Alison Victoria Takes on High-Stakes Renovations in HGTV's New Series 'Windy City Rehab'
In one of the most anticipated series premieres in HGTV’s new season lineup, home renovation star Alison Victoria heads to her home town of Chicago to restore vintage homes in the city’s historic neighborhoods. (And she’s got a few other irons in the fire as well.)
Alison Victoria — who many viewers know as the vibrant and vivacious host of the DIY Network’s long-running series Kitchen Crashers — may be our latest nominee for ‘hardest-working woman in show biz’ — at least within the sphere of HGTV and home-improvement television. She’s just wrapped shooting on a brand-new renovation series, Windy City Rehab, set in her beloved home town of Chicago. (More on that in a minute.)
Viewers will get their first look at the new series when it makes its debut on HGTV on New Year’s Day at 9pm ET/PT. And speaking of New Year’s Day, Alison will be hosting a special ‘All Premiere New Year’ lineup on the network beginning January 1 at 1pm ET/PT. (The lineup for that special event will include several new HGTV pilots as well as season-premiere episodes of fan faves like My Lottery Dream Home and House Hunters.) And were all that not enough, she’s also unveiling of HGTV’s spectacular 2019 Dream Home in Whitefish, Montana — in a 1-hour special airing at 8pm ET/PT, also on New Year’s Day.
Back to Windy City Rehab. Alison’s ties to her home town of Chicago run deep. She has a clear and perceptible passion for the city so, in a sense, this series is a perfect match for her. Moreover, these renos go beyond simple home improvement. These are vintage homes that Alison and crew are rescuing, reviving and — wherever possible —keeping true to the original spirit of their history, architecture and community roots. As such there can be more at stake than just, say, a stylish kitchen or a cozy master suite.
And apropos to the city where it’s set, as renovation shows go, this one’s less the soft and cuddly design-and-decorating series, but is instead a little tougher, brassier and imbued with suspense arising from outright risk. It deals with the tough situations that builders and renovation pros face when undertaking major building rehabs in urban settings and a tough real-estate environment. “It’s my dream to flip houses in my hometown of Chicago,” says Alison, “but renovating homes in this price point leaves a ton of money on the line. These are high-stakes projects that could spiral out of control at any minute. It’s big risks and big rewards.”
Taking a look behind the scenes, this is one series that took quite a while and a rather extraordinary amount effort to bring to air, and some of that is due to the real and adverse challenges — both logistical and financial — inherent in the renovations themselves. The bottom line on these projects is that obstacles come up, deadlines have to be met and, once each renovation is complete, Alison must attract high-end buyers or risk losing a substantial investment. Facing factors that include things like structural damage, permit delays, failed inspections and brutal Chicago winters, Alison remains determined to create gorgeous homes and earn top profit.
If all of this seems a tad heavy and serious, fear not. You can rest assured that — as those familiar with Alison will know — challenges notwithstanding, there are certain to be outlandish and hilarious on-camera moments arising from surprises along the way and interactions with crew and coworkers.
The premiere episode finds Alison and lead contractor Donovan Eckhardt updating a dilapidated brick two-flat built in 1903. The home is in Alison's own neighborhood of Bucktown, an eclectic and popular area near Lincoln Park characterized by quaint streets, a thriving nightlife and lots of restaurants. Architecturally there's a mix ranging from elegant brownstones to modest townhouses to converted industrial lofts.
Over the course of a nine-month project, Alison and crew deal with setbacks that include crumbling walls, a stop-work order from the city and construction in sub-zero temperatures. Essentially a reworking of the entire structure in its original footprint, the renovation ultimately creates an open and friendly home with striking curb appeal that's certain to appeal to buyers who are eager to move into the historic area. Alison pays tribute to the home's historic roots, integrating features such as the vintage brick exterior, antique wood doors, dark stained hardwood floors and a showpiece antique mantle.
Viewers are likely familiar with Alison from her popular series, Kitchen Crashers, which ran for nine seasons on DIY Network and featured Alison surprising customers at home-improvement centers and presenting them with the opportunity for a radical, rapid and spectacular kitchen makeover. What they may not know is that her career in home improvement began at the age of 10 when her mother agreed to let her make over the family basement. It's an interest that must have been genuine because some years later she could be found running her own interior design firm with offices in Chicago and Las Vegas, and eventually creating her own line of furniture and home furnishings.