June 13, 2016
A period style coffee table has been transformed with brightly striped panels and leather drawer pulls.

Dear Debbie,
My partner and I are having a discussion (argument) about natural versus painted wood. I like the character that paint brings out in a table and I also love colour. James contends that paint ruins the integrity of the wood. Our second-hand dining table awaits your advice.

Dear Jane,
I have been faced with this dilemma countless times. There are people who adamantly fight the idea of painting solid wood, especially if it is old. For this group, it’s a crime to do anything other than bring the wood back to its former, natural beauty with sanding, striping and a bit of stain, varnish or wax. On the other side, are the folks who see paint as the perfect tool for transforming a piece of furniture and giving it new life.

There is no right or wrong solution. It is simply a matter of taste in the same way that one person chooses a black and white décor while another prefers a colourful mix of patterns and shades. To keep the peace, why not compromise? I came upon this stunning coffee table from Grange, a high style furniture company that is based in France, and distributes to the U,S. and Canada. The Jacob coffee table has solid beech and limewood sides, panels in French cherry-wood veneer on MDF, and water-based hand painted finishes. Overstitched leather handles add a luxurious element to the four table drawers. The vibrant stripes in varying widths are contemporary and lighthearted, and the wood top glows with its natural beauty.

There’s a variety of paint finishes from distressing or antiquing to whitewashing. Add motifs or patterns, or simply paint a solid colour. Leave the top in its natural state and paint the legs. Or go with a natural wood table and mix it up with a series of painted dining chairs. Concessions make for a captivating style.

Dear Debbie,
We have just moved into a century house that needs lots of TLC. The bathroom has black and white tile on the upper walls still in good condition, but the floor is poor quality vinyl. What would you recommend for a new floor? Any other ideas are much appreciated.

Dear Deirdre,
Black and white is a timeless combination, especially in the bathroom. Since the tile is still in good condition, you have a great base upon which to work. In keeping with the period style, you can replace the worn-out vinyl on the floor with black and white porcelain tiles. Choose different sizes to make an intriguing pattern. For a more contemporary look, check out the wood laminate floors. A dark oak or charcoal shade will complement the wall tiles. There are also high quality vinyl tiles available in numerous patterns including marble.

Your new floor will have a big impact on the room. You don’t say what is below the wall tiles. Whether wood or plaster (or drywall), the lower walls are easily painted. White is always fresh and clean, Towel racks, soap dispensers, shelves all combine to create your style. Then, depending on your budget, you can think about replacing faucets and the sink. Lighting is an important element in the bathroom, and there are now vintage designs using the newest in LEDs. It’s not necessary to do everything at once.

Debbie Travis' House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Please email your questions to You can follow Debbie on Twitter at, and visit Debbie’s new website,