Q&A with Television Personality and Supporter of GAF, Alison Victoria
GAF is excited to be working with interior designer and host of her own popular home improvement show, Alison Victoria. Alison will be representing GAF while bringing an outside expert’s point of view. Her professional opinions will bring even more credibility to the GAF brand and help homeowners make the best decisions for their roofing project – GAF products installed by a GAF factory-certified contractor.
She will be appearing on gaf.com and the Style My House Tips Facebook page, where she will be offering expert tips on everything from design and style to which product is best for the many different projects out there.
Besides hosting her own home improvement show, she also has her own furniture line, the Alison Victoria Collection, and owns a full-service interior design firm, Alison Victoria Interiors. GAF sat down with Alison to find out more about the woman behind the hammer and how she got to where she is today.
Q: How did you become an expert in home remodeling and design?
A: I would say after renovating and designing over 150 kitchens in five years, one would definitely be considered an “expert.” I think enough experience and a certain amount of failures makes me a more fine-tuned designer, but I’m far from perfect.
Q: Did you go to school or learn by hard knocks?
A: I went to UNLV (University of Nevada Las Vegas) and studied Interior Architecture and Psychology. I worked full time during my college days as an intern to an interior designer and would definitely say that I learned more in the field than I ever did in the classroom. That’s not to say I didn’t learn a ton in the classroom…so stay in school, kiddies!
Q: How did you go from remodeling buildings and homes to having your own TV show on the subject?
A: I received a random email from a production company that was sent to hundreds of designers in the Chicago area asking if anyone would be interested in designing for a TV show on HGTV and DIY Network. I jumped at the chance and wouldn’t be surprised if I was the first to respond. The rest is history. I got very lucky…and then I worked my butt off to keep it going for nine seasons.
Q: What made you want to team up with GAF?
A: GAF was a perfect fit for me! As a designer AND a contractor, I feel like I have a unique perspective on projects. I want to see form and function in every single selection, so when it comes to purchasing your new roof, not only should it be built to last, it should look like a million bucks while doing it. My early days were spent working from the ground up, but after years of renovations I’ve learned that from the top down is what matters the most.
Q: Do you have any tips for contractors in this competitive market?
A: I’ve worked alongside a ton of contractors who would say things like “let the designer mess with the pretty things” when the truth is, they should know more about those pretty things. Not every homeowner hires their own designer and they may need you to guide them in their selection process. I would tell contractors to give it a go and feel confident in assisting their customers in every single aspect of the building process.
Q: What is your favorite project to do on a residential home? What about on a commercial building?
A: One of my favorite residential projects was “Ski in Ski out” cabin in Park City, Utah. I was able to design it from the ground up while working for Christopher Homes and then I got the keys back once I started my own design firm and was able to design the entire interior as well. It was a full circle dream job. As for commercial jobs, I designed a boutique in West Hollywood called “Whatever Lola Wants” and had the opportunity to really think outside of the box. But – hands down – the Silverton Casino Hotel was my most challenging and rewarding commercial job to date. I was responsible for overseeing the $160 million dollar expansion as well as all the marketing and branding for the resort.
Q: You design for a variety of clients—how do you keep each project different and unique?
A: You won’t be able to flip through a design magazine and pin point any of my projects. I don’t necessarily have “a look.” I like to give my clients what they want and thanks to my psychology courses, I love giving them things they didn’t even know they wanted. That’s how I keep each and every project unique.
Q: What are some features of your dream home?
A: I was lucky enough to find my dream home in Chicago four years ago — a 1905 brownstone in the historic district of Wicker Park. It was a full gut rehab and tested me to my limits, but, in the end, it was so worth it. From the original wrought iron staircase to the walk-in vault (the original owner was a jeweler and I decided to make it my shoe and handbag closet), it’s truly the perfect mix of vintage and modern.
Q: Where did you grow up?
A: I grew up in downtown Chicago in the John Hancock building on the 45th floor with my parents, two brothers, and my sister. Growing up in the city had so much to do with my love for design and architecture. There really is no better place to be than the Windy City. We moved to the suburbs when I was about 7 and my sister and I shared a bedroom; that’s when I really figured out what I was destined to become. I loved moving around our furniture and playing around with the bedding and pictures on the wall. Before long I was ripping up the carpet in my best friend’s bedroom to get to the hardwood flooring. Knowing what I wanted to do at such a young age has played a huge part in why I am where I am today. I was laser focused and nothing could get in my way!
Q: Tell us something fun about yourself.
A: There are a lot of fun things about me, but if I have to narrow it down to just one…I couldn’t. Kidding! I will say this, if I weren’t doing this job, I would definitely have wanted to be a stand up comic. And I can juggle and that’s pretty fun, or at least my niece thinks so.
Now that you know a little bit more about Alison and how she built up her career in the design and building industry, see her advice in action on gaf.com and follow her Style My House Tips Facebook page for expert home design tips to share with your homeowners.