Follow the hotels’ lead

Because I travel constantly for business and pleasure, I have the opportunity to view first hand the many changes taking place in the hotel industry.

When transforming an old building into a stylish new luxury hotel

Because I travel constantly for business and pleasure, I have the opportunity to view first hand the many changes taking place in the hotel industry.

I have witnessed shifts in style and colour trends, and the move in popularity from the grand old hotels to the small boutique designs.

It’s a competitive business.

Of late, I am finding it exciting to witness the measures that many hotels are taking toward environmental responsibility.

One Aldwych in London, England, is a leader in raising awareness and taking action in their approach to sustainable living, not so easy when you are in the tourism business. They have a Green Team whose mission is to consider every aspect of operating the hotel in terms of how to save power and water, recycle paper and choose environmentally safe products for their guests.

They are intent on sharing their knowledge and the positive impact that significant changes have made. Guests expect high style and comfort when traveling, and these are priorities at home too.

In many instances hotels lead the way in design and now they are doing the same for eco-friendly living.

Here’s where we can all take note and make similar adjustments to our purchases and daily habits at home without making any sacrifices at all. In fact, you may discover that cutting over-consumption habits is rather exhilarating in a feel good, freeing sort of way.

• Lower water consumption. Low flush toilets are available, and check out the possibility of installing EVAC, created for cruise ships.

The hotel has been fitted with this highly efficient vacuum drainage system that uses 80 per cent less water. Washing towels and sheets every two or three days rather than daily saves water, soap and power. Refrain from letting water run and fix any drips immediately.

• Control all your lights. Set timers and dimmers to match your life style. Motion detectors are a good safety feature. Discuss the best light bulb options for your home with your lighting store specialist. Choose low watt ambient light and save power for small task lights.

• Shop for natural soaps, creams and cosmetics, which are better for us and the environment. Shop for and eat food that is locally grown whenever possible.

Dear Debbie: I have outdated brass trim in my bathroom around the shower and mirrors. Is there any way I can update it? I have followed your advice in the past and have always loved the results. Thank you for your help. — Kathleen

Dear Kathleen: Yes, you can cover up the metal very effectively with paint, and this will instantly transform the look of your bathroom.

It’s a good temporary measure, but the finish won’t last as long as real metal.

Look for paint that is designed to cover metal. You will most likely find it in a spray can.

Sand the old metallic surface to remove any loose bits and clean with a heavy duty cleanser. Tape off areas you don’t wish to be painted; spray is airborne so protect walls, ceiling and floor.

Spray on a light coat moving the spray can consistently to minimize drips. Let dry, check for drips and sand smooth, then apply a second coat.

For really small jobs, it’s easier to spray the paint onto a paint tray and apply with a brush — this cuts down on taping.

Dear Debbie: My husband and I have just bought our first house. The kitchen has been tiled counter to ceiling in granny-pink tiles — not our taste.

Can we put paintable wallpaper directly over the wall tiles? Or do you have any better solutions which are DIY and wallet-friendly? — Kerry

Dear Kerry: You can apply wallpaper to the tiles, but I don’t advise it; you will see the grout lines.

If you don’t want to or cannot remove the tiles, then clean the tiles and apply a coat of wallpaper primer to the walls before you hang the paper.

A better option is to paint over tiles; use the same prep work — sand, clean and prime. Paint the grout lines as well as the tiles.

Then you will have a nicely textured result.

Debbie Travis’ House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Please email your questions to

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