Home Tour: A Tongue-in-Cheek Castle in the Sky

DOSSIER: NAME: Ghislaine Viñas TRADE: Interior designer. VIBE: Heaven meets Six Flags. ABODE: A client's four-story penthouse in one of the oldest skyscrapers in Manhattan. You have to see Sky House to believe it. As interior designer Ghislaine Viñas describes it, "the house is really just like someone parked a château at the top of a building." Juxtaposed with its palatial exterior is a definitively experimental interior, equipped with a climbing wall, swing, massive tubular mirrored slide, angular walls, and glass flooring. Viñas admits she herself had a hard time understanding the plans: "Even now you look into the space, and it's mind boggling. You don't quite know what you're looking at." Before undertaking the project, Viñas had designed two other homes for her clients, and they'd developed a friendship. "By the time we got to Sky House, we'd already established so much that I felt like I really knew them and what they wanted." Ultimately Viñas's friend David Hotson was hired to design the home's very avant-garde architecture. "Any other architect would have created a completely different space," she says. "But I think he brought the project home." _1 Needless to say, developing the furniture layouts for a room with a massive coiled slide was no child's play. "The living room was by far the hardest room I've ever worked on," Viñas says. "The slide is so low and there's a huge TV opposite it, so I had to elongate the sofa and slide it under there. It was crazy." To complement the silvers in the mirror-polished slide, the designer chose an all-gray palette with pops of blue that echo the sky. _2 From the attic's glass flooring, you can look down into each room as if it were a doll house. "Normally, you have to keep in mind that you're moving from one room to the next to the next, but in this house you actually see all these different things at the same time," she says. "So I became really aware that all these spaces needed to be different yet all relate." To that end, Viñas created "volumes" in which each space was covered entirely in a single material -- including a wild "chintz on steroids," in one area she calls "the nest." "I don't want to say it's a hideous fabric because it's actually beautiful, but how we used it is sort of tongue-in-cheek and hideous in a way," she says. _3 That whimsical attitude is one of the strongest currents of Sky House. Take, for instance, one of the bedrooms, which is covered in Flavor Paper's City Park Wallpaper, a damask print with imagery of rats, fire hydrants, and pigeons. "It looks like a very traditional wallpaper, but if you look closely, it's far from it," Viñas says. "We're trying to poke fun at more traditional elements." To coordinate, Viñas hired a craftsman to hand carve an ornate Rococo-style headboard topped with a fire hydrant. "He thought we were crazy," she says, but the results are anything but. In another moment, Viñas installed a plate wall with dishes her client had collected, but as you might expect, it was no ordinary installation. "People have done plate walls plenty of times, but we were looking for a way to do it that was just a little bit different," the designer says. Viñas hired a tile cutter to cut the plates, arranging them in a perfect rectangle, as if they'd been cut right out of a magazine. "For us, it's kind of just about taking things a little bit further like that. I'm not writing a thesis on design here, but when you find clients who you can collaborate with and have this much fun with, it's incredibly rewarding."dh-shop-the-room-kitchen-header-09
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Moooi Horse Floor Lamp, $8040, Y Lighting Shock by Jill Greenberg, Price Upon Request, Jill Greenberg Saarinen Executive Armless Chair, $1049, Knoll
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Yellow Murano Chandelier, $1900, Shop Ten 25 City Park Wallpaper, $150 (Per Roll), Flavor Paper Classic Blanket, From $60, CB2
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Harry Allen Golden Pig Bank, $200, Furbish Studio Zuo Providence Loveseat, $1226, Access Furniture Handmade Carved Oak Rope Swing, $295, Kaufmann Mercantile
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Maya Armless Chaise, $1399, Room & Board Kaleido Tray, $38, DWR Bird Song Fabric, $173 (Per Yard), Decorator's Best
Photographs: Eric Laignel -- By Julia Millay Walsh