Before & After: Modern Minimalism In Brooklyn

Photographed by Winnie Au.
Hillary Taymour hands me a raw, organic gingersnap with a look of encouragement. I've just divulged my terrible snacking habits to the Collina Strada designer, who happens to be friends with quite a few supermodels (and looks like one, too). I reach into the bag, skepticism lingering on my face. "The chocolate ones are better," she admits with a laugh. "My assistant hides her crappy food from me — she knows I don't allow that in the work room!"

Taymour's commitment to clean living — the snack drawer lined with "sprouted" indulgences, her bathroom cabinet stocked with a dizzying array of essences and essential oils — extends far beyond packaged goods. The designer's new home is a paean to minimalism in industrial South Williamsburg; bleached wood and exposed brick coalesce as the ultimate backdrop for choice artworks, clusters of plants, and chakra-aligning crystals.

We dropped in on Taymour to find out more about her renovation (handled entirely by herself) and her new home line with stylist Gillian Wilkins, Social + Studies. Click through for more.
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Photo: Courtesy of Zillow.
Before
The renovation took a whirlwind four months. "[My contractor] thought I was insane," says Taymour. "He didn't understand the overall vision at all."
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
After
The living room is now a whitewashed respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. "Since [moving to] New York five years ago, I am more into a minimal, modern aesthetic," says Taymour. "I think the transition from L.A. to NYC really showed in my last place — I was still a little hippie at heart."

Painting (above sofa): Suzannah Wainhouse.
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
"Social +Studies happened pretty naturally," says Taymour, posing with her Blue Merle Pomeranian, Powwow. "I was able to launch it at my last presentation at Milk. Everything is made in New York; the marble and glass are cut here, and we have a woodworker in Bushwick. It's a nice change of pace...a luxury, really, to be able to take my time designing [it], not being bound to the fashion calendar."
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
"I had an idea for these mirrors after doing home renovations all summer. I wanted to make something beautiful that worked as art, but [also had a] function. After mirrors will come stools and art objects to create a little world of our own."

Object B Mirror, Social + Studies; painting, Gail Stoicheff.
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
"I want to be able to live with as little as possible and eliminate clutter. I love the idea of living in a clean, quiet space that allows inspiration to flow."

Painting, Suzannah Wainhouse.

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Photographed by Winnie Au.
The living room features a custom "Collina" Cold Picnic rug.
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
"Always maximize the light in your space," suggests Taymour. "It will change the energy in your home."

Lamp, Haley Ann Robinson.
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Photo: Courtesy of Zillow.
Before
What is now the kitchen area was separated from the living room by a wall. Taymour had her contractor take down the wall to open up the space. "He called me 'crazy girl' and asked why I didn't want anything done like a normal person," she recalls with a laugh.
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
After
The open-plan kitchen is the ultimate mix of form and function. "Don't rush the permanent stuff, like floors and countertops," advises Taymour. "And, always pay for custom installation."
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Photo: Courtesy of Zillow.
Before
The old kitchen was in a separate room, which now serves as Taymour's home office. The old countertops and cabinets function as extra storage.
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
After
Standard IKEA cabinetry was outfitted with custom-made marble countertops. "Never order anything pre-cut for a New York apartment. Most likely the floors, or walls, or the ceiling are not straight...at all."
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Photo: Courtesy of Zillow.
Before
The bathroom was expectedly dingy and dark.
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
After
Now, it's a vision in white tile, though it took some convincing to get the contractor to leave the brick exposed above the shower — an aesthetic decision that provides a perch for air plants.
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Photo © Winnie Au
Indigo-dyed towels are kept at the foot of the shower in a hand-woven basket.
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Photo: Courtesy of Zillow.
Before
The bedroom fell victim to laminate tiles and half-hearted window treatments in the care of previous tenants.
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Photo © Winnie Au
After
Now, it's an ideal spot to unwind after a long day in the studio — though, with two south-facing exposures and an arrangement of artfully layered textiles, who would ever want to get out of bed?
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
"I'm obsessed with interiors," says the designer. "[They've] always been the focus of my inspiration boards."

Dreamcatcher, Julie Thevenot.
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
"I've collected crystals from all over the world. I have rose quartz found in the middle of the badlands and pyramid crystals from Mexico. Some are from shamans or dear friends that are thinking of me at the time. Each one has a different healing ability, but I find they create a very grounded, zen-like atmosphere in the space."

Photograph, Lyle Owerko at Clic Gallery.
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
Fragrances from Commes des Garçons and Maison Martin Margiela are artfully clustered atop a piece of petrified wood, a birthday gift from Taymour's friend, Love Adorned owner Lori Leven.
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Photo © Winnie Au
A rustic-chic Restoration Hardware dresser is one of the apartment's few nods to Williamsburg's de rigeur neo-homesteader aesthetic.
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Photographed by Winnie Au.
"Don't over-customize," are Taymour's last words of wisdom. "You never know what will come up in life that could uproot you from your current place. And, never accept a first bid [for contract work] — I guarantee you the second guy knows someone who can do it for half the price...though, sometimes, the guy who's half the price is half the price for a reason."
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