How to decorate your dream home on a budget

Olympic medalist Helen Upperton shares how she and designer Aly Velji created the home of her dreams on a budget.

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A dream home

If an interior decorator's role is to read a homeowner's unique sense of style and convey that in the space surrounding them, Aly Velji's doing a damn good job.

"It's like he could see what I'd pictured in my head before I was able to describe it," says Olympian Helen Upperton, who gave Velji free rein over her 1,500-square-foot new build. The one caveat? This being Upperton's first home, it was important he squeezed the most out of every decorating dollar, a challenge that Velji met with gusto.

"The main concern was to make it very comfortable and homey for her," says Velji. The first step was to pin down Upperton's style, which leans toward the rustic but also melds ethnic influences with the occasional splash of pure, unadulterated "pretty." "It's definitely all about the mix, and I think Helen just needed some help pulling all of her ‘likes' together to make a cohesive space."

The rustic element was realized in the form of raw, textural wood found in everything from the plank flooring to the bookcase shelves. The warm, grounded esthetic was driven home with an organic palette of burnt orange and greyish green, which—unbeknownst to Velji—happens to be Upperton's favourite colour. What's more, the souvenirs Upperton collected in competitions around the globe provided an endless supply of exotic accessories. "The injection of pieces from Helen's travels helped to pull everything together," says Velji, "and truly puts her stamp on the space."

"He totally nailed it," says Upperton. "It's good to feel excited to go home every day and think, 'Yes! This is my home!'"

Turn to the next page to find out Velji's budget savvy decorating tips.

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