Alison How I Got Started In Design

Alison: How I Got Started in Design

The Early Years

When I was a freshman in high school, my family moved into a new house that needed some cosmetic updates – new flooring, a fresh coat of paint, and new kitchen cabinets. It was also time to update our furniture and decor. New house, clean slate, lots of potential. My mom and I watched a lot of HGTV for inspiration. Back then, the popular shows were Divine Design, Design on a Dime, and Curb Appeal, but Divine Design was my personal favorite! Candice Olson made interior design look so fun and interesting with her space plan sketches, lighting design, and on-site problem-solving. After all the fun I had with my mom picking out paint colors, tile, and furniture, I thought, why not be like Candice?!

Design School

Through my research, I realized there were quite a few art colleges where you can major in interior design without having to go to a university or city college for all the general education courses. My family and I toured a few campuses in Orange County, Los Angeles, and San Diego. I wanted to stay within a few hour’s drive from home, so the Design Institute in San Diego really caught my eye. Their curriculum was geared directly toward interior design with general education courses sprinkled in so you can get your Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in the same 4 years as you would at a university. This was enticing for me because I already knew I wanted to jump into interior design head first. I was so excited to take classes like color theory, AutoCAD, and History of Interiors. I was sold on the beautiful San Diego campus and the fact that the college only focused on interior design. So after high school graduation my boyfriend, now husband, and I worked all summer to pay rent for our first apartment in San Diego. Looking back, we were just babies, but we managed to find jobs, go to school, and graduate.

Working as an Interior Designer

I graduated in 2010 and landed a job as a design assistant at a design build firm that specialized in luxury home remodeling. They had interior designers, architects, and project managers on staff so we all got the chance to collaborate on projects. I learned so much about construction, building codes, and the interior design process from my colleagues. Over my 10 year tenure with the company, I made my way from design assistant, to designer, to senior designer. I couldn’t have done it without the collaboration and help from the entire staff who really taught me most of the skills I have today.

I also gained a lot of experience being involved in ASID (American Society of Interior Designers), NKBA (National Kitchen & Bath Association) and was even recognized as a NKBA 30 under 30 recipient in 2018. I got certified as a Kitchen & Bath Designer through NKBA, got published in magazines and newspapers, and also won a few design awards.

Élan Design House

In 2020, I decided to take another step in my career to learn more about the decorating aspect of design. I loved the design build environment but the larger firm I was working for mainly focused on renovation projects. So I ended up working for a smaller studio that specialized in residential design where I could continue using my existing skills and gain that decorating experience I was looking for.

That is where I met Kilian and Kadie. Over the course of a year we got to know each other and worked really well together. So when the owner of that firm decided to close down the business and focus on her family we were naturally inclined to want to keep working together. Elan Design House was born.

We all bring different knowledge and experience to the table which has served us well on our entrepreneurial journey. We also value continued education, involvement in interior design associations, and attending conventions and conferences. It’s important for us to always stay updated on the latest building codes, changes in the industry, and continue to expand our experience and knowledge.