Archive for April, 2011

Design inspiration, how a bottle of wine got me dreaming…

The other day to accompany our evening meal, I opened my last bottle of Pichon Lalande 1995 Reserve de la Comtesse. As the wine sat in my glass and began to open up I was struck by how floral and feminine it smelled. Mingling with the usual secondary and tertiary soft earthy scents and aromas of leather, spice box, etc. I found sweeter herbal scents of lavender and rosemary – and flowers such as lilac.  The nose was very feminine! I clearly remember setting my glass of wine down on the dining table and realizing my mind had wandered far a field. Who was this woman in my glass – this Comtesse? What might she look like? Where might she live?

Little did I know where my speculation would take me…

I pictured her as older – blessed with grace and charm and complete peace with herself. She was educated, loved art and music. She was in complete command of here world, but she did not flaunt it. She had an air of easy approachability. The kind of person who when you spoke with her, gave you her undivided attention.

Her home would have been and estate or chateau – in the country. Fresh air, flowers, gardens, etc. Grounds not overly formal. Maybe slightly romantic. Her homes interior would have had an air of quiet grace and charm, her hand clearly evident in the décor. Some might have called it spare. For me, the words balance and harmony come to mind. It would have been a home you felt immediately at ease in upon entering, as though being welcomed by an old friend.

And so, with this mental picture in my head, I set about to learn more about my seductress. This is what I found out. My lady’s name was Virginie de Pichon-Longueville, Comtesse de Lalande, who lived in the French region of Médoc in the 1700s.

Virginie de Pichon-Longueville, Comtesse de Lalande

Her dream and eventually her life work was to make an “unforgettable wine”. She presided over what would become one of Bordeaux’s greatest vineyards and gave it the name it retains to this day, Chateau Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande. Since Virginie, the vineyard has been run by a number of remarkable women throughout its entire history, including today.

The Pichon Lalande Chateau

No wonder my bottle of wine possessed such wonderful perfume and balance! The wine has had several hundred years of a woman’s touch!

While finding pictures of the chateau’s exterior was straight forward, the interior was another matter. I was able to find only two. A little help here???? I’d love to see more.

First was this interior shot of the old Lalande Hotel, which was the inspration for Pichon Lalande.
Iwish it had better resolution because the detail is exquisite!

Hotel Lalande - The Inspiration for Pichon Lalande's Chateau.

And this detail shot of a corner of a room showing some spectacular hand painted wallpaper. 

An Interior Detail

Undeterred, I let my imagination reign free as I poked through my design books creating a vision of my fantasy interior.

Orangery, Axel Vervoordt
A Sunlit Hall, Axel Vervoordt

An Intimate Dining Room, Axel Vervoordt

A Sunny Sitting Room, Axel Vervoordt

A Gorgeous Enfilade, Axel Vervoordt

A Stair Detail, Axel Vervoordt

I could keep on going and going…  Since this wonderful evening of fantasy, I’ve found myself  speculating about other people and interiors as I sipped a glass of wine.  I look forward to sharing more wine inspired interiors with you in the near future. Hope you enjoyed this one.

Following Spring Northward: Old Westbury Gardens

The weather has been so dreary of late, we decided to share one more stop as we follow spring northward toward Boston. It is the home of early 20th century lawyer and heir to the Phipps family fortune, John S. Phipps, Old Westbury Gardens. Located on an old Quaker farm in Long Island, Old Westbury is a magnificent home with beautiful landscaped gardens. When John proposed to his wife Margarita in 1903, he promised to build her a home in the United States that would resemble that of her family’s estate back in Battle Abbey, East Sussex.

English designer George Crawley designed the home after carefully studying the models of great homes in England built during 1625-1685. The extraordinary South Terrace of the house features a colonnade with double doors that open up into the gorgeous ballroom, and outside the terrace are the exquisite architectural details such as the eye-catching 18th century sister sphinxes and several lovely statuary in niches. Take a walk through the property and you’ll have plenty of eye candy in its various gardens. From the Boxwood garden with a marble trimmed reflecting pool to the Rose garden that remains beautiful all year round, there is pure artistry woven into the landscape of Old Westbury Gardens.

Old Westbury South Terrace. Photo credit Jim Large

South Terrace: Statuary in niche. Photo credit oldwestburygardens.org

18th century sister sphinxes. Photo credit Jim Large

Rose Garden. Photo credit Jim Large via oldwestburygardens.com

The Boxwood Garden. Photo credit Vincent Kish via oldwestburygardens.org

Interior Design Show – Sneak Peek!

Four (4!) weeks from today, John and I will be at a Gala Party celebrating the opening of the North Shore Design Show, benefiting the Wenham Museum, in Wenham, MA. Between now and then we will be hard at work making this mini-showhouse come together, flawlessly. We thought we would give our adoring public a sneak preview, and of course, invite you all to come to the show!

What to do with a Dining Room
Our design sketch for dining area

Our concept this year will be a dining area. We are allotted a very small space, but our goal is to make it look like a real room. Where did our concept begin? It’s funny, but it began with a film. We watched “Julie and Julia” over and over again. We loved it – the people, the scenery, the fact that I had real-life conversations with Julia Child, (one of my Life Goals) and the realization (by John, our family psychologist) that the film was about how food connects people. It gives the opportunity for connection – or should I say, it is used at important times of connection? Celebrations and important markers in our lives, as well as our daily interactions. Therefore, we wanted to create a very special room, one that would encourage more entertaining, more connections.

Thus, our special dining area. It’s meant to invite you to come, invite you to stay, invite you to cement friendships.

Dining Room walls

Our sketch for Dining Room Wall 2

Because in life, it’s the love that counts. It’s the friendships you gather that are more important than the money you gather. So . . .  GATHER, in a great dining room. Designed by us, of course.Sally Wilson, ASID 


Sally Wilson and John Kelsey

Recipients of regional and national awards, John and Sally have been interior designers for over 25 years. Their work has appeared in numerous magazines. If you'd like design help, call: 617-292-3380

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