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Interior designer Tamara Kaye-Honey is an icon in the design world. Recently named one of Traditional Home's 10 NewTrad Designers, her work is popping up all over publications like Rue, Canadian House and Home, House Beautiful, and California Home and Design. I chatted with Tamara, owner of Pasadena's House of Honey, about her signature style, her design icons, and her love for collecting art.
LAMPS PLUS: Your signature style has been coined “The New Vintage” – an artful mix of old and new. What is your favorite design style?
TAMARA KAYE-HONEY: I think a mix of styles makes for a personal and soulful space. I like to reinvent vintage pieces with pops of color and patterns to help create an original interior. My home has become a sort of testing lab for new ideas and concepts. Art and accessories are constantly revolving; I tell my family not to get too attached to any one piece. I do though of course have many things that have such a personal meaning that they will never end up with a client or at the shop.
LAMPS PLUS: How is your own home decorated?
TAMARA KAYE-HONEY: The furnishings in my home are a mix of vintage modern from when we lived in NYC, some new contemporary pieces like the Droog milkbottle chandelier in the kitchen, antiques purchased at numerous auctions and estate sales, as well as some vintage treasures found on many a Palm Springs outings (like dining room chairs). Most pieces I reinvent with new fabrics/a few coats of paint or new hardware.
It's so fun to give an old piece a fresh look, a new start! I have an obsession with vintage Murano, Venini and Vistosi glass lighting and have spent countless hours online trying to deal with Italian dealers working prices and shipping. It is always a gamble when a box shows up at our doorstep from Italy as we never know if the glass will be intact or shattered, which has happened more than a few times. I have been collecting vintage big eye Margaret Keane inspired portraits for years and my daughter's room reflects this passion now.
LAMPS PLUS: What is your favorite thing at home that you didn't design?
TAMARA KAYE-HONEY: The breakfast table in the kitchen is a vintage Herman Miller conference table. I love all the scratches and stains, they are sort of like wrinkles on a face - it just reflects a well lived life.
LAMPS PLUS: What designers do you most admire?
TAMARA KAYE-HONEY: Oh so many. John Dickinson for his simplicity and humorous designs. Dorothy Draper for boldness and bravery with color. Davis Hicks for his fierce use of pattern. Christian Liager for his restraint and sophistication. Piero Fornasetti for his originality and wit. Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne for such surreal and beautiful creations. I could go on...
LAMPS PLUS: Although your designs are influenced by the past, you have a knack for giving them a modern edge and skillfully incorporating current trends. What do you see as the next design trend?
TAMARA KAYE-HONEY: I think any current design trend come from recreating and reinterpreting the past. I also think design trends are being influenced by the resurgence of handmade designs. We are in a time where the craft is becoming increasingly important. I think this trend for sustainable, local, handmade will continue for a while. It’s a reflection of our socioeconomic situation which also affects trends. You can still create luxury with simplicity, it just takes more thought!
LAMPS PLUS: What is one “trick of the trade” that you implement in your designs?
TAMARA KAYE-HONEY: Art is crucial to all my designs. Be it a bathroom or kitchen, I think both vintage and contemporary art helps create a timeless and unique space. I think everyone should start an art collection, no matter the budget or age. My son has started collecting vintage ship paintings from flea markets and thrift shops. They are inspiring and energizing and of course soulful.
LAMPS PLUS: What is the best design advice you ever received?
TAMARA KAYE-HONEY: Be persistent and take any opportunity you are given. And of course listen to your heart, only you know what is right.
LAMPS PLUS: In your home decor shop and design studio, House of Honey, you sell an eclectic mix of vintage and antique furniture, accessories, and decorative objects that you often re-invent to give them new life. When decorating, what do you suggest your clients splurge on?
TAMARA KAYE-HONEY: I think investing in key pieces is important. Be it a sofa, dining table or bed; a piece that will be with you indefinitely and can be passed on in your family. Accessories and decorative pieces can be changed up seasonally.
LAMPS PLUS: What is your favorite guilty pleasure that might surprise people?
TAMARA KAYE-HONEY: Taking staycations with my husband every few months at different boutique hotels in the LA area. It's great for our marriage and oh so fun exploring new hotel designs. We’re basically working our way through all the tablet hotels in the area. Next up: Ventana Inn and Spa in Big Sur.
LAMPS PLUS: What are you obsessed with right now?
TAMARA KAYE-HONEY: Anything unexpected makes me happy. There are loads of cutting edge, old and new designs that I’m constantly learning about. Any furniture that is hoofed, tied or has some sort feet, fascinates me. Meret Oppenheim's Table with Bird's Feet (1939) is my favorite and I am over the moon to have recently acquired one for my personal collection.
LAMPS PLUS: How important is lighting to your design?
TAMARA KAYE-HONEY: Lighting is the most important element. I often start a room with a beautiful chandelier or pendant light. I pride myself of great lighting design. There are no rules about scale with lighting, in my eyes. An oversized chandelier in a small space is a welcomed surprise.
LAMPS PLUS: What are your favorite lights from Lamps Plus?
TAMARA KAYE-HONEY: I often use pieces from the Jonathan Adler Parker Collection in brass. They are well priced, playful and timeless. I also love to use the Robert Abbey Anemone Ceiling Light in a hallway; so fun! For built-ins and bookcases, the Robert Abbey Ant Bee Plug-In Swing Arm Wall Lamp is a winner.
Thanks Tamara! To view more of Tamara's work, please check out her website, House of Honey. And if you're local to the Los Angeles area, stop by her gorgeous shop and say hello!
Image credits: House of Honey