Founded by Tamara Honey, House of Honey offers both residential and commercial interior design services. It started out as a retail showroom in which she showcased a variety of items, including mid-century, 1960s and 1970s furniture. Originally from Canada, Honey moved to California from New York, where she studied design and work in fashion.
“South Pasadena in particular just felt really comfortable and down-to-earth with that small-town feel,” she said. “Even though we do high-end design, we thought it was the perfect place for us to be while raising families. When we first opened, everyone assumed we should be on the West Side with all of the other design show rooms, but we wanted to set ourselves apart. There’s great design in this part of town and we have many local clients. We do a mix of commercial and residential design. We don’t have a particular style or type of project that we love—all that matters is if it’s a good fit.”
As the business grew and Honey’s team expanded, she eventually hired Traci Fleming in 2013 as company president.
“I actually designed Traci’s house, so she got to know my taste and all that,” said Honey. “As the company expanded, we eventually reached a point where she came on to help grow the brand and take us to a different level, which included taking on really large scale projects. We started to branch off and got into restaurant design as well.”
House of Honey’s long list of design projects includes Otium restaurant in Downtown Los Angeles, TeaMorrow and Ecco Hair Studio in South Pasadena, numerous hotels in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, as well as the former Crossings restaurant.
“Crossings was the domino that got us more commercial projects,” Fleming pointed out. “Then about five years ago, we opened a second location in Montecito to expand our business. It has a showroom and retail boutique where we have a lovely collection of largely new but also vintage home accessories and furniture. We have a full-time designer in that location and Tamara also has a home up there, so we’re able to go back and forth to work on various projects.”
House of Honey does everything from flooring and wallpaper to lighting and furniture, handling full-scale home renovation, new construction and design upgrades. They primarily work on entire homes, meaning that every room gets touched, but for returning customers and locals they will still perform smaller projects as well. While they are not licensed architects, the House of Honey team partners with experts and they do some interior architecture, designing features such as stairs, lobbies, pool decks and corridors for bigger commercial projects.
“If you live in South Pasadena, you get a different level of service from us than you might if you live somewhere else,” explained Fleming. “Often people in the area who have been clients in the past will come back to us for another room in their home — we’ll always do that for old friends and family. We’ll take on smaller projects if someone is around the corner, because Craftsman homes in the area tend to need a lot of updates and upgrades. Even though we’re not technically a retail store, we’re open to the public for when people want to come in, enjoy the space and chat with us.”
The front of the business still maintains a small retail section so that people can pop in to satisfy their shopping urges and shop for various items, especially around the holidays. When asked about current trends, Fleming and Honey both said that terrazzo, which features a combination of marble, quartz, granite or glass set into floor tiles, walls and other design features, has made a comeback. Other popular design trends are minimalism layered with comfort, as well as chicly styled outdoor spaces for entertaining.
“With our proximity to Downtown [Los Angeles], we’ve been fortunate enough to work with a lot of lighting and furniture designers on both commercial and residential projects,” said Honey. “It’s fun for us to do a mix of different projects so that it’s not the same thing every day. It allows us to be present and see what’s out there. When working with any material, we try to pick things that are sustainable and not too on-trend. We like creating one-of-a-kind pieces and coming up with things that not everyone will have in their homes — something relevant and fresh that you’re still going to appreciate in 20 years.”
House of Honey loves partnering with local artisans and recently collaborated with Judson Studios nearby. They also work with artists in Downtown Los Angeles to create special custom pieces for clients. When it comes to inspiration for various projects, Honey said that her creativity is amplified when she travels, and she enjoys checking out nearby restaurants and businesses, as well as design fairs. She also references magazines, the Internet, Instagram and vintage books—looking at both the past and the present to create the perfect marriage between the two.
“We take pride in not taking ourselves too seriously and having fun,” Honey pointed out. “We believe that spaces are to be lived in and enjoyed. Most of us have kids and pets, so we’re focused on designing but not over-designing. It’s about creating warm and inviting spaces that have a point of view but aren’t intimidating. I think people on both the commercial and residential side have really responded to that.”
“We have a great team who has become our family,” added Fleming. “We are in a beautiful location and we’re doing cool work that people respond to positively. Not many people can say that about their jobs.”
House of Honey is located at 1518 Mission St. in South Pasadena. It is open Monday – Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call (626) 441-2454 or visit www.houseofhoney.com.
House of Honey Business Spotlight appeared in the print edition of the South Pasadena Review on 10.4.19. Support Local Business.