Tamara Day on How ‘Bargain Mansions’ Dug Her Family out of the 2008 Crash

We recently spoke to Tamara Day of Bargain Mansions about how she ended up renovating old homes for a living. As it turns out, she’s had an eye for design for as long as she can remember.

“I think I’ve always loved design. As a kid, my grandma and I always rearranged her living room and I’d help her hang pictures and things like that,” she told Showbiz Cheat Sheet.

Additionally, as Day fans surely know, she grew up working on a farm with her father who “built every house we’d ever lived in.” Being around construction felt like home to Day.

As a young adult, every time she moved into a new apartment, Day’s favorite part was redecorating. Like, completely redecorating.

“I moved from apartment to apartment just like everybody else and each time I’d paint the walls and re-do my bedspreads and decorating the whole space and thrifting. So I think I just always had a natural inclination to it,” she said.

Day’s husband, Bill Day, has a background in “rehabbing houses and rental properties.” So when the two got together it was a match made in design heaven.

The first house they bought was such a fixer-upper, Day says “we couldn’t walk around barefoot” for fear of getting splinters or stepping on a nail–”flip-flops for every room.”

“It was in really rough shape. And we lived in it and did all the work and then we just kept doing that for our own houses,” she said.

Desperate times–’We had to figure it out’

“When the crash came” in 2008, Tamara and Bill had three babies. Bill was working “day and night” as a financial planner and Tamara was working on the fixer-upper (generous term) they’d just bought.

“We had to figure it out. So he just kept working and I figured it out. I think that’s when things changed from rental property mindset to design mindset because I was gonna live in it and it was gonna be our long-term home. So I started more on that path of design a little on my own and then here we are,” she said.

Eventually, people started to notice the work Tamara was doing. They wanted her to design rooms in their own homes.

“It turned into a business. People saw the house we’d built. I sold a lot of vintage furniture back in the day. People would come in and say, ‘Well, I love this table that I want to buy from you, but I want my kitchen to look like your kitchen. Can you help me?’ And I said, ‘Sure,’ but I had a baby on my hip, and that was fine. I’d just go and help people and it just grew from there,” she said.

Six years ago, Day met her executive producer and Bargain Mansions was born.

“He had seen all these big houses and the crisis. We were deep in real estate and we had our house, obviously, and a client project and he’s like, ‘These houses are so cheap and huge. What is going on here?’ And I said, ‘Well, yeah. We buy houses all the time. We do this.’”

Tamara Day on the new ‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’

Day recently appeared on an episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, where she helped design a room for the Barobi family. She describes the experience as “profound.”

“There’s unlimited possibilities when people are working for the good of others. There is no limit to what can be accomplished,” she said of her week working with the EMHE crew.

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition is on HGTV Sunday evenings at 9 PM.

The third season of Bargain Mansions is slated to premiere in spring 2020.