Every Corner of This New York Loft Has Something to Make You Smile

Ingrid Abramovitch
·4 min read
Photo credit: Garrett Rowland
Photo credit: Garrett Rowland


“Hearst Magazines and Verizon Media may earn commission or revenue on some items through the links below.”

In the world of interior design, the Dutch-born, New York–based decorator Ghislaine Viñas stands out as much for her sunny disposition as for her unabashedly bold contemporary style. In her hands, every space is a jolt of energy and good cheer—replete with primary colors, modern shapes, art, and fun-loving gestures—from feather-clad pendants to slides and climbing walls. A young New York couple had been tracking the designer’s work for years when they asked her to help furnish a SoHo loft for their family. “They phoned to say, ‘We really love this joyfulness you bring to your projects,’” says Viñas of the couple, who work in finance and fashion. “‘We don’t really see other people doing that, and we’d love to work with you.’”

The homeowners had already hired an architect friend, Alexander Butler of AB/DS, to gut renovate the space. The core of his design is a minimalist wood-paneled kitchen that floats in the center of the loft, separating the living room and TV den from the dining area. “It was a modern intervention in the middle of a traditional SoHo loft with tin ceilings, exposed brick and concrete floors,” Butler says. “Inside of that framework, we seamlessly slipped a contemporary and elegant home with a pristine jewel of a kitchen.”

For Viñas, known for her energizing hues, color is both a starting point and an anchor for a room’s design. But in this case, she says, the kitchen’s dark brown woods—a combination of quartersawn European walnut and Alpi wood veneer—became her departure point. “I’m used to working with a Scandinavian palette, lots of white oak,” she says. “This was something quite different for me.”

Photo credit: Garrett Rowland
Photo credit: Garrett Rowland

A ruffled green Studio Dror for Cappellini chair—“the kind of thing you expect from me”—was ordered for the living room. But when it arrived the color felt off-kilter, and Viñas moved it near the entry, where it is highlighted by a wall clad in dark wood paneling.

Wanting to echo the richness of the dark wood, she placed a Cappellini wing chair in brown leather in the center of the living area, where it faces a low-slung vanilla sofa on one side and a pair of yellow Knoll swivel chairs on the other. Underfoot is a Persian rug she had custom overdyed in a cream shade and cut at the corner so it fits smoothly around a structural pole. It’s a subdued palette, by this designer’s standards, but not without a lively touch: The fluffy sheep in the corner have Claude Lalanne vibes, but unlike those million-dollar collectibles, these are handmade German toys from an online shop, Thorsten van Elten.

Photo credit: Garrett Rowland
Photo credit: Garrett Rowland

For Viñas, the biggest surprise was when the clients announced they had made a major art purchase for the dining area: a pair of M. Crow puzzle paintings by BDDW founder Tyler Hays. Where some designers might have been alarmed at the lack of consultation, Viñas’s reaction was quite the opposite when she saw the massive works: moody and mysterious depictions of bathers composed of hand-painted puzzle pieces. “I almost fell off my chair because I love Tyler’s work,” she says. “I’ve shown those paintings to so many clients, waiting for someone to please buy one. I’ve never been so delighted.”

It was the designer’s idea to create an oversize artwork for the hallway by blowing up a Sir John Tenniel illustration from the original edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. She knew her clients loved the book and had the page scanned and enlarged and framed by Skyframe in New York.

Photo credit: Garrett Rowland
Photo credit: Garrett Rowland

Indeed, she says the design of each room in her projects is akin to writing “chapters in a book”—every space, in other words, tells a story that relates to the whole. For the main bedroom, she created a quiet and serene narrative with soft textures, like the shearling upholstery she used on a pair of existing chairs.

Photo credit: Garrett Rowland
Photo credit: Garrett Rowland

Even Alice would have been delighted by this unconventional baby’s room, where a powder blue rug is combined with hypermodern elements from a black Egg chair to Marset’s funky Tam Tam pendant. “A kid’s room can be just as modern and creative while still being fun,” she says.

Balance and proportion are the key to making bold design choices work, she believes. “To me the delight of this project is the brown and yellow in the living room,” she says. “And it was sort of unintentional—it happened when we started moving things around. I work from my gut, ultimately.”

You Might Also Like