This 1670 antique colonial had undergone multiple modifications and additions over it’s lifetime, resulting in awkward room layouts and circulation. Our client asked us to design a home suited to casual living and entertaining, where one room flows into the next. Working collaboratively with Bob Weatherall, a North Shore contractor specializing in timber frame construction, particular attention was paid to the connection of the kitchen and family room to the front of the house and the construction of a small powder room on the first floor. In addition, Sally guided the family through furnishing the newly renovated home with a combination of new and reconditioned family heirlooms.

1670 antique colonial historic house marker; Wilson Kelsey Design

The dining room during construction.

Dining room during construction: Wilson Kelsey Design

The family had stored all their antique and inherited furniture, art and accessories prior to construction. Sally inventoried and made recommendations on all the stored items, helping the family determine the best use for each piece. In some instances, new furniture and lighting was added to the mix, as in the dining room, where two high backed chair now sit at the dining table while a new reproduction chandelier hangs from the ceiling.

(Note: All the following photographs are by Michael Lee.)

Antique Colonial Dining Room; Wilson Kelsey Design

Two wood burning stoves provide heat in the winter. One in the family room adjacent to the kitchen.

Antique Colonial Family Room; Wilson Kelsey Design

The second in the living room at the opposite end of the house. A new hearth was added to accommodate the stove. Note the old Hunt Horns Sally found in storage…

Antique Colonial, wood burning stove, Wilson Kelsey Design

In several instances, Sally had pieces of existing furniture modified and reupholstered for re-use. An example is the antique sofa in the living room. Originally, it had a flat back. Sally had it modified to a soft camel back profile, making it more graceful in appearance. Other family pieces in the room are the bureau, sculpture and accessories on the tray. The new French doors and sidelights look out over the Great Salt Marsh behind the house.

Antique Colonial Living Room; Wilson Kelsey Design

The Great Salt Marsh.

The Great Salt Marsh; Wilson Kelsey Design

The new powder room was windowless. Sally designed a First Period Colonial Style leaded glass window between the powder room and mud room, in order to borrow light from the exterior of the the house.

Antique Colonial Powder Room; Wilson Kelsey Design

View of window from the mud room.

Antique Colonial Mud Room; Wilson Kelsey Design

There were ample opportunities to simply “Have Fun”, like finding a perch for a small ceramic bird that had been in the family for years.

Ceramic Bird; Wilson Kelsey Design

To read the Old House Journal story in full, click here.

Every home has a story. What’s yours?

John Kelsey, Wilson Kelsey Design

Please contact us here.

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Sally and I frequently receive calls from home owners who tell us they have purchased a newer home based on location, school system and or look of the home’s exterior, etc., but they don’t like the interior architectural detailing and decor. As one client related, “The interior has no gravitas.” And they ask us, “Can you help us upgrade the design of the interior architectural detailing, hardware, decorative lighting and decor?” We, of course, say yes.

Presently, Sally is working on a project on the North Shore of Boston in which she is helping a client undertake a phased major cosmetic overhaul of a newer Colonial Style home, converting it to the look and feel of a French Country estate. The project has been broken down by phase based on looking at logical architectural breaks and transitions, the client’s travel plans and what they intend to invest on an annual basis in the house.

The first phase was the renovation of a small foyer and powder room. Originally designed around a masculine “hunt club” theme, Sally and our client collaborated to create a gracious welcoming experience for owner and house guests. The very awkward powder room was expanded and reconfigured.

Here we see the existing conditions. Dark wood, dark paint and cramped dysfunctional powder room.

foyer existing conditions

Note the inexpensive door hardware, six panel colonial style doors and hunt scene drapery…

foyer existing conditions

powder room existing conditions

The powder room was expanded by eliminating a closet. New two panel doors and crown molding were selected. The bi-fold doors were replaced with flat panel doors to be covered with wall paper. The entry is on the right. The door on the left leads to the kitchen.

Existing Conditionsproposed floor plan, Wilson Kelsey Design

In order to create the desired French style our client was asking for, Sally worked with our friends from Zoe Design to create a custom chinoiserie wallpaper for the foyer, including covering the bi-fold doors concealing of the washer/dryer. (BTW: Zoe Design’s new website is Inspiring!!!)

Zoe Design chinoiserie wallpaper

In the powder room an antique mirror feature wall, custom hand painted vanity, marble vanity top and mirror were proposed.

proposed French Style powder room elevation, Wilson Kelsey Design

vanity sink base, Wilson Kelsey Design

Door hardware, powder room faucet set, vanity mirror and lighting throughout were thought of as jewelry a woman might wear when she attends a cocktail party – that final touch pulling everything together.

Mudroom style board, Wilson Kelsey Design

door hardware, Wilson Kelsey Design

For the floor, collaborating with Zoe Design, Sally and our client designed a grid with a fleur-de-lis at each intersection.

Floor & Mural by Zoe Design; Design by WIlson Kelsey Design


When the work was completed, the new foyer looked like this! Fresh, welcoming, and inviting. Love the tufted upholstered wall!

Mudroom:Foyer; Wilson Kelsey Design

Mudroom/Foyer; Wilson Kelsey Design

The powder room became a little jewel, fit for a queen!

French Style Powder Room; Wilson Kelsey Design


Sally recently produced a short video describing the renovation of the foyer/power room in more detail, which can be seen here.

Every home has a story. What’s your?

John Kelsey, Wilson Kelsey Design

Please contact us here.

To visit our website, click here.

To follow us on Facebook, click here.

To follow us on Pinterest, click here.

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The blog has suffered of late as Sally’s and my attention has been fully focused on working with a group of wonderful consultants throughout the spring and summer on Wilson Kelsey Design’s new brand identity, website, logo and stationery. Thank you Leslie Carothers, social media/branding guru and founder of  The Kaleidoscope Partnership and Lesli Ink, web and graphic designers extraordinaire for your patience and awe inspiring talent! More on all of this in the early Fall…

In the midst of that major effort, we have been blessed by the publication of several of our favorite projects, with the most recent being our renovation of a bland mid 1980’s condo on Boston’s North Shore into a Parisian Style apartment in the Summer issue of Vintage Beautiful.

Vintage Beautiful, A Piece of Old Paris; Wilson Kelsey Design

 The project was done room by room over a period of several years with the owner in residence. Our client told us she wanted every room in the house to be different, using no detail twice. We turned this apparent challenge into an advantage by designing rooms that appear to have been done over a period of time in the 18th Century while maintaining an overall French Continental feel throughout.

Here are examples of preliminary design sketches of several of the rooms I prepared.

Living room.

French Style living room sketch, John Kelsey, Wilson Kelsey Design

Dining Area.

french dining room; John Kelsey, Wilson Kelsey Design

Preliminary Library Study.

French neoclassical library study, Wilson Kelsey Design

Final Library Scheme.

French neoclassical library study, Wilson Kelsey Design

Wine Cellar/Bar.

wine cellar/bar; John Kelsey, Wilson Kelsey Design

You can read the full article here. Vintage Beautiful – A Piece of Old Paris.


John Kelsey, Wilson Kelsey Design

Every home has a story. We’d love to help you tell yours. Please contact us here.

To visit our website, click here.

To follow us on Facebook, click here.

To follow us on Pinterest, click here.

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