Tamara Day Talks The New Season Of Bargain Mansions And More - Exclusive Interview

One of the most well-loved sub-genres of home improvement television is restoration; watching a once beautiful and historic dwelling get fully-restored to its former glory with a modern twist is incredibly satisfying and enjoyable. Well, this magic is what precisely what Tamara Day has been doing for years. The Kansas City native got her start updating and flipping historical furniture, and has built a legacy with her home restoration program "Bargain Mansions," now it its forth season on the Magnolia Network. 

Day works with her father, Ward Schraeder, to turn old, dilapidated mansions into abodes both gorgeous and contemporary, all while retaining the original historic charm these types of houses possess. The duo persevere together throughout all the trials and tribulations that come with this complex process, too, which can be numerous. In an exclusive interview with House Digest, Day talks about the newest season of "Bargain Mansions," including her filming process, her family, and the unique and exciting new aspects of her series.

Tamara Day reveals how she deals with stressful projects

Starting off, how important is being physically involved and hands-on in your projects to you?

Tamara Day: For me, it's huge because I love physically being part of it, and I can really see how a project comes together. An example would be my kitchen; we're renovating my kitchen right now. We're doing all new counters and backsplash and shelves and all this stuff. But we have a spot where the contractor couldn't level something out, and I'm able to add a perspective of how it could happen. Even though he's saying, "no, that's not going to happen. It's going to cause this and this," I'm like, not if you do this. So I really see the mechanics of how the project is going and I'm able to prevent mistakes later on way earlier, because I'm actually there.

Does it get overwhelming working on these massive, seemingly endless projects? Have there been times you've wanted to give up, or have? What keeps you motivated?

Well, I think I'm only human, so yes. We have 20 houses we're working on this year for "Bargain Mansions," and then doing my own kitchen and having four kids and a husband and a store. There's a lot of things happening all the time. And so there are always moments in construction where it feels like it's never going to end and we're never going to get through it. But at this point we've done it so many times. I know we will get through it — you just got to keep putting one foot in front of the other and do the best you can.

Tamara Day's advice for renovation and her favorite design trends

What advice do you have for people looking to fix up older items, whether an old piece of furniture or an entire mansion?

I love saving whatever I can in a house. The house we're in right now had the most beautiful iron railing, but the floors under it needed to be redone and repaired and saved. That was a huge priority. And just researching how you can save things, how you can repurpose things. There are so many things on YouTube and Instagram of people teaching that are so valuable. It really matters that you do it right. A lot of people might approach rehabbing something and destroy the actual character while in the process. So research it, learn what you're doing and start out small. Don't start out with a mansion and try to save everything, start out with a piece of furniture or something smaller scale.

What are some common misconceptions about flipping furniture and homes? Things you wish more people knew?

I think when I was rehabbing furniture, one of the things that I wish I would've thought more about was the value of my time and that I was having so much fun doing it. It was more about the fun of finding it, going thrifting, and painting it, and then really looking at how much time I had invested as a part of the asset. And I think that a lot of people, when they're trying to flip a house, trying to flip furniture, whatever it might be, they just look at the bottom dollar of what they've spent on it and [don't] calculate the time that they put towards it as also an asset.

You said that you're renovating your kitchen. While working on your kitchen and this season, what are some of your favorite recent design trends?

Simplicity. I am really loving kitchens that are more simple with less cabinetry. I've always loved open shelving, but just even less appliances — wherever possible, hiding the appliances. We've done one house this season where we've done a baking pantry. So we got the ovens out of the kitchen, into the pantry where it actually hides the heat. Like, you're at a party and you can have your appetizers in the oven, but you're not heating up the house with all the people in it. And it keeps the mess contained in the pantry. You've got everything you need in designated spots. And so designing with order and purpose, I think is one of the big trends that I see. Organize the world that we live in and keep that going when you're designing the kitchen, and take it a step further and be very intentional with how somebody's going to live and function in the house, not just make it beautiful.

The importance of family and authenticity

How important is authenticity when filming? Not just with you, but with your family, the process, the home, etc.?

It's very important ... I'm not a trained actress, so it's not something I can just do. It's really hard when we have to redo something weeks later or do voiceovers over something where the sound was bad. We've got to rerecord it and make it sound authentic because that's not really my background. It's about the houses and what we're doing, and they really capture that. And so it wouldn't be a good show if it was staged and faked. I think it shows through when I am pretending to like something if I do.

How important is involving family in your professional world? How does working with your dad change the process?

Well, my dad involved me in the process when I was growing up and it has paid off very well and comes in handy for my own kitchen renovation. My nephew was over the other day as an electrician's apprentice. And so I had him hang the new lights in the kitchen and just watched him do it, seeing my nephew learning. But my boys come over to the houses and help with a lot of projects. Usually yard work is their favorite or demo. They love the demo. And my daughter helps a lot with the design. And I think it's really valuable because design is so subjective. There is no right, and there is no wrong. It's just what someone likes, and seeing the process from start to finish for the kids, really, I think gives them that sense of pride. They can say "I helped mom when we were ripping that bathroom out," or "we were tearing that tree out." And then they come back and see a finished product and they have a sense of accomplishment, and they're learning life skills that will help them forever.

Fun stories from the new season of Bargain Mansions

Do you have any fun or interesting stories to share from shooting this newest season?

Ooh, goodness, let me think. We've got so many; we've had really interesting houses this season. One of the houses literally is a flat house, and you don't think much of a mansion being a flat house. It looked like a doctor's office, like a dentist's office when we started, glass walls everywhere. I don't know that I really even wanted to do this house at the beginning. I was like, "this is a lot, how are we going to take this and turn that office looking space into a home?" But at the end of the day, we went with a mid-century vibe and it turned out so fun — the light coming in, it was so beautiful. There was a lot of work on that one, but I think it turned out really well.

The house that I'm in right now is definitely one of my favorites because it was a Tudor-style home in a beautiful part of Kansas City. And we were able to really open up the nasty green and white kitchen and totally transform it into a really nice mixture of modern and traditional. The homeowners that we worked with were very, very modern leaning, but the house itself is very, very traditional. And so marrying those two looks has been super fun.

One favorite story: One of the houses, the husband heard a mouse in the kitchen. He saw a mouse, and he went in and tried to get the mouse out and broke one of the cabinets and pulled it out. And then the mouse ran to the next one and he pulled out the next one and his wife came home to a house with no kitchen that night. They brought me in because they lived with it for eight months, not knowing what to do or how to go about — they just were kind of stuck. They had a camp set up, like a sink and a stove and the fridge just on Costco shelves; they were living like that for months on end. And then we came in and really transformed the house.

What is something you hope fans take away from the new season? Something you're excited for them to see?

I'm really excited because in previous seasons I've owned the houses, I've renovated them and flipped them. And this season, I think there's a lot more personality and more interesting design because there's a homeowner we're designing for, instead of me designing whatever I like in a house, and however I want the house to look. There's a lot more of this interesting story to go with the design that I think makes it so much better. And I think it makes the houses more interesting just like this Tudor style house. I don't know that if I was doing it for me, that I would've done it super modern, but it turned out so beautiful and fantastic and exactly what they were looking for. The other thing that's really fun is we're doing my sister's house this season. And so there's a lot of fun family moments there that it's just turning out fantastic. And we've wanted to do our house for years, so it's finally happening and it's almost done.

Season 4 of "Bargain Mansions" airs each Thursday through December 22 at 9pm ET on the Magnolia Network.