Spirited Style

A consultation with decorator Alison Smith led to a family home filled with color.

Emily Lassiter was always fond of vibrant hues, but she and her husband, Joe, were working from a hand-me-down furniture assembly of browns and beiges. “I had a lot of ideas of things I wanted to do to liven up my décor, but I needed someone to help make them cohesive, ” says Emily. So decorator Alison Smith stepped in to assist in pulling pieces together.

Seeking a starting point, Alison and Emily looked to Emily’s favorite color in the living room—purple. Maintaining the neutral foundation of the interiors, Alison layered in the regal hue with patterned pillows, lamps, and small doses of upholstery.

For Alison, shopping bargain stores such as Tuesday Morning to find the lamps in the foyer and browsing through wheel-and-deal sites such as Ebay and Craigslist only add to the thrill of cultivating a pretty interior. “We found Emily’s dining chairs online. Dipped in a fresh coat of white, they have a striking new look, ” Alison says.

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Other bargain finds include the dining console. “We bought the three individual pieces from different HomeGoods stores and put them together, ” Emily says. The dining shelves? Ikea, spray-painted gold. Many of the accessories came from ZGallerie. Still, there are splurges mixed in. “Alison is really smart about helping me know where to spend my money, ” Emily explains. “She knows where to have fun and what to invest in.”

For Emily, big spends included swivel chairs in the living room and designer fabric in small doses. A rug from Paige Albright Orientals makes a statement in the orange foyer. The wallpaper is Thibaut—on the splurge side—but since it was used in a little room, the cost was practical. Are these bright colors for everyone? Maybe not. “But, I’ve never been scared of color, ” says Emily. “God knew what He was doing when he gave me two girls and a husband that lets me indulge my fondness for pinks and purples. With Alison’s help, I have taken a home that could have easily been cookie-cutter ranch and made it a place of our own.”


“My client base doesn’t have thirty thousand dollars to spend on a room. I like to work with what people have first and fill in from there.” — Alison Smith

Meet Alison Smith

A native of Tupelo, Mississippi, Alison learned the art of sewing in an 8th-grade home economics class. “I always helped my mom, and I continued sewing for myself and friends, ” Alison says. After graduating from Ole Miss and starting a career in nursing, she continued to find time to hone her sewing skills. On her off days, Alison produced projects for Southern Living and various Birmingham designers. Her first design client hired her four years ago because she admired her work. As more clients fell in line, Alison switched gears and became a decorator full time. Now, she thrills in the hunt for the perfect find and keeps a running list for her clients, believing that great style comes in a variety of price points. “You really have to take time to look for just-right pieces, ” says Alison. “You can’t do a room in a day and make it great.”

Alison Smith Interiors • [email protected] • 205.427.3547; Art Above Dining Room Console: Katie Strickland Robinson, Memphis, Tenn. Dining Room Chandelier: ZGallerie; Foyer Chandelier: Village Firefly; Foyer Ceiling Color: Orange Burst, Benjamin Moore

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