Archive for March, 2011

A Kitchen Design Competition Proposal

Last fall Sally and I submitted a kitchen design for a design competition. It was quite a challenge as the kitchen needed to fulfill two functions – that of a functional kitchen on a day-to-day basis for a stone and marble supply/fabrication business as well as a demo/learning kitchen, where a chef could present cooking seminars to the public. Layered on top of those requirements was the requirement to show off the businesses product and capabilities, which was it’s fabrication capabilities. We KNEW that we had a design that would win! Sally and I were ready for our trip to Italy!!!!  Sadly, the business closed its doors. And we will never know… We loved working with these guys. We were stunned, shocked and deeply saddened we heard the news. Our hopes and prayers are with them and that they will rise like a phoenix from the ashes.

As a way to honor and thank them for their years of support, Sally and I thought it would it appropriate to share our design submittal with you. The idea was simple. Set the kitchen (all Black Zimbabwee Granite) within the context of a quarry of White Carrara marble. (book and balance matched slabs on the floor and walls). They had developed a cool process where one could apply a stone veneer to an aluminum honeycomb substrate, which I had proposed for the drawer and cabinet door fronts, creating stone faced cabinetwork. They also worked with fused glass, which we proposed for most all the countertops, and we designed a cool bench, combining their stone and glass fabrication capabilities.

I have since dreamt that the kitchen design would fit wonderfully in to a penthouse on the top of a high rise building – one with a two story space overlooking some wonderfully long vista where there was nothing between you and Portugal, except the Atlantic Ocean and your imagination.

Any takers out there?


Learning Kitchen Design Perspective by John Kelsey

Proposed Kitchen Design Elevations

Schematic Kitchen Island Section

Custom Marble and Fused Glass Bench

Proposed Floor Plan

Proposed Lighting Plan

Schedule of Materials:

Floor: 3’ x 3’ White Carrara marble

Cabinets and Millwork: All exposed surfaces Black Zimbabwee granite on aluminum

Countertops: Island: Combination of Black Zimbabwee granite and fused glass

Other countertops: Fused glass

Walls behind Millwork and Cabinets: White Carrara marble slabs

All other walls: Paint

Sheetrock soffits at ceiling: painted sheetrock

Lighting: Combination of track, LED down lights and pendant fixtures

Doors: Paint grade hardwood

Bench: White Carrara marble and fused glass

Spring comes to Memphis

Some of you, who follow us, may know that I’m from Memphis. A few weeks ago, I paid an early springtime visit there, to see my family, and to look for spring where it may have sprung, because it certainly had NOT sprung in New England.

What came of that trip are many memories of growing up. I took walks every day. It was so lovely to take a walk outside wearing just a light jacket, when in New England we still were sporting ski parkas! My walks were within a mile or so of the home where I grew up.

Here are just a few photos of that locale, and what my thoughts were when I walked through this area.

First, here is a photo of a dark purple magnolia. This is not the Southern Magnolia, which blooms in June, and is white, but of what we see in New England in early spring. This is a wonderful dark magenta, not like the brighter, pink tones we see in Boston. 


Dark purple magnolia

Here is another magnolia in the area, the same color as we have here in New England, but more of a fringed petal.


magnolia blooms

Fringed Magnolia Blooms in Memphis

This is a photo of a Southern Magnolia tree and its leaves; a tree I passed every day when I was young. Look at these glossy leaves!

Southern Magnolia leaves

Southern Magnolia leaves down the street from where I lived

And look at the street signs that I grew up with, imagine: “Gardenia Drive”?  Gardenias were one of my favorite flowers. (Those are Magnolia leaves in the background.)

Street Signs 

Street Sign from Memphis
 And “yea!” I saw forsythia weeks before I would see it in Boston! (Actually, I haven’t seen forsythia bloom even yet!.)



Spring Forsythia

Spring Forsythia blooming in Memhis

Look at how this dogwood, in the middle of so much that has so far not bloomed, makes everything look so bright and alive!


Spring Dogwood in bloom

Spring Dogwood in bloom

And here is my local “Tara”. The home I passed many times on my way to school. It has a lawn that seems to stretch forever. Note how the grass is still its winter beige, but in Memphis it will turn to a rich green for summer. There are so many houses in Memphis that look like this.


Memphis Version of Tara

Southern Architecture

Close up view of Memphian Tara

Look at this: Flowering quince, right in my mother’s back yard. So much an invitation to Spring. I loved it.

Flowering Quince

Harbinger of Spring: Quince

And the funniest thing: just one block from my mother’s house, is this mailbox, with the University of Florida “Gator” image. I took my second degree from the University of Florida, so I am a “Gator” myself. It was so funny to see this image close to where my sister took her piano lessons.

Funny Mailboxes

University of Florida Mailbox Special

If you went back to your youth, what would surprise you?

To mix, or to match? That is the question…

I’ve never been one for what I call “matchy-matchy”. I let my artistic design eye rule; and, like a painter, I step back, look at my canvas, peruse my palette and let her rip.

For instance, in this kitchen, I found 2 different antique chandeliers in 2 different cities, in 2 different years. One went near the sink, the other over the family kitchen dining area. They add so much panache to the room. You can tell that they weren’t picked from a catalog and ordered. This gives instant history to the room, warmth and individuality.

Wrought Iron Chandelier

Antique iron chandelier, photo: Sam Gray

This French style piece gives great weight to the dining table.

French style iron chandelier

French style iron chandelier. Photo: Sam Gray

The following seaside living room doesn’t have a matching side table or matching lamp, and yet it still looks pulled together.

a mix of styles

Seaside Living Room. Design: Sally Wilson. Photo: Robert Brown

Seaside living, Massachusetts

Sometimes I surprise my clients, who know my non matchy-matchy inclinations, when I opt for symmetry and pairs of things. But it is true – sometimes symmetry is just the right thing. It screams out at me. Look at the rhythm of all these blue and white plates and jars. Don’t they add order to the otherwise wonderfully varied mix of textures and prints in the room?

Blue and White china collection
Blue and White adds symmetry. Photo: Michael Lee

But at other times symmetry can look just too bland and predictable. How do you know the difference? Practice. Practice makes perfect. (I think my mother has been telling me that since I started piano as a child.) By the way, I still practice – piano and other things.

John Kelsey and Sally Wilson

Wilson Kelsey Design is an award-winning luxury architectural interior design firm serving discerning clients in Greater Boston and beyond.

With over 50 years’ combined experience, husband-and-wife team John Kelsey and Sally Wilson expertly manage the details while collaborating with you on every aspect of your design project, to create a beautiful home that reflects who you are and how you live. Our warm and approachable sensibility makes the design process an enjoyable and memorable experience, from initial design discussions through project completion.

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