TORONTO, Sept. 29, 2023 – When Nicole Babb moved back to Toronto from Vancouver, her realtor was so impressed with Nicole’s design efforts that she suggested that Nicole get into the home staging business. Nicole not only opened her own staging and design company and then became the co-host of HGTV Canada’s series Styled which debuted in 2022. The docu-series follows design team (and best buds) Nicole Babb and designer Caffery Vanhorne as they transform homes from shabby to chic.
“I got into the home staging and design business out of necessity during my move back to Toronto,” explains Nicole Babb. “I pulled furniture and décor for my home and my realtor began renting my furniture to stage her homes. The business organically grew.”
Nicole founded R&P Staging and Design in 2015. The letters R and P in her company name stand for Rich & Poor Home Staging & Design.
“Our motto is to be rich with your investing and poor with your spending,” states Nicole. “We incorporate these concepts into our business. I have always been interested in investing, and people may not realize it, but staging is an investment. My goal is to add value to a home whether it’s on the market to sell, or just transforming a space for a homeowner to enjoy. We are proud to take something that’s ordinary and make it beautiful and you don’t need to break the bank to do it.”
As a stager, stylist, house flipper and entrepreneur, Nicole is known for her one-of-a-kind looks and her ability to maximize a property’s potential for resale.
Declutter Declutter Declutter
“My message to clients is clean, clean, clean and then declutter, declutter, declutter,” says Nicole. “Many people don’t realize how distracting clutter is. When your house is clean and clutter free, you can really enjoy being in that space.”
Asked how the show Styled came about, Nicole answers: “Great Pacific, our production company, was looking for a home staging show and interviewed Caffery and I by Skype. Caffrey brings humour to the show. He’s a designer and artist through and through. I’m an artist and businessperson. What makes our show unique is that we both love to travel and we really embrace our culture. Much of our design work is influenced by our travels and our culture.”
Caffery embraces his Jamaican culture while Nicole is proud of her Asian-Caribbean-South American heritage. She is a big advocate of adding bright, bold colour into a space through texture and patterns, often influenced by her travels.
Nicole says one of her favourite segments was the basement makeover at the home of ‘Sharon and Jason’. “We did a bold makeover in black and white, which was my favourite episode because it aligns with my aesthetic. I gravitate toward black and white,” says Nicole.
When selling a home, Nicole advises to declutter and depersonalize and then pay attention to paint and flooring. “If your flooring is dated you may want to think about updating it. Wall colours should be neutral—look at model homes. They have neutral walls that make the space feel bigger brighter and cleaner.”
Just in time for fall, Nicole offers some staging tips to spice up our rooms for the cooler weather ahead. “I love cushions in hues of terracotta, blush, velvet and textured wools,” she suggests. “I tell my clients to buy cushions with zippers so they can be changed with the seasons. People also forget about the walls. It’s not about spending a lot about money but rather about finding things that are personal to you and pieces that move you.”
One of the biggest challenges Nicole finds as co-host/designer is the time it takes to work the makeover magic. “Viewers watch the show for about 45 minutes, but it takes so much time to transform a space.”
When we spoke by phone, Nicole was at the airport about to catch a flight to Paris. “I am attending Paris Fashion Week for the first time,” says an excited Nicole.
Renowned for their design style, both Nicole and Caffery are also known for their fashion sense. “When we are working behind the scenes, I am in sweatpants, but when the cameras are rolling on the show, I’m all dolled up. Caffery has a fashion label and someday I hope to have a fashion brand as well. Entrepreneurship is about continuing to reinvent yourself. It’s about creating a lane for yourself. People often ask me where I get my outfits. Dressing beautifully is about feeling good inside and out. It’s the same with home staging and design. It’s about creating a beautiful space that makes you feel good.”
Toronto is home
Nicole loves being back in Toronto – the city where she grew up. “I love the diversity. I love that I can go out for Chinese food at 2 a.m. on a Saturday. It’s about relating. And although Toronto is the fourth largest city in North America, it feels small and welcoming.”
Now in Season 2, Nicole says viewers can expect to see some very bold design projects this year. “There are heartwarming moments, lots of laughter and having fun together as we really embrace our culture and our love for design.”
Catch episodes of Styled, Season 1 on STACKTV. Season 2 will premiere in late 2024 on HGTV Canada. Watch your favourite HGTV Canada series on the Global TV App and on STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, Rogers Ignite or FuboTV.
By Laurie Wallace-Lynch