My Science Of Design

by Tama Bell

Our new office which features artwork by my father. 

Our new office which features artwork by my father. 

I’ve had a little time to reflect on our recent move and wanted to share a post on what I call the “science of design.” I’ve been thinking a lot about why I do what I do, what comes easy to me, where my talents and gifts lie, and what is really important to me.

I’ve always loved the hunt: selecting items, picking new fabrics, changing paint colors and moving furniture into a hundred different scenarios. I can easily visualize and see what would work, fit or be better. I consider it a gift and one that was hard won. I think that our biggest gifts come from some of our biggest challenges and from places that were in the moment, painful. I understand that and I appreciate it now. For a long time, I didn’t.

As child, I remember wanting to create my own space, in the ways that I could with small items that I was able to pick up at garage sales and local fairs. 

As child, I remember wanting to create my own space, in the ways that I could with small items that I was able to pick up at garage sales and local fairs. 

My father was an artist and was very passionate about his craft.

My father was an artist and was very passionate about his craft.

Growing up, my childhood home was different than the norm in my small town. My family was also a little different. My father was an artist and was very passionate about his craft. He chose to work as a carpenter for half of the year to earn enough money to be able to paint the remaining 6 months. He was disciplined in that goal. We lived on Nature Conservancy land, owned by his painting mentor, in a small house built with his hands. In some ways it was incredibly beautiful and simple in how it was constructed but it was different, and as a child, different is difficult.

I remember wanting to create my own space, in the ways that I could with small items that I was able to pick up at garage sales and local fairs. Keeping it neat, clean, my bed made. There was order in that and some level of control over what I was able to control. Detail was very important, texture, color and what it meant in terms of what I saw at other homes that seemed more mainstream.

Around the start of high school, things became more challenging. I was moved out of the house into a small trailer. It was presented as a gift at Christmas and I hated it. Only a handful of friends were allowed to come over after that, 2 or 3 maybe. I felt ashamed and embarrassed and I felt like I didn’t fit in. It strongly affected who I am.

That period was hard and yet I still wouldn’t change it. I believe that it created one of my greatest gifts. It taught me how to look at space, how to understand and see what makes it better. And while it is important to me how things look on the surface, what might seem like fluff, I understand on a deeper level that it really is about how spaces makes us feel. That’s the “science of design” to me.

Another painting by my father.

Another painting by my father.

You know when you walk into a space and it feels bad or if you can walk in and release a deep breath and feel good, at peace. With our move this whole idea was brought again to my attention. I loved my old space and it worked for just me. But it had become crowded – maybe even a little cluttered – and it did not have good natural light.

When we got into the new office, with its large windows at both the front and back, and created our new space with furnishings and art, it was so much better than the old space. It was in some ways shocking. And it shouldn’t be shocking to me. I know this! But it was. The new shell had been created and curated with warm, light colors, strong art, and furniture with good bones. But it was more than that. The choices, layers and architecture behind created something that feels really good. Really good to work in, sit in, to just be in. It just really reminded me how important this job is and that we have the opportunity to make client’s lives better. I am profoundly thankful and proud of the work we do.

Tama Bell is an Interior Designer based in Sebastopol, California. We serve interior design clients in Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Windsor, Healdsburg and throughout Sonoma County and the greater Bay Area. Learn more about our range of interior design services at http://www.tamabell.com/design-services/.

Tama Bell Interior Design - Our New Office in Sebastopol

The Love List

Frankie Cameron Handbags Collection

Now that we are in our new space and settled in, we are beginning to work on a calendar of pop-up shows to host in our new showroom. We want to be able to invite vendors that offer product that we love and enable our clients to meet the artists, touch the product and see what we see in all its glory.  Be sure to add yourself to the mailing list so you never miss an event!

Frankie Cameron Designer Handbags


Our first event, on November 4th, features Frankie Thieriot Stutes and her Frankie Cameron hide bag line. Hide has been a favorite of mine for some time now. I have a small collection of hide bags and clutches that I covet and I often use hide in my home as well as in my clients’ homes in the form of rugs and upholstery. I appreciate that Frankie looks at each bag as a piece of art and takes the time to match the leather, hide, or fabric to create beautiful one-of-a-kind pieces that should be on everyone’s arm! I am so excited to have her be our first pop-up and cannot wait for you all to meet her and see her incredible work. Frankie took a few minutes to answer some of our questions about her brand and products!

Hope you enjoy the read and don’t forget to save the date!

Frankie Cameron Designer Handbags
Frankie Cameron Designer Handbags

We asked Frankie just how Frankie Cameron came about…

"Frankie Cameron came about after discovering a need for a functional and fashionable diaper bag after having my first child in 2015. Convinced that women shouldn’t have to waste money on a bag they wouldn’t be able to use after the baby was born, I set out to find a practical and stylish solution. A few diapers and bottle spills later, the idea of Frankie Cameron’s zip in zip out liners were born. After giving it more thought, I realized that some of my favorite handbags over the years had been thrown out because the interior had become trashed and soon realized that I wanted to create handbags for every stage of life. I set off to Leon, Mexico in search of a great material resource. I first wanted to find the most incredible leather and after a lot of research I felt this could be found in one of the leather capitals of the world, Leon, Mexico. Handcrafted from authentic cowhide and genuine leather, I strongly believe in limiting waste by using the entire hide. As a result, each bag is unique in color and texture, making every Frankie Cameron a one-of-a-kind piece."

Frankie Cameron Designer Handbags
Frankie Cameron Designer Handbags

"Frankie Cameron was created to be a brand and a product that people really love and use daily. My goal is to grow the collection as much as I can with my priority always being quality and attention to detail. Our newest collection, coming out later this season, includes a duffle bag with a washable liner as well as a leather backpack."

Frankie Cameron gives a portion of every sale to support an amazing non-profit, Project Night Night. They support homeless children and really make an incredible difference and I am really proud to give back through them.

Please join us on November 4th from 1-4 to meet Frankie and explore the collection!

My Design Revolution and a New Showroom Space

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In the Fall of 2016, after a year of business classes that took me back and forth to the East Coast, it became obvious that it was time to find a new location for Tama Bell Design. We have been slowly growing and adding team members with the addition of Lori Olson as Office Manager and my daughter, Lauren Bell coming on board as a Designer. And, while my first office space worked when it was just me, three hundred square feet does not work when there are three or four of us all in the office, at the same time.

So, the hunt began to find a larger space in downtown Sebastopol. Not an easy feat. But, after a bit of a hunt, I was lucky enough to find a space in a new construction project spearheaded by the Tombe family. I loved the floor to ceiling windows, high ceilings and the opportunity to have a bit of a say in the finishes. Here is a picture of the front of the building during construction.

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The original move in date was April first, but due to our rainy winter it was pushed back a number of months, and we were finally able to move in the last week of August.  It has been hard to be patient, but when left with little other choice one must conform. But here we are and we are in! We cannot wait to show you our new space and the vision behind what Tama Bell Design will be offering to our clients!

Here is the working floor plan. Our new space is 1130 square feet which gives us an opportunity to showcase product that we love and recommend to our clients moving forward. To that end, we have been hard at work curating our "go-to" list of trade sources to provide our design clients with some really beautiful, new product lines.  The goal has been to add soft and hard good vendors, including the classics, our tried and true, and unique and one of a kind pieces to our offerings. We want to provide our own version of wine country living and continue to create spaces that are classic, clean and quiet. Our motto is we make sophistication comfortable! 

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We also want to be able to offer our version of “pop-up” shows hosted in our space with invited vendors showing what they make and create. It is our opportunity to show you the things that we come across and truly love. Please stay tuned for upcoming events!

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Here are some photos of our new space as it was coming together.

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We hung pendants sourced on a trip to LA throughout the space. The concrete floors were cleaned up, sanded down and a glossy finish applied to keep the industrial look but add a layer of elegance and shine. The floors are the most beautiful color of charcoal and have the most perfect, imperfections! The contrast with the gloss, the bits of exposed aggregate and the overall, elevated, rustic look is just perfect for our new space.

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Next on our list was to add a large built-in cabinet that would act as a partition from the main working space and our back, storage area.  We chose to back the cabinet in ship lap to create the wall portion and to add some interest and texture to the large, open space.

And then it was just moving our collection of desks, cabinets, accessories, art, files and a pretty substantial library of tile, flooring, fabric, wallpaper and the like. It was a massive amount of stuff and more than I thought was possible to stuff into our tiny three hundred square foot original office. That took about a week and of course our move coincided with a heat wave with temperatures in the 110 range here in Sebastopol. Thank God for air conditioning. 

 

So, we did it. We moved in to this most beautiful, spacious,
light-filled space and we are ready for you to come and see it! 

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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

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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.

Before...

Before...

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)