Cover Story: Bold Moves
By Lydia McNutt • Photography By Stacey Van Berkel
British-Canadian interior decorating guru, television host and entrepreneur, Debbie Travis takes RENO & DECOR to the historic streets of Wandsworth, London, inside her very own 19th-Century townhouse—and the site of a recent renovation intended to breathe new life into this old home.
The bathroom became a focus of Travis’ redesign, thanks to its obvious space constraints and perhaps more importantly, its lack of character.
It’s here, Travis reveals, that this self-taught pro came up against an all-too-common interior decorating hurdle—limited size. She thoughtfully describes the space as her “challenge.”
“It’s a luxury being able to start from scratch in the bathroom,” says Travis of the renovation.
TIP: One of the easiest ways to start a bathroom renovation is with a mood board. Collect your inspirations, whether it’s colour, texture, or the type of finish you want. You may work on this for months, Travis says, but the choices evolve. “Don’t rush the job,” says Travis. “Play with that space over and over again, until you get the image that you want.”
THE ART OF BATHING
Travis’ selections are methodical, functional and beautiful. An arresting freestanding bathtub not only became a beautiful focal point in Travis’ bathroom, but it also artfully creates the illusion of more space.
“It worked perfectly in here because it’s not too high, it’s not too long, and it has this wonderful organic shape,” Travis explains. “It’s incredibly comfortable.”
When shopping for a bathtub, it pays off to research different shapes, styles and sizes to ensure that it’s a good fit for you. Don’t be shy to get inside the tub and try it on for size, so to speak. It’s really the only way to determine whether the style complements your curves.
Travis likes to play with different materials to create textural interest. Surfaces such as rough natural stone or marble are great base textures, and pair well with woods and glass. In Travis’ own bathroom, tile and texture became important decor elements. She selected a chic, fabric-inspired tile for the shower, featuring an oversized stripe. “You don’t have to have a huge room to go large scale,” Travis says.
TRAVIS’ SELECTIONS ARE METHODICAL, FUNCTIONAL AND BEAUTIFUL. AN ARRESTING FREESTANDING BATHTUB NOT ONLY BECAME A BEAUTIFUL FOCAL POINT IN TRAVIS’ BATHROOM, BUT IT ALSO ARTFULLY CREATES THE ILLUSION OF MORE SPACE.
Speaking of large scale, let’s address the Sophia Loren in the room. Don’t get us wrong. Travis is a proponent of neutral, simple and classic style. “Then, look to add the drama and personality,” she says. Travis selected an image of a young Sophia Loren, which she had enlarged and printed onto a durable canvas. This dramatic background makes the bathtub stand out even more.
The resulting interior is cleverly filled with light, texture and personality—a welcoming, luxurious and relaxing retreat Travis is proud to call “home.”
“A successful bathroom makeover, when it comes down to it, is about how it makes you feel. I’m very pleased about how my bathroom turned out. It is a gorgeous place to start the day. But even better, it is an incredible place to end the day, soaking in this tub with a glass of champagne.”
Lydia McNutt is an award-winning writer, editor, journalist pro based in the Greater Toronto Area.