Podcast, Ep. 184: designer Alison Giese

Interior designer Alison Giese based in San Antonio
Our guest today is San Antonio-based interior designer, Alison Giese, recently relocated from Northern Virginia.  Her work has been featured in Rue Magazine, Better Homes & Gardens, Southern Home, and more. Alison’s signature style gives a home character and soul, while still keeping it minimal and elegant. 

What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • Trials & Triumphs!  Taryn welcomed baby Miles!  Ordering blinds, the Cat Lawyer, carpeting the basement, and finding a perfect workspace in the home.
  • Alison’s career began in sales before she pivoted to design.
  • How her time in Brazil influenced Alison’s style.
  • Redefining what neutral colors are and Alison’s selection process.
  • Cabinetry and hardware trends and preferences.
  • How Alison uses “restraint” and minimalism in her design.
  • Breathing life into a space with greenery.
  • How many towels to display in bathrooms.
  • When and where to use small lamps.

Decorating Dilemma 

Hi ladies!

I love the podcast. I have learned so much (and been entertained!) since finding you! I’m hoping you can help. My husband and two young daughters and I moved into our home last fall. It is a midcentury center hall colonial and we have stayed fairly true to its traditional vibe. I’m ready for new furniture for our family room and not sure what pieces would be best. We hang out in this room as a family primarily to watch tv, play Nintendo and play with our dog. 

 Our formal living room is where we entertain guests (remember that? Entertaining guests?) so this room has more of a cozy, family feel and I’d like to keep it that way. We have pocket doors on either wall with built in bookcases in one of those walls and a third wall has a large window. We have a fireplace that is at an angle. Currently we have a couch, two chairs and a tv console as well as a coffee table. This furniture feels oversized for this room. I was thinking a leather couch in front of the window but what about chairs?? Or a sectional maybe? but fear it will be too far into the room or block the bookcase. Help!!


Hi Beth,

We agree that most of the upholstery does feel a little big for this space. For a sofa, I think you could try a sectional with a chaise at the end.  You would have to measure the room and map it out first either with a scale drawing or using painter’s tape on the floor. Caroline personally loves the Hartwell sofa for this space, especially in front of a window because it has a pretty low back. It’s also really comfortable without being too deep.  And it comes in leather, too! If you do go with a leather sofa, you could try an upholstered ottoman to soften it up. Whatever you go with, just make sure you pay attention to the height and the length of the arms; try to keep it more compact so it doesn’t look as bulky. Depending on if you want the big lounging sofa or not, you could also add additional seating—maybe even some vintage chairs since they have a smaller footprint.

I love the large chair in the corner; it kind of looks like a reading nook with the lamp next to it. Potentially the other chair in the other corner does feel oversized so that could be an opportunity for a smaller chair or even a little café table. So many people are having to carve out even the tiniest spaces for homeschool or home office, so if you don’t have that this could be that place.

We love your built-ins. You could easily make those a fun color and utilize some of that storage for kid stuff. The carpet is great too!

For the TV stand, your current media stand looks a little too deep so you could give yourself more walkway space if you got a stand that is smaller. Like we mentioned in another episode, an IR repeater is a clever way to help you tuck away your electronics.

Lastly, we think you could add some more lamps or even hire an electrician and put some sconces in.

Thank you for sending in your question, Beth! Good luck and send us in some photos!

Mentioned in This Episode:

Please send in your questions so we can answer them on our next episode! And of course, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes so you never miss an episode. You can always check back here to see new episodes, but if you subscribe, it’ll automatically download to your phone.

Happy Decorating!

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Caroline McDonald

Caroline lives for pairing together patterns, mixing furniture styles, and oogling over our newest furniture pieces. As you can imagine, her little 1920's craftsman is in a constant state of flux. Here on How to Decorate, it's her goal to help you turn your home into your own little slice of paradise.


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    February 19, 2021

    I really enjoyed this episode, thanks for featuring Alison! I like how she takes neutral calm rooms that don’t feel same-old-same-old. And they seem so lived in!