Taniya Nayak, a Boston-based interior designer, can be seen showing off her knowledge of tapestries and vintage tables on programs like HGTV’s House Hunters on Vacation and Food Network’s Restaurant: Impossible. When she isn’t in front of the camera, she’s making sure things are running smoothly with her interior design firm, Taniya Nayak Design. The company has left its stylish mark on a number of places around the Hub, including Petit Robert Central, 88 Wharf, Julep Bar and Abby Lane. Recently, she talked with us about her process for designing a new eatery and told us about some of her upcoming projects.
How do you go about figuring out what a restaurant should look and feel like?
It is important to me that the design fits the brand and client but also needs to have a wide appeal for the various clientele. Luckily, my experiences in designing for a television audience have prepped me greatly for what I do in my design firm. The key is to find a starting point. Finding something that is important to the owners and management of the place and building from there. The next step is to understand the location and the clientele. Who are we designing for? Why are we renovating? [You must] understand the purpose of the changes. What are the priorities we need to focus on?
You’ve designed a lot of Boston restaurants. Is there one you’re most proud of?
I am proud of them all, but one of my favorites is Abby Lane in the Theater District across from the Wang Theater in Boston. We also just completed a restaurant called Bostonia Public House in the Financial District. Our most current project in Boston is one that I am extremely proud of — Ruth’s Chris Steak House. This location is part of a historical landmark right on the Freedom Trail located directly inside the Old City Hall. Honoring the integrity and history of the building while giving it a more current and fresh feel has been a great challenge and one that we are excited to watch unfold. The complete renovations should be done by the end of January.
How did you approach the redesign?
The approach with the design of the Boston Ruth’s Chris Steak House was to enhance the existing charm and beauty of this historical location. We are not trying to reinvent the wheel or fit a square peg into a round hole. My goal was to refresh the space and give it new life while maintaining and preserving the charm that already exists.
Tell us a Boston restaurant you didn’t design, but wish you could claim as you own.
I must say, I love the designs at the Barcelona Wine Bar, both in Brookline and in the South End. Their innovative use of materials is right up my alley. They have a cinder block wall divider that is to die for!
As the host of House Hunters on Vacation, you get to go to some fantastic places. Do you get any time to enjoy the areas?
I had the opportunity to go to some incredible places and got to see vacation homes that some can only dream about. From castles in Scotland to ranches in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, every single location was not only amazing to visit but very inspiring from a design standpoint as well. I made a return visit to a gorgeous home on top of a cliff over looking the turquoise-blue waters in St. Thomas for my husband’s birthday.
Name one item you can’t travel without.
Water and my Uggs.
What’s up next for you?
We just signed on for another season of Restaurant: Impossible, making this our 13th season. I am also working as Ellen DeGeneres’ brand ambassador for her home decor line, ED on Air, for QVC.