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Everyone has a sense of style – whether they recognize it or not. But to translate that style into a living space? Only one in 10 of people have that gift and now two of them — friends Nicole Babb and Caffery Vanhorne — are teaming up to co-host Styled, a new original series airing on HGTV Canada this month.
“It’s either something you have naturally or you grow and exercise like a muscle by playing around with it and adapting it,” said Babb, a stager, stylist and entrepreneur who founded her family-owned and operated design firm, R&P Home, in 2015.
On Styled, Babb and Vanhorne, an award-winning fashion designer and R&P Home lead stylist, work side by side to stage and renovate spaces. What sets the design duo apart is their focus on finding a point of view that makes a home feel amazing.
The message they’d like to convey? The importance of “living beautifully,” says Vanhorne.
“I can’t control the ugly of the subway or the garbage on the street, but when I come into the four walls of the place I carved out to call my safe space, I want everything in eyesight to be beautiful,” he said.
Each of the eight episodes features two stories. Homeowners are either staging to sell, which calls for more “aspirational design” to appeal to the masses, or looking to remain in their home, which means it’s up to Babb and Vanhorne to discover their personal style and replicate it. The running joke is that it all boils down to shoes.
“Sometimes we try to peek into people’s closets and I’ll say ‘Oh! She wears a pointed stiletto,’” said Vanhorne. “It’s funny how the shoe can lead to where we would go with colour palette or choice of furnishing.”
Early on in the series, viewers meet Chrissy and Marie, friends and co-workers who are using Chrissy’s small urban townhome as a base to launch their podcast. Babb calls it a “three-in-one” design because Chrissy’s home is a business, income property and place to share laughs with friends. The Styled refresh — which features a stunning floral wall mural in the bedroom — is so on point, it brings Marie to tears.
“I would love for people to tune in and be inspired that their space is so much more than just a place where they live,” said Babb. “It’s a place that should also give you inspiration when you wake up every morning.”
Another theme Babb hopes to showcase is the Caribbean experience. Though born in Toronto, she identifies most with her parent’s Guyanese culture, which she says helped to fashion her impeccable style sense at a young age.
“You always made sure your shoes were shined, your clothes were ironed … that you presented yourself to the world the way you wanted to be treated,” she said, adding how proud she is to be giving a voice to Black people in the design realm.
“One of the best things about this show is that you get to see a Black family run a business in a fun and loving way,” added Vanhorne. “I think there’s a whole audience out there that will feel represented that hadn’t been represented before.”
The other original series airing this month are Trading up with Mandy Rennehan, which follows Rennehan as she renovates three extraordinary properties in her hometown of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia; and, Hoarder House Flippers, which features three sets of renovators from Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba, as they each turn dilapidated properties in desirable homes. For a complete list of programs and air times, visit HGTV.ca.