“There are no rules to how we decorate,” Tanya Taylor says as my eye catches an installation of petite-but-mighty iron soldiers ascending her hand-scrubbed Venetian-plaster walls. We’re ensconced on a tufted sofa in the West Village converted church—all vaulted ceilings and stained glass—she calls home. “I thought this place was unique, how they had taken a historic building and added modern elements to it,” she continues. “It had an almost untouchable, art gallery feeling. We’ve come in and added our style.”
I’ll say. Surrounded by the spoils of a well travelled life, both formal (a Louis Vuitton steamer trunk and Roche Bobois glass console) and unfussy (vintage Air Canada signage and a sticky green typewriter), the space is testament to her keen sense of quirk. Taylor purchased the three-bedroom, two-storey apartment in 2010; today, she shares it with her husband, media executive Michel Pratte, and their cat, Oscar (whom I recognize from his cameo in Taylor’s fall ’13 look book). When she has me over, they’re fresh from their lavish wedding at the Sandy Lane resort in Barbados (the bride wore an Elie Saab haute couture confection and Jimmy Choos) and a honeymoon in Hong Kong and the Maldives.
Pratte and Taylor are so comfortable with one another, they immediately put others at ease. They’ve had lots of time to practise—after meeting at McGill University, they had an on-off courtship for eight years, until they both landed in the same city and started making a home together.
“I love anything with animals. He was worried I was going to make the apartment look like a goofy zoo,” Taylor says. “Michel comes from a very classic French-Canadian family. My design aesthetic is a little crazier than his…”
With her mother long serving as the chairwoman of ShawCor—the Toronto-based energy service and cable empire founded by Taylor’s great grandfather—the designer was born into a powerhouse family. So what does her newly retired mother, who keeps homes in Barbados and France, make of her daughter’s curious crash pad? “For some reason, she won’t stay here. She was like, ‘You decorated it too funky for me. I’m going uptown.’ But we always have friends come stay, and we love having an open-door policy.”
The Parsons- and Elizabeth and James–pedigreed designer applies this same convivial vibe to her buzzy collection. For fall 2013, she was inspired by artist Jean-Pierre Raynaud’s modular ceramic tile works, which translated to checked car coats and graphic mismatched sets. The odd powdery-pink fur topper provided a dash of offhand elegance. In only her third season, critics have pegged her as one to watch, and Holt Renfrew, New York’s buzzy new Owen and L.A.’s achingly cool Satine have each picked up the line—as have Rashida Jones and fellow West Villager Liv Tyler, both of whom have worn her flora-festooned pieces on the film premiere circuit.
“It’s a balance of mixing prints and textures. I don’t like anything too coordinated,” Taylor says as we walk past her oversize dining room table, complete with a motley crew of chairs, some French and pert pink, others English shabby-chic and mid-century modern—plus two covered in penguins from Toronto’s Trianon. “We collect trinkets and add character to every room in the same way I design,” she says. “With each piece, I’m thinking of it styled with a sweater or a jacket and having a story with it.” Indeed, this apartment is its own charming fable. “It’s funny because we don’t have many [personal] photographs up—maybe two—but there are so many little things that remind me of an event in our lives. It’s never planned. That feels like home because it’s serendipitous how things have worked out.” Who doesn’t love a happy ending?