April 22, 2018
Splash out with city sparkle in a country setting for stylish entertaining from Julia Knight.

Dear Debbie,
We are planning a special wedding anniversary for our parents, celebrating 50 amazing years. It will be at our family cottage. Do you have any ideas to make the décor spectacular in a very woodsy setting? Thanks for your great tips.
Frannie and Chris

Dear Frannie and Chris,
This is a very special event, and I imagine your parents will be thrilled simply to have their family and friends all together. But this party shouts out for some dazzle, too! And you should have fun making preparations and setting the scene. Trends for entertaining at home have relaxed over the years. Table settings have toned down, menus simplified, dress more casual. However, it’s not difficult to make this fancy. You have the perfect occasion to roll back the years and bring out the finery.

Look for silver serving pieces, some good china, and cut glass accessories. If you don’t have any of these items on hand, check out second hand and antique stores. You’ll be surprised at what you can find at bargain prices. Room decorations can be as simple as vases and bowls of flowers and greenery lit up with fairy lights. Ask your guests to bring framed photos of your parents at past get-togethers that will conjure up happy memories. Set these out around the room so that everyone can enjoy them.

If you are looking for inspiration on making a glamourous presentation, visit Julia Knight’s serving pieces are elegant and full of whimsey. Shown here is a vignette from her Luxe Lodge Collection motivated by flora and fauna that suits a natural setting. There’s an antler tray and bowls, an oak leaf petite bowl, and from the Peony Collection, a rectangular tray and bowl. You can choose from a range of colours shown by each product on her site. Other items in JK Collections include a sea horse pillar candle holder, sea horse cocktail picks from By the Sea; lily bud vase and lily pad platter from the Flowers and Leaves Collection. Each piece is handmade and shows exquisite detail.

Dear Debbie,
I have one wall in my living room painted chocolate brown, which I would like to change. My dilemma is I have two chocolate brown sofas and curtains also chocolate with gold design running through. Teal blue is my accent for cushions etc. Thanks.

Dear Kim,
Time for a change, and that’s easy with paint. Pale colours from off whites to soft blues and grays all make fantastic backgrounds for a dark feature piece such as your sofa. Tables that are light wood, or painted white, or metallic create a good contrast. All white throw pillows and walls will lighten up and modernize the room. Or why not add a bright contrast to mix with your accent shades. A spicy orange or golden yellow will add a lively spark, as will turquoise and other hot shades of blue and green.

Dear Debbie,
I bought an historic building with two claw foot tubs and am considering gold or silver leafing each tub. What’s the best way to restore the tubs? How much time is involved in leafing? Thanks.

Dear Jacqui,
For the inside of the tubs I recommend a professional do the refinishing. You can paint yourself, but it will scratch and peel. Leafing the outsides is a fun project that suits the age of claw foot tubs. It also camouflages surface imperfections. Before adding the leaf, clean and prime the surface. It’s a good idea to add a coat of paint in a colour you choose that will peek through the edges of the leaf squares. Allowing for drying times I would plan on two days for each tub.

Written by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Please email decorating questions to Follow Debbie at,,