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.

Lofty ideas

Dear Debbie;

I’m living in an old factory with concrete floors. I can’t afford to lay down a wood floor or cover with carpet at this time. Would you suggest painting the floor? I remember you did this on your TV show. Thanks,
— Denis

Dear Denis;

For that particular episode we were fixing up a loft with the bedroom on a mezzanine that looked down over the large living space.


Porch party

Dear Debbie;

Our porch is looking forlorn and we are using it all the time now that social distancing is in place. (We group together with our families and friends via social media.) Any ideas for a facelift that we can handle ourselves? Thanks and stay safe.
— Barb

Dear Barb;

We are all looking for ways to keep up our spirits and stay in touch during these challenging times.


Your bathroom style

If you are planning a bathroom renovation, or even a quick facelift, it’s essential to keep in mind the importance of practicality as this is primarily a utilitarian space. You will be looking for elements that are safe, hardwearing and easy to clean and sanitize. These are givens.

But there are other considerations. For a room that gets constant use,


On the shelf

Dear Debbie;

We are big readers and our bookshelves are overflowing. We are taking this down time to edit the piles and would like to create a more visually attractive display. Where would you start? Thanks.
— Robert

Dear Robert;

I am sure you are finding it difficult to decide what to keep,


Happy House

Forget about trends, forget about the latest, greatest colours to paint your rooms. Instead, think about what would make you happier. And give this job to your home. This is the beginning of a journey that designer and author Rebecca West takes us on in her book Happy Starts at Home, Change Your Space, Transform Your Life.



Dear Debbie;

I have lived very simply for years as a student and am now finally finished. Yes, lots of student loans to pay off, but I want to start to invest in some furnishings that are more permanent and have style. I like minimal, hate clutter and am a nature buff. Suggestions?
— Bronwen

Dear Bronwen;


Silver service

The allure of silver has led the way in many decorative styles. Traditionally, the elegant gleam of a dining table set with sterling silverware and candelabras sets an undeniably rich tone. And even the simplest entrée gains mouthwatering appeal when presented on a silver platter. The dazzle of silver decorative finishes from jewelry to lamps flourishes in art deco style,


Capturing colour

Dear Debbie;

I don’t have a lot of money to spend on art but do love to take photographs of my garden and the budding cherry blossom trees in our back yard. How would you suggest framing them? I’m not interested in those cheap black plastic frames. Thanks for your ideas.
— Penny

Dear Penny;


Smooth as silk

Step by steps

Plaster walls are no longer common in today’s homes due to the rise in cost of building materials and labour. If you live in a home built before 1940 you will most likely have plaster walls and they have many good features. You might notice that older homes are quieter than new builds. That’s because plaster walls are thicker and help with soundproofing.


Make It a Feature

Dear Debbie;

In a corner of my condo is a cement pole, part of the condo building structure. I’ve painted it the same colour as the walls, but it needs more interest. I have no artistic ability, but I was thinking of stenciling. However, I cannot find ones large enough to do the job. Any ideas would be appreciated.