Inspired by Ocean Home magazine’s recent inclusion of Wilson Kelsey Design in their 2016 Top 50 Interior Designers list, we decided to enter Traditional Home magazine’s New Talent Search. Preparing the entry was much harder than I expected, particularly selecting 10 images that visually tell the story of our firm. It was much like answering the question we ask of ourselves when designing a project for our clients. “What is their story and how do we artfully tell that narrative?” Seeing pictures of a finished room or project doesn’t always relate the full story of transformation. With that in mind I assembled before/after pictures of the ten images we submitted.
French Style Dining Room, After photo by Laura Moss
French Style Living Room, After photo by Laura Moss
French Style Master Bath, After photo by Laura Moss
French Country Kitchen, After photo by Sam Gray
Belgian Influence Kitchen, After photo by Michael Lee
Antique Colonial Dining Room; After photo by Michael Lee
Belgian Influence Living Room, After photo by Michael Lee.
Transitional Living Room, Back Bay Boston; After photo by Eric Roth
Casual Beach House Dining Room; After photo by Michael Lee
Contemporary Show House Vignette; After photo by Eric Roth
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.
From Petite Trianon. Fear not, the stair does not need to be this ornate with gilding.
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.
And the far less formal floor here…
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…
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.
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.
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?
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…
If you would like our assistance in creating your French Style Home, contact us here.
I’ve found another favorite – A Sense of Place Houses of Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod. In the WKD library, it’s tucked right next to Axel Vervoordt’s Timeless Interiors. Both books speak the same language.
Mark Hutker, founder of Hutker Architects, has been practicing architecture on the Cape, Martha’s Vineyard and environs for over 30 years. His second book, A Sense of Place Houses on Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod, showcases 13 homes from his large body of exceptional work. Mark is a Modernist whose work draws from the history and vernacular of Cape Cod architecture and it’s communities. In doing so, his work is a 20th/21st century extension/expression of the region. The book is a wonderfully written and visually rich narrative that illustrates how breath taking and beautiful modern residential architecture can be when it draws from a region’s historical vernacular, creating homes that are “beautiful, personal, authentic and unique to their sense of place.”
You could dive right in and look at the photographs of the 13 homes in the book and believe me, it is beautifully illustrated. But to truly appreciate those 13 projects, you must read the introduction and the ensuing pages that precede the homes.
In the book’s introduction Mark discusses his philosophy and approach to design. He talks of Purpose as being more than his client’s aspirations of home. The home needs to have/contribute meaning to where it is built. He speaks of Collaboration as having three components – Narrative, Meaning and Pattern of Use. He poses several very simple and profound questions. “What is the specific family story we are trying to interpret, and how does that narrative come out in each of our homes? What is the meaning of that narrative to our clients? How will the house anticipate the needs of it’s residents?” Other key notions Mark refers to are Cultural Context, Stewardship, Beauty and Craft – taking you from the larger scale question of how does the surrounding community and/or nature influence one’s design decisions to the equally important expression the littlest detail thru using the right material and the right way.
Let’s take quick look at the residence on Grey Barn Farm, a working organic farm in Chilmark. I’m going to pull words and phrases from the book’s description of the home.
“A new building designed to appear as though it began life as a 19th century barn and was repurposed as a contemporary residence.”
“…language and strategies of adaptive reuse.”
“… a muli-layerd architectural composition…”
“…livability from the best of history and modernity.”
“…reaching back in time to regional values and giving these values a freshness and relevance that is appropriate to, and at home in, the present day.”
Now the images, remembering the words…
From a personal perspective, having grown up in farm country of upstate New York, I easily see the story being told of blending old and new in the architecture. I can appreciate the honest straight forward use and expression of materials. Maybe this is why I am so drawn to Belgian Style which also artfully dances with old and new and whose story is of drawing from and reinterpreting their history and architecture for today’s modern lifestyle.