There are days when you travel that, for one reason or another, turn into lazy days. The day Sally and I visited the Orangerie to see Monet’s Waterlilies exhibit was one of those days. We slept in, had a late breakfast and wandered down toward the Place Vendome, Place de la Concorde, the Tuileries Garden and the Louvre.

I think we unconsciously wanted to soak up the vibe of the city.

paris bicycle planter; photographer John Kelsey

I can’t begin to tell you how many pictures of doors I took… Their artistry and craftsmanship offer a hint/glimpse of what possibilities await behind those doors. Look at the majesty of their presentation! The freedom of expression in the detailing was something we saw everywhere and is clearly an integral part of French style and design expression.

Paris door; photographer John Kelsey

Often you would see the main entry door assembly preserved, wile the adjacent storefront was quite modern. Here the designers let the door assembly remain the focal point. Well done!!!

Paris door; photographer John Kelsey

Contrasted with this hotel entry. Although perhaps this used to be part of an open arcade and and been filled in at some point in time.

Paris door; photographer John Kelsey

Fabulous “coining” frames these doors.

Paris door; photographer John Kelsey

We took  a leisurely stroll thru Place de Vendome. Both the obelisk and The Ritz were undergoing extensive restoration/renovation.

Place de Vendome; photographer John Kelsey

Scaffolding covering the Ritz was printed to mirror the elevation of the building. We saw this where ever there was construction in a public square/place, minimizing the visual disruption of the area. Wish this were done it the USA!

The Ritz; photographer John Kelsey

We wandered up Rue de Richelieu and found a lovely bistro full of locals for lunch. (Photo taken later that evening…)

Bistrot Richelieu; photographer John Kelsey

There was a fair amount of people watching done in the Tuileries Garden. This was as close as we got to the Arc de Triomphe. There were only so many places we could visit in the time we had and our ultimate goal of the trip was to get up close and personal with traditional French interiors – to learn and  observe as much as we could about that are the basic building blocks of classic French interiors and how do they relate to each other. I had some theories and ideas, I wanted to see how they compared to the “real thing”.

Arc de Triomphe; photographer john Kelsey

We teased ourselves by walking thru one of the colonnades at the Louvre.

The Louvre colonnade; photographer John Kelsey

We then headed to our day’s destination, The Orangerie Museum and Monet’s Water Lilies exhibit.

Orangerie Museum; photographer John Kelsey

The Orangerie was originally designed to shelter the orange trees planted in the Tuileries garden. In 1921 the Orangerie became an annex to the Musee du Luxembourg. In 1922 Monet signed a contract donating the waterlilies panels to the French government  with the intent they ben housed in the Orangerie. The exhibit finally opened to the public in mid 1927.

Orangerie Museum; photographer John Kelsey

An two oval shaped rooms were designed specifically for Monet’s paintings. The paintings are breathtakingly beautiful.

Monet gallery in Musee de l'Orangerie Paris; source unknown

Monet gallery in Musee de l'Orangerie Paris; source unknown

Monet gallery in Musee de l'Orangerie Paris; source unknown

As we came out of the museum I couldn’t resist capturing the juxtaposition of the Grand Palais in the distance with the workers erecting a temporary pavilion in the foreground.

View toward the Grand Palais; photographer John Kelsey

 Seeing this Ferrari and Lamborghini parked in the Place de la Concorde was a classic reminder of the ever present dynamic tension between old and new.

Ferrari in Place de la Concorde; photographer John Kelsey

By this time Sally and I had worked up quite an appetite, so we set off to find Willi’s Wine Bar, where we had a fabulous meal! The wine was pretty darn good, too…

Willi's Wine Bar Interior; photographer John Kelsey

This was where the serious food photography began…

Willi's Wine Bar dinner; photographer John Kelsey

As some of you know, I’m a bit of a wine guy and I took full advantage of the opportunity to try new and different wines. I wish I could find this Voignier from Domaine Roland Grangier in the US.

Willi's Wine Bar, Domaine Roland Grangier; photographer John Kelsey

And for dessert I wanted something different… This lovely wine Vin de Paille from Domaine Pignier in Jura was out of this world! The grapes are picked and sun dried and are not pressed until January/February. The wine is not bottled for several years. It is also known as straw wine.  What was it like? Similar to a Sauterne, but with it’s own distinct character and style. Another wine I wish I could find here.

Domaine Pignier, Vin de Paille; photographer John Kelsey

There’s something about night time and the city lights of Paris – an immediacy encouraging you to look closely at your surroundings. As we stepped outside the wooden entry gates to the National Library of France beckoned to us. The  building complex is currently undergoing a major renovation.

National Library Gate; photographer John Kelsey

We wandered back down Rue de Richelieu taking in the sights before we found a cab back to our hotel.

Hausmann style restaurant  ceiling; photographer John Kelsey

A boutique hotel lobby.

Paris boutique hotel lobby; photographer John Kelsey

We checked out the competition…

interior design shop and studio in Paris; photographer John Kelsey

And wished we had the energy to stay up later into the evening…

Back streets of Paris; photographer John Kelsey

Tomorrow, the Louvre!



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After a wonderful client meeting in Milton this past Friday morning, Sally and I gave ourselves permission to taken part of the afternoon off. It was lunchtime and while the air was humid, the temps were comfortable and the sky hinted of a Dutch Master’s hand.

Farnham's saltmarsh view; Wilson Kelsey Design

We drove straight to Farnham’s in Ipswich for fried clams and a lobster roll. While other’s may say Woodman’s or the Clam Shack up the street have the best fried clams, Sally and I have always loved the lightly breaded style of Farnham’s. And the view of the Essex Salt Marsh is beyond compare.

Farnham's, Ipswich, MA

Farnham's fried calms

Farnham's lobster roll

Our appetites satisfied, we hopped in the car and drove a very short distance north on Rt. 133 for a walk on the Allyn Cox Reservation, headquarters of the Greenbelt, Essex County’s Land Trust. The reservation consists of 26 acres of land, salt marsh and river frontage on the Essex River.

Greenbelt, Allyn Cox Reservation

We took the short walk to the Essex River, where we could see Choate Island and the back of Crane Beach and the Crane Estate, a Trustees of Reservations property.

Choate Island

Crane Beach, Essex River front from Allyn Cox Reservation

We reminded ourselves to take the Essex River cruise next time…

Essex River Cruise

Back at the car, we decided to drop in on one of favorite North Shore antique shops, Andrew Spindler Antiques.  Allen has an eye for  the very special and unique, regardless of period or style. Visiting his shop is always a wonderful adventure of discovery and surprise. We never know what we will find when we walk thru his front door.

FAB bronze brackets on the front stoop!!!

Bronze Brackets, Andrew Spindler Antiques

Devine regency Style painted chairs. Mmmm!

Regency Style Painted Chairs, Andrew Spindler Antiques

How about these rare Folly Cove Designer prints? When the designs ceased to be produced, their sample books, prints and remnants were donated to the Cape Ann Museum.

Folly Cove Designers, Andrew Spindler Antiques

Or this early two piece table? Might fit perfectly into the Belgian Style kitchen we’re designing.

antique two piece table, Andrew Spindler Antiques

If mid-century modern is your style, he’s got you covered…

pair of mid-century modern chairs, Allen Spindler Antiques

My absolute favorite was the huge French horse racing poster, in perfect condition.

French horse racing poster, Allen Spindler Antiques

And these little painted rocks…

I really wanted to bring them home with me…

Hand painted rocks, Andrew Spindler Antiques

We drove back to the office refreshed and recharged.
I wonder where our next drive will take us?



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Sally’s and my presentation on “Creating French Style in your Home” on Sunday at the French Cultural Center was a HUGE success! We came away feeling there is still a place for elegant, classy and sophisticated traditional interiors in the world. During the post presentation social, while champagne and madeleines were being served by the staff from the fabulous Newbury Street French restaurant La Voile, a lady approached Sally and told her, “I’ve been waiting 20 years for someone to do a presentation like this!” Another came up to me and said, “Now I understand why and how the parts and pieces fit together!” Happy Dance!!! It made us feel like our hard work had paid off!

During the presentation, these slides in particular created quite a discussion. I was going thru my Mirrors and Mantels section of the presentation (We had 10 topics/touch points.), explaining and illustrating how and why mirrors were placed and used in 18th century French homes to reflect light and/or to visually expand a room. Using this picture I took of a room in the Musee Carnavalet, I asked whether we were seeing into another room or were we looking into a mirror?

carnavalet, photo  by John Kelsey, Wilson Kelsey Design

The answer is we are looking into a mirror. But you need to look twice to notice the picture hanging in front of the mirror. with the window and lantern appearing as they do, it is easy to think you are looking into another room with a window beyond. I asked the attendees to remember this picture.

A short time later I showed this picture of a Parisian apartment done by French designers Champeau and Wilde.

Champeau & Wilde

Then this one and posed the same question. Are we looking into a second room or are we looking at a mirror?

Champeau & Wilde

This is a tough one, no? Most thought we were looking into a mirror. But we are not. We’re looking thru a large hole in the wall between the two pair of doors into the room beyond! Fabulous! Look carefully at the crown molding. The closer room is simple with ornamentation in the corners only. The far room has brackets running the length of the molding. Look at the picture some more and you begin to pick up other details and clues. What else do you see?

Cheers and have a great week!

John Kelsey, Wilson Kelsey Design

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