Q&A with Interior Designer, Taniya Nayak

Earlier this year Oak Furnitureland selected the Room to Dream Foundation, an organization that creates healing environments for children and adolescents facing debilitating illnesses as its first U.S. charity partner.  As the foundation’s exclusive furniture partner we will be providing furniture for six mini extreme makeover projects. 

Photo credit: Jim Barbere

We were very fortunate that our first project was led by Taniya Nayak, one of the nation’s top interior designers.  We had the opportunity to sit down with Taniya in her studio after the build to talk about how she got involved with the Room to Dream Foundation and what inspires her.

How did you get involved with the Room to Dream Foundation?

I love this story. The first TV show I did was an ABC Family show called ‘Knock First.’ It was a television show where we designed rooms for teenagers. We would kick the parents out and tell a story about the kid through the design.  If the kid were a skateboarder, I would use skateboard decks to design shelves or a half pipe ramp to be the headboard. It was really fun. You could know almost everything about that kid by seeing how their room was designed.

Around the same time I was hungry to find a charitable organization that I felt connected to – I didn’t want to do something just to do it. I got invited to a Room to Dream Foundation event where designers showcased vignettes of kids’ bedrooms. Immediately I thought, “yes, this is it!”

I hunted down Stefan Nathanson, the Room to Dream Foundation’s president and just said, “I want to be a part of this!” So I got involved and they made me a board member. I’m so honored. Every single thing about this organization I just love with every fiber of my being.

I’ve always said that your space impacts your mood every day and it effects how you feel – and that’s what Room to Dream is about. I’ve been a big advocate of the fact that it doesn’t matter how much money you have. It doesn’t take a lot of money to organize things in a way that makes you feel good. You start your day off right and you end your day off right when you’re in the right space.

Charity work is a big part of what you do.  Is there anyone in your life path who inspired you or is it something that just came about?

My mom and dad have always been that way. We grew up very middle class, and even that’s a stretch. My mom always had a tin elephant and whenever we had extra money we would put it in the tin and we would find someone to give money too. My father is an architect and he’s always donated a lot of his time and energy as well.  Giving back has always been a part of my life.

How do you go from designing big restaurants to designing one child’s room?

The principles of it are the same.  When you design a restaurant you want it to connect with the owner. The only difference is with a restaurant you have to also connect with the clientele and the demographic of the area.

Photo credit: Jim Barbere

For Breslyn’s Room to Dream project, it was all Breslyn all the way.  But the principles of reading between the lines and understanding what would spark joy for her are the same that I would apply designing for a restaurant.

Are there people that inspire you?

Photo credit: Jim Barbere

It may sound cliché, but I’d say my dad. 

  • He’s an architect and I’ve always grown up around that world
  • He’s taken me to job sites since I was a little girl
  • He’s 81 and I still bring him on some projects that I do locally and I go to him for advice all the time

When I bring him on it’s such a blessing – he’s a wealth of knowledge.

To find out more about the first Room to Dream Foundation makeover, read on here.

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