Iliana grew up in Greenwich Village in an old clapboard house where the lawn was so small her father cut it with scissors. Her family summered in a 19th century artist's colony in the northern Catskills where she learned to love the local vernacular architecture and the art of the Hudson River School.

Iliana majored in classics at Skidmore College. After graduation she moved to Italy where she studied archaeology at the University of Rome.  On returning to New York, she worked as a conservator and attended the New York School of Interior Design before starting her career.  She divides her time between the Northeast and Argentina, where she has family roots and an apartment in Buenos Aires.