Chet Architecture and Ghislaine Viñas

Chet Architecture and Ghislaine Viñas Celebrate the Past With This Striking Staircase

2021 Best of Year winner for Staircase

“Celebrating the past while nurturing the present was important to us,” architect Chet Callahan says of the extensive remodeling and decorating of the late 19th–century Los Feliz house he shares with his husband and their two sons. That adventurous spirit is nowhere more evident than in the monolithic, sculptural spiral staircase linking the second floor and the converted attic. It inhabits part of the four-story central atrium created when an existing minstrels’ gallery was removed, linking interior spaces and bringing in more light and air.

The white staircase floats between the period wood paneling, a playful exchange between old and new. It is visible from most parts of the house and—from certain angles—appears a completely minimalist modern addition. But that is a delightful deception. A collaboration between Callahan and designer Ghislaine Viñas, the stair’s interior, with a Adrian Kay Wong mural, is a joyous riot of color, texture, and pattern, the kaleidoscopic walls dancing on either side, flanking a coil of sky-blue carpeted steps. “The imagery incorporates not only aspects of adjacent spaces but also features seen through the windows: the soft layers of the hills, gradients of green, curved roofs of the nearby observatory,” Wong says. Over the stair’s edge one can admire the hand-carved millwork from a century ago alongside contemporary art, one complementing the other. “It was important to make a clear distinction between the modern and the historic,” Callahan says of the style mash-up.

Spiral staircase by Chet Architecture and Ghislaine Viñas
The staircase feature bright blue carpeting and vibrant painted walls.
The staircase exterior creates a sleek visual as it winds through the home, mirroring a minimalist sculpture.
Chet Architecture: Chet Callahan
Ghislaine Viñas: Ghislaine Viñas