Ghislaine Vias: How One Designer Built the Ultimate Fun House In Pennsylvania

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Written By Jim J Neal

Jason Varney When people speak about Ghislaine Vinas’ work, words such as exuberant or fun often come off the tongue. New York-based designer, Jason Varney, has the ability to create modern and grand interiors while still making them feel lighthearted. A lobster print can dress up your banquette. Why not? Vinas believes design and play go hand-in-hand.
It shouldn’t surprise that the designer is often found on weekends operating a 850-pound commercial mower. She gives her Bucks County property, Pennsylvania, a buzz cut one at a time. She insists, “There is something so satisfying in it.”

The sofa in the den is Roche Bobois and the rug is RH, Restoration Hardware.Jason VarneyShe lives in this idyllic rural setting with Jaime, her husband and their two daughters, both college-aged. The two-story farmhouse was purchased 18 years ago by Ghislaine and Jaime to be near Ghislaine’s sister in the next county. Also, to let their toddler children burn off excess energy from the city. The home serves as a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan, but it also functions as a laboratory for the designer. Here she can display her collections and let her imagination run wild.
The house was built in 1910 and christened “Green Acres” by their nephew. It has come a long ways since then. The home was dark and claustrophobic when they first saw it. Floors were covered with mauve carpet wall to wall. The original details, such as the staircase, were kept intact. However, they opened up walls to allow the sunshine into the home, creating large family spaces. They added a large back deck and board-and batten siding.

Francois Chambard’s sofa and cocktail table in the studio and sitting area.Jason VarneyVinas considers the house a place for joyful experimentation. This sentiment is evident as soon as you walk through the front door. A John Wayne bust rests on Francois Chambard’s console. Vinas’s favourite so-called things might be a little strange in isolation. For example, Vinas’s vintage pelican figurine, which she found at a thrift store for $8, is one of her favorite. These are a cheeky inflection point among the family’s furniture and art collection thanks to Vinas’s keen sense of scale and color.
The family enjoys a warm drink and a relaxing time in the den by the original stone fireplace during the winter months. Vinas’s Flavor Paper wallcovering was inspired by the same mantel. Nearly every object has a story. From the David Chipperfield stool Vinas used in an early renovation project to her Seletti prototype plywood cabinet, which she bought at a trade show, to the pig-shaped plywood cupboard (a Seletti prototype), almost all of them have a history. Her most prized possessions are particularly personal. She points out a small red blob made of clay by her daughters as toddlers and now perched on top of a painting. Vinas states, “Everything” means something here.

This story first appeared in the April 2022 issue ELLE DECOR. SUBSCRIBE
Anna FixsenDeputy digital editorAnna Fixsen is ELLE DECOR’s Deputy Digital Editor. She focuses on sharing the best of design through online storytelling and in-depth reporting.

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