Blame it on the corbels. The moment designer Alison Victoria added them to the coffee bar she was designing in a Chicago brownstone, she knew she wasn’t putting the house up for sale. “I’d been saving them for years,” she says. It was decided: The 5,025-square-foot, five-bedroom home would be her own. She just had to show it to one important person first.
“I toured my boyfriend through a lot of homes I was doing, with the intention of asking him to move in,” Victoria explains. “I was a nervous wreck.”
It’s hard to imagine the HGTV star being anxious about anything. After all, this is the woman who successfully pitched the DIY network on her own series, Kitchen Crashers, which had a nine-season run, before executive-producing HGTV’s new hit, Windy City Rehab. The show follows Victoria as she renovates houses, but this one was too special to hand over to someone else. Her boyfriend agreed, and they got to work creating their ultimate getaway from the daily grind.
It’s just the two of them living there, so Victoria converted a couple of the bedrooms into a gym and a wine room—the latter complete with a his-and-her bottle collection covering one wall. “I wanted something totally different,” she says of the live-edge walnut display wall she designed. “The wood tones pull from the floor, which is actually porcelain.” It’s also heated, a must for Chicago’s “nine months of winter.”
Over the course of the yearlong remodel, Victoria decorated the house to embody her favorite place on Earth. “Paris, in general, has inspired me in all of my designs,” she says. Hence the corbels, scoured from the Saint-Ouen flea market in Paris, as well as a hand-carved wooden mantel and several pieces of art. She even bought the exact room spray used in her favorite hotel—Blaise Mautin’s eponymous line for the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme—so that she’s reminded of it every time she walks through the door.
“I think all of your senses have to come into play when you’re designing a space,” Victoria explains.
All over the house are treasures from her travels, along with the occasional find from a HomeGoods run. “I design myself the same way I design my home: old and new, high and low. So maybe my shoes cost a lot of money, but, you know, I got this top for $5,” she says. “The house is a direct reflection of me, and for me.”
Fun fact: Two of the artworks over the mantel—drawn by Chicago artist Francine Turk—were featured in Jennifer Aniston’s apartment in the 2006 dramedy The Breakup. Alison Victoria (above) has been collecting Turk’s work for years, ever since they met through a mutual friend.
Blush tones in the yellow Organic Looms rug inspired the room’s palette.
“I wanted it to feel like the Four Seasons in Paris,” Victoria says. Curtains: custom blackout drapes with wool and sheer fabric from Kravet.
The unlacquered-brass hood is a custom design, one of two soon to be available in Victoria’s line for Best Range Hoods.
“I really wanted that Parisian-café look,” Victoria says.
A $100 artwork from a thrift store in Michigan got the Alison Victoria treatment: a $3,000 frame. Table: West Elm. Roman shade: Hunter Douglas. Banquette: custom, Brakur, in distressed faux leather, Kravet. Sconce: antique Murano glass.
Taking the doors off the pantry changed everything. “Chicago houses are long and narrow. The more you open them up, the bigger they feel,” Victoria says.
The display wall Victoria designed can hold about 100 bottles. "We go to Napa a couple times a year, so we do love having great wines," she says. "It’s kind of funny, because it’s divided: It’s his and hers. So we keep tabs on whose wine is whose, which is weird, but that’s what we are."
Victoria loves this hand-shaped brass doorknob so much that it’s traveled with her from home to home. "I’m not going to put that knob on my powder room door if it’s just a home I’m selling," she explains. "It’s too special, almost."
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