Allison Cunningham Designs

Meet Allison! She is the founder of Allison Cunningham Designs in Houston, Texas. Her passion for patterns, color, and antique pieces inspire her to design the most beautiful, unique rooms! 

Tell us about yourself! 

 I came to design after spending a dozen years in a career I wasn’t in love with. My family was growing (I have 3 girls!) and I decided to invest a little time reflecting on what I wanted to be doing. Having grown up in beautifully decorated homes, I already understood how important surroundings are to our emotions. And now that I was staying home, I needed to make some changes! I guess those changes were enough to make an impact because my friends started asking for help and my design business really just  grew organically from there. I’m still a workaholic but at least now I get to look at pretty things instead of voluminous contracts!  

 If a client is on a strict budget, what are your favorite cost-effective ways to add  a big impact?  

 My clients have great taste and appreciate finer things, but everyone has a limit! If budget is a constraint, I love to incorporate a really large-scale piece of art from an emerging artist. You can fill a whole wall with one impressive piece to make a major statement. And it’s a bonus that original art really holds its value. If a client is more daring, a patterned wallcovering can have the same effect. 

Go-to paint colors at the moment?  

Every space’s lighting, flooring and other design elements impact the way paint looks, so it almost always calls for a custom selection. But I do love a warm white background to allow the design elements to shine. I also gravitate towards decorating with green and am in love with my new Benjamin Moore Grenadier Pond kitchen cabinetry. 

We loved looking at your “Then+Now” page on your website. What is your best  advice when it comes to transforming older pieces of furniture? 

I truly enjoy the process of transforming old pieces, especially if it’s a sentimental piece or is particularly unique. You really have to already love something about the piece though because it’s not always a budget friendly choice. But tailoring something you love to meet your current needs is almost always a good investment!  

You are a master at mixing patterns! Any tips for creating a cohesive look while  using multiple prints?  

My process for mixing patterns is a bit obsessive. I’ll get completely enthralled with a main fabric or a color scheme and pull countless textiles that I think have potential to be cohesive. I love the process of playing around with those - varying the scale and the type of pattern or texture. My tip is to stick to a pretty tight color palette to help unify and then to just have fun & not be afraid. 

You recently designed an adorable little girl's bedroom with a Mosaic, Blue Sky Crown Bed. Can you walk us through the design process? 

 This was a fun project for a repeat client’s adorable daughter. It was time to transition her to a big girl room but nobody was quite sure how she would react. Her previous crib had the sweetest red block print quilt that was the real jumping off point. I knew I wanted to bring more playful patterns and vivid colors into the new design. The Coley Home mosaic fabric was a perfect complement. Thankfully my client trusted my vision and the results were a hit.

Favorite/most inspiring place you’ve ever traveled?  

 One of my favorite travel memories is the time in my 20’s that I splurged on a small boutique hotel room on the banks of Lake Como after staying in hostels for weeks. There were layers and layers of bed linens and quilts that just made it seem so homey. My husband and I also had a fabulous honeymoon in Thailand. We primarily went for the beaches, but I really fell in love with Bangkok and hope to go back one day.  

 Other favorite interior designers to follow on Instagram?


The British and Australian design lifestyles are a big inspiration for me - there’s a comfort and quirk level that’s just so refreshing. Right now I’m loving following international fabric houses and designers like Ottoline De Vries, Christopher Farr,  Charlotte Gaisford, Jane Churchill and Anna Spiro, who all have such inspirational patterns.    

 Favorite summer recipe? 

 I love to bake and in the summertime that means peach cobbler! It’s probably the only thing I can throw together without a recipe. I also love pavlova any time of year. I use a technique from my 30 year old Le Cordon Blue cookbook and always add fresh berries in the summer.  

 TV Show you are watching?  

 I can never binge-watch a TV show because I always fall asleep! But right now I’m on Season 4 of Offspring and I can’t wait to see what happens next. I’ll go from laughing out loud to crying and then laughing again within minutes.   

 Book you are reading?  

 I picked up The Authenticity Project as a light summer read. I haven’t finished yet but it’s a good reminder that being open and vulnerable are keys to great friendships! It can be hard for me to be vulnerable, but it’s something I’m working on!  

 Item(s) on your bedside table you can’t live without? 

My desk tends to be my clutter magnet but I keep my bedside table strictly to the essentials - lamp, clock, and a catch all dish for jewelry. Even my eyeglasses are only allowed to stay there in the middle of the night while I sleep. In the daytime, they have to go back to their home in my bathroom. 

 Thank you, Allison!  

Charles Mosaic, Blue Sky with Como, Rockstar piping