When people talk about the work of Ghislaine Viñas, words like exuberant and fun tend to roll off the tongue. The New York–based designer has the dexterity to create interiors that feel modern and grand, while filling them with lighthearted gestures. Dress up a banquette with a lobster print? Why not? For Viñas, design and play go hand in hand.
It might not come as a surprise, then, that when the weekend rolls around, the designer can be found at the controls of an 850-pound commercial lawn mower, enthusiastically giving her three-acre property in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, a buzz cut, one stripe at a time. “There is something so satisfying about it,” she insists.
She shares this rural idyll with her husband, Jaime, a graphic designer, and their two college-age daughters. Eighteen years ago they purchased the two-story farmhouse to be closer to Ghislaine’s sister, who lives in the next county, and to let the kids, then toddlers, burn off some pent-up city energy. Today the home is not only a respite from their busy Manhattan life but also a lab of sorts—a place where the designer’s collections are on display and her creativity can run wild.
Built circa 1910, the house (christened “Green Acres” at the suggestion of their nephew) has come a long way. When they first saw it, the home had undergone numerous alterations, resulting in dark, claustrophobic rooms and floors covered in mauve wall-to-wall carpet. They saved any original details that were still intact, including the staircase, while opening up walls to create generous family spaces that let the fresh country sunshine in. Outside, they added an expansive back deck and board-and-batten siding.
For Viñas, the house has become a venue for joyous experimentation—a sentiment that’s apparent as soon as you step through the door, where a John Wayne bust sits atop a console by François Chambard. Some of Viñas’s favorite so-called thingies might raise an eyebrow in isolation (say, the vintage pelican figurine in her office, an $8 thrift store find). But here, thanks to her astute sense of color and scale, they are cheeky inflection points amid the family’s collection of art and furniture.
During colder months, the family gathers around an original stone fireplace in the den to have drinks and relax as the snow drifts down outside. (The same mantel inspired the design for Viñas’s rock-patterned Flavor Paper wallcovering.) Almost every object has a backstory—from the David Chipperfield stools Viñas kept from an early renovation project to the pig-shaped plywood cabinet (a Seletti prototype) she scored at a trade fair. Some of her most treasured possessions are especially personal. She points to a tiny red blob of clay made by her girls as toddlers, now perched atop a painting. “Everything,” Viñas says, “means something here.”
This story originally appeared in the April 2022 issue of ELLE DECOR. SUBSCRIBE