Bargain Mansions Host Shares Her Home
Tamara Day is the host of DIY Network’s “Bargain Mansions.” As a Kansas City native, Tamara specializes in restoring large, neglected homes with small price tags that even experienced renovators shy away from. Tamara sees these old mansions as beautiful homes that just need a little extra love. Buying them for a fraction of what they’re worth, Tamara and her crew bring these mansions back to life, integrating modern design, function, and style for today’s families. Johnson County Lifestyle talked with Tamara to get a behind the scenes look at what it’s like being a local on national television in the world of home renovation and interior design.
Can you tell me about your background?
I grew up on a farm and did all kinds of work around the house, and my husband grew up with rental properties. When we bought our first house, it was a foreclosure, so that was our first renovation project together. From there, we started buying and flipping rental properties. In 2008, we bought our current home that was in need of a ton of work. We started the project when the housing crash happened, so I took on the general contracting role, and whatever I could physically do, I did myself. To help furnish the house, I started going to estate sales to find cool pieces to refurbish. From there, it kind of became my hobby, and I started having open houses where people could walk through my house and buy any of my pieces. This exposed a lot of people to my style, and I started getting requests about helping with personal renovations. It started to grow organically from there. It was a combination of having a natural talent and being in the right place at the right time. I have a communications degree in speech writing, so no degree or formal training. I just really love design.
How were you chosen to host your own show?
I would hold Growing Days open houses at home twice a year to sell décor, and so I started a Facebook page. My brother was approached by someone that does casting locally and was asked if he wanted to do commercials. It wasn’t a fit, but he told them to check out my Facebook page. They asked to set up a meeting and I thought no way, no one is casting TV shows in Kansas City! I said I was too busy but was finally talked into meeting Matt. I didn’t think much about it until a couple weeks later he calls and says I’d be a great fit for a show. One thing led to another, and here we are! That was four years ago. I didn’t go out looking for it but what is meant to be is meant to be.
How would you describe “Bargain Mansions?
It’s a hybrid of shows in that I do a lot of the work myself and with my dad. Shows are either construction-based or design-based. Most aren’t with the host being both the contractor and the designer, but I’m doing both because it’s my passion. Marrying those two things is what makes our show unique.
Do you sell your furnishings with the homes?
Yes. We have a big open house and showcase one of the homes in the season and have all the stock right there to sell. It’s a nod back to what I used to do in my own home.
Do you have any designers that inspire you?
I’m inspired by Kelly Wersler, Studio McGee, Sara Noble, Emily Henderson, Barbara Cosgrove, Mark Sudderman and Kerri Frazier.
What’s your favorite room in your home?
My living room. It’s true to me in that it’s laid-back but has several touches of luxe that make it very warm and cozy. It’s family-friendly with lots of texture and layers. With four kids, we can’t have anything too precious, but I manage to keep it all beautiful in spite of all the action this room gets.
Is there anything you haven’t shared before?
’ve never really talked in detail about what it’s like filming. I was insanely nervous the first time they brought cameras in and am still amazed anybody thought I could do this. I was so out of my comfort zone. It’s been a testament to Matt Antrim, my executive producer, and how he makes everyone on set comfortable. He’s hysterical and a joy to work with always. I’d love to give credit to the whole production crew. Nobody sees how hard they work and how they care so much about it being just right. It’s been eye-opening for me, being a stay-at-home mom five years ago and walking into this working life slowly and steadily. Growing and having all these colleagues in an industry I’ve never been a part of has been amazing. It has widened my world for the better.
Watch the first season of “Bargain Mansions” on the DIY Network. See her latest projects on Facebook and Instagram at Growing_Days and at GrowingDays.com.