Home renovation projects became a popular concept for television entertainment, and Alison Victoria rose to prominence through her TV series called “Kitchen Crashers.” It was one of the most-watched TV shows in the DIY network for nine seasons after it premiered in 2011. Instead of renovating the whole house, the focus was on improving the kitchen. Believing that it was one of the most important parts of a home, Allison had been redesigning kitchens for free on her show. It was interesting to note that it was the only one fronted by a woman among the do-it-yourself home “Crasher” series, offered on the DIY network.
- 1 Who is Alison Victoria?
- 2 The Nine Seasons of “Kitchen Crashers”
- 3 “Kitchen Crashers” Cancellation
- 4 Alison’s other TV shows after “Kitchen Crashers”
- 5 Where is Alison Victoria now?
Who is Alison Victoria?
Alison Victoria Gramenos of American and Greek descent, was born on 31 October 1981, in Chicago, Illinois USA. Her mother, Becky Karacostas and her father, Honorable James Nicholas Gramenos, raised her in a comfortable home.
He was a former FBI agent, a public defender and a federal judge – he died in January 2021. She has a close relationship with her three siblings: older brother Jamie, younger sister Diana, and the youngest in the family, Nicholas. She would often post something about her family on her Instagram account. Alison also had a great relationship with her grandmother, who inspired her a lot.
She went to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas for her interior architecture degree, and pursued a career in interior design. Her interest in designing interiors was due to the beautiful architectural structures she had seen most of her life growing up, most especially when her father would bring her for a drive in the streets of Chicago. Her first taste of home renovation was at the age of 10, when her mother allowed her to redesign their basement.
After graduation, Alison became the youngest designer in the firm of luxury home builder Christopher Homes, then after gaining experience with them for two years, she bravely launched her own consulting company. She admitted that she was a control freak. and didn’t want to work for anyone since she wanted to make all the decisions in her projects. Since then, Alison has been behind countless interior designs of luxury residences, hotels, and resorts. She’s known for the successful expansion and renovation of the Silverton Casino Hotel in Las Vegas, and also launched her own line of home furnishings and furniture.
The Nine Seasons of “Kitchen Crashers”
When she was invited to host the reality-TV show “Kitchen Crashers” a decade ago, she became known as Alison Victoria. The first episode was aired on 10 October 2011, as part of DIY Network’s “House Crasher” series, alongside “Bath Crashers” and “Yard Crashers.”
In each episode, she went to a hardware store around Windy City in Chicago, where she surprised customers and offered her services to redesign their kitchen for free. A pair of home owners would be chosen, and her team would subsequently finish the renovations in less than a week.
How did Alison Victoria become involved with “Kitchen Crashers”
In 2011, the parent network of DIY, HGTV, was looking for an interior designer for a possible role in a renovation-themed TV show. Alison said she just randomly answered an email that was sent to around 300 designers in Chicago, then unlike other TV shows, she never underwent an audition, and there was no vetting process to speak of, because she was only supposed to be the ghost designer for the TV series called “House Crashers.” Her personality won over the production people, and since they liked her, they pitched other shows to her, but Alison disliked them all, and instead pitched them her idea about kitchen renovating.
With her as the first female host of the franchise series, she raised the bar a little higher for women in the industry.
Who pays for the kitchen renovations?
For the past nine seasons of “Kitchen Crashers,” many fans wondered who paid for the renovation done in the kitchen. Most of the projects didn’t come cheaply, especially since Alison’s designs always had a luxurious vibe to them. The TV series was produced by Big Table Media, an experienced company specializing in home renovations, and they footed the bill. It’s been the practice in reality television that local businesses would offer materials and labor free of charge in exchange for advertising; also huge brands would help sponsor the projects, such as Target and Bed Bath & Beyond. There are testimonials from home-owners that they didn’t spend a single cent for the work done on their kitchen, except for the tax implications brought by the renovation when they filed their 1099. However, the amount was still way lower than the actual renovation bill.
Who gets the last say on the design for each project?
One of the problems that occurred each time they took on a project, was convincing the home-owner to give up total control of the design. While these home-owners welcomed the free services, most of the time they would try to be involved in the process. Everyone’s aware that too many chefs in the kitchen would mean disaster, so the only leeway that the production crew allowed them was to ask for their wish list. Alison took care of the overall design of the kitchen, and would try to integrate some of the homeowner’s wishes in the design as much as she could, but it would still depend on the limited time and budget given to her by the production people.
The top-rated episode on IMDb – Big Mama’s House
Most fans have a penchant for reading reviews before they watch any movie or TV show, just to make sure that they wouldn’t be wasting their precious time and money.
From the popular online entertainment database site, IMDb – short for Internet Movie Database – the top-rated episode in “Kitchen Crashers” was the 12th of the first season, called “Big Mama’s House”, aired on 17 April 2012 on the DIY network.
Alison met many customers of the hardware store, but when she talked to Ortez and his fiancée Sidaira, she knew that she was going to work on their kitchen. The couple was there because they were shopping for a ceiling fan, so Ortez couldn’t believe that Alison offered to do his kitchen. The house they lived in was his Mama’s house built in the 1800’s, and where he was born. He was a contractor, but couldn’t find the time and enough resources to renovate. She asked what they wanted to see after their kitchen was renovated, and created a wish list to include in her own design.
When she went to the house to create some magic, Ortez’s Mama and the whole family were there waiting.
Since there were so many things to do, they all helped in tearing up the old kitchen, so Alison’s crew could work on it and follow her design to a T. All of them, including Alison, were skeptical that they could finish the kitchen in three days. She gave Ortez and Sidaira their own tasks to ensure that they could meet the deadline. On the last day, the couple was kicked out so that the “Kitchen Crashers” crew could finish installing the new stainless steel appliances the couple requested, and Alison put some finishing touches to make it cozier while giving it a glamorous vibe.
When the new kitchen was revealed to the family, Ortez said that most viewers would say that it wasn’t real, and that they probably switched houses because it didn’t resemble their former kitchen at all. They were happy as they wanted “bling”, and Alison gave them that. In the end, he said that the finished product was something more than they could afford. That the whole family loved the new kitchen was an understatement, and his Mama shed a few tears after seeing it.
“Kitchen Crashers” Cancellation
Not all TV series cancellations are explained by network executives. Just like other TV shows that stopped airing, “Kitchen Crashers” never gave any official statement after the final episode from the ninth season was aired on 28 March 2016. The fans waited for the 10th season to be announced, since it had positive reviews for the six years it was on TV, but it didn’t happen.
When rumors about an HGTV celebrity having problems with Chicago government officials for construction violations, the fans immediately connected it to Alison Victoria, and assumed that it was one of the reasons why her show was canceled. They were right only in the sense that she was a co-owner of the house that was slapped with a “Stop Work” notice, as it was being remodeled. Apparently, the permit that she had was just for renovation, but in reality, what was happening was a demolition.
There were no official statements from Alison at that time, but it was reported later that the permit she had was indeed for a renovation, but as other parts of the house started to crumble, so they didn’t have any choice but to demolish it.
When William Davis Jr, one of the building inspectors, was asked about it, he just said that he’d already talked to the home-owner along with the architect about it. Alison was expected to pay $5,000 for each law that they violated, should she fail to resolve it. Apparently they were finally able to get the necessary permit to avoid breaking any law, so there was no more news about it.
While it wasn’t the official reason why her TV show wasn’t renewed by the DIY network, some fans believed that the controversy might have contributed to its demise. Alison was filming several TV shows at that time, and fans were confused – was the show canceled because she already had a new one to replace it?
Alison’s other TV shows after “Kitchen Crashers”
Alison’s TV career didn’t end when her first TV show was canceled. She did three more shows with DIY network, one of which turned out to be controversial, as she was embroiled in lawsuits with homeowners and her former business partner/contractor.
Windy City Rehab (2019 – 2020)
In 2019, her second TV series called “Windy City Rehab” was aired. This time, she partnered with the lead contractor, Donovan Eckhardt, as they bought and restored old homes in the city of Chicago. When she took on one-of-a-kind architectural structures, she would make it a point to save some of its original features, while upgrading other parts. Her designs made the old vintage houses in Chicago more buyer-friendly, as she transformed them into dream properties.
The TV show became HGTV’s No.1 series, as it attracted close to 9.5 million viewers in its first season.
However, as it became more popular, it was beset with many problems, including a slew of lawsuits. It seemed that Alison was blindsided by Donovan’s decisions on their projects; for instance, the license of Donovan’s contracting firm, Greymark Development Group, was suspended for 45 days, as he’d attracted many alleged construction violations.
He went on to build properties without obtaining permits first, and didn’t even fulfill the necessary final inspections done on them. Alison also hinted in an episode that one of Donovan’s companies mishandled money – a sub-contractor filed a lawsuit against Donovan for unpaid services; a homeowner filed a lawsuit against the show for shoddy work in their home, accusing them of not taking care of the leaking roof which the contractor said they would. Apparently, the financial part of their partnership was handled by Donovan alone, while Alison handled the designing aspect of the projects that they took in.
Donovan then filed a lawsuit against the producers of the TV show for defamation, saying that the TV show portrayed him as the villain, and Alison as the innocent victim, also that it was a scripted TV show, simply to gain higher TV ratings; the judge who handled the case dismissed it.
To resolve their other problems, the judge appointed a third party to mediate their financial divorce. The producers decided to salvage the second season of the TV show by showing everything that happened with Alison and Donovan, including all the problems that occurred. It was a great business move, since the number of viewers they had doubled, as the controversies drummed up much more interest. Due to the high ratings, HGTV decided to order a third season of the show, though fans assumed that Donovan would no longer be a part of it.
Ty Breaker (2020)
Alison did another HGTV show called “Ty Breaker”, in which she was one of the regular guest designers.
It was hosted by Ty Pennington, and the series focused on helping families improve their homes. He offered solutions to home-owners, while Alison showed the renovation process of the problem areas of the house.
Flipping Across America (2020)
While Alison had it rough with “Windy City Rehab,” she was given another TV show which premiered in July 2020, called “Flipping Across America.” The premise of the show was that she would be following two sets of celebrities, as they bought homes in different locations, but renovated them using the same budget. Alison would then advise about locations, designs and budget tricks to complete a project. They would flip the house later to see who would end up with a bigger profit.
Where is Alison Victoria now?
According to her Instagram account, the third season of “Windy City Rehab” will soon air. While it took a lot of time and relaxing vacations with the family for her to get back to fighting form, it seemed that she survived all her problems associated with her former business partner with flying colors.
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She said in one of her interviews that she stayed positive when it all happened, largely because her longtime boyfriend, Michael Marks, and her family. Her mantra was ‘That’s not for you. You didn’t come this far to fall. You didn’t come this far to give up.’ She said focusing on what she could do at that time and not on what she couldn’t made all the difference. She said she’d gone through hell but she was able to recover.
It wasn’t clear if Alison had already finished filming for her TV show, or if the new episodes were still undergoing the post-production process, but what was apparent in her social media posts was that she’s excited for what she has in store for her fans. She also had a great vacation in Athens, and it clearly rejuvenated her based on the photos she shared online.
Everything seemed to be going great for her once again, and her last post on her Instagram account was about Windy City Rehab’s third season.