Designer Aly Velji Invites Us Into His Merry Holiday Home
When it comes to decking the halls, Calgary-based designer Aly Velji embraces the “more is more” mentality. Glitzy ornaments, layers of rich jewel tones and feathered white Christmas trees abound in the mid-century modern-style home that he shares with his husband, Jason Krell. We chatted with the designer about his favorite holiday tradition, what inspired his unique Christmas color palette and more!
House & Home: What are your best entertaining tips for a memorable soirée?
Aly Velji: “First, a welcome cocktail. The key though is to ensure you can make them in batches, so they are easy to prepare and pour. You do not want to be making drinks all night. Next, an incredible playlist. Music always sets the tone for any party. Just ensure it is not too loud until the dancing gets going! And last but not least, nibbles. I find having bowls of snacks always helps.”
H&H: What are some of your favorite ways to decorate a table for the holidays?
AV: “With this table, it’s all about mixing and matching. We layered a simple white linen table cloth with hand-painted, geometric-patterned placements, rectangular plates, vintage floral-inspired accent plates and brass cutlery for some bling. I also used vintage glassware that I have been collecting for years. Plus, fresh florals are a must for any table. Evergreens and eucalyptus are my favorite.”
H&H: We noticed a few fun DIYs around your space, like the burlap sack garland. How could someone achieve this at home?
AV: “I love a good DIY! It brings me back to being a kid and crafting up different DIYs for the holidays while watching Martha Stewart. The burlap sack garland was actually an advent calendar given to us by our good friend, Betty. We hang it up every year. It is super simple, as you can purchase the bags and the string from the dollar store, and fill them up with little gifts.”
H&H: Displaying presents in a bar cart? Genius!
AV: “I really take a lot of effort in wrapping my gifts so it’s nice to have them on display rather than under the tree. This works for my husband and I as there is only the two of us, and we try to keep gifts to a minimum. This would also work perfectly in a small space or condo!”
H&H: What is one of your favorite holiday traditions?
AV: “If we are staying home for the holidays, I love some alone time with my husband, Jason. We have a tradition of watching Love Actually every year at some point in our pyjamas, opening up our gifts and just being together. With leading such busy lives, sometimes it is nice to just stop and do nothing!”
H&H: Your Christmas tree is very simple, yet glamorous with hits of gold. What inspired you to go in that direction?
AV: “You can’t beat a tinsel Christmas tree — it is so nostalgic and doesn’t really require a lot of ornaments. I tend not to be too fussy with trees, so the simpler the better for me. We decided to decorate this one with faceted ornaments for a bit of glam because you have to have a little sparkle for the holidays.”
AV: “For the other areas in the home, we decide to put out a white feather tree with no decorations. We did however, put handmade ornaments (we took clear glass ornaments and filled the interiors with jewel-toned paint) on some manzanita branches that are by the tree, creating a very unique and unexpected vignette.”
H&H: You strayed away from the traditional red and green palette. What are some ways to embrace different colors for Christmas?
AV: “I am a not traditionalist when it comes to interiors and I love to mix it up. The key though is to ensure you have a color palette in mind. I went with deep burgundy’s, mustards, pinks, and blues, accented with golds and slivers.”
H&H: How would you describe your holiday aesthetic this year?
AV: “Our holiday style definitely has a lot of mid-century inspiration. We live in a house that was built in 1959 — we call it our Brady Bunch House. It is a gorgeous four-level split (something you hardly see any more), and we have done quite a few renovations on the house to update it, while still keeping its mid-century charm. This is something that we also try to do with our holiday decorating too. We love all the kitsch, bright colors and unexpected elements.”
AV: “I also love the ‘more is more’ style when it comes to holiday decor. Have fun, layer, pair different and odd colors together and do the unexpected. The holidays don’t always have to go the traditional route. I am all about breaking design rules and being non-traditional — it’s more fun!”