To get to Karyn Starr’s Brooklyn home, I don’t climb a stoop. Or get buzzed in. Or say hello to a doorman on my way to the elevator. Instead, I walk past a row of stately Clinton Hill townhouses and mansions-turned-apartment complexes, slip between buildings to knock on a side door on the ground floor—and walk straight into her kitchen. (For non-city dwellers: This pretty much never happens.) This disarming, country-in-the-city detail resets my heartbeat to a more leisurely pace. And I feel, immediately, at ease.
It helps that Starr, a personal stylist and co-founder of the design firm White-Starr, is the kind of host who greets you for the first time as if you’re continuing a long-running conversation. She immediately dives into topics like screen time (she gets two hours a week, max—AKA the dream) and mindfulness (she’s all about Transcendental Meditation).
“I try to create a feeling of spaciousness. I want this to be a place we can retreat to and be together.”
“Within five minutes of meeting me, you’re usually in your underwear,” she says of her let’s-jump-right-in approach to styling. “What I’ve learned is that when people have clothing that matches their spirit, it’s remarkable what happens.” And it’s easy to see how she applies this philosophy to her own home when you look at its undeniably chic—but totally unfussy—interior design.
“I’m originally from New England, so everything needs to be functional,” Starr says of her cozy, upscale-hippie aesthetic, with modern tie-dye touches (in super-soft fabrics, courtesy of Brooklyn-based brand Upstate) and elements that evoke the natural world: fresh-cut flowers, crystals, and art depicting snakes, owls, elephants, and more. Consider Starr’s style an oppositional force to the gleaming, minimalist glass towers that are shooting up in urban skies across the country—this sunny home is forever in soft focus.
“Raising kids in the city, I go for soothing colors on the walls,” she says, pointing to the cool, pale blues and grays that surround us. “I try to create a feeling of spaciousness. I want this to be a place we can retreat to and be together.”
What’s her secret for creating an urban sanctuary? Here are the 5 essential elements of this stylist’s Brooklyn home.
1. A crystal-charged oasis
Next to her bed is a six-inch smoky quartz—and a selenite wand nearly twice as big. They give her and her husband, Gary, a majorly charged sleeping experience. (Crystal experts say that smoky quartz reputedly lowers stress and detoxifies the body, while selenite promotes calm and serenity—and can even help you access higher levels of consciousness.) The mom of two rotates in other stones as needed. “Last year I lost a baby, and [after] I kept a rose quartz in my pocket,” she says. “I’d reach in there and just hold it and rub it—it was a self-soothing thing, and it was incredibly healing.”
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2. Meditation nooks everywhere
“With TM, you can do it anywhere—you don’t have to be precious about it,” she says. If Starr’s awake before everyone else, she’ll get in a morning session in bed; if not, she makes it work. Consider it an excuse to stocking up on throw pillows that you can grab as you settle into a spot on the floor. “As long as you get in 20 minutes twice a day, you’re good.” (Pro tip: When the stylist’s out of her apartment and in need of a mindfulness fix, she ducks into a church and meditates in a pew.)
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3. A good-for-your-gut kitchen
Mornings are all about Bulletproof coffee in Starr’s house—whether it’s made with grass-fed ghee, MCT oil, or coconut oil. “I’ve been eating like this for years, since I read Nina Planck’s Real Food—it was ahead of this Paleo [trend]. The minute anyone in my house is sick, they get broth.” And in the evenings, she and her husband sip on cocktails made of bitters and seltzer. “It doesn’t just help your stomach; it’s calming, it’s grounding. And if you’re doing an alcohol-free time, you can just do [Urban Moonshine’s] Simmer Down,” she says.
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4. Tiny, wellness-boosting surprises
They say that signs are everywhere, if you know where to look. Starr turns this ephemeral idea into a reality, with tiny messages peeking out of unexpected places—everywhere from prints on the wall to doorknob hangings. As you’re wandering through the rambling, six-room apartment, they pop out at you: “courage,” “Earth,” “refreshed.” (Message received!)
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5. Welcoming spaces that aren’t “perfect”
Starr is currently super-inspired by Grace Bonney’s book, In the Company of Women—particularly the idea of ever-evolving design that’s never “done.” It’s always changing, always being fine-tuned. Step into her living room and you see—and, more importantly, feel—this approach. Wooden toys are stashed in the decorative brick fireplace. The mantle showcases everything from a three-tier crystal display case to family photos to a small statue of the Hindu god Shiva—and yet it has a seductive, let’s-sit-and-chat vibe.
“My home is a totally sacred space,” she says. “I want my kids to feel comfortable and happy, and I want them to feel like everything is their space, too. If there’s spilled juice, there’s spilled juice. It’s no big deal. You can always get more beautiful things.”