Darren Henault

Creating luxurious spaces on land and sea

"On the water, you have to take
weight into account.
You don’t want to sink!"


You’ve described your interiors as Proustian. What do you mean? Every sentence in Proust tells you 20 things. My work is layered, rich and florid. There is so much packed into it. If you can walk into a room and focus on only one thing, it isn’t complex enough. It takes more than three minutes to experience any room I’ve done. As a native Rhode Islander, you’re familiar with traditional nautical motifs. When you designed a 125-foot yacht, why didn’t you apply them? That was my favorite thing about this project. The clients didn’t want to use a blue and white scheme. They specified a “Holly Golightly-New York City-21st Century” theme, a boat that felt sophisticated and textural, like a beautiful condominium on the water. What is unique to designing for living on the water? On a boat, you have to use every square inch. If there’s a gap, it’s used for bookshelves, a drawer, a cubby. There are also mechanical restraints. We designed the skirt on the big sectional sofa at the prow to hide some of the boat’s mechanism that protrudes above the floor. And you don’t have curtains at sea, and I love curtains. The scalloped skirt on the sectional sofa is treated like a valance, light and fun. Why didn’t you use standard furniture? On the water, you have to take weight into account. You don’t want to sink! So the “marble” kitchen counters are durable fiberglass laminated with a layer of marble that’s only ³/₁₆-inch thick. The big blue sofa in the media room has a hollow frame. Do sight lines pose a challenge? To be above waterline, some of the portholes and windows are higher than you want them to be. And when the boat is moving, it lifts out of the water, so the seating at the front of the boat has to be raised. Why are the nickel-inlaid strips in the red cabinetry your favorite detail in this project? I love how flawlessly New England Boat Works was able to execute my idea. The edges of the metal are so square and crisp that it’s seamless. At sea, where everything has to be functional, how do you achieve a feeling of luxury? I work with textures. For example, rather than hardwood, we did stone floors and wall-to-wall carpeting. The ship has areas where you’re not lying around in your bathing suit, so we made it as sumptuous and textural as a home.