- Words by Angela Cowan Photography by Lia Crowe
Design has been a part of Tara Wallden’s life since her earliest years, from growing up surrounded by a creative and talented family—her father was an architect and her aunt and grandmother headed an interior design firm in Venezuela—to getting her degree in fashion design, working in visual merchandising and retail management, and opening Decora Tile 25 years ago.
Right from the start, she and her husband established it as a go-to destination for renovations and new builds alike.
Neither had been business owners before they opened Decora, and the learning curve and chaos of entrepreneurship was compounded by the rapid arrival of their first baby.
(“We started our business and then a year later had a child. My water broke at work,” Tara remembers with a laugh.)
But the busyness and variety suited her.
“I have to be creative. I have to have something visual, and I have to be moving,” she says. “I can’t just sit in a cubicle—been there, done that, and it’s not my thing.”
Over the years she’s been able to leverage that creativity in Decora’s showroom, bringing back ideas and products from trips abroad, and pulling from her fashion-design background to provide a unique perspective on home design.
“I’ve been to Spain to the factory there, and I’ve been to California to Sonoma Tilemakers,” she says. “And I bring it back to the shop and make it a really thought-provoking place.”
And now that her kids are grown and travel has opened up again, Tara’s looking forward to getting back out into the world, exploring and finding not only new tiles and products, but ideas and inspiration.
As general manager and design consultant, she gets to keep her hand in both sides of the business, enjoying the organizational work on the clerical side, while also flexing her creative muscles building the showrooms and working with clients.
“I love when I’ve never met them before and we’re both excited,” she says, describing that magic moment of working with a new client and experiencing the same flash of inspiration and connection. “It’s all about building relationships with our clients.”
The 7 Sins
Whose shoes would you like to walk in?
My two grandmothers’. I would like to pop back in time at different intervals in their lives and walk alongside them, to see their struggles and their joys in much harder times than mine. When my life gets challenging, I think back to what they may have gone through and it puts mine in perspective.
What is the food you could eat over and over again?
There is nothing like a fresh tomato or crunchy peas just picked and eaten as I’m gardening. Also, fresh artisan bread ready to sop up the remaining sauce of a good, creamy mushroom garlic pasta, under low lights with my husband, tucked into the corner of a great restaurant…in Italy.
You’re given $1 million that you have to spend selfishly. What would you spend it on?
Time away to explore the world and stay a while and rest in each place, absorbing the culture. While there I’d slowly cultivate a new wardrobe and furnishing while strolling local shops, bringing it all back to a simple, small, new farmhouse built from years of ideas. Hmm…might take more than a million, ha ha.
Narcissistic people who impose their views on you uninvited. Everyone is welcome to their opinions, but don’t put my life through hell to rant and push your views on me. We can live in peace with each other. I would like to adopt a greater good and more worldly view.
Where would you spend a long time doing nothing?
A tropical beach, a spa, and with clean, simple food. Several places to revisit and new ones to explore.
What is the one thing you’re secretly proud of?
It’s no secret: my family, Decora Tile—the business I helped build—my house and garden, and my need to look on the bright side.
What makes your heart beat faster?
The adrenaline of being one with a horse, galloping through a valley and up a hill to a breathtaking view. Being caught in the rain on a warm, sunny day walking along a beach. When life just chimes together and is in sync in that moment, and you feel pure happiness.
You can find Decora Tile here.