Debbie Travis recalls the night last year when she slept in her car while in New York City, rather than leave it parked all night alone on the street. “I became so paranoid, I didn’t want to leave it,” recounts the beloved TV personality and decorating doyenne of her 2007 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Cabrio Convertible.
“I thought (my husband) would kill me if I came back and the wheels were missing. It was probably more dangerous sleeping in the car,” she concedes. But it’s this profound dedication that has propelled her to prolific status as a painting, decorating, renovating and design expert.
Despite owning the Porsche as well as a 2008 BMW X5 and two other cars — a 1999 Mercedes 320 Camio and a 1963 Mercedes 220 SC — the former host of Debbie Travis’ Painted House and Debbie Travis’ Facelift, has had her share of old clunkers, which she looks back on with genuine fondness.
Recalling the first car she bought at 17, the mother of two says, “It was a Morris Minor. It was so old that the front doors were sealed up so I had to get in through the back.” But today Travis can enjoy the fruits of her labour. “It’s a bit opulent. I felt a big guilty at first,” she says of her Porsche, which boasts a rare white exterior, brown roof and a champagne interior.
“But I really like the feel of it. And I use it as a sun- tanning tool. I like having the roof down and getting a tan because I’m a multi-tasker,” jokes the author of eight books. “So I can get my tan and get from A to B.”
Although you can catch her buzzing about Montreal, where she and her husband of nearly 25 years live, with her Porsche’s sunroof down on a nice day, Travis’ dream vehicle actually goes back to basics.
“I want to have a little (Piaggio) Ape one day,” she says of the three-wheeled carts that are a familiar mode of transport in Italian villages. “They have an engine smaller than a sewing machine and I think they’re one of the cutest things.”
Next month, Travis heads to Tuscany to host a week-long trip for 12 women. For information on this trip, visit www.debbietravis.com.
– Heather Buchan is a Toronto-based journalist whohas at several magazines, including Hello! Canada, where she cut her teeth in the world of celebrities.