A trip to the home-improvement store isn’t the most exciting shopping excursion—unless, of course, a beautiful blonde who wants to remodel your kitchen surprises you. No, it’s not some sort of fantasy, it’s the premise behind Kitchen Crashers on the DIY Network starring interior designer Alison Victoria. A Chicago native, Victoria graduated from UNLV in 2006 and became the youngest designer to work for Christopher Homes. Her recent credits include a penthouse in the Trump Towers Chicago and the revamp of the Silverton hotel-casino.
So, why embark on a home-improvement show starring a notoriously difficult room to redo? “The kitchen is the hub of the home,” Victoria says. “People always wait to do the kitchen.”
The show, in production for its third season, gives Victoria and her team just three days to put together a phenomenal space. She chooses potential episode stars while they’re in home-improvement stores, so their need for a redesign is apparent. After finding her subject, Victoria asks them for a wish list to ascertain their personal style. “The main thing I ask is function. How do you use your kitchen?”
On her show’s recent visit to Las Vegas, they found homeowner Juanita Uyechi exploring the gardening section in a local store. And it turned out to be a match made in design heaven. “She was one of my dream clients,” Victoria says. “She was open to a lot of color, she had funky style and a great personality, and I could push the envelope a little bit.”
After consulting with Uyechi and learning what she wanted from the remodel, the crew wiped the slate clean. The existing kitchen hadn’t been updated in the 20 years Uyechi has lived in the house. It had dropped ceilings, sparse cabinet room and an island that jutted too far into the workspace.
The theme of the transformation was eco friendliness (which Uyechi tries to incorporate in her daily life through recycling), and Victoria put in all-new bamboo cabinets to increase the storage space and added engineered stone countertops. She also installed stone tiling on the walls inset with cobalt glass pieces for a pop of color, and all the lighting was revised with recessed cans in the ceiling with drop pendants fitted to illuminate the new island. The appliances got the Crashers treatment, too, with top-of-the-line Jenn-Air and KitchenAid stainless steel versions.
For the island, which Victoria says is the showpiece of the room and Uyechi refers to as her favorite element, reclaimed driftwood was used as the base and topped with colored glass containing blue and gold flecks to complement the blue tile on the wall. It’s unexpected and keeps with the organic tone of the room.
Even with all the new interiors, Victoria did keep one holdover from Uyechi’s previous kitchen—an herb garden—but with an eco-friendly twist. The plants were transferred into old light bulbs filled with colored water and hung with fishing wire. “They’re almost like a floating art piece,” Victoria says. It’s airy and light just like the rest of the space, something with which Uyechi couldn’t be happier. “What they did in three days,” Uyechi says, “is more than I could have imagined.”