There’s a must stop Sally and I make every Christmas when we visit her mother and step-dad. It’s South Front Architectural Antiques, We’re always filled with excitement and anticipation because we never know what we will find or discover. This year did not disappoint.

Adventure at South Front Architectural Antiques; Wilson Kelsey Design

At about 18″ in diameter, I saw this copper pot as a planter in an urban loft.

copper pot; Wilson Kelsey Design

If I had been working on a Federal Period renovation and needed a mantel, I would have scooped this up in a hurry. Totally pristine!

Period Mantel; Wilson Kelsey Design

This 5′ x 7′ gilt mirror probably isn’t the right piece for over the mantel.  But I could see it standing on the floor in the right foyer or in an edgy living room.

Large Gilt Mirror; Wilson Kelsey Design

We found this delicately scaled arm chair tucked in a corner of the second floor. All it needs is a small Mid Century Modern glass top coffee table beside it. (I wanted to bring the chair home even though we have no room for it.)

small arm chair; Wilson Kelsey Design

But the chair I truly lusted for was this one. This Art Nouveau chair, in need of full restoration, could be the centerpiece of any room. (I might have to commission a second one.)

Art Nouveau Chair; Wilson Kelsey Design

Art Nouveau Chair; Wilson Kelsey Design

Art Noveau Chair; Wilson Kelsey Design

The old foundry molds were incredible. Very West Elm… The large panel-like mold was for the front of a boiler or something of that sort. I find myself wondering how I could incorporate a fireplace into it as part of a feature wall.

Foundry Patterns; Wilson Kelsey Design

I can see the potential with the collage on the wall behind for one of two applications. Very stark modern where the patterns become very sculptural or in the quintessential brick and beam warehouse/loft.

Foundry Patterns; Wilson Kelsey Design

And last but not least, this corner bench. I’d love to be able to incorporate it into a breakfast nook in a Belgian Style inspired kitchen.

Corner bench seat; Wilson Kelsey Design

I guess Sally and I are going to have to find a few good projects in order to put these finds to good use!


John Kelsey, Wilson Kelsey Design

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The holiday break is over, the new year has begun and we’re back at it at the WKD Ranch. I have projects going into construction and new ones on the boards. Sally has completed designing several little and one large decorative gems and has new ones in the works. The year is starting off well.

To start 2016 on the blog, I want to circle back and complete the Elements of French Style video’s. I had posted the first in mid December and then ran into technical difficulties that prevented me from posting the remaining three before Christmas.

In this segment Sally and I will discuss the building blocks of classic French Style interior architecture. We both feel strongly that you you need to get the bones right. (Video 3 explores the French Style’s decorative elements and video 4 covers today’s modern interpretation of the style, of which there are many.)

I’ll post a few pictures and let the video “do the talking…”

Starting in the foyer, you need a black and white checked marble floor, a beautiful wrought iron stair with a curb concealing the stairs treads and rises and a lantern for lighting. The lantern is a must…

Look carefully at the proportion of the black checks in relation to the white squares. The checks are often too small.

French Style, Black and White check floor; photo by Wilson Kelsey Design

From Petite Trianon. Fear not, the stair does not need to be this ornate with gilding.

French Style, wrought iron stair; photo by Wilson Kelsey Design

Interior room floors are typically wood. Versailles parquet in formal/public front rooms and less formal patterns in the private spaces. This is the entry to the hall of Mirrors in Versailles. Note the other classic architectural element seen in this image – large windows, allowing maximum light into a space.

French Style, Versaille parquet; photo by Wilson Kelsey Design,

And the far less formal floor here…

French Style, wood floor; photo by Wilson Kelsey Design

In the above photo you see two other critical elements of French Style. The large mirror over the mantel and the coved ceiling.  The mirror is intended to reflect light and expand the room visually. Curved crown molding and coves are used to either visually bring the ceiling down to the wall as above, or extend the wall up and out on to the ceiling, as below. We also see the beginnings of another very critical component of French Style, the chandelier and lighting. Note how it is reflected in the mirror…

French Style, crown molding; photo by Wilson Kelsey Design

Many times, there is another large mirror on the opposite wall, and the chandelier and candelabra are placed so light would be reflected back and forth to infinity, as in the image below.

French Style lighting; photo by Wilson Kelsey Design

In the midst of this, I dare not forget door hardware. In our travels, I thought I would find very orate and fancy hardware and I did on occasion. But, surprisingly, more often than not the hardware was very unadorned and simple.

French Style, door hardware; photo by Wilson Kelsey Design

I’ll close with the same image that concludes the video because it shows many of the basic components of French Style (and it’s beautiful). Large mirror over the fireplace, large windows, chandelier, cove/crown at the ceiling, etc. It also expresses the masculine/feminine dynamic I felt in many of the rooms Sally and I visited. The strength and weight of the fireplace mantel balanced by the softness of the tapestry for example. What other examples can you find?

French Style summary; photo by wilson Kelsey Design

Enjoy the video…

Just a reminder, you don’t have to replicate the ornate details and gilding. That’s just stuff. What is important to remember are the ideas and concepts and their relationships one to the other.

Have fun French Styling…

John Kelsey, Wilson Kelsey Design

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I fell in love with this image the moment I saw it. It’s intimacy. The sweep of the floating stair. How the bureau is tucked in under the stair. The gold framed sunburst mirrors and table lamp on the bureau scare the shadows away. The rose quartz beckons to me, while grandfather presides over the proceedings. The zebra stripe adds a touch of the exotic.

foyer accessories; source unknown

Mmmmm! Delish!


John Kelsey, Wilson Kelsey Design

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If you would like our assistance on your design project, contact us here.