When interior designer Allison Crawford returned from a recent birthday spent in Paris, she couldn’t wait to invite her best girlfriends over to share all the highlights from the trip. Allison’s downtown Austin loft apartment is a lot like her designs — bright, sophisticated, with a healthy dose of seventies glam. We met up with Allison and her close friends Katie Clawson and Lisa Walla (and Piérre the Papillon) to talk about Paris, her work as an interior designer, and why living next door to Whole Foods is the ultimate secret entertaining weapon.
photographed by kate zimmerman
The inspiration for today’s gathering:
I love to host drinks or dinners, and I hadn’t seen my friends since returning from a design trip to Paris for Maison & Objet. I recently had a birthday, so I invited my favorite ladies over to catch up and celebrate.
I invited two of my best gal pals over to chat and catch up on life. We often travel together, so I wanted to spill the details of my recent trip and compare stories of Paris adventures.
On the menu:
A one dish pasta and a fresh tossed salad. Two super easy recipes for ladies on the go who don’t have a lot of time to cook and clean dishes!
The one entertaining rule you never break:
Always have music and wine.
What (if anything) scares you about entertaining:
Nothing… I really love bringing people together, and I don’t get worked up about the details. Whole Foods is across the street when all else fails!
Your signature entertaining dish:
I recently moved from a three bedroom house house with large backyard to a 1,100 sq ft downtown apartment. When I lived in a house, I entertained more by the pool and would have friends randomly pop by, so I always kept pool snacks on hand. One of my favorite go-to, easy meals is the Quiche Lorraine at Whole Foods. I know it sounds strange, but I cook it for friends all the time and it’s a huge hit. I’ll make a fresh salad and pop the quiche in the oven. Voila! Serve it with some French wine and everyone will be happy (and more time by the pool for the host.)
The taste you’re always craving:
My Father is from upstate New York and my Mother is from Maine, so Italian food and Maine lobster are my all-time favorite foods. There’s something nostalgic about a fresh lobster roll or a hot pie (aka. pizza) for me! Also, my Grandmother made the best lasagna is the world, so my Mother makes lasagna every Christmas and it’s a tradition that will always live on in my family.
Your perfect dinner party playlist:
My go-to playlist on Spotify is Global 50 if I don’t have time to create a playlist. For dinner parties, I always love Erykah Badu, Banks, Chet Faker, and the Weeknd.
Always in your fridge:
I hate to admit that my fridge is usually quite bare. I do keep the essentials: La Croix, white wine for the unexpected guest and cold tap water in a cute copper pitcher from a trip to Mexico City. I live so close to the flagship Whole Foods that I tend to purchase food when I want to cook it so it is really fresh. I also spoil my little pup with gourmet dog food, so most of the food in the fridge is for him!
One the best meals of your life that you’ll never forget:
I was in Paris for my birthday and Maison & Objet. I went with Leigh Navarro, an Austin-based jewelry designer, and we had a blast shopping, going to market, enjoying the chilly weather, and enjoying the French food and wine. For my birthday dinner, I wanted Italian food, so we went to a small restaurant called Marco Polo and had a blast. I had my first $50 pasta. It had truffles and was the best pasta I’ve ever had!! It was a family owned restaurant and we made friends with everyone. I kissed everyone on the cheek (the European way) before we left… Memorable and delicious meal!
click here for Allison’s easy one dish pasta recipe
One of your most memorable nights of hosting guests:
One day I invited an old friend over for a lazy Sunday by the pool. She asked to bring a designer friend who had just moved back to town from New York, I’m never one to turn away more company, so I said of course! A few laps around the pool and margaritas later and we were sharing our life histories and gushing over our favorite vintage designer chairs. I got her number from our mutual friend and asked her to join my firm the next day. She’s still working with me (Christine Gwillim) and I have to say it was the most productive pool partly I’ve ever thrown.
Your standard hostess outfit:
Whatever I feel like wearing: I love a pair of good heels, soft curls and sophisticated but effortless clothing. I wear a lot of vintage, denim, and jumpsuits, so chances are one or all of those elements will be worn!
Your dream dinner party guests:
Kelly Wearstler, Christiane Lemieux, and Drake (of course)
Your entertaining style in five words or fewer:
Casual, free spirited, loud, fun, and memorable
Rules to live by for good table conversation:
Rules? I don’t like rules! But generally I try to keep things upbeat. I work a lot, so when I have time to spend with my friends and family I want to savor every second.
Your style of home decor:
Modern Eclectic, mostly vintage, and lots of original art.
What you love about being an interior designer:
I love that everyday is different and each project presents new challenges. I’m constantly fixing problems and honing my communication skills. Sometimes it’s difficult owning a small business and having to wear many hats but I wouldn’t have it any other way! I do everything from accounting to design and employee two wonderful women to help me. One of the most satisfying parts of the job is inspiring my Junior Designers and encouraging them grow to professionally and giving them the confidence to make their dreams come true.
Fill in the blank: “It’s not a party without _______.”
Want more of allison’s sweet style? Follow her on instagram at @allison.crawford