistication comfortable. I want to abolish dark, busy or dull, and bring in light, warmth and style. Aesthetics affects mood, and mood effects your mindset and quality of life. This is my mission and this is why I do what I do. 

I have been working behind the scenes on some big changes for the business. I have outgrown my current space and I will be moving into a brand new, much larger space this Summer. My studio currently has about 300 square feet and the new space will be just over 1000. It will allow me to expand and create a showroom for my design clients. Over the last year I have been researching and adding product vendors which will enable me to offer an increased selection, quality and price point of product for client projects that encompasses my mission.

Stay tuned for more news, inspiring images and maybe come along on my design revolution journey in 2017!

European Fresh Take

Sometimes a renovation story isn’t just about prettying things up. Often, the story starts with eliminating architectural elements that create a “moment in time,” are dated, or hold back the look of a space. In the case of this kitchen renovation, the client wanted a new kitchen with a traditional, timeless look. The major obstacle was a dropped ceiling detail in the kitchen area that opened to a peaked eat-in area. It was awkward, at best, and a bit of an eye sore from the family room vantage point. There was concern that it may be structural and costly to eliminate. My favorite structural engineer was called in to take a look. Fortunately, for the project and this client, it was not structural and was not a problem to remove. This alone created huge impact for the visual transformation of the entire living area.

I think that this story is a great reminder to have a good plan for what you want to accomplish, bring in the experts to answer structural questions early and get a true, hard “No” before giving up on a design idea that is vital to doing the job right. Sometimes, things look harder than they truly are. Get the answers first, and then you can make decisions to prioritize your design plans.

Take a look below at the before and after photos of the new kitchen and re-designed living space. Quite a transformation and one that will let these owners enjoy this home for another twenty years or more! Visit the “Project Stories” page on my website to find out more about the start to finish renovation of this home.

The Goal is Client Satisfaction

I want to thank you all.  I just won an award that is extremely important to me. Client satisfaction is top of the list in my business, and I was recently notified that I was awarded Best of Houzz Service Award: Client Satisfaction.  Houzz is the premier website for design ideas for interior design, new construction and remodels, and helps people put together ideas with products and professionals.

These awards are given once per year.  The accolade is conferred upon professionals in each category of Houzz who are rated at the highest level for client satisfaction, and I am thrilled be honored with this award. 

What I’m really proud of, is that my clients are pleased with my work and the level of service I strive for each and every day.  Receiving the Client Satisfaction award from Houzz is a welcome acknowledgment of this. I always strive to make sure that you, my clients, are happy with what I’ve created, and so I value this very public vote of confidence.

So please accept my thanks to all of you who took the time to write a review.  I really appreciate you, too!

The Closet Audit

Ballard Design Carsten Gold Hook Rack, Black No-Slip hangers, Chrome Valet Rod and Ballard Bardot Mirror

Ballard Design Carsten Gold Hook Rack, Black No-Slip hangers, Chrome Valet Rod and Ballard Bardot Mirror

I love organizing. I use it in my day to day work, as design is also a form of organization. I find it harder to get the ball rolling when it comes to my closet. It can be overwhelming. But, I like all of my spaces to be both beautiful and functional. So today, we talk closets!

At least once a week I find myself feeling as if I have nothing to wear; when the reality is that I have a walk-in closet full of really nice clothes. Sometimes it is just really hard to see what you have and what you truly love through all the clutter and hoarding. (And I admit I am a clothes hoarder). It is hard to let go of some things; either because you spent a certain amount of money on them, or you might fit into it again, or your body type may magically change and it’ll look really good on you like it did on the twig mannequin at the department store. The truth of the matter is we need to figure out what our style aesthetic is and wear only what really looks and feels good on you!

Here are my recommendations for doing a good purge and getting your closet in order:

1.  Set up a realistic amount of time so you are able to go through your entire closet in one sitting. Don't set yourself up for failure with starting and not being able to finish the process. It will just create more chaos and mess.

2.  Enlist the help of a good friend who really gets who you are and what your style aesthetic is and who will tell you the truth when you really do look fat in those pants.

3. Start with the power-sort. Start at one end of your closet and start pulling everything out item by item. Don't over think it. Make three piles for things that:

    a.  You love and wear all of the time

    b.  You are not quite ready to get rid of

    c.  Items you know aren’t working (donate or consign these locally)

4.  For the items that you are not quite ready to get rid of ask yourself the following questions:

    a.  Does is make you feel good?

    b.  Do you get compliments when you wear it?

    c.  Do you feel uncomfortable when you actually do wear it?

5.  Be brutally honest. If it does not serve you and make you feel good, get rid of it and make space for your loved clothing to breathe and maybe it’ll make a space for a new special item that makes you feel incredible.

6.  Being a designer, I think that this is also a good time to do a little (or a lot) of upgrading to your closet space:

    a.  How about a new coat of paint?

    b.  Change out old rods with new chrome or satin nickel ones;

    c.  Change out old hangers to a better quality brand (say white plastic to black or nickel hangers);

    d.  Add shelving, drawers and/or closet organizers;

    e.  Add a pull-out valet (my favorite accessory) and bag, belt, tie racks to open wall areas;

    f.  If possible add an island (this can be a piece of furniture) and/or a rug;

    g.  Add a beautiful mirror;

    h.  Hang your jewelry on beautiful hooks if you have unused wall space.

Think of your closet as any other room in the house and one that you want to be special. When my closet is both tidy and beautiful it truly creates the perfect start to my day.

Farmhouse Revival

October 2014 016 copy.jpg

This is a "coming soon" story, the story of what I am calling a farmhouse revival. A project that I have been working on since October 2014. It is a story of a very large renovation of a house set on a spectacular 20 acres on the east side of Santa Rosa. Below is an image of what it looked like before...and with the help of many it now looks like the photos above.



We are currently in the process of dressing the inside with furnishings, window coverings, art and accessories. We should be completed sometime in 2017, and I will post a project story along with the after photos. A spectacular project and one that I am thankful to have had the opportunity to participate in!

The Basics of Monograms

Images from Cottage Colony

Images from Cottage Colony

There is a basic etiquette to monograms which I will be touching on today. Monograms truly make nice things nicer, they elevate and add a little extra and also add a layer of personalization and comfort. It can be confusing about how and when to use. The basic guidelines are as follows:

·      Single-initial monograms typically use the last name initial.

·      Two-initial monograms usually combine the first and last initials of one person.

·      Three-initial monograms for the single person is typically first, last, middle with the last name initial larger than first and middle. If all the letters are the same size then usually it is laid out with first, middle and then last initial.

·      Three-initial monograms for the married couple include several options. The most obvious choice is a joint monogram including the initials of both people with the more traditional approach to groom's initial first, married last initial and then bride's initial. The bride's initial first is a more modern approach, that has a more casual feel.

I think adding monograms to home design is a lovely layer and adds charm and personalization. Wonderful to use in areas such as bed and bath linens and pillows, in private and public spaces. It adds that personal touch, and in my opinion, stands the test of time. 

A Look Back

The images above are all pieces of my father’s art and they represent the 1960’s, when I was born, 1970’s, when my sister was born and 2011, the year in which my father passed away

The images above are all pieces of my father’s art and they represent the 1960’s, when I was born, 1970’s, when my sister was born and 2011, the year in which my father passed away

It will be five years since my father passed this winter. The deep, overwhelming sadness doesn’t come in waves anymore. It is softer, gentler and quiet. It washes over me with sweet memories of what he taught me and the knowledge that our bond was deep and true. He was a big, gentle giant. He built and painted with his hands and because of his life path as a painter he brought me along with him on that journey to a special place called Inverness.

Inverness made me the person and designer that I am today. The small, coastal enclave was filled with East Coast escapees and reclusive artists, it was steeped in an eclectic mix of tradition and classic lines and wild, surreal art, imagination and culture. It was a special, magical place and growing up there in the late 60’s and 70’s, it was a special time.  It was, in retrospect, an amazing place to grow up and it left a design impression on me that I recognize today. It is my hand, and that is a classic, traditional look that coincides with natural materials and simple lines. It has a quiet elegance and feels warm, comfortable and good. It’s me…

Beauty and the Bar Cart

Bar carts shown are Serena & Lily Parisian ($995), Restoration Hardware 1950's Milo ($895), Williams-Sonoma Chippendale ($699), Crate & Barrel Libations ($599) and Restoration Hardware 1930's Industrial Steel

Bar carts shown are Serena & Lily Parisian ($995), Restoration Hardware 1950's Milo ($895), Williams-Sonoma Chippendale ($699), Crate & Barrel Libations ($599) and Restoration Hardware 1930's Industrial Steel

Oh, the bar cart...I am a fan of the bar cart. It speaks to my aesthetic of classic, traditional with a hint of vintage nostalgia. I am using them in both residential and commercial applications in recent projects. They multi-task beautifully as serving stations for entertainment purposes and furniture or display spots when not. 

I am thinking about using Restoration Hardware's Milo for a commercial application to be used for drink service in a conference room while also acting as furniture and a display layer to add interest and some sparkle in an otherwise work-horse of a space.

I love the idea of using in a master bedroom as side tables, either a matching pair or using two, unique designs for a more eclectic aesthetic. Or, using in a bathroom for toiletries or jewelry in a dressing room. I think that the bar cart is a highly under-rated piece of furniture and my goal is to use it in interesting ways this year in my interiors.  Cheers!


Art I Love

Artists: Brian McCloud, Sherrie Franssen (Dolby Chadwick Gallery), Manok Cohan (Barndiva), Alison Haley Paul (Aerena Galleries), Sargam Griffin and Anastasia Faiella (Aerena Galleries)

Artists: Brian McCloud, Sherrie Franssen (Dolby Chadwick Gallery), Manok Cohan (Barndiva), Alison Haley Paul (Aerena Galleries), Sargam Griffin and Anastasia Faiella (Aerena Galleries)

I love art, real art, good art. I guess being raised in a coastal Marin town filled with artists created the art lover that I am today. It was a truly wonderful life-school to hone ones eye for art. And, I think that with art the more you see and look at, the better skilled you are to appreciate good art in a variety of mediums.

I have been working on creating a collection of galleries and local artists that I love and want to use in my design projects. It is a labor of love, exhilarating, time consuming and a whole lot of candy for both the eyes and the soul! Above, I've included some of my favorite artists that are piquing my interest right now.

I tend to be drawn to texture, black and white, impact, color. I like to use art that has impact whether it is in the boldness of the form or the color. I like art to be large in terms of scale. To take up space in some way and create an impression. That impression can be loud or it can be soft and quiet but it needs to be heard in some way and create a feeling. God, I love good art!

Top Kitchen Trends for 2016

The trend for kitchens in 2016 are for kitchens that work hard as well as delivering beauty and comfort. Fussy is long gone and in its place is clean, pared-down and clutter-free. I say, it's about time! The focus is on function, easy entertaining and comfortable gathering spaces. Here are some top trends that Traditional Home sees shaping today's kitchens.

1. Clean Lines and Clutter Free: Streamlined door styles like Shaker and flat-faced euro. Mixing and combining different cabinet styles and colors. Painted and stained-wood and rustic woods that highlight the natural grain and imperfections.

2. Flexibility of today's refrigeration: Refrigerators are available as drawers, narrow columns, French door and multi-door options. They can be tucked away, hidden behind panels or installed in separate applications. With more of us entertaining at home, wine refrigerators and icemakers have continued to be popular additions to the traditional kitchen.

3. Elegant and multi-type lighting: Glamour is heading into the kitchen with lighting acting as the jewelry of the design. Large-scale chandeliers, lanterns and industrial/vintage-inspired fixtures are a go-to for lighting kitchens, dining areas and islands.

4. Low to No-Care Maintenance for Counter Surfaces: For those that do not want the "patina" of natural stone, the man-made products have improved so much that they mimic natural stone so well, one can get the best of both worlds, beauty and easy maintenance. Some of my favorites are Caesarstone Calacatta Nuvo, Frosty Carrina and London Grey.


A Touch of Black


I believe a touch of black should be included in all design in some way. It is grounding, classic and dramatic. And depending on your bravery or comfort level it can be used in small ways or in a large, striking way.

One of the elements that I have been playing more with is adding drama but adding it in a way that is still somewhat quiet. That can be done with over scaled lighting, dark colors, a larger piece of furniture to name a few ways. An excellent example of this is an over-scaled bed, like the one shown in the top right image. It's lines are classic but it's scale is not standard and on top of that it is painted a matte black. It adds a punch against a backdrop of white, linen and spring green accents. I added the lamps with gold bases and black shades with a Greek key motif. I love the contrast of the bright with the black. It speaks to my design sense and still falls into the category of traditional and classic.

Don't be scared to use black, use it on a wall, use it on furniture or use it in your accessories or soft goods. When done well, it lends an air of sophistication and can elevate a space.