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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 stock."

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