There is nothing stronger than family ties. It’s why we’re taken with all the work Allison Allain and Marilynn Taylor, The Property Sisters do in California. Playing ying to each other’s yang, these sisters cover it all when it comes to homes. From building out new spaces to retooling furniture, Allison and Marilynn deliver. Read on to find out more about this powerful pair and where they go to discover treasures.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Allison Allain: I am a general contractor, an actor, and a writer/producer. I wear many hats through the week, which can be dizzying. So, I play soccer on the weekends, and read fictional novels as often as time allows. I am the builder half of The Property Sisters.
Marilynn Taylor: I’m a budding designer with a focus on rehab design along with investment in flip houses. Our business is really a partnership of two businesses.
Where are you from and where do you currently live?
AA: I was born and raised in Southern California, mostly in Orange and Riverside Counties. I currently live in the San Gabriel Foothills in a city called Monrovia.
MT: I was born in Massachusetts but moved to CA when I was five. Today I live in the Los Angeles southbay, just 10 minutes south of LAX.
What is the most awesome thing in or about your neighborhood?
AA: We have a great walking city with a wonderful downtown and lots of great, historic Victorian and Craftsman homes to look at.
MT: I live in a small 1950’s community in Hawthorne called Holly Glen. The most awesome thing about living here is the sense of community and the proximity to the beach.
List the top five places you go locally to discover hidden treasures.
AA: To me, hidden treasures are the homes themselves. I go walking and try often to take different routes. It seems like I discover something new each time. I also like going to the two San Gabriel Habitat for Humanity ReStores to dig up donated woodworking and other goodies, like fireplace mantles, corbels, and more.
MT: Thats a secret! I can say that some of the greatest pieces I have stumbled upon have come out of properties that are being rehabbed. I am so happy knowing that I save these wonderful pieces from landfills. We pride ourselves in recycling materials and pieces whenever possible. There is so much waste in the design and build industry and we strive to create as little as possible.
What blogs or websites do you visit regularly?
AA: Mike Holmes, Home Depot, Build.com, This Old House, and different contractor discussion threads.
MT: Pinterest, Houzz, Centsational Girl, Little Green Notebook, HGTV, and BHG.com.
As a kid, were any of your toys and clothes hand-me-downs?
AA: What wasn’t a hand-me-down?? My entire wardrobe was worn originally by my older sister. My Barbies were her Barbie cast-offs, dolls, etc. I really didn’t like playing Barbie unless I was alone anyway. So I usually played Legos, GI Joe or Tron with my brother. Or he would just throw tennis balls at me.
MT: I was the oldest girl, and we didn’t have any relatives living nearby, so everything was new for me, but for Allison…..she wasn’t as fortunate. Our mom was a great seamstress though, so a ton of my clothes were made from scratch. And we almost never had a store bought Halloween costume. We both picked up some sewing skills and put them to use once in a while. I still have all of my childhood costumes and much of the handmade clothes, which my 9-year-old step daughter Logen uses for dress up. It’s so cool to see them used and loved by the next generation.
Today, how often do you go to garage sales, flea markets, etc.? What is your modus operandi? Any personal tips you’d like to share?
AA: I don’t do a lot of these things because what I’m looking for typically isn’t found at these. I’m not on the decorating side of things. I like donated pieces from job sites like old doors, knobs, and other hardware found in older homes.
MT: I drop by garage sales when I happen across them, but rarely flea markets. Most of the flea markets in Los Angeles are overpriced and I’m too cheap to pay anything but rock bottom prices. That said, I love finding things on the street. I have one very secret thrift store that I cannot divulge, or my fellow designers who tipped me off would kill me! I also love to find hidden treasures in thrift stores or clearance racks. Even if something is a bit damaged, I nurse it back to health, or find a creative way to give it new life and put it up for sale! Lately my best source for larger items and great lighting has been the rehab houses.
Have you ever taken home an object you found in the street or dumpster? If so, what was it? And where is it now?
MT: I have. The Ikat ottoman currently for sale is one of those items, and coming up, I have a set of four danish chairs I pulled off the street that are currently being rehabbed. The pair of lavender slipper chairs currently for sale were saved from the dumpster along with the sectional sofa and desk I recently sold. I still have so many vintage light fixtures in my garage waiting to be fixed up! I can’t keep up!
Are you a hoarder or a minimalist?
AA: I’m an unorganized minimalist. That means I fight my own clutter every day: clutter of the mind, clutter on my desk, clutter in my garage. I try to pare down every day, but more keeps coming!
MT: I’m a bit of a hoarder. I can’t pass up a fabulous piece, especially if it’s free. I started gathering accessories thinking that I would be more focused on staging, which may still happen, but in the meantime, I have taken over an entire room of my house with pillows, lamps and decorative accessories. My poor husband has been so patient with me, but it helps that I am starting to sell more and more.
What is your most cherished thrifted, secondhand, vintage, upcycled object you possess? What’s the story behind it?
AA: I’m going to have to say it’s something I made for someone that is my favorite. She is a friend as well as a client, so I get to stop by her house and admire my own handiwork. She had a simple Williams-Sonoma island that I added a shelving unit to on one side and a small somewhat octagonal seating area to on the other side with wine/liquor storage underneath. Using reclaimed wood corbels, rosettes, wood balusters, and salvage hand-made wrought iron handles, I created a piece that is unique, economical and so very Linda (my friend).
MT: Wow, this is a tough one. I have a few. I have been a fan of old movies (1930’s through early 1960’s) so I have always been drawn to things from those eras, including clothing, furniture, and style. I love it all. I have a great 1940’s wool coat that I picked up in a thrift store for $1.75 and a red mid century chair I just put up for sale. I lived in Massachusetts when I was 19 and studying at the Hartford Ballet (that was my first life) and I found that red chair at a tag sale. I paid $5 for it. The dilemma was how to get it back to California, and it took about five years after I had moved back to California to get it here. Once I had it back in my possession, I had it reupholstered. I have had that chair for more than half my life! I finally decided to sell it because it sits unused in my house.
Do you create/make things? What are you working on these days?
AA: I’m often creating custom wood items that solve particular problems or needs for the client. However, my most recent project was building a small pergola that a close friend was married under. I had to build it in moveable pieces because I made it out of substantial wood members and assembled on site. I also lit it since the wedding was outside in the evening.
MT: Boy do I! I have another room in my house entirely dedicated to my crafting. I started out years ago making ornaments (which I still do), love rubber stamping, knitting, jewelry making and more recently sock animals. I also really enjoy reupholstering items that are simple to do myself. I have an Etsy store where I sell my sock animals and ornaments along with some of my smaller vintage items.
By the way, what’s your day job?
AA: Like I said earlier, I’m a general contractor.
MT: I am fortunate enough that my day job is being a designer, investor and home decor seller.
Thanks Allison and Marilynn!