Free Standing Cabinetry

For the past several weeks we have discovered what some of John’s and my solutions are for a new apartment in Munich, Germany. Today we’ll cover what we’re doing with the entry-foyer. This is a tiny, city-dwelling, and the foyer is very small, with traffic patterns in 3 directions! In addition, there are two floor to ceiling windows, which offer great light, but little wall space. How can we make our clients and their guests feel welcomed when they come through the door?

Floor Plan Munich apartment

First of all, there are the practical necessities. You need somewhere to put down your bag, to put down your keys, to store your coat, and to remove your shoes and change into “indoor shoes/slippers”. This is a common European habit/way-of-life. (I notice that our American city dwellers are also becoming more like this.) So you need someplace to sit, someplace to store, someplace to set down.

Then there are the artistic necessities. How do you put forth the subliminal message “Come in. Rest, Relax, Be happy. This is going to be a wonderful experience for you.”? We do that by paying attention to possible focal points, welcoming colors, and sensuous textures. And we don’t ask the space to work too hard, so that all the beauty is pushed out of it.

For this foyer we are actually establishing the beautiful focal point in the next room – which you see through full length glass doors, just beyond the little entry. (We covered that in last week’s blog about Munich, click here to see.) We are keeping furnishings to an absolute minimum, so as not to feel crowded. And we are keeping materials simple, but lush and sensual.

materials selected for foyer Munich

The two full length windows (which open up like French doors to let breezes in) we are covering with a simple, partly sheer white drapery fabric. Small natural iron drapery rods and French pleats. The floors, like the floors throughout the apartment, are a dark brown stained oak. Our colors will be dark brown and white. Crisp, clean, simple.

Furnishings: we’ll keep it to just one chair and one custom designed bench-cum-storage cubes, cum display area for plants or flowers. But I love the way the chair is sculptural – sloped side rails and no arms, for that no – fuss look. It’s the fabrics that just turn this into a little jewel!

foyer sitting chair

The sculptural chair is in a velvet, cut into 3/4″ squares so that it almost looks quilted. We’ve kept the furnishings simple, but we upped the ante with wonderful fabrics.

With the drapery in filmy white, I wanted the custom bench to be in a white leather. Very durable, but easy care. Whether grocery packages or shoes get set down on it, it can take a beating. This is our first rough sketch of what that custom piece may look like.

Wilson kelsey design custom ottoman

I just can’t wait to get this apartment built so that we can see how wonderful everyone’s reaction will be! We’ll let you know.

Sally Wilson ASID

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When I get stuck and am looking for inspirational examples of 18th and 19th Century American interior architecture and decor I always end up turning the pages of Traditional American Rooms, by Brent Hull and Christine Franck.

The book is a celebration of Henry DuPont’s Winterthur. While many wealthy American were busy collecting European art and antiques, he chose to focus on collecting and furnishing his house with gorgeous antiques that were examples of the very best of early American style and craftsmanship. The story of Winterthur and its American Wing is beautifully summarized in the preface of the book.

Here are examples of some of my favorite rooms. I think the pictures speak for themselves, arranged them in order by date, illustrating the evolution of classical American traditional style through the eyes of Mr. DuPont.


 1733, Redbourne Parlor


 1740, Gidley Room


 1740,  Tappahonnock Room


 1760, Queene Anne Dining Room


 1762, Port Royal Room


 1790, Chestertown Room


 1802, Landcaster Room


 1806, Phyfe Room


 1812, Biltmore Drawing Room


My favorite is the 1844 Marlboro Room


I can squint my eyes and visualize this room with different curtains – linen to let the light in, and more relaxed furniture - sofas with  linen slip covers, reupholster the wing chairs I could move in tomorrow! Have to keep the rug, light fixtures - maybe not even electrify them- and paint! (I wish I could see more of the leather camel back settee.)

Love to know which room is your favorite…



It’s been some time since I’ve posted on the progress of our 1804 Federal period home in Manchester. I’m delighted to say that it is sailing along smoothly toward completion! The kitchen cabinets with the absolutely huge and gorgeous slate sink and island are installed, countertops are in place, stone fireplace surrounds are being installed, painting is coming along quite nicely and decorative lighting is going up. Cudo’s to Dawn Carrol and Cumar Marble for their prompt amd professional service! The custom slate sink was made by Sheldon Slate Products, Monson, Maine.  Our client speaks very highly of John Tatko and tells us the grave markers of both President John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in Arlington Cemetery are made of black slate from Monson, Maine, and were also engraved there.

There is more to do, but one can feel that the end is in sight – that “the train is pulling in to the station”. We’re all very excited!!!

View from the dining room to the front parlor.

View of the hearth room from the parlor.

View toward the kitchen as you enter the hearth room from the parlor.

Hearth room bookcases, built in window seat (sans cushion) and computer desk.

A partial view of the kitchen. The granite is fantastic!!!!

Cherry cabinet and slate sink detail. All the cabinets still need pulls and knobs installed. I echoed the original molding detail and profiles from the foyer in the kitchen.

The fabulous granite! Very rich and classic!

View from guest bedroom to master bedroom.

Installation of the fireplace surround in the master bedroom.

I’ll follow up in  a few weeks, after the floor is stained and more of the light fixtures are in place.