My son, the designer:
Chris Hyndman and Steven Sabados's store is very much a family affair
ST. JOHN'S - Chris Hyndman's mother knows how to make a
room beautiful -- so much so that she's running her son's new store here
in St. John's. Hyndman and Steven Sabados, the hosts of Designer Guys,
opened their sleek Decadence by Design last summer.
Hyndman grew up in nearby St. Philip's, so it's not surprising the store
is very much a family business. Not only does Glenda Hyndman pinch-hit
while her son is in Toronto working on the Home and Garden Television
series, but his aunt, Taleathahh-Rae Livingstone, is the manager. On the
day of my visit, his cousin, Peter Michael, visiting from B.C., was
working behind the counter. For their part, Hyndman and Sabados plan to
be in the store once a month.
The designing duo say they hand-picked every item (lamps, mirrors,
candles and the like) and designed most of the furniture, which has
crisp, clean lines and is made by Silva in Toronto. Their idea is to
sell good design at reasonable prices: A lovely dark-chocolate-stained
wood-framed couch with sand-coloured corduroy cushions is $2,200.
Soon, a bathroom area will open in the basement filled with bath
mats, shower curtains, room sprays and toothbrush holders. Most of these
gifty items will be priced for less than $50.
The charming Glenda Hyndman is so put together she actually matches
the decor. She says she's often asked whether Chris got his decorating
panache from her. "I wish I could say it's true," she says
while giving me a tour of the pretty space (it smells like lavender).
"Just because I am Chris's mom, people think he must have learned
everything from me. I have a basic sense, but I don't know so much about
modern trends. I'm really learning from the guys."
But Hyndman gives his mother a lot of the credit. He says
she has always insisted their home should be a beautiful, comfortable
sanctuary. "I do think I got a lot of my design sense from
her," he says.
He and Sabados are busy men. They recently launched a coffee-table
book titled Designer Guys: Finding Your Personal Style and were featured
on Oprah. More than a year ago, they discovered an old building for rent
on Water Street, a stretch of St. John's lined with lively restaurants,
stores and pubs and decided it was the perfect location for the stores
they had been talking about for quite some time.
"It was boarded up, but we immediately knew we wanted it,"
says the Niagara Falls-born Sabados. "We loved the exterior and I
just adore the charm of Water Street. I totally love *Newfoundland*.
It's the first time anyone has ever called me 'my ducky.' "
Hyndman jumps in: "It wasn't so much a practical thing but a
passion thing. This has been a dream of mine." He says his mother
took him Christmas shopping on Water Street when he was a child and he
has fond memories of dipping in and out of the stores in the snow.
The two men teamed up in 1992. They began with product
launches and set design but soon expanded into interior decorating. Now
shooting their third season (their show involves transforming other
people's homes from drab to fab), they also hold seminars and workshops
for decorating enthusiasts.
Transforming the store was a greater challenge than most of their
projects. Sabados describes the interior as looking like "a Roy
Rogers restaurant," but they were delighted to find beams from an
old ship holding up the ceiling.
Glenda Hyndman says the guys were very nervous about getting it
right. "This store is really an extension of them and they were
obsessed by every detail. They wanted it to be very sensory. They were
scared, but we are doing incredibly well. We've been running out of
Many of the goods -- most of them Canadian -- will be familiar to
fans of the show, such as artificial plants by Royal Green and furniture
fabrics by BB Bargoons. And how does she like working for her only
child? "When we are out of the store, Mom is the boss again,"
she says firmly. "Moms have a way of keeping their sons grounded.
For more on the designer guys visit http://www.designerguys.com
by fellow Newfoundlander Abroad Susanne
Hiller for the National Post