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.

Welcome to the dark side

Dear Debbie;

Our home is a mix of traditional and contemporary styling with long, open spaces and lots of light. I am drawn to some of the rich, dark paint shades and wonder if they would work in the living/dining area. The walls call out for some kind of warmth. Also are there any tips for painting with dark colours.


One new thing

It is a key goal to feel comfortable and at ease at home, to have rooms designed to work with you, play with you and relax with you. Take the kitchen for example. It’s possible to work around some basic flaws when you’re busy prepping meals. But is the overall ambiance something to think about? If you are finding your kitchen totally uninspiring right now,


Where life happens

Dear Debbie;

During the pandemic we have been spending a great deal more time as a family in the living room. It’s feeling a bit tired and I’d like to make the room welcoming and special, What can I do?
— Henri

Dear Henri;

I was intrigued, but not surprised, to discover that the space thought by many to be the “heart of the home” is now predominantly the living room.


Make it better

Shelving and cabinetry are among the first items you opt for when setting up a new home. A common choice is to go for flat pack furniture as it is affordable, functional and easy to find. There is a trend out there that has been growing with faithful followers of IKEA that takes their clean-lined, Scandi designs and transforms them by decoration and/or use.


Got the blues?

Dear Debbie;

We have a long hallway that stretches along the front of the house. It’s an unusual design with entrances to the main rooms off the hall on one side. It gets a lot of use by our large family of kids and dogs. How can I break up the runway feel?
— Elizabeth

Dear Elizabeth;


Splurge on small spaces

The bathroom is one of the busiest, hardworking spaces in your home. It’s there for you when you begin and end your day and how well it looks and functions can make a big impact on your mood. Whether you are in a hurry to get to work in the morning or relaxing in a bath in the evening this is a room that deserves your attention.


The right rug

Dear Debbie;

We have just installed beautiful oak hardwood throughout our main floor including the kitchen and hallway. Now we are in the market for an area rug for the living room and wonder about size. Are there rules that we should follow? Thank you.
— Jennie

Dear Jennie;

An area rug is a special feature.


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;