Interior designer Tamara Marie creates environments in people’s homes that invoke positive emotions.
By Blake Carter
When people walk into a swanky boutique hotel, the decor brings out a cool and hip vibe. It feels good to be in those spaces. That is what interior designer Tamara Marie brings to people’s homes. Marie honed her design skills while working at local hotels, such as the SLS Hotel and the Roosevelt Hotel.
“Working in the hotel environment around creative people influenced some of the styles that I do in people’s homes,” Marie said. “When you walk into those boutique hotels, they want you to feel something. What type of emotion can they invoke from you? If you’re sitting in a lounge chair having a cocktail, is it a suede chair? How are the arms when you sit? That’s how detailed those things are talked through when designing an environment like that. So when I’m designing someone’s home, that’s why I ask a lot of questions where I want to invoke an emotion from a past experience.”
Marie designs living rooms, dining rooms, bed rooms, kitchens, bathrooms, and ADUs.
“We do everything from A to Z,” she said.
Marie begins a project by finding out what the clients’ desires are, and what brings a positive emotion out of them.
“The discovery call starts off with asking the reason why they want to do the renovations,” she said. “It can be anywhere from, ‘I hate my kitchen’ to ‘there are drawers that don’t work in my bedroom.’ As we go through the series of questions and we find out what they really want, then we find out what they really need.”
Hiring an interior designer opposed to going directly to a general contractor can greatly enhance the quality of the project.
“Often people watch the HGTV shows, and the glamor of it all, but behind the scenes there’s a lot of work involved with putting together a project,” Marie said. “There’s a difference between hiring a designer verses hiring a contractor. They are vastly different. Contractors are exactly what they are. They will put together items that you purchase. If you’re doing a bathroom project and you reach out to a contractor, they may say, ‘that tile looks great or you should go do that.’ I’ll come in and ask a lot of questions. Like, ‘When you travel and you stay at your favorite hotel, what are the things that you love?’ So I want to elevate that experience. Anybody can put in some tile or a bath tub. But I want to elevate your experience for when you go into your bathroom. I want you to feel like you’re going into a spa.”
An interior designer can also help clients get the high-quality materials that will give the feeling of luxury, and give the client the most bang for their buck at the same time.
The reactions that Marie has received from her clients are extremely positive.
“They were very excited,” she said. “One of the things that I love is the element of delight and surprise when the client sees pieces come together. Seeing a big smile on their face and loving it, and even months later hearing that she still loves her kitchen and her family is so happy. As a designer the ultimate goal is that you want your client to feel that they’re really happy with the results.”
Maria works throughout Los Angeles, and she said that about 70 percent of her clients are in Black communities of Baldwin Hills, Leimert Park, View Park-Windsor Hills, Ladera Heights, and Inglewood. Many of her clients appreciate her because they had a difficult time finding a Black interior designer.
“Trying to find a Black designer is very difficult for homeowners who want to work with a Black designer,” she said. “I ask, ‘How did you find me, how did you hear about us?’ In this business as far as being an African-American woman and working in this community it’s important for people to be able to find me.”
Many people find Marie on social media sites such as Nextdoor and through Google searches. She partners with Black vendors who also work in similar neighborhoods. She works with Black contractors, plumbers, and she has worked with Brent Green of Greenart Landscape Design. Green is a Black landscaper who has designed many local front and back yards. Marie was also a vendor at the Inspired Garden Artistry Spring Garden Tour, which features homes in View Park-Windsor Hills, Baldwin Hills, and Ladera Heights.
“Building those partnerships and collaborations help us ensure that we’re helping each other and that the Black dollar is staying in the community,” Marie said. “We’re very intentional about that. That makes a very big difference. When I walk into someone’s home, at first they see my face and they’re happy that they found me, and then they ask who I work with. I’m proud to say that I have African-American contractors and an African-American landscaper. I have someone who can do your painting. They’re African American. I have people that do sandblasting. I have a list of people after doing this for a long period of time that I can refer them to.”
Being able to work in her own community is very satisfying for Marie.
“I’m really proud of that,” she said. “It’s really important to me for people in our community to have access to design, and to be able to work with people who they want to work with. In this industry, there are not a lot of Black designers. Black people, just as much as anybody else, love to be in beautiful spaces, and they want to have luxury as well. They shouldn’t feel excluded from that.”
For more information about Tamara Marie Designs, visit www.tamaramariedesigns.com and follow them on social media.