Calligrapher and designer Allison Banks creates a home and office that caters to her clients (think brides! party planners! stationery!) and her creative spirit.
Allison constantly updates her studio’s inspiration board with random items that make her happy, such as colorful ribbons, photos, and even her own designs.
For designer Allison Banks, inspiration can come from anywhere—an old photo, the architecture of an old building, a flower in bloom, or even a Saturday morning visit to the farmer’s market. From the texture to the color, no detail is too small for Allison to note. “I’m a big fan of old silver and linens,” she says. “I love old things but also bright colors, bold trends, and fashion. I appreciate all of the elements that come from these different artistic realms and try to pull from them, combining old designs and new trends so that my work has a familiar feel but is still fresh.”
It’s this eye for style and appreciation of all things new and old that keep clients coming back to Allison again and again for custom monograms, calligraphy, and invitations. Whatever the event—a wedding, party, or just for a couple—Allison sits down with the client to determine his or her personal style, which is part of the process she enjoys most. “It’s a way of understanding the world through someone else’s eyes,” she says. “Then it’s my turn to create designs that reflect their style and taste that hopefully give them more than they ever expected.”
As Allison takes the time to get to know her clients, they get to know Allison too thanks to her in-home studio. The studio, like the rest of Allison’s recently-renovated circa 1935 Homewood home, is filled with items that define and inspire her, from the vintage furniture she inherited from her grandmothers and her favorite flea market finds to her ever-evolving inspiration board. “So many pieces in this house have a story,” Allison says. “I love history and knowing where things come from. Even if I don’t know the story to a piece, if it has character it can create a new story with me. And that’s one thing I love about what I do because it’s something that families can pass down. My designs will live on past me.”
Allison loves mixing vintage and modern pieces with feminine touches. Ideas and inspiration are collected on her design board. She also has her local go-to spots for pieces perfect as-is or project potentials. Check out some of her favorite haunts:
“My favorite part of the store is upstairs with all the mismatched china. It’s fun to mix and match old and new dishes for a party tablescape,” Allison says.
King Cotton Fabrics
Allison can’t resist the fun patterns and variety of prints.
On A Shoe String
This Bluff Park establishment offers up new shipments every week. “You can find everything from old bricks and outdoor furniture to vintage jewelry and antique hardware,” she says.
In the summer and early fall, a visit to Pepperplace Market vendors is a must for fresh organic fruits and veggies as well as handmade crafts.
Sweet Pea’s & Leaf ‘n Petal
Always working to cultivate her yard, Allison finds these two garden shops as the top places to shop for plants and accessories.
A-little-bit-of-everything-fabulous home offerings.
Allison recommends shopping Nadeau often for first dibs. “I’ve found the best side tables and bookcases here,” she adds.
ABOVE The living room exhibits not only Allison’s creativity—she sewed all of the colorful pillows on the sofa—but also her fanciful flea market purchases.
BEFORE & AFTER The dining room exudes Allison’s love of history and family. The table and chairs are from her maternal grandmother, as well as the mirror from her other grandmother behind it. “I thought they would combine beautifully, so I painted them the same color and put them together,” Allison shares. To give the vintage piece a fun detail, Allison gold leafed the knobs. Wall color: Benjamin Moore; Picnic Basket CSP-730.
ABOVE LEFT While Allison changed out the kitchen countertops and added the Dutch double door, the cabinets are original to the house. Allison brought them back to life with just a new coat of paint.
ABOVE RIGHT The chalkboard wall in the kitchen serves as one more spot Allison can add fun, inspirational messages inside the home. The chair—an old teacher’s chair that Allison purchased from the original owner at a flea market—has become a favorite hang out spot in the kitchen. “Everyone just gravitates to that chair,” she says. “It’s a neat little piece.”
ABOVE The master bath is the only addition Allison made to the home. Wanting the bathroom to feel original to the 1930s home, Allison added a soaker tub instead of a full shower, used a neutral tone for the flooring and beaded board for the ceiling, and incorporated more family pieces that were passed down to her, such as the cabinet that was originally her grandmother’s and her great grandmother’s stool.
BEFORE & AFTER The exterior received a fresh new color palette (Exterior: Benjamin Moore; Kona AF-165, Door: Yorktowne Green; HC133) and eyebrow awning over the arched doorway.