Home Inspiration From An HGTV Starlet

We're firm believers that a woman can handle grunt work just as well as any man. Change a tire? Check. Mow the lawn? On it. And, when it comes to swinging around a hammer like a boss, HGTV star Alison Victoria more than proves our point. Not only is the Chicago native the inspirational force behind Kitchen Crashers, she also runs her own interior-design firm.
With all these skills in her proverbial tool belt, there's no better person to give us a little home-interior advice. And, because the proof is in the pudding, we photographed Victoria in her stunning Wicker Park home. From the best places to pick up those special touches to a few DIY projects to keep you busy this summer, here is the inspiration you need to get a television-worthy pad in no time.
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Photographed by Lucy Hewett.
You were into design ever since you were a kid. What inspired your interest at such a young age?
"I started redesigning my best friend Britt’s room at the age of eight. We ripped up the carpet to get to the wood flooring, painted everything peach (it was the '80s, so peach was HOT), and rearranged the furniture. Space planning was everything to me, and I’m sure my sister didn’t appreciate me moving our room around every week. I knew what I wanted at a young age and I’m so thankful for it. It’s given me a head start and has made it so easy for me to focus on my goals."

Karen Millen skirt, Target tank, J.Crew necklace, Christian Louboutin shoes, bracelets by Cartier and Van Cleef and Arpel.
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Photographed by Lucy Hewett.
Tell us about how you got the rad gig on Kitchen Crashers?
"I received a mass email asking if any Chicago designers would be interested in participating in a reality-design show. I responded within seconds, letting them know they should look no further. The producers came out to meet with me and my crew at a Trump Tower project I was working on in Chicago. They loved us, and when they said that I got it, I was so excited! Guess what? They wanted me to be a ghost designer on a show called House Crashers. What that meant was that I would design the space, make a board, and have my logo on television for two seconds.

"It wasn’t what I thought, but I’ve always believed that every move is a stepping stone, so I said yes. Within weeks they asked me to be in front of the camera for the show. Long-story short, I asked them [if I could] be the first female crasher, and three years later we are shooting season seven! I have to thank Big Table Media for believing in me and never giving up on me!"
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Photographed by Lucy Hewett.
What’s your favorite room in your home and why?
"The kitchen. It’s the hub of the home; it’s where we always find ourselves. Whether it’s just me and Luke (my husband), or we are entertaining our friends or family, we’re always in the kitchen."
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Photographed by Lucy Hewett.
We love that you are a DIY queen! What are a few easy projects we can do to make a transformation on a budget?
1. "Change out your cabinet hardware. It’s the easiest thing to do to give your kitchen a quick facelift. Make sure you purchase new hardware that lines up with the existing holes that have been drilled."

2. "Add pull-out drawers to your bottom cabinet doors. That way, you have the look of doors and the function of drawers. You can purchase them from home-improvement stores and DIY it, or call a cabinet company to measure and install them to get a more custom look. Either way, you are forcing yourself to clean out your cabinets, organize your new drawers, and give everything a home so you always know where your things are."

3. "Open things up! Open shelving is the way to go to give your kitchen a little update. Purchase shelving, paint it a fun color, or make shelves out of reclaimed or builder-grade wood. The shelving breaks up the heavy look of your cabinets and allows you to display your favorite accessories, cookbooks, spices, etc."
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Photographed by Lucy Hewett.
Your website has a fashion tab. What connection do you see between clothing design and interior design?
"I design each space the way I design myself every morning. I mix my Louboutins with a T.J. Maxx dress, I mix vintage and modern. Fashion for me is what drives design."

Where do you like to shop?
"I’m extremely eclectic when it comes to fashion. Some of my favorite pieces have come from Marshalls and T.J. Maxx, but when it comes to shoes, I’m afraid to say I’m partial to nude Louboutins. Accessories are more sentimental to me, so most of my pieces are gifts from my husband or pieces that my Yiayia (grandmother in Greek) has given me."

Alice and Olivia by Stacey Bendet dress, vintage ring and cuff, Valentino clutch.
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Photographed by Lucy Hewett.
Where are some of the best places in Chicago to pick up those little special touches to give our pad character?
"My absolute favorite spot is HomeGoods. It’s my one-stop shop for everything home, and I’m borderline obsessed. I’m a sucker for vintage furniture and lighting, so when I’m looking for that special one- of-a-kind piece, I love stopping into Store B Vintage in Wicker Park."
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Photographed by Lucy Hewett.
What’s been one of your most challenging design projects thus far?
"The Silverton Resort Casino in Las Vegas. It was my first large-scale hospitality project, and I was beyond intimidated. It was such a learning experience and was overall the most challenging and most satisfying job yet."
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You have absolutely amazing hair! How do you take care of it?
"Thank you! I have been extremely blessed when it comes to my hair. I’ve had the thickest hair since I was five, and I love how low maintenance it is — especially when it comes to my job. I can wake up and go and never worry about it looking greasy or knotty. And, as disgusting as this may sound, I only wash it once a week. Every Wednesday I get “groomed” (as my husband likes to refer to it), and I get a Kérastase caviar treatment and a blowout. Kérastase products have seriously saved my hair, and I’m willing to spend the money to reap the benefits."
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Photographed by Lucy Hewett.
Say we can’t redesign our entire place at once. If we were to start with one major investment, what should it be?
"Flooring. It’s worth the investment to have the entire house flow, and it’s a great starting point to set the tone for the overall design and furniture plan."
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Photographed by Lucy Hewett.
Based on the way you throw a hammer around on Kitchen Crashers, you’re obviously strong — and have killer guns! What do you do to stay in shape with such a busy lifestyle?
"It’s all about balance and not being hard on myself. If I can fit in a workout two days a week I’m happy. Four days a week and I’m impressed with myself. Six days a week and I’m lying to you. But, seriously, what works for me is getting it done fast. I guess that makes sense based on what I do on the show. I get bored working out, and it’s not a stress reliever for me like it seems to be for so many other people. Working out makes me focus more on work, my goals, and any issues I need to work out.

"So, CrossFit is the answer and has been my go-to, no-fail workout for the last five years. It’s all about muscle confusion, intervals, and competition (with myself). Push-ups, pull-ups, box jumps, wall balls, back squats, and never knowing how I’m going to mix them together is what keeps it fun and interesting. But, some days after work, I’m so tired and all I want to do is hang out with my husband and our dogs. I don’t consider that being lazy; I think of it as the perfect balance."

Alexandra Grecco skirt, Target tank, vintage bracelet, vintage ring from her Yiayia (grandma in Greek), Valentino shoes.
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What type of mood/feeling were you trying to create in your own home?
"I wanted it to feel like my home. Not a show home, not a magazine home, my home. I want it to be a place that I loved coming back to, so that meant making sure that every space has a little bit of humor. My favorite thing to do in life is laugh, and every room will achieve that when you look around. I don’t want the spaces to be taken too seriously.

"So, you can sit in my kitchen and admire the beautiful 10-foot marble slab on the island and then you can focus on my Jonathan Adler coasters that have COCK printed on some and TAIL printed on the others. Or, you can sit in my living room and admire the 12-by-10-foot picture window overlooking the park and look down at the coffee table to find all kinds of vintage books about sex. It’s the little things that make a space yours and those are a few of mine."
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Photographed by Lucy Hewett.
You handle some serious equipment on the show! Where did you learn how to work with the tools of the trade?
"I’ve always been comfortable with power tools so it wasn’t something new, but I’m not perfect. I mess up, I get frustrated (with mitering anything), and have my own insecurities when it comes to using certain tools. But, I have power drills, a circular saw, and a nail gun at home, so it’s not foreign to me. I’m a total tomboy and love competition, so when I have a contractor try to show me how to use a tool, I just smile, rip it out of their hands, and get it done to prove them wrong every time."
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Photographed by Lucy Hewett.
The new AV LookBook (a virtual interior design service) is genius! What’s the most popular room your virtual clients are choosing so far?
"The kitchen, of course!"
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You still manage to look adorable on Kitchen Crashers — and jeans seem to be a part of your go-to uniform. What’s one of your favorite pairs/brands?
"Why thank you! I’m a real shorty, so I swear by Paige petites. They fit like a glove, have the best variety, and I don’t have to hem them!"

Zara shorts, Christian Louboutin shoes, Michael Stars top, Fiona Rose necklaces.
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Photographed by Lucy Hewett.
You travel the world to find amazing items for your home. What are a few of your favorites?
"Vintage Hermès playing cards that I bought at an antique show outside of San Francisco; a gold coin coaster from Mallorca; and a weird painting I picked up in Vermont that has Einstein, Edgar Allen Poe, and Charlie Chaplin playing strip poker at a monkey dealer's house."
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Photographed by Lucy Hewett.
Was there a certain moment that made you decide to design your own furniture line? What’s the inspiration behind your pieces?
"Timing is everything. The stars aligned, and I had to take the chance. I found the company to produce, I had the money to get it started, and I knew exactly what was missing from the category. It ended up being the best $50,000 I ever lost! I learned a lot of what not to do, and that’s why my next line will be one to remember (and to reference in my next interview with you five years from now). As for the furniture…I wanted the sexy lines you would find in the masterpieces Gaudi built. I wanted the mixed-use of glass, metal, and wood. And, I wanted that one-of-a-kind look in each and every piece I designed."
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Photographed by Lucy Hewett.
Who is your target customer?
"My first line was more on the high-end side and limited in production, so my target market was much smaller. My new line with Interior Define is for the millennials. I want the younger generation to experience an upscale lifestyle without breaking the bank."
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Photographed by Lucy Hewett.
What’s next for you?
"Hopefully another show on HGTV, working on my first book, my next furniture line with Interior Define, a cabinet-hardware line, taking my AV LookBook to the next level, and hopefully fitting in eight hours of sleep every night. I’m so excited to wake up every day and work on reaching every single goal I set out to accomplish."


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