From Fox Hall to your flat screen TV! Taniya Nayak can trace her interest in interior design to her days at UMass Lowell. While other freshmen carried microwaves and beanbag chairs into the dorm, Nayak recounts her must-haves, “a table I had painted with sunflowers and a matching window valance I’d sewn.”
At UMass Lowell, Nayak studied marketing and was active on the dance team. After graduating in 1997, the Weymouth native, who came to the U.S. from India as an infant, intended to become an architect, following in her father’s footsteps. But after enrolling at the Boston Architectural Center, her passion for design could not be ignored and she pursued those interests.
What a successful pursuit it’s been. After learning about auditions to host ‘Knock First,’ an ABC Family show targeted at hip, ambitious teens, Nayak decided to give it a whirl. “I had no idea what I was doing. I had never been on television, and hadn’t been involved in such large-scale design decisions, let alone on camera.” She did something right because she nailed the audition and was given the job. 
Her success didn’t end there. Next came HGTV’s “FreeStyle,” where she produced fresh, affordable designs using items people already had in their homes. Nayak’s creations are also featured on “Designed to Sell.” With a $2,000 budget and unlimited talent, she transforms homes before they’re put on the market. 
If you’ve been to Boston hotspots BarLola, Julep, McGreevey’s or Petit Robert Central, then you’ve observed her talent firsthand. “I was a bartender for 13 years, so I have a soft spot for restaurants,” she says. 
You may also recognize Nayak for her most recent role, re-designing the interiors of struggling restaurants on Food Network’s “Restaurant: Impossible.”
Nayak’s flourishing design career paved the way for Taniya Nayak Design LLC, where she creates “affordable and inspirational” spaces for clients that include A-listers like Jesse Metcalfe of “Desperate Housewives” and “Dallas,” as well as Aerosmith’s Joe Perry.