Debbie & Design

Read about Debbie’s exciting discoveries — today’s stylemakers, iconic products for the home, and irresistible decorating tips and trends. Debbie gathers news of great design from around the world and shows you how easy it is to bring your favourite looks home.

House to Home appears weekly in newspapers across North America. Produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle, the column is syndicated by Torstar in Canada and King Features/Hearst in the United States.

Rental hacks

September is often a month for moving, changing your living arrangements to be close to school, a new job, perhaps to live in a new town or city. Even with the pandemic, and made more complicated because of it, many people find themselves renting a place to call home. It is important to bring some of your personality into this new space so that it feels welcoming and comfortable for you.


Another guest at the table

Designing and decorating a dining room is an adventure. You begin with a blank canvas, which may be intimidating but a worthwhile challenge nonetheless. Whether it’s a quiet place to enjoy your daily supper, a family communal meeting spot, the space you gather with friends or all of these, the atmosphere should be friendly and inviting. There are many different approaches along the way as you pick furnishings,


First impressions

Dear Debbie;

We are doing some landscaping around a typical bungalow and while we are at it, wonder about what colour to paint the front door. It is dark brown and feels quite lifeless. We need a lift. Thanks for your help. You are always so cheerful.
— Bryan

Dear Bryan;

The front door of your home sends the first signal of what is to come;


Welcome signs

Dear Debbie;

We are looking for ideas to separate our garden spaces. Our house is on a corner lot and the lawn wraps around front and back. What would you suggest to divide part of it up into a more private space? We enjoy some gardening but not too labour intensive. With thanks,
— Eugene

Dear Eugene;


Paint a corner table

There is always room for an extra table or two that will add practical value and extra style to your living space. A small table in the hallway is handy for dropping off the mail and other stuff you’re loaded down with when you enter. It may get over-cluttered, but it’s the first place to look when you can’t find your keys,


Love colour

Dear Debbie;

I inherited a few pieces of furniture from my aunt’s mid-century modern collection when she drastically downsized to a tiny apartment. She has decided to travel the world, or at least parts of it, and has changed her living requirements at home. Lucky me. But not sure how to make the turquoise chair work with my rather bland decorating.


Born to love wild

Are you feeling wild today? Want to take a peak into homes where plants rule? It’s a mindset that Hilton Carter, passionate lover of all things green and author of Wild Interiors, Beautiful Plants in Beautiful Spaces, CICO Books 2020, explores and practices on a daily basis. After surveying restaurants, hotels, and public spaces as well as the countless homes he has visited and styled,


A seamly solution

Dear Debbie;

I just had my walls drywalled and the finish is not good. The seams
are very apparent & I wondered if there was a paint technique you’d
— Raine

Dear Raine;

I am sorry to hear that your drywall finish is poor.


Featuring water

Water is the life force that soothes and rejuvenates us all. The sound of a babbling brook, the rush of a waterfall, the gentle lapping at a lake’s edge, the rolling thunder of ocean waves, these draw us in and allow our busy brains to relax and meditate. We can’t all live by the sea or beside a river or lake,


Kids camp at home

Dear Debbie;

Our children’s overnight camping plans have been cancelled this summer and we are trying to think up ways to make home camping fun. You are great at DIY ideas so please help.
— Judy and Fred

Dear Judy and Fred;

Nothing can replace the social camaraderie of going away to camp for a week or two.