Decorative Painting

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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Since our Paris trip, Sally and I have had opportunities to use what we learned and and absorbed in a number of our projects. (Posts can be seen here and here.) We have designed a paneled living room, and a chinoiserie style mud room, a Hall of Mirrors powder room, several hidden doors and pieces of furniture. Today, I will stick with a china cabinet. It was designed for a project in Chestnut Hill. Sadly, the two pieces that were commissioned were not built. So…, if you know any one…

For inspiration, we drew from a hutch we had seen while visiting Petit Trianon. Particularly it’s cabinet doors, fiches hinges and hardware.

Petit Trianon; photographer, John Kelsey

Petit Trianon; photographer, John Kelsey

 And the stepped corners from this display case in the Louvre.

Louvre, display case; photographer John Kelsey

I drew two different sketches. One showing the cabinet in the context of the room setting. The cabinets show the stepped corners. One aspect of the design I was looking at were the esthetics of two doors (left) vs one door (right). The one door solution was selected.

french style cabinet a & b; Wilson Kelsey Design

I then drew larger partial elevations to prove to myself that the stepped corner worked visually and to check it’s proportion.

french style cabinet a & b; Wilson Kelsey Design

The base cabinet door was a raised panel door. The door panel trim on the left wold have been exquisite, but a custom knife needed to be made in order to mill the shape of the trim profile. The cost proved to be too much, so we settled for the style on the right, using a slightly modified panel trim profile I was able to find thru a local cabinet making shop.

With an approved design, I prepared a set of construction drawings, which the cabinet maker used to price the project. If the commission had gone forward, shop drawings would have been produced by the cabinet maker. Shop drawings are important because they provide an opportunity for demonstration of the cabinet maker’s understanding of the designer’s intent. Questions can be asked back and forth, details worked through, etc., such that there is  a clear understanding by all parties as to what the final piece will look like and how it will be built.

You can see that the upper cabinet door was tweaked, giving the piece an updated feel. Yet the idea came from the circle at the top of the Petit Trianon hutch above.

french cabinet construction drawing; Wilson Kelsey Design

This is an example of one of the horizontal detail sections I drew at full scale in order to sort thru the finer points of trim profiles, hinge clearances, etc.

fiche hinge detail, Wilson Kelsey Design

At any rate, since the cabinets were never built, I found myself wondering what if the finish were jazzed up a bit, a la Grange. Not sure exactly how, maybe inside the upper cabinet interior with it’s glass doors? Pop the trim between the base and upper cabinet?

One inspiration idea from a Grange piece Sally and I saw in the Paris Grange showroom window. Liking the high gloss black paint as a finish, too.

Grange Sideboard: photographer John Kelsey

Or possibly a wallpaper theme…

Wall paper and screen; photographer John Kelsey

Any thoughts?

Enjoy,

John

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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!

Cheers,

John

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