Tami Somich’s path to running her own design business wasn’t exactly a direct one. The Somich Design and Remodel owner’s former career as an elementary school teacher kept her far from the splashy world of interior design. But even as she transitioned from teaching to staying home with her growing family, she was unknowingly preparing for her then-future, now-current world of design: every time she and her husband followed his career to a new home in a different location, they would completely remodel their new home.
“This is something that my husband and I did quite a bit,” she remembers of her homes from New York City to Philadelphia, Chicago to the New York City-area suburb of Darien, Connecticut. “We would buy our next house, we would gut it — half of it while we were living in it — and we just loved doing that together,” says Somich. Their moves ultimately brought them to San Diego, where the pattern of moving, gutting, and renovating continued and, she says, “because I was so passionate about it, a lot of my friends asked, ‘Why don’t you just start your own business?’ And I went for it. A little crazy after not working for 15 years, [but] I started my own interior decorating/design and remodeling business, and I haven’t looked back.”
What makes her success all the more inspiring is not just the pace at which she’s taken her business from an idea encouraged by her friends to a thriving firm, but its timing: Somich Design and Remodel only took shape after the devastating loss of Somich’s husband, Nicholas, two years ago, after a long battle with melanoma. It was her journey of grieving and adjusting to her new life that opened new doors, both figuratively and literally. Wanting to downsize with her two children, Somich found a home in Fairbanks Ranch and, true to form, set to customizing it for herself and her kids. “I spent a very long time finding the perfect house for us,” she says. “I had to find a perfect layout and know that I could do whatever I wanted to it. I raised the ceiling, I took walls out, and it was just the bones of the house that I really needed.” After her extensive, custom renovations, she admits this one might be a keeper, at least for a while. “I love this house. We made this house perfect,” she says, but stops short of proclaiming it as her “forever” home. “That’s the biggest part of life, to understand that things change, and we’re probably not going to be in this house forever, but we can make another place home to us also.”
Her work on this and her previous home transformations prompted the encouragement from friends to take her talent to a professional level, and she dove in, growing her business through friends and word of mouth. One of her first projects was staging a designer showcase home for sale in La Jolla. “It was a really beautiful story of how we made this house that was new construction and just felt very empty feel like something that someone has lived in for a year or two,” she beams. The project was also the genesis of Somich incorporating efforts to give back into her work: She chose a different charity to contribute to for every room that she completed, all relating somehow to her family, including melanoma research in honor of her husband, Camp Kesem, a camp for children whose parents have had a cancer diagnosis which both her kids attend, Dancers Against Cancer as a nod to her daughter, herself a dancer, Dress for Success, and Miracle League, a local baseball league for children with special needs where her son has volunteered for several years.
The success of that early project bolstered her confidence and led to more work, including an unexpected foray into occasional commercial projects. “I didn’t really see myself as a decorator or remodeler for a commercial space, but it’s really different and fun. You kind of get to think out of your box,” she says. Now, less than two years since she launched, her portfolio is a testament to the spectrum of her talent as well as her resilience. “I’ve staged homes for realtors, I’ve sold all of the furniture in the home, I’ve done a commercial space, orthodontists’ offices, full remodels for clients, and I’ve done just one room at a time, so I’ve kind of done a little bit of everything, and it gave me purpose in life,” she says. “I think losing my husband, having kids, not working for 15 years, I wasn’t really sure where my future would go, and it has been so incredible for me and my children.”
Though Somich has proven she can put her talent to work in any space and at any budget — most of her projects are upscale homes in Fairbanks, Rancho Santa Fe, and the surrounding area, though she says she has also done single rooms on limited budgets, even bringing in pieces from Amazon and Target — she says it’s the designing that is her favorite element of the work. “I will still do the full gut remodels, but I prefer to do more of the decorating, helping pick out the tile and kitchen appliances and doing the cabinets,” she says. “I’m pretty much open to anything when it comes to design and decorating, [but I] love to help people with their kitchens and bathrooms. In my house, every bathroom is so different. My children’s bathrooms [reflect] what they’re into, and what they love and their style, and my bathroom is incredibly traditional. I love to be able to mix metals and materials and layer items. That’s definitely my passion.”
One thing that is consistent in every project no matter the style of any space she designs is also something that few people, if any, may ever see. At the celebration of life for her husband, she and her kids released butterflies in his honor. “So, I decided in each project to hide a butterfly sticker,” she says. “My daughter usually does it with me, and we find a place where we can hide it — under a piece of furniture or inside a closet, or in a kitchen cabinet that we decorated or designed — so we are bringing my husband with us on all projects because I know it’s something he would want to do with me if he could.”
This year presents continued growth for Somich Design and Remodel as a brick-and-mortar location in Solana Beach is readied for a Spring 2022 open. Located on Lomas Santa Fe Drive, the space will feature both a design studio as well as retail, offering furniture, rugs, and smaller décor items. For Somich, it’s the next phase of what began as a leap and has evolved into a successful, full-scale career. “I don’t even know how it all happened and why I decided to do this necessarily, but it just felt right,” she reflects. “It felt like it was a risk I was willing to take and I’m so glad I took it.” somichdesignremodel.com