Interior Designer and host of DIY Network's "Kitchen Crashers," Alison Victoria has got a lot going her way. We caught up with her recently for this interview, where she tells us the most important areas to address in a kitchen, the coolest tech she's designed into her projects and the old-school way she stays organized to meet her goals.
You might expect Alison to have an office carved out in a tall business building downtown, but no, her office is in the surprisingly swanky Silverton Casino where she serves as Creative Director (just one of her many endeavors). A few miles south of "The Strip" it's a hidden gem where Alison has had her hand in everything from guest room interiors to bathrooms to restaurant concepts and menu development. The office is comfortable and modern with eccentric elements that add warmth and personality. She explains the personal touches she added to the office — from wallpaper, to canned lighting, to chairs and accessories, to the fun pinboard. "It's a bit of an organized mess," she adds "but everything makes me feel good when I walk in."
Fearless and driven, Alison left her day job (as interior designer for Christopher Homes) at the age of 22 with ambitions for starting her own company (Alison Victoria Interiors). "It's been unbelievable," she states, as opportunities have just kept coming her way.
When she started her own design company, she worked out of her home and had trouble managing the fine line between home and work. She soon found herself drowning in samples, fabrics and materials she'd store up for future interior design projects. But as the internet grew, and the design world with it, she found relief. "With the internet everything is online now. So I can view it, pick fabrics, and have samples sent my way when I need them."
Apartment Therapy: Saved by the internet. Do you have any favorite online design resources?
Alison: I like to use the Architectural Digest Kitchens app [on the iPad] and I get great ideas from it. I [also] keep up with Architectural Digest, Metropolitan Home, and any [media] that I can dive into.
Apartment Therapy: What tech do you have in the office and at home to keep you connected?
Alison: I have an iPad, a Blackberry, Macbook Air and at home I have a Mac desktop. I also just got a Sony NEX5 camera that I use to take photos when traveling that could serve as inspiration.
Apartment Therapy: Any quirky things you do to stay organized?
Alison: Yes. Everyone is using their iPhone, but this is me.
Alison picked up a small, thin, 3x6 day planner with a leather cover.
Alison: "I'm a weirdo, I have all those [tech items] but this is my quirky, old lady way for me to stay organized. This is my life right here."
Apartment Therapy: So why that organizer vs. going digital?
Alison: I like writing. I'm just a pen and paper girl. Just like I never got into CAD, I like to draw. And I find it more soothing and personal.
Alison elaborated a bit, explaining that she looks to tech to accomplish the essentials and get things done. Trying to avoid getting caught up in the latest specs and updates. She does however see a trend with clients wanting to incorporate tech into more and more projects.
Apartment Therapy: What are some of the more interesting items you've put in your projects?
Alison: For the entire Trump Tower we tied everything into separate iPads for each location. So that was one of the coolest things I've done.
In the system, the iPad basically served as the home automation portal. With a keypad for shades, lighting moods, waterfall control, LED lighting, music, TV, etc.
Alison: We also got some can lights that are speakers also. A lot of my homeowners aren't extremely tech-savvy but they grab a hold of these things and they get it in two seconds. I like to use innovative products but I also want something that has longevity and is going to last.
We then shifted gears to Kitchen Crashers. A new 'Crashers' spin-off where Alison and her team get 3 days to completely overhaul the kitchen space of a lucky hardware store shopper. Surprisingly, Alison gets in and does a lot of the nitty gritty demo work herself too.
Apartment Therapy: What are the most important areas you try to address in kitchen remodels?
Alison: Cabinet space, counter space and appliances that they're going to use. I try to pay attention to what they like, how they live, and really get to know them, [so I can] know what somebody wants before they do.
Apartment Therapy: Describe your design process.
Alison: [When designing, I try to] find that one thing. One photo, one piece of fabric, one color, one pattern, that's what inspires me for any space. I start with that and then grow around to bring it all together.
Apartment Therapy: Any favorite resources for reasonably priced furniture and accessories?
I love West Elm. Hands down that's number one. Zuomod, they're great and I do a lot of the stuff on the show from them. CB2 is great too and I love Home Goods. You can really just find anything there, I just walk around that store in between tapings of the show.
Apartment Therapy: What's the most important item you put in that planner?
Alison: I always put my three goals for the year in the back, actually I do four now, just in case. But I try to make them attainable.
The goals in that book really give the most insight into Alison Victoria, the person. Caring, strong, and ambitious her goals range from being on the board for a couple more charities, to getting the ball rolling on her own line of furniture for West Elm, to becoming the face and personality for HomeGoods. And the 4th? Well, that bonus one would be to get associated with Lululemon, and perhaps design her own clothing line. "I love learning about anything and everything."
Alison Victoria. Remember that name. Chances are you'll be seeing a lot more of it in the future.
(Images: Chris Perez)