Tamara Matthews-Stephenson is an NYC-based residential interior designer (who launched her own firm in 1999), writer and lifestyle expert. We know her for her blog, Nest by Tamara, and wanted to know more about her ahead of the DDB's Bloggers Lounge. Here's what we found out:
How long have you been blogging? What's your blogging schedule like?
I started Nest by Tamara in 2008. I post twice a week, and make a concerted effort to take most of my own photography and write original content. I report on interior design, home entertaining, tabletop design, cooking and all that encompasses “nesting”. I also write with a slightly philosophical bent about how to create a beautiful home curated over time, with an eye for good quality design while still making a home personal and showing my viewers ways to bring in your own unique flair. When I approach cooking and entertaining I attempt to give my readers sources, inspiration and ideas on how to entertain in a way that is rich and varied, but to approach it with a sense of ease and fun. I'm proud to say that I now have over 170,000 viewers.
What in your background prepared you for blogging?
I have a degree in English and a degree in interior design from Parsons, so blogging gives me the opportunity to bring these two skills together. Because I’m a busy one-woman design firm, I often write my blog posts and magazine editorials on Sundays and mid-week after work. I have learned to juggle lots of activities with running a design business, raising two children, writing a weekly column for a magazine, writing a blog and managing a busy social media presence. In addition, I organize a monthly culinary dinner group, and we get together to cook a meal usually focusing on a style of cuisine. We organize the menu ahead of time and each bring a dish to share. It’s been great fun to add this content to my blog and I photograph our food and table designs, as well as post our recipes with links to sources. In May, the German cabinetry maker Poggenpohl has invited us to host our French Country Dinner in their newly designed kitchen in their NYC showroom by celebrity chef Eric Ripert.
What do you love about the DDB?
I grew to love this building when I learned about the design industry by walking these floors many years ago. I started simply as a shopper, running from one showroom to the next to pick up samples for various designers I freelanced for (including Barbara Southerland Interior Design). It does take skill to shop for many other designers at one time, keeping all your schemes in different bags. There is no amount of design classes that can prepare one for the industry in a way that shopping the building can give. I learned over the years which showrooms have which styles, designs, prices and sources and this is invaluable experience for me. I love the fabrics at Holland & Sherry, especially their wools. I love the sheers at Holly Hunt, and the diversity of fabric at Brunschwig & Fils. Recently, Kravet has become my go-to for good priced quality fabrics from linens, solids and basics. I have recently been buying Duralee fabrics, and enjoy Kathryn Boyd’s collection of bright hues. When I have it in the budget I pick up Manuel Canovas fabrics for their richness in color and textures. For furniture, my clients like Holly Hunt, Mrs. McDougal (at Hinson), Ralph Lauren. For rugs, I usually head to Patterson, Flynn & Martin. For trims Houles; for wallpaper I am a big fan of the Hinson Madagascar cloths and the textured papers in Cowtan & Tout’s showroom. The wallpapers at Clarence House are divine. I am a big fan of the lighting at Vaughan.
Any all-time favorite designers?
Billy Baldwin- his color sense was ahead of his time. Albert Hadley for his sense of sophistication with an edited eye. Elsie de Wolfe (the grand dame). And today, I admire Bunny Williams' designs and I am always inspired by her shop, Treillage. And Jack Lenor Larsen's fabrics and gardens are amazing.
What do you read?
Elle Décor, House Beautiful, Architectural Digest, New Trad, Hamptons Cottages & Garden, and a plethora of other design blogs and online magazines weekly. I live for the Thursday Home section of the NY Times. I usually scroll through my google reader a couple of times a week to read my favorite blogs, including Lisa Porter Collection, Apartment Therapy, Design Milk, Design Sponge, My dog-eared pages, All the Best, Tilton Fenwick. And, finally, although I love to read fiction and historical fiction these days I have limited time so my bedside table has two books patiently waiting: Lone Wolf and The Shoemaker’s Wife.
What's your favorite recent discovery?
I just ordered somethings from Bungalow 5 – I really like the pricing for a budget client and was pleasantly surprised with the quality as well. I also just bought Zia Priven lighting and love their lights. I am always on the look out for good, quality workrooms and just found one upstate.
Tell us an interesting fact about you?
I am a city gal who lived in urban NYC for over twenty years until my family relocated to Vermont to live on a farm when I was a teenager. I know how to raise chickens, work with cows, ride a horse bareback and garden like nobody’s business….