The word "dream" has been popping up a lot lately for HGTV personality Alison Victoria. This past Sunday, The Windy City Rehab star celebrated a room design win alongside her good friend Ty Pennington, beating out fellow designers Jonathan Knight and Kristina Crestin (of Farmhouse Fixer) by designing and building the ultimate accessory (for the ultimate accessory) -- Ken's Den on HGTV's Barbie Dreamhouse Challenge. And … she has a new three-part series, Windy City Rehab: Alison's Dream Home (focusing on her own dream home) premiering Tuesday, July 25. (Crestin, Knight, Pennington and Victoria are pictured above, left to right.)
Getting the call to participate in the Barbie Dreamhouse Challengereintroduced her to her "very first" design client. "It's only in doing this show, a ton of awesome interviews, and being super nostalgic, that I realized Barbie was my first client," she beamed during an exclusive chat with MediaVillage. "She was my first design job, as my Barbie Dream House® was the first house I ever designed with furniture and accessories! I didn't even realize how massively important she was. I constantly tell people the most important thing in design is your floor plan and how the house flows. That [extends] to the furniture and its layout. I was inspired by Barbie. I loved Barbie and every one of my friends loved Barbie. My sister and I had tons of them, but I related more to her little sister Skipper. She was shorter, brunette, a little spunkier, and a little less refined."
With the history-making release of the Barbie movie this past weekend, a central storyline of the film is Ken's independence. After living in Barbie-land his entire life, a trip to the real world makes her longtime beau realize his value. Barbie even draws a demarcation line in the sand when he suggests moving in with Barbie, declaring, "It's Barbie's Dream House!" So, giving Ken his own space in the HGTV house was a thrill. "That was really cool," she laughed. "When we found out we were getting Ken's Den it was like, 'Okay, you guys finally know me, and this is exactly where I belong.'
"Growing up a tomboy, I've got a lot of masculine energy," she continued. "Ty is one of my best buddies, so who better to do this with than a real-life Ken! I'm with this icon in my industry, who is a surfer with all these hats he likes wearing. It was so fun to play dress up and showcase Ken, who is a huge part of the Barbie brand. We needed to show him some love, and it was cool that we got to be the only team to do so.
"The fact Superstar Ken® (1977) and Mod Hair Ken® (1973) were our inspiration for the room made it even more fun," she added. "I wish we had time for the five hours of behind-the-scenes footage of us playing with the wigs, the mustaches and the outfits and prepping the dance routine we did for the judges. Besides Windy City Rehab, this was the best show I've ever worked on, and the most surreal. Doing TV, you stop seeing the cameras, and you just do what you love and say how you feel and what you think. With this, I'd constantly look around and go, 'What is happening? How did I get here? I never want to forget what I feel in this moment.' Just the joy of getting to do this with Ty … I've never felt so present."
Victoria admits getting to throw aside her "traditional" design aesthetic in creating a 1970s-inspired man cave was, "pretty easy." In fact, it was a reprieve from the usual that she embraced. "It was like putting real life aside," she recalled. "What a break that could be for every one of us. That's what Barbie brought us as little kids -- an element of playfulness we kind of lose. Life's been a little serious in the last couple of years with some things I've gone through. Before doing Barbie, I attended a retreat where I revisited my childhood, and being able to continue [that] in a really positive way is what this show did for me. I'm playful by nature, and now I want that little girl here even more every day. This show meant more to me than just doing a show. It really was the most special experience."
She is still in awe of two takeaways from her time on Barbie Dreamhouse. "One is Jonathan Knight, who is now a really good friend," she shared. "I never told him, but I grew up with a New Kids pillowcase of him, and now I'm competing against him? I grew up loving New Kids on the Block, and Barbie, and now they're all right here with me. This isn't real!
"Then I got to keep the special Barbie of me that Mattel made for the show," she added. "No one fought harder than me for them to give us our dolls and everyone at the network knows that. I'm like, 'Excuse me, where's my doll?' When they said they weren't sure if we were getting them, I'm like, 'Oh, no, no, no. That's not the answer. Just let me know when I can expect her in the mail. Thank you!' She arrived two days ago and is now in a special nook in Alison's Dream Home."
Speaking of that, Victoria is excited for viewers to see her own house come to life. "I named the show Alison's Dream Home when I pitched it to the network," she said in closing. "They wanted to change the name, but I explained, 'It's what this is -- it's a dream.' I can't believe it's mine, as it's out of this world and now it's a reality. That was the perfect name."
Barbie Dream House Challengeis telecast Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on HGTV.Windy City Rehab: Alison's Dream Homeis telecast Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on HGTV. Both are also available to stream on MAX.
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