Designer Ali Budd gives a Toronto couple the best of both worlds: a family- (and dog-) friendly home that boasts modern sensibility as well as country flair.
“If it were up to me, I would have decorated my entire house with reclaimed wood,” says homeowner Michele Foster. But luckily for Michele, who renovated her then-1,600-square-foot Toronto home last year, designer Ali Budd
proved she could create the desired rustic country feel
without her living in a veritable barn. “She said, ‘I can still give you that look, but I can do it in a more city-appropriate way,’” says Michele. “She was right, and I love how it turned out.”
Michele, a clinical psychologist, and her husband, Aaron Harlang, a real estate consultant, purchased their home six years ago, three days before they got engaged. Aside from a few new pot lights, the dated 1950s house, which has somewhat legendary status – it’s where Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels grew up – had never been touched. But it was solid and livable, so the couple decided to wait for the right time to renovate
. “It was comfortable, and it had what we needed, but I knew it had tons of potential and good bones to work with,” says Michele. “I was looking forward to renovating it and making it my own.”
Five years later, their family had grown – Michele and Aaron were raising their first child (Jake is now two years old), and they shared the house with their beloved pug named Dug. So they decided to take the plunge and embark on a complete overhaul. When the couple enlisted Ali, the designer asked Michele to provide photos of what she loved and didn’t like. A binder full of clippings verified that Michele prefers clean lines and all things cottage. “The challenge was giving them something that feels fresh and contemporary and appropriate for the city but at the same time has that cottagey country vibe
,” says Ali.