The grand design

How Debbie Travis and hubby Hans met and married in three weeks


DEBBIE TRAVIS IS widely regarded as a pioneering home decorator: she created one of the first decorating shows to air in North America.

The British-born former model — along with her business partner and husband, Hans Rosenstein — now calls Toronto home.The designing duo essentially began their courtship with marriage. Debbie shares their story.

How they met

It was 1985 and I had been invited to a party in Cannes, and of course, I was doing what everyone does in Cannes: behaving badly. I was actually there with another date, when I saw this cute guy across the room. He asked me to dance, and I said, “Sure,” but then my date came over, tapped me on the shoulder, and he actually picked me up and threw me into the pond.

So here I am, soaking wet, and I have to get changed and everything. It was just a big mess. So that's how [Hans and I] met initially, and three weeks later, we were married.

The proposal

Well, I don’t really remember. We tend to remember how we met, more so than the proposal.

I guess it was when we were stuck in traffic in a tunnel, and he sort of said, “Well, I’m going back to Montreal, so if you don’t come now, you’ll never see me again.” And I said, “Well OK then. Yes.” And I moved to Montreal. Yes, he already lived in Montreal. He was working in television production.

The Wedding

We got married in the Whalley- Abbey Church [in Yorkshire, England), which has very steep, old steps. I remember that.

Their lives today

We have two sons, who are 20 and 21 years old, and they’re both in university. One is in London, and the other one is in Paris. At least I hope they’re in university — God knows what they’re doing over there. Yes, we both handle our production company,Whalley-Abbey Media — yes, named after the church we got married in.

Working together

Yes, we do work in the same office. My husband handles mostly the business side of things, and I work on more of the creative side of everything.

At first we didn’t tell people we were married, but we do now. I remember being at this breakfast meeting — and I hate breakfast meetings; I can’t stand trying to eat and talk at the same time.

And Hans was eating a croissant, and of course he was getting croissanty crumbs all over his lips. And without thinking, I reached over and wiped them off, and everyone’s eyes popped out of their head.

And we’re very different, personality-wise. He is sort of very calm. He gets things done. In many ways, it’s almost easier [to work with your spouse]. I mean, we both have the same goals, at the end of the day. In a lot of workplaces, it can be disheartening — I mean,if everyone is going off on vacation for a holiday or something and you can’t afford it. When you’re married and you’re working together with your partner, if you don’t have the money for a holiday, you don’t go!

Relationship advice

I think you really have to admire each other. You have to admire the way that person speaks,the way they laugh, and admire what they’re interested in.

I mean, I don’t care how slim you are and how much Botox you’ve had, you’re still 45. And in the end, that admiration is what is going to keep him from straying. I think it’s the little things, too. I mean,if you hate the way he sneezes on the first date,20 years later,you’re still going to hate the way the bastard sneezes. Also, I think we both have the same goals, when it comes to our children, when it comes to creativity.


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