Fabrics and Textiles

This past weekend, four generations of the Wilson/Kelsey clan gathered at the Inn at Castle Hill in Ipswich for a weekend of fun and relaxation.

inn at castle hill, source unknown

 The weather was so delightful, much of it was spent on the Inn’s large wrap around porch that overlooks the backside of Crane Beach and island.

four generations; photographer, John Kelsey

While many of you may have visited Castle Hill to see the beautiful summer home and grand allée designed by David Adler for the Crane family, on this visit my objectives were different – jettison the car and walk.

But before we walk together, let’s spend a few moments at the Inn. The Crane family purchased the property in 1910, ultimately accumulating 2,100 acres of land including Choate Island, located in the salt marshes behind Castle Island. The family lived in the inn (known as the Brown House) while the estate was being built on the top of the hill. Two structures were actually built, the first being done in the Italianate style. David Adler was retained to design both the exterior and interior of the second English style structure we see today. The family continued to occupy the inn thru the 1950’s. Ultimately, much of the property was deeded to the Trustees of Reservations. In 1998, the Ipswich based architectural firm, Carpenter MacNeill, was retained to help guide the renovation and conversion of the Brown House into a small luxury inn. It’s accommodations are wonderfully warm and elegant. Listen carefully, you can hear echoes of the house’s rich history.

The cozy lounge. We would all linger here in front of the warm fire after returning from dinner.

Inn at Castle Hill Lounge; photographer, John Kelsey

It’s welcoming foyer.

Inn at Castle Hill Foyer; photographer, John Kelsey

The view toward the sunny breakfast room.

Inn at Castle Hill view to breakfast room; photographer, John Kelsey

The breakfast room.

Inn at Castle Hill breakfast room; photographer, John Kelsey

But as I said, my objective was to walk slowly to see what the grounds revealed. Honestly, I only scratched it’s surface…

I began by following the resident flock of turkeys as they crossed the yard in front of the Inn.

Turkeys at Castle Hill; photographer, John Kelsey

When you follow a flock of turkeys, you definitely slow down…

I found myself admiring the root structure of  several old, old beech trees, thinking, “There’s a custom rug here.”

beech tree roots; photographer John Kelsey

The tree’s folds of bark reminded me of the skin of a wise old elephant and I thought,”If this tree could talk, the stories it could tell.”

beech tree bark; photographer John Kelsey

I found myself on my hands and knees, admiring tiny fall asters in all their glory.

fall aster: photographer John Kelsey

The counterpoints to the detail and intimacy were the vistas that would slowly unfold before my eyes, the change in scale making them all the more beautiful and breath-taking.

Inn at Castle Hill vista: photographer, John Kelsey

Fox Creek behind the Hill. (I’ve had some amazing striped bass fishing in this little creek in the spring.)

Fox Creek behind Castle Hill; photographer John Kelsey

Overlooking the old garden plot and farm buildings.

Castle Hill Garden plot and farm buildings; photographer, John Kelsey

The garden called to me and I heeded it’s call. Aspects of the garden reminded me of Ashintully Gardens and Naumkeag, other Trustees of Reservations properties Sally and I had visited earlier in the summer. Note the trellis on the right and small tower structure in the far right corner of the garden.

castle hill garden plot; photographer John Kelsey

Loved the rustic stone cobble columns!

castle hill garden trellis, photographer John Kelsey

The trellis was made of cedar trees, carefully trimmed to fit. Note the copper cap on the column. Such attention to detail!!!

trellis detail; photographer John Kelsey

The small niche in the top of the back wall receive/hold the cedar logs in their proper place.

trellis detail; photographer John Kelsey

Of course, there is a fountain!!!

Castle Hill fountain under trellis; photographer John Kelsey

The old Lion’s head… Such wonderful patina!!!

Lion's head at Castle Hill; photographer John Kelsey

At each end of the Garden were towers built into the garden’s retaining wall. I’m sure back in the day, they afforded spectacular views of the surrounding country side.

Castle Hill Garden Tower; photographer John Kelsey

Tower stair… Elegant in it’s functionality and simplicity.

Garden Tower Stair; photographer John Kelsey

Mmmm, rustic gate and hinges…

Rustic gate and strap hinges; photographer John Kelsey

The trail continued to beckon and tease…

Peak of Castle Hill; photographer John Kelsey

The Italian Gardens are currently under restoration.

Castle Hill Italian Gardens: Photographer John Kelsey

Castle Hill Italian Gardens: Photographer John Kelsey

I was drawn to the play of light and shadow on the trellis.

Castle Hill Italian Gardens: Photographer John Kelsey

Across the road, the Rose Garden awaits it’s return to former glory.

Castle Hill  Rose Garden: Photographer John Kelsey

Take the time to look closely. Close your eyes… Smell the roses…

Castle Hill  Rose Garden: Photographer John Kelsey

Just around the corner, you cross the property’s Grand Allée that leads to the ocean. Look to the right, tucked into the hillside is the restored Casino. Earlier in the summer Sally and I attended the kick off concert for Castle Hill’s resurrected Summer Concert Series in the Casino. Wonderful, intimate, romantic. We will do more next year. Originally, where you see grass in the middle, there was a swimming pool and grass was where the stone walk way is today. The cost of that portion of the restoration was prohibitive… It must have been magnificent!

Castle Hill restored Casino; photographer John Kelsey

I leave you with the beautiful picture Sally took, looking back over her shoulder after walking the same circuit I had done. The sun shining gloriously, fall foliage coming into it’s prime. Food for the Soul…

Castle Hill restored Casino; photographer Sally Wilson



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Sally and I would like to invite you to attend our presentation on “Creating French Style in your Home” on March 22, during Boston Design Week. See the Eventbrite link HERE.

Creating French Style in your Home; Wilson Kelsey Design

We saw/absorbed/learned so much during our two recent trips to Paris, much of which confirmed our latent suspicion that French Style is, in fact, very different than English/American Style.

Perhaps if the French had won the 7 Years War (French and Indian War) I would be writing this post in French. Or more than likely an entirely different post… Yes, history has played it’s part. The upshot for me is French Style – it’s interior architecture, decor, etc. regardless of the period or station is sexier and more emotional. It expresses itself with more freedom.

We all know, admire, even love French Style’s past – Versailles, with it’s tall ceilings, ornamentation, parquet floors are benchmarks. We hold in high esteem.

Versailles; Photo by John Kelsey, Wilson Kelsey Design

Then there’s the classic simplicity found through much of Petit Trianon. Mmmm!

Petit Trinon window seat; Wilson Kelsey Design

But what’s more exciting is where French Style is today. How has it evolved and adapted and how can we bring it’s elements into our own homes today. There are so many ways that can satisfy – those with classical inclinations…

(Wilson Kelsey Design)

Dining room; Wilson Kelsey Design; Photo by Laura Moss

Or with the desire for today’s relaxed country manor…

(Natalie Haegeman Interiors)

Design by Natalie Haegeman

Or modern design blending seamlessly with 200 year old architecture…

(Gilles & Boissier)

Gilles et Boissier; photo © Sisters Agency : Birgitta Wolfgang Drejer

And those who desire that striking balance between yesterday and today.

(Lefevre Interiors)

foyer design by Lefevre Interiors

Looking forward to seeing you on March 22.

Be sure to check out Boston Design Week’s other events!


sally and John

To visit our website, click here.

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

Sally and I are pleased to be able to sure the digital link to Northshore magazine’s article about the beach cottage we designed for a Salem couple.

Beach Cottage; WIlson Kelsey Design

Done on a tight budget, the solution was all about the sue of color. Sally helped the homeowner update the kitchen (See kitchen update video here.), and created 4 activity zones in the great room adjacent to the kitchen.

Dining Area

Dining Area; Wilson Kelsey Design

Games Area

Game Area; Wilson Kelsey Design

Living Room Area

Living Room; Wilson Kelsey Design

Informal Sitting Area

Sitting Area; Wilson Kelsey Design

Furnishings were a combination of recycled family items such as the dining table, Crate and Barrel and Restoration Hardware.

Wishing everyone a sunny, beachy weekend…

sally and John

To visit our website, click here.

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