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Debbie Travis house to home: Elegance by design

This week Debbie shares some inspiring design ideas
A high style room is infused with luxurious fabrics and design surprises by Susan Hornbeak-Ortiz. Photo provided

There are many differences between mass produced furnishings and those that are custom made. Items that are designed for mass production are generally meant for budget conscious consumers. The style/s are simple, aimed at consumption by a large audience, and the materials that make them up are easily found and inexpensive. This is not to say that case goods manufactured on a large scale can't be fashionable. Utilitarian style is a favourite choice when we begin to feather our nests. But as time goes by, it is exciting to be able to venture into more cultivated and sophisticated arenas. 

A friend told me about the work of designer and artist Susan Hornbeak-Ortiz while I was searching for inspiration for custom furniture pieces. Ortiz has a background in Fine Arts and has been influenced by architecture, sculpture, painting, photography, and installation art. In 2004 Ortiz and her husband founded the company Shine by S.H.O., starting with her bespoke lighting designs, which has now expanded to a full furniture line. Her goal is ìto always be unique and authentic, pushing the boundaries of style and elegance.î She continues, ìAs one of my fashion idols Coco Chanel once said, ëIn order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.

Shown here is a stunning modernistic living room designed and furnished by Ortiz. Each piece has at least one feature that sets it apart. I love the Nuage sofa - those angled cushions are eye-catching and sassy, the white antique velvet fabric elegant. Chairs and sofas are meant to be comfortable, yet sometimes take a back seat to high style. Not here. The luxurious curve of the Sacha chaise upholstered in soft mohair presents a visual invitation to lounge. Today, lighting fixtures are a major source of design inspiration, and Ortiz shows off her creative flair with selections that are bright and bold. Both the Dax floor lamp and Dax chandelier share a twisted charm reminiscent of a tangle of branches, produced with gold leaf rebar. The Dax floor lamp sits on a Carrera marble base, while the chandelier has a marble canopy. 

Intriguing interior design couples with the element of surprise to make a desirable esthetic that is a combination of comfort and fun. When itís time to splurge on something that elevates your style, do some research into custom manufacturers and designers. All the pieces shown here are at 

Dear Debbie;

My school years are over. Iím redoing my bedroom and would like to add a little luxury, on a budget of course. Any ideas on how to get a more sophisticated look?


Dear Samantha;

Certainly, our tastes evolve as we transition from a life of academics to the working world.  What do you like? If you are drawn to a quiet space, choose a monochromatic colour palette for your walls and bedding. Shades of grey, earthy browns and subtle hues of green will provide a restful background. Then spice it up a bit with a dash of colour or an oversized pattern in your duvet. Look for a soft chenille blanket, shaggy pillow shams, and a nubbly area rug to add texture and tactile appeal. Declutter your space; clean lines are easy to live with, chic and modern.

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, and visit Debbie's new website


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