In a small shed, in a backyard in downtown St. John’s, 28-year-old Chris O’Brien has been busy handcrafting unique furniture and home decor. Farmhouse-style tables, one-of-a-kind wine racks, and other knick-knacks that would give big box home design shops a run for their money.
O’Brien’s shed is like many others found around the island. There’s a dart board, a chop saw, sawdust scattered across the floor, scrap pieces of wood tossed here and there, a few empty beer bottles and a flag celebrating his favourite hockey team, Colorado Avalanche, hanging proudly on the wall.
O’Brien says there’s not enough room to change your mind in the 10’ x 12’ space, but that’s okay because he’s not striving for perfection. “For some reason I like things to be honest, and sometimes it’s the imperfections in something that makes it stand out and be one of a kind and beautiful.”
O’Brien says his designs are simple. “You don’t need all these fancy moulding and hidden screw holes in my opinion.” O’Brien’s homemade or, Shedmade home decor venture started with a simple coffee table he made from an old pallet.
“From there I bought a bit of wood and made a couple things in my kitchen using the old man’s skill saw. Quite the racket and mess. From there I moved to the shed in my backyard and stayed there. Made myself a few other things and my sister a coffee table. And from there I said shag it and made a Facebook and Instagram page named Shedmade,” O’Brien said.
Rustic, shabby-chic, cosy cottage style…whatever you want to call it, O’Brien’s creations are simple and trendy, and they’re catching on. He makes more than a dozen custom designs a month. Because he’s confined to the space of his backyard shed, there’s only enough space for one piece at a time. There’s no inventory and everything is made to order. People share pictures of his work on Facebook and Instagram and O’Brien says the response has been great.
“It’s cool to think that someone would rather come to me than anywhere else. Because, as you know you can go basically anywhere now with the internet at your fingertips.” His venture may be small but, he’s doing his part to help stimulate the local economy.
“It’s important to shop local and support yer locals because we are helping each other. Simple as that really. Here in Newfoundland, we have really talented people whether that be musicians, actors, vegetable growers, artists, etc. We need to support one another. Were all in this together,” O’Brien says. “If we can buy everything local it makes our town and province better. More money is staying here in your bay, town, city, province.”