How to crash your own kitchen with “Kitchen Crashers” Alison Victoria

HGTV star is coming to the Austin Home & Garden Show.


Alison Victoria answered a mass email producers of “House Crashers” sent to about 200 designers in Chicago. They were looking for a ghost designer — a person who works with the on-camera talent to do the design for a show.

It paid little money and she wouldn’t be seen, but it was a chance to get her foot in the door of the HGTV and DIY Network world.

That opportunity got producers to notice her. They wanted to develop a show for her, but every idea they pitched didn’t feel right for Victoria. She pitched them a different show: an extension of the Crashers brand that they were already doing in “House Crashers,” “Yard Crashers” and “Bath Crashers.”

She pitched to become the first female Crashers host and do “Kitchen Crashers.” And they bit.

She was born Alison Victoria Gramenos, but at a press junket with all the Crasher hosts before the launch of her show, producers shortened her name to her first and middle name. They were basing it on her design firm name, Alison Victoria Interiors, which she still operates in Las Vegas, where she went to the University of Nevada Las Vegas, and Chicago, her hometown.

She’s now done 160 shows and will be at the Austin Home & Garden Show this weekend.

“The kitchen is the hub of the home,” she says. “I don’t care if you cook or don’t cook; the way the kitchen space has evolved, it’s a statement piece.”

She’s seen the kitchen go from being all about function to being about the look. All the utilitarian elements like appliances and pots and pans now get hidden.

She’s not a chef, nor does she play one on TV. She grew up with her Greek grandmother, her yia yia, cooking all the time and trying to teach her. Victoria says she has some signature dishes but hasn’t had the time to really learn.

Even though she’s designing for a TV show when she’s doing “Kitchen Crashers,” she still starts with how the homeowners will use the kitchen. Do they cook all the time and want a pot filler, or would that be wasted on them as the nonchefs that they are? She doesn’t worry about resale value at all.

“I listen to their wants and needs and what kind of fears they have,” she says. Still, “I have to make the network happy with color and creativity without scaring the (expletive) out of someone.”

So for the tattoo artists, she chose Kelly green kitchen cabinets, because she knew they could handle it and it would be cool, and a tattoo art backsplash.

She says she wants homeowners to love their space but also take a chance. They tend to come to her “very vanilla,” but she wants them to explore color and texture.

That does not mean that they settle for painting one wall an accent color. In fact, she’d like homeowners to stop doing that. “It’s so noncommittal,” she says. “It drives me crazy… they’re not using color the right way.”

There are so many different ways to bring color in, she says, including accessories, drapery, pillows. It doesn’t have to be as obvious as the Kelly green cabinets or the dreaded one accent wall.

She also wants people to stop putting in the farmhouse sink. It doesn’t really work unless you’re doing a farmhouse theme. “I’m not keen on the look, yet every homeowner wants one,” she says.

And when in doubt, skip the soffits and make your cabinetry go all the way up. Or add more cabinetry below and go with open shelving above. Her caveat to the open-shelving concept is that it takes the right kind of homeowner, one willing to see their dishes as part of the design and keep it neat.

An island is her must-have for the kitchen — even if it’s one that is rolled away out of site at times. She likes her islands to be furniture pieces that are multifunctional, with space for seating as well as for cooking or prep work. The new trend is to have elements that hide some of the more functional features, like the sink.

Victoria also loves to mix different metals, especially bronze and black nickel, with tile backsplashes and rose quartz counters.

Her favorite kitchen she’s designed so far is not one that she did for a show or for a client. It’s at the Kohler Design Center for Kohler in Kohler, Wisc. She calls it An American Designer in Paris, because it’s influenced by her favorite city. It features a bronze mirrored backsplash, gold cabinetry, a chandelier and old oak flooring in a chevron pattern.

She calls it her dream kitchen. “I had total freedom with my creativity,” she says.

Paris is also her dream place. It’s where she goes two to three times a year, where she can wander the streets with her eyes closed and never get lost. “It’s where I go to get inspired,” she says.

Right now she’s working on a new show, “Windy City Rehab,” of which she’s also the executive producer. She says it’s more similar to what she does as a designer. The show, which she hopes to launch in April, will follow her around as she redoes a property.

When she’s not working on “Kitchen Crashers” or “Windy City Rehab,” she’s designing new restaurants in Phoenix, hotels in Las Vegas or homes in Chicago, or meeting fans at home shows.

This weekend, she’ll give a presentation called “A Happy Home is a Healthy Home,” and she’ll take audience questions. Their first question is usually “When are you going to crash my kitchen?”

Well, because we don’t live in Las Vegas or Chicago, where the show shoots, we’ll have to crash our own kitchens.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Lifestyle

Best Austin coffee shops near Congress Avenue
Best Austin coffee shops near Congress Avenue

Not surprisingly, Congress Avenue, sometimes called the Main Street of Texas, counts more coffee shops than any other 12-block stretch of the city. Before we dive into the local outfits, though, we should note that Starbucks operates at least six reliable coffee outlets within easy walking distance of Congress Avenue. So the...
Best Texas books to read right now
Best Texas books to read right now

Texas birds, Texas musicians, Texas media stars, Texas festivals and a guide to the Texas Capitol stack up on our state shelves this week. “Book of Texas Birds.” Gary Clark with photographs by Kathy Adams Clark. Texas A&M Press. For some of us, there are never too many Texas bird books. This one might not fit...
The best places to grab a drink poolside in Austin
The best places to grab a drink poolside in Austin

We’re in the dog days of summer now, folks. The heat seems stifling and neverending, and it’s no longer exciting to have the prospect of a long several months of warm, sunny days laid out in front of us. Last month, we told you about five hotel pools that offer free hours or day passes for locals, so we decided to round up a list of pools...
8 recipes to get you through the summer
8 recipes to get you through the summer

It’s not like we don’t know we live in Texas, and it’s hot here in the summer. We still enjoy grousing as we hit a string of 100+ days, and we’re always looking for ways to keep cool indoors. One option: Never turn on your oven. Some of you might fire up the smoker or grill instead — with backyard sprinkler or pool breaks...
Austinite developing technology to help drivers not forget children in cars
Austinite developing technology to help drivers not forget children in cars

2007 Ralph Barrera/American-Statesman Last week we reminded you about keep kids in cars safe from the heat and from improper car seat usage. We told you about a couple of new products to help you not forget that your kids is in the backseat.  Never4get.us is a technology that uses two pads to remind drivers that there is a kid in...
More Stories