Thursday, March 13

Introducing….ASK ALLIE!

I am not a designer…but for years people have said to me "I wish you would help me decorate my house" or "how do you do it?".  The truth is I don't really know how I come up with the ideas for rooms. I know what I like when I see it and I tend to build rooms as I go - sometimes buying things and then taking them back. Doing that for other people on command seems difficult. But maybe someday...

Until then, I have lots of opinions about how rooms can look fantastic on a budget. I have decorated dozens of rooms - sometimes several times and I absolutely love it.  So what is an enthusiastic amateur designer with friends and family who want advice to do?  GO DIGITAL!!!

Today, I am launching Ask Allie an online (and for now free!) service to help guide people to decorating glory on a dime. First up…my sister Shannon who lives in London with my adorable nieces and her husband. Her house is awesome but her living room needs a little love.  Here's how it looks now.

You can see that the room has great natural light and really tall ceilings. What you can't see is a pretty fireplace in the center of one wall. It's a great space with a lot of potential. 

So here is what I think she should do with it. Whadya think????

Let's walk through it:

1. The first thing that came to mind when I saw the room was that it could handle a darker color. Painting it a rich, deep grey (see #8 below) would really make all the white in the room pop - especially the fireplace and the plantation shutters on the windows. So that brought me to what accent colors we could use and a bright, springy green is what I chose. These pillows would be great on the light grey couches - with maybe a bright green throw like this one to add even more punch. 

2. I love these leather cubes from Overstock. Not only are they super affordable ($144!) but they also have storage. Anyone who has kids agrees that you can never have enough storage. 

3. This rug is also from Overstock and I think is the perfect color - not too Kermit but not dull. You need to be careful about buying rugs online and know what the pile is before you buy it. This one is .31 inches which will give it a nice soft feel especially if you add a rug pad underneath.  This is also a steal at $275. 

4. I found this inspiration room on HouzzIt's by a Ann Lowengart Interiors based in San Francisco. Love the pops of color and the funky ceiling pendant. 

5. These awesome charcoal grey rugby stripe storage bins from The Container Store are perfect for toys, books, blankets or anything else you want to toss in a bin to hide from guests. The small ones are only $10 and the big ones $15. I am thinking a few of them could go on the side of the fireplace. 

6.  Another inspiration room. The designer is a company called Salins Group based in Charlotte, NC. 

7. This is my favorite potential part of the room. See that desk in the corner in Shannon's room? Wouldn't it be AWESOME painted in this green color? This one is from a company called Lily Field Furniture. I am totally into the chalk paint thing right now and dying to try it on something. Too bad London is so far from DC. I'd suggest trying the Annie Sloan paint in Antibes color. 

Perfectly Imperfect did a great blog post about painting with chalk paint. Check it out. 

8. This is the paint color I am suggesting for the walls. It's Benjamin Moore Silhouette 655.  using a matte paint - not to be confused with a flat paint. And it must be washable! 

9. A great pendant light like this artichoke one on the mood board can really make a room. My favorite place for lamps is Shades of Light but you can find lamps like this just about anywhere. One other option to consider for this room would be something like this from Ikea which is gorgeous and only $99!

10. I like this bold colored fabric storage ottoman for between the two couches.  I found this one on…you guessed it… And once again, it is super cheap at just $126. Which is good because little hands are messy. 

In terms of layout, I suggest she move the couches to face one another perpendicular to the fireplace. Like this one from Tim Cuppett Architects

I also think she should consider adding a cozy window bench in that awesome window. The room is actually set up perfectly to create one like this (minus the weird stuffed tiger).  The bookshelves underneath would be a great place for the girls to keep all of their books and a quiet place to read as they get older. 

And the bench would be another opportunity to introduce a fun fabric like one of these I found on Etsy

So there you go. Presto online. Now whether my sis will actually do this is a whole other story!  

Do you have a room that needs help?
Send me a pic at 


  1. I love it! Will you do my house when we move?

  2. Dear Allison,

    I'm a longtime reader but first time writer. And I have a pair of socks. They are nice socks. I want to display them prominently in the living room but my wife (a philistine) screams that I shouldn't place my socks there. Maybe she is right, I really don't have a trained eye for sock placement. And despite my fervor, I have no education in design. Maybe I should place them in the kitchen? On the counter? Maybe said socks should be displayed on the TV? Or a credenza of some sort? Please help me. My wife wants them in the hamper. But she is a jerk.

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