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/.

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