Hi Gang! This week I want to introduce you to a lady who inspires me daily - not only through her Interior Design work but, with her zest for life and wonderful endearing nature.
Alison Sheffield shares a glorious Bow Roof Cape in Cohassett, MA with husband Stephen Sheffield a talented Artist and Photographer; sons Milo, 14 and Finn, 11; and some sweet furry family members - their adorable pup Evvie and cats Otto & Puck.
I’ve been following Alison on social media for years … and over that time we’ve become friends. This greater Boston area designer has been working in the industry for over 15 years. I know you will enjoy getting to know her as much as I have.
Alison grew up in Wellesley, MA in a home filled with antique furniture and rugs, many with an Asian influence. She always loved rearranging furniture and decorating growing up and remembers three distinct incarnations of her childhood bedroom. Her mother wallpapered every room in their house at least once; so using wallpaper doesn’t feel permanent to Alison and its why she embraces it so effortlessly in her own home and with her clients.
Both sets of grandparents decorated with antiques. Her paternal grandparents foyer and upstairs hall walls were covered in Blue & White Toile. It was a huge influence on her.
“Before I even knew what Chinoiserie was, I was smitten with it.”
Alison told me decorating her freshman college dorm room was a summer-long activity, involving custom pillow shams and lots and lots of Laura Ashley.
“Decorating every space I’ve lived in since has been as much of a thrill.”
Recently Alison’s Home which she designed was published in Erin Gates newest bestseller: ELEMENTS OF Family STYLE. As an example of how to live stylishly with children and pets. During her career she has also been featured in Better Homes & Gardens and Boston Globe Magazine.
While living in that dorm room she studied English, Art History, and Women’s Studies and remarked that all these disciplines have been helpful and relevant in her life since.
After college she worked for John Hancock in their major events department. Which ran events surrounding their corporate sponsorships of the Boston Marathon and the Olympics. From there she ended up at The Jimmy Fund, the fundraising arm of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, running smaller fundraising events. That morphed into managing the Stewardship Events for the hospital’s development office - which included naming dedications and thank you events for very large donations.
Alison decided she really wanted to try her hand at interior design. She attended design school where she focused on - the history of furniture, architecture, color theory, lighting and the decorative arts. While attending The New England School of Design she worked part time for the - then regional editor for Traditional Home and Better Homes & Gardens. Alison did research and interviewed designers about their spaces and she would write up the first pass for her boss. Her boss pitched she and Stephen’s home in Boston to BH&G for their First Home feature and it was published in the September issue just before their oldest son was born that December. The article was called A Marriage of Styles and described how they’d meshed their different aesthetics in their first home.
Alison added that she wasn’t exposed to anything very “modern” or “contemporary” until she met Stephen, an artist whose Father an architect is a fan of the Bauhaus movement, and whose Mother is a master of all the home arts (cooking, sewing, knitting, quilting, gardening, etc.). The home he grew up in had a much more modern slant, and its what he was surrounding himself with when they met. She shared that he doesn’t have bad style and that he’s actually very good at putting a space together. He leans toward the utilitarian (especially when he was in art school – think sawhorses and hollow-core doors) with a bit of an edge. At the time they met her style was still entirely traditional – mahogany furniture, Persian rugs, toile wallpaper.
“Incorporating his style with mine was a tremendous learning experience for me. Figuring out how to balance the different silhouettes, styles and materials and make each sing in its own way, 100% changed how I approached design.”
Their son Milo’s nursery was featured in Boston Globe Magazine. With that exposure she was able to cobble together enough work to start Sheffield Interiors. Over the years she’s done primarily residential work, with a few commercial/hospitality jobs in the mix.
“Homes really are my passion. Creating an environment a client loves is so important to me. To be able to give them a space that reflects who they are and what they love brings me joy.”
Alison shared that her style still definitely slants toward the traditional. She’ll always turn toward antiques and vintage rugs, but offset them with clean lines and more up-to-date textures or finishes.
“I use a lot pattern and color because I LOVE them. I consider jewel tones and animal prints pretty much a given in most designs I create. And there’s nothing more important in creating a timeless and classic room than layering. And art, always art.“
I asked what the rest of 2019 held -
Alison is thrilled to be participating in the 3rd annual Heading Home To Dinner event in October. The event works to raise funds to provide emergency shelter, transitional housing, permanent housing and supportive services to homeless and formerly homeless families and individuals in the Boston area.
This event brings members of the local design community together to support this incredibly important organization. Tickets are sold to a cocktail reception, as well as a formal dinner, during which bar carts created by local designers are auctioned off. You can see her concept for the bar cart she’s designing - the inspiration is a collage created by her husband Stephen Sheffield.
She wants to expand her client base, and continue to create and collect beauty!
Alison will be updating her website, in the meantime she’s using Instagram as a portfolio of her work. She loves the connections she’s made both professionally and personally as well as the inspiration she gets from the creative community on the app.
“I’m currently working with an artist on my branding.”
Her next-door neighbor was a decorator and the most glamorous person Alison knew and she wanted to be her when she grew up! Well, Alison you’ve succeeded in Spades!!!
Pop over and check out Alison’s feed and follow along, you’ll be so happy!
Til next time - have a terrific week and I’ll see you on the Gram!