DESIGN FUSION IN AN EAST END GETAWAY GIVES BIRTH TO AN ENTIRELY NEW STYLE
BY JAMES TATE • PHOTOS COURTESY OF GHISLAINE VIÑAS INTERIOR DESIGN
Long Island’s East End famously speckled by Shingle Style estates that have become a signature of the Hamptons and neighboring Montauk doesn’t exactly conjure imagery of the roadside attractions, kaleidoscopic hues, and sublime kitsch of midcentury Florida. At first glance, the sole quality it appears to share is a sense of comfortable informality, each at ease in its connection to nature. But when Paige West, author and fine art curator, chose to breathe new life into her Montauk beach residence following water damage to its basement, she was inspired to fuse traditional 19th century architecture with an interior style gathered from her family’s long history in The Sunshine State. For the challenge, she approached friend and longtime collaborator, Manhattan interior designer Ghislaine Viñas, owner of the eponymous design firm who was, incidentally, the home’s original designer. “I’d worked with the client on many different projects,” Viñas said, “close to twelve or thirteen projects in the eighteen years I’ve been in business.”
Together West and Viñas created a storytelling approach to the renovation, one that, from its beginnings in the water damaged basement, ballooned into a much larger project that ultimately took the entire home into its scope.
“It snowballed,” said Viñas. “We pulled out some areas and extended the house, and regarded the property so that the pool was at a much lower level, creating a working basement with natural light and additional bedrooms.”
The concept came to be called “Floritauk,” said the designer, who has a reputation for bold explosions of color and the use of tongue in cheek fabrics and wallpapers, and took design underpinnings from the frequently gaudy interiors of 1960s and ’70s Florida for the renovation. “When the curtains matched the bedspread matched the wallpaper…you remember the hideousness of that?” she asked, laughing. “We looked at the rataan and the cane and the palm trees, and created this story of a hybrid of that within a cool surf lodge, beach house feel. And there are so many people who come and use it, it’s just such a free for all in the summer, that Paige calls it the Floritauk Motel.”
Architecture firm Arcologica was enlisted to refresh the exterior spaces, with a classic Hamptons aesthetic that would flow naturally into Viñas’ twists within.
“We wanted somebody who could speak to the home’s tradition, but I wanted it to be super simplified and exaggerated a little bit,” she explained. “The moldings are just a little higher than you typically see; the scale is just slightly increased.”
An ultra-modern swimming pool and dramatic open air decks cut through the home’s side gabled roof hint at its interior flourishes, but Viñas and Arcologica chose to maintain a reserved approach to the updated facade over the year and a half renovation.
Having arrived at this hybrid style, Viñas populated the interior by providing each room its own personality and balance between Floritauk’s two inspirations. The kitchen’s all white palette is given a sudden reversal by the splash of an electric blue dining table, and Laura Kirar chairs and banquette. A closer look at the banquette’s upholstery reveals a vinyl laminated lobster print, a winking tribute to one of the client’s loves.
“Nothing says summer in Montauk like lobster!” said Viñas. “We designed that textile and had it custom printed.” (The animals play on a background of a classic checkered blanket.) “We brought a little tongue in cheek attitude with the picnic pattern behind it.”
In the living room, a laquered wood game table by Alaine Gilles seats ten in McGuire chairs embellished with cushions designed by West’s own children.
“Paige had all these drawings that her kids had done of sea creatures…things that really made her happy,” said Vinãs. “So, we blew them up and had them printed onto vinylized fabric. It’s just a way to personalize and have a little bit of fun in the room.”
Hanging above the game table is an assortment of globular lighting fixtures in blue fishermen’s net by Swedish firm Zero. “They reminded me of buoys, “ said Vinãs. “Montauk’s known for being a big fishing village, and I love using lights and pendants as sculptural landing points in a room.”
The dining room presented a challenge due to the shifting décor of the client’s frequent gatherings, but the designer resolved the question with clever simplicity and with typical arresting color. A lively procession of fixtures in multicolored lampshades is strung the length of the dining table that seats fourteen.
“That’s a light called the PET Lamp. They’re recycled soda bottles that are cut into strips and woven,” Viñas explained. “The dining room needed to be neutral because Paige loves to really have fun with table settings. She needed to be able to do a red setting or a blue setting or green, so we kept that room blank, but the lamps offer a lot of color and energy, and you an go any direction with them. So that room was actually based on her collection of placemats!”
A vintage floor lamp in the form of a mermaid is a literal expression of the home’s Florida heritage.
“That was one of the things we kept from the last house, and it just speaks about how we can relish in the element of kitsch,” said Viñas. “The client’s grand mother was one of the mermaids in Weeki Wachee Springs park in Florida in the sixties, so she loves the whole Esther Williams mermaid thing. We keep pulling stuff like that into these areas because they have so much meaning and they speak to her sense of humor and quirkiness.”
The basement received the home’s most dramatic color treatment, including a children’s guest bedroom cast in bright whites and oranges and a symmetrical, winding wallpaper pattern by Flavor Paper designed by Lenny Kravitz.
“The client gave us a picture of a bowl of citrus fruit—oranges and lemons and grapefruits and limes and she loved the image so much that she said it would be fun if the whole bottom of the house was based on these colors. So, every room down there is in oranges and greens and yellows that tie them together as they face the pool. We created a room just for overflow kids, extra kids on that floor! It’s a very, very small room, and on either side are just bunk beds for four with some storage underneath. The wallpaper, which we felt was festive and fun, was custom colored in tangerine, and because there’s nothing else in that room it’s just super graphic. I love working in an exaggerated scale and with simple graphics, so that was a fun room to design.”
As both the starting point of the renovation and one of the finished home’s most striking uses of simplicity and color, the room is a perfect example of Viñas’ surprising, yet cohesive, Floritauk style.
Ghislaine Viñas Interior Design
139 Fulton Street, Suite 807, Manhattan / 212.219.7678