Custom Furniture/Cabinetry

Recently, I had quite a response when I posted this image of a restaurant designed by Alex Van de Walle on the Wilson Kelsey Design Facebook page.

Restaurant Design by Alex Van de Walle

It first caught my eye because of the millwork design of the bar. The millwork junkie in me sat up and noticed.Then I took in the rest of the picture – floor, lighting, colors, textures and realized how inviting and intimate it felt. The space invited me in. I wanted to go there. Interestingly, Van de Walle has no website, so it took some time to find more images of the restaurant. It was well worth the search. The following is a “walking tour” of the restaurant’s interior.

Restaurant Design by Alex van de Walle

I can’t decide if the floor is tile/stone or painted concrete. Fabulous blend of antique and contemporary light fixtures. Love the exposed brick behind the shelves.

Restaurant Design by Alex van de Walle

View from the table above.

Restaurant Design by Alex van de Walle

Wainscot detail at a banquet. The attention to the littlest thing is phenomenal!

Restaurant Design by Alex van de Walle

The cabinet doors are SO discreet! Note the wainscot in the background.

Restaurant Design by Alex van de Walle

I decided this was in the basement.

Restaurant Design by Alex van de Walle

Stairs to the upper level to what appears to be a large function room.

Restaurant Design by Alex van de Walle

I am drawn to the mix of modern architectural forms and the whitewashed old structure. The overall effect is very contemporary. Even with the high ceilings, the lighting creates a sense of coziness.

Restaurant Design by Alex van de Walle

I  hope to visit in person some day in my travels.


John Kelsey, Wilson Kelsey Design

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Recently, Sally and I have had the opportunity to work on a project that took several years to complete which gave us great experience developing pricing/estimates for multiple French architectural trim options comparing wood to plaster matching the wood profiles to “can you be clever?” A great example is the crown molding in the project. The following examples are from the living room/dining room, foyer, family room and master bed room.

Let’s start with several images of crown molding from our Paris trip we showed the client to which they said, “Yes, I love it!”

Crown with decorative onlay in an Haussmann Style apartment.

crown with decorative onlay; Wilson Kelsey Design

Even with many layers of paint, the lamb’s tongue shines thru.

Decorative crown; WIlson Kelsey Design

French cove moldings. This is in an apartment we visited on the Left Bank.

Left Bank Apartment; Wilson Kelsey Design

In the Grange showroom on the Right Bank. Beginning to see similarities?

Left Bank French cove molding; Wilson Kelsey Design

The roots of these coves? Let’s look at Chateau Vaux Le Vicomte, built in the mid 1600’s.

Vaux le Vicomte Cove; Wilson Kelsey Design

Vaux Le Vicomte Crown; Wilson Kelsey Design

Jumping into the time machine, we arrive back at our job site  and the cost comparisons in which we were involved.

In the living room/dining room and master bedroom, we selected a two piece White River crown with decorative onlay from their Mon Reale Collection. Starting with the Master Bedroom. (Please excuse the photographs. They were taken during construction)

French Style master bedroom; Wilson Kelsey Design

And the living room.

crown during construction; Wilson Kelsey Design

Almost done… Awaiting delivery of antique sconces from Trianon Antiques. Dining room is to the left, same crown.

Living room crown; Wilson Kelsey Design

As a two part molding for White River molding the installed price was about $45/lineal foot. In plaster, the price was about 3.5 times as much per lineal foot. As an aside, the gas fire places in the master bedroom and living room are from Town and Country. Wonderfully engineered “frameless” design, they generate great flames with minimal heat output. The master bedroom mantel is Francois & Co. The living room is from Chesneys. Both have fab customer service, engineers and shop drawings. The floor is a premium grade 7″ walnut plank floor.

In the foyer, a large 4 piece cove molding was created from White River trim to enhance the height of the room.

French style foyer crown, Wilson Kelsey Design

A close up detail…

French style foyer crown detail; Wilson Kelsey Design

This cost about $65/lineal foot installed. In plaster, we were looking at costs of three times as much.

The family room was much less formal and less costly. Looks remarkably similar to the Grange showroom crown…

family room crown; Wilson Kelsey Design

It is a three piece molding made from Forester Molding, installing at just under $20 per lineal foot.  For comparison in plaster the molding cost about three times as much.

Then there were the “can you be clever” rooms – the children’s rooms. There we were able to keep the installed cost down to under $15/lineal foot by using Forester trim. Simple crown and a small piece of applied trim a few inches below the crown. The client wanted the second piece of trim on the wall so that the overall effect would appear larger.

two piece crown; Wilson Kelsey Design

By way of contrast, we recently designed a crown on another project using separate pieces of trim in which the second piece of trim was applied to the ceiling. The effect being the crown reaches our on to the ceiling. Much more if a cove effect, without the expense of a true cove. Far more effect in my opinion.

ceiling inside corner, wilson kelsey design

ceiling outside corner, wilson kelsey design

Over the past 12 months, Sally and I have learned it is possible to create delightful French style crown molding across a broad range of price points.  It’s a very satisfying feeling.


John Kelsey, Wilson Kelsey Design

Every home has a story to tell. We’d love to help you tell yours. Please contact us here.

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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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