Light and Livable for this Lake Home Part I

I love sharing a good before and after and this project is a great example of how a dated home can be brought back to life for all to enjoy!  What started out as a smaller remodel project quickly turned into a full blown remodel for two floors of the home.  Now I’m not going to lie, Lake Norman in North Carolina is a beautiful spot to live, there is an abundance of homes that sit upon this lake, but for the most part they were built 20+ years ago and a lot of them are outdated – this home was no exception.  I’m not going to go into every single detail of what we did here and how it all went down, so I’ll just show you a few before/after pictures so you can get an idea of what we started with. A few of the after pictures were taken by yours truly:) but I’ve included the professional shots as well which were taken by Joe Purvis who did an incredible job!

The Lovely Before;)

This kitchen was a little tricky due to all the angles, but between my contractor, the cabinet maker and myself, we were able to make it functional and beautiful.  By incorporating the table into the island, we were able to create a cozy breakfast nook with super comfy chairs to relax into!  My clients one request: touches of pink/blush throughout the home- I think we nailed it in the kitchen! Another before shot….(I love plantation shutters, but when your view is that of a lake- they just need to go)!

Kitchen Nook Before:


Photo: Joe Purvis


Photo: Joe Purvis
Photo: Joe Purvis

There’s a lot more to see of this home, but the kitchen is where I’ll stop for today. Stay tuned for Part II in the near future!





An Industrial Man Cave Office

Never leave a man behind…all too often the man is left out of the design decisions and just rolls with the punches, but not in this case.  It was time the man of the house had “his” space!  This empty basement room was once sparse with just a workout bench.  I wanted it to feel like a man cave office – a place he could escape to and feel like this part of the house was really his to relax in.

The sparse space before pic:

The process of creating the space in 2D with a moodboard:

Adding this brick accent wall was key for two reasons- one, the wall was pretty massive but we didn’t want this to be the backdrop wall with bookshelves because the view of the lake was the other way!  and two, the room needed a little drama!

An after shot before the sideboard and chair arrived.


Man Cave Office After

and the lovely professional photos by my talented friend Tiffany Ringwald


Photo: Tiffany Ringwald


Photo: Tiffany Ringwald


Photo: Tiffany Ringwald

Need help creating an inviting space?  From color consultations to whole house remodels and new construction, we are a full service interior design firm with turn key solutions! Head over to our contact page to get started!



A Delightful Dining Room

Welcome to our new website and The Journal!  My dear friend Colby did an amazing job creating this site and I am so excited to start blogging again- something I have been terrible at the last few years.   If you follow me on IG or FB you can see that my life has taken some twists and turns to say the least – we now have an adorable sweet baby boy that has stolen our hearts and our time:)  Of course I need to post a pic:) Cutest baby ever right?!!!

Aside from the hectic home life, we are back to business and I’ve been wanting to share some behind the design of a project from a few months back.  Clients and followers always want to know how I start a design? where do my ideas/concepts come from? and how does the process work?  I wish I had a magic wand when it came to an answer but really every project is different.  I may be inspired by a piece of art the client has, maybe it’s a great fabric I found but ultimately for me it’s a vision- yes I know it sounds crazy but I see the space in ways others can’t- I see how the light hits the room, how we can highlight and/or alter the architecture, the colors that will work best, etc. and then I get very excited about how I will execute my plan!  But most projects during some stage have me doing a digital moodboard or design board to give the client an idea for the direction I’m headed.  Now the moodboard sometimes is just that- it sets the tone for feel/style/color for the space.  And sometimes a number of the items on the board are already selected and it’s just pulling the rest together.   Here’s a design board for a dining room makeover:

and then this is how the room turned out…

Photo: Tiffany Ringwald

a few more detail shots:

photo: Tiffany Ringwald
Panel Detail
Drapery Trim Detail
Photo: Tiffany Ringwald

So much of what a designer does is meticulously thought out and planned down to every last detail.  It’s not a coincidence the ring pattern on the carpet is mimicked throughout the space – the ring pattern on the trim of the drapes and the droplet glass circles on the chandelier just tied it all together like a pretty present!  I just love the way this room turned out and the clients are pretty happy too!




AWD Magazine Feature Links- Southpark Magazine and LKN Currents

Happy 4th of July!  This post is short and sweet due to it being a holiday:)  Here is a link to the Southpark Magazine article that featured our Ballantyne project we completed earlier this year.

as well as the Lake Norman Currents feature which came out this week!

I hope everyone enjoys the last little bit of their Holiday- back to reality tomorrow:(



Ballantyne Project Part 1

Yes I know it has been a long long time since I wrote a blog.  So what better way to spend Super Bowl Sunday than working:)  No, I do not like football however I do have The Blindside on in the background!!!

I’ve been wanting to share with you the before pictures from my Ballantyne project.  This remodel was a labor of love and although a little sad when a long project comes to an end, I love love love seeing the final pictures and especially when I get a chance to compare it to the before pictures.  So here it goes:

The home was built in 1983 and is approximately 3200 sq. ft.  My clients reached out to me in hopes of transforming their house into something that they were proud to call home.  I was honored to take on this project!

This was the uninviting before front entrance:

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We didn’t have to do much to make this home shine.  A new front door, paint the exterior, straighten the shutters (they were fun house style before), some new lighting and POW curb appeal at it’s best!


Another few exterior shots:

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Hello curb appeal:


Now we get to the guts of the home.  This living room with a great view of the backyard had great potential, however we needed to enhance it just a little.  Yes, that’s a large mural on that back wall:)


Ahhh, let there be light!  We put 3 beautiful french doors on the back and painted them black.  I wanted to bring in a little european flair – touches of black is a great way to achieve this.  We added the beams and in the next shot you’ll be able to see how we removed a wall that separated the kitchen and the living room.


This next shot makes me giggle because I referred to this large green sofa as “the big green monster” !  The homeowner loved this so much he was hanging onto it all during the renovation in case he didn’t like the new one I selected.  Notice the wall with a closet that was clearly not being utilized?


Poof, wall comes down, space opens up- Success!  and you’ll be happy to know, the big green monster got the boot and the new oh so comfy sectional from my Simplicity line took center stage!


These next photos really highlight the huge transformation that took place in this home.  The kitchen, the heart of the home becomes the superstar in this renovation.




Drum roll please…



Every bit of this kitchen got renovated, except the floors, we were able to refinish them to a pretty dark walnut.  The door that lead to the garage was moved into the laundry room where it belonged.  This enabled us to use this space for the important things in the kitchen like the refrigerator!

Time to call it a night.   Part 2 of this remodel will follow- now no promises as to how soon that will happen:)

…to be continued

Flipping This Kitchen

Happy Sunday Everyone!  I have been trying to get around to this blog for quite some time, so with a quiet house this Sunday afternoon, here it goes!

I completed this kitchen last year and it was shot for This Old House Magazine last November and hit newsstands a few months ago.  My client was so fun to work with and what an honor to be able to transform this space – the heart of the home!  I love it when I can walk into a space and immediately have a vision.  That’s exactly what happened when I walked into my clients kitchen well, almost.  I’ll be honest, my first thought was yikes where do I start? but soon enough I was drawing in my head and completely flipping the space.  What I mean is this was a long kitchen with underutilized space so I flipped the work space and dining space.  Here are some before/after pictures of the kitchen:



My client is just a bundle of sunshine so we wanted the kitchen to reflect that spirited side of her.  She is a  busy Mom with even busier kids- so creating a space that was functional was key and ample seating was a must.  Not only is there 5 of them in the family, but the kids are constantly hosting team dinners so accommodating lots of people was a priority.  That’s why flipping the space made sense, now not only is there room for a large island with seating, but the banquette can accommodate almost 15 people comfortably.


Hard to believe a home that’s over 5,000 sq. ft had a kitchen smooshed into this teeny tiny space- just not functional.  But we changed all that!


Where a non-functioning pantry was before, we created a drop zone area for the kids and all their stuff!



img_3933Sunny yellow pantry door and Birch tree wallpaper…yes please!!!



Large pull out pantry, full size refrigerator and full size freezer = chef’s heaven!  and get ahold of this island, it is gigantic.  So large in fact we had to get creative with the countertop.  Quartz slabs only come so large and typically if there is an appliance on the island a seam doesn’t matter, but we decided to add interest instead. We added a piece of walnut (same wood from shelves) down the middle.


Coolest light ever:)





Here are the pictures from This Old House magazine:




I hope everyone enjoys the remainder of their weekend.  I know I’m praying for cooler temperatures this week- come on Fall!!!






For the Love of Navy

Happy Memorial Day Weekend Everyone!   Sort of a cloudy Sunday so it’s giving me a chance to catch up on some work- some fun, some not so fun:(   However, I am very excited to share with  you the most recent install we completed of a gorgeous home on Lake Norman.   A current client asked us to transform their underutilized and cold basement into a living space that everyone could use.  It’s a large space that is located right off the pool and the lake so the concrete floors were not ideal when kids come running through to use the restroom or run to the game room.  My first priority was to tackle the floor – my solution, an indoor/outdoor natural fiber rug that spanned the entire living space.

Here is a before picture of the basement… a little cold right?!  concrete floor, white walls, but what potential!  I immediately saw a darker color on the walls with all that gorgeous trim work.

and the after:


All the furniture is from my Simplicity Furniture Line and the greatest part… it’s all indoor/outdoor fabric- Yes, that’s right folks, the sectional, sofa, and swivel chairs will all stand up to stains and damp swimsuits!

The important part of designing this space was to break it up into a few seating areas so the kids could have their own space and the adults could have their own cozy sitting area.  The 2 white chairs are swivel chairs so when everyone wants to watch a movie together, it’s like stadium seating!





Another before/after:



I just loved this project and absolutely adore this family.  They are fun, down to earth and so open when it comes to my design ideas and trusting me with their home!  A few more of my favorite shots:



Still waiting on some artwork to arrive for the right of the fireplace, but almost complete!

Now, I can’t write this post without thanking this guy, my husband Scott, my rock, the strength and muscle behind every install and my biggest cheerleader!  Ally Whalen Design would not have the success it has had without him.

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We hope everyone has a safe and happy Memorial Day Weekend and a huge thank you to all the Veterans out there- you truly are appreciated!




Ally Whalen Design’s Treehouse Studio

Happy Friday everyone!  I know I have been terrible about keeping up with blogging so here it goes, back on the saddle:)

I’m amazed I never did a blog on my awesome treehouse that was completed in December – that shows you how insane busy I’ve been.  Well, for those of you that don’t keep up with my Facebook or Instagram, you’re in for a treat… a look into my new workspace, my design studio, my she-shed in the trees!


It’s so nice to see all the pretty green leaves on the trees now.  I’m sure like most you are asking yourself why I built a treehouse. It’s quite simple, I needed a workspace close to home but not in our home, but our backyard floods several times a year because of the creek so… in the trees we went!  I could probably write a book on the process we went through to get it done, but I don’t have the time:)

Thanks to Ken Noblezada Photography,  Chrissy Winchester Photography, and The Coop Marketing for taking some gorgeous shots of my space!


Shiplap walls, slipcovered furniture from my Simplicity line, and a cozy shag rug- yes please!



The loft… a great nap spot and cuddle spot with my girls.




The bump out area for my desk was a last minute decision, but worth it.


I hacked some branches from the tree in our front yard to make this cool light in the sitting area.


There you have it- my treehouse design studio.  A place to work, drink wine, watch tv, and cuddle with the kids- what more could a girl want?!!!


Stay on the lookout for my e-guide to go on sale in the near future.  Great insight on how I started my company and tools I use.


Budget Friendly Shiplap


It’s all the rage and I can’t deny my love of shiplap. No longer reserved for an older home, shiplap is making a comeback in a major way. Thanks to shows like HGTV’s Fixer Upper, I have more clients asking for this look and I’m more than happy to oblige. In fact, when I was designing the AWD treehouse studio I knew from the start that Shiplap would be my wall cover of choice.

A few shiplap looks I love…

Who say’s shiplap always has to be white?

dark Shiplap
livingroom shiplap

I knew I wanted to find an affordable option for my little design abode so I assigned the job of finding a suitable alternative to my husband and AWD project manager, Scott. I knew I didn’t want a seamless look, but rather something that showed off the “shiplap” look’s character and charm. We discovered that by stapling roofing tar paper to the walls we would find our answer.

Using nickels as spacers (you knew those pesky things at the bottom of your purse would come in handy for something, right?), we were able to construct the shiplap-esque walls while still allowing a bit of the black to peak out between boards. Completely budget friendly, our Spruce came in under the true shiplap boards that averaged right around $8.22-$13.00 at our local home improvement store.



Budget friendly SHIP LAP-2

So are you ready to get going on your next shiplap project?