February 27, 2017
The sparkle of mirrored surfaces radiates off the dark bedroom walls at the Franklin Hotel in London.

Dear Debbie;
Over the next several months we want to freshen up our 30-year-old bungalow with some new furniture and add a bit of colour. It is all white with some wood paneling. The trendy colours they are showing in interior design mags and paint stores are dark browns and greys and deep purples, which I think are kind of depressing. What would you suggest?
Sam and Elena

Dear Sam and Elena;

You have been living with white for many years, so I suggest you add colour slowly. The dark shades you list may sound disheartening, but, in fact, can be very warm and tranquil. You create the mood in your rooms with a combination of colour, furniture, fabric, lighting and accessories..

Why not start your redecorating in the bedroom? Thinking about this year’s hottest colours, I was inspired by one of the luxurious rooms at the stylish Franklin Hotel in London. The first impression is one of glamour and a unique, theatrical sense of style, one you don’t come across in a normal day. A mirrored bed? Wow. Far from feeling heavy, the dark blue/grey walls are a perfect backdrop for all the sparkle of the lustrous furnishings.

Choose one of the darker tones to paint your bedroom walls. You will notice that day and night light shifts to produce beautiful shadows so that it seems as though you have painted with more than one colour. The gray that is popular today has navy blue in it, like a deep night sky. Sometimes it looks black, others the darkest navy, but always luxurious. Farrow and Ball’s Blue Black is perfect. With not too much blue and not too much black, it is glorious in daylight and artificial light. Daunting in a whole room, try it on the wall behind your bed. Oversized headboards made from a distinctive fabric are captivating, and appear as a central feature when set in contrast against a dark wall.

As you continue through your home, you will become more confident with your colour choices. Use glass and mirrored surfaces to enlarge and illuminate any space. Plan flexible night lighting that you can control to make the rich dark tones hum.

Dear Debbie;
We are planning the lighting for an addition to our home that will combine an eat-in kitchen and family room for a large, multi-generational family. What happened to uplighting? No one seems to use it anymore, but I think it’s lovely. Any tips on how to incorporate it into our lighting design?

Dear Ellie;

It’s difficult to say why this type of lighting isn’t more popular today. Uplighting is an excellent solution to many decorating dilemmas, sets up a mood, and provides important emphasis for the areas you want to highlight. Uplights are small, and are located on the floor against a wall. The light beam washes up the wall, producing a softly lit path that shows off artwork, and a wall’s colour or finish. Anyone into 70s’ décor will recognize the ubiquitous use of uplighting snugly placed under a potted ficus plant. The shadows it creates animate a room, making the most of a space with limited architectural detail. Your new room will have many uses. If you yearn for a little drama, or a contemplative respite, perhaps in one corner, introduce one or two uplights … a clever decorating addition that will be enjoyed by all ages.

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,