– Words by Lauren Kramer Photography by Don Denton
Interior designer Debra Schulze recently traded a 25-year career in high-end furniture sales and interior design in Edmonton for a move to Duncan, where she now owns and operates Khaya Home Décor. The small gift and furnishings shop dates back 17-plus years and when Debra visited family in the area last July, she saw it, made an offer and began a whole new chapter of her life.
At Finesse Home Living in Edmonton, she catered to clients who owned large, luxurious homes, helping them to furnish and decorate spaces ranging in size from 3,000 to 13,000 square feet.
“It was a large store that had the best of everything, so it was easy to help my customers make choices,” she recalls.
But a life change was coming. Debra had always dreamed of having her own little storefront, and when both of her children relocated to British Columbia, the Alberta native knew she wanted to be closer to family. So in August 2021, she moved to Duncan, renovated the store and reopened for business.
Today, Khaya Home Décor includes a collection of beautiful pieces, including one-of-a-kind gifts, works by Canadian artists, home decor and furnishings.
A style aficionado, Debra leans towards simplicity and elegance.
“My personal style is a combination of classic pieces and contemporary art, drama created by light, colour, texture and form,” she explains.
These days she is adjusting to running the store as a one-woman show, working on everything from display and inventory to customer relationships and sourcing new products.
“Members of the Duncan community and other store owners have been so warm and welcoming to me, and although any transition is challenging, this is giving me an opportunity to create something new on my own, with my own vision,” she says. “I’d been thinking of doing this for a long time, and when the opportunity came up, I realized, the time was now. It takes tremendous energy to build a new life, but I’m deeply encouraged by the help and support I’ve received from my family as well as so many others. I could never have done this alone.”
Uniform: Casual professional pieces.
All-time favourite piece: A classic tailored jacket.
Currently coveting: A great leather jacket!
Favourite pair of shoes: Theory Sport Flat.
Favourite day-bag: My Guess tote for everyday use, but if I were to choose something from my store, I would pick from the Darling line: the GS599 Nautical
Tote or the GS788 Houndstooth tote.
Favourite jewellery piece or designer: David Yurman.
Fashion obsession: Things I can’t afford!
Accessory you spend the most money on: Jackets.
Necessary indulgence for either fashion or beauty: Hair care.
Scent: I never wear it.
Must-have hair product: Since moving to the West Coast: Joico Moisture Control.
Beauty secret: Sleep, diet and exercise.
Style Inspirations & Life
Style icon: Audrey Hepburn.
Favourite fashion designer or brand: Classic Givenchy.
Favourite artist: I love many genres. I love some Alberto Giacometti sculpture and modern pieces by artists like Waldemar Smolarek, as well as classic art.
Era of time that inspires your style: 1920s.
Fave print magazine: Architectural Digest.
Fave style blog: Decorilla.
Last great read:
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.
Book currently reading: The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay.
Favourite cocktail or wine: Full-bodied red wine.
Favourite flower: Orchid.
Favourite city to visit: Montreal or New York.
Favourite app: Spotify.
Favourite place in the whole world: Wherever my family is.