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



To visit our website, click here.

To follow us on Facebook, click here.

To follow us on Pinterest, click here.

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

Looking for kitchen design inspiration today, I came across a photo of a glorious kitchen – my guess is Paris or similar environ. While not right for what I am currently working on, it was instant kitchen love. I normally don’t like Ghost Chairs. But here, my first thought was Perfect!!! Cabinets become modern sculpture in the space, acting as a foil for the exuberance of the crown molding. Most of the time blue walls leave me cold. If this room gets evening light, I’ll bet the paint absolutely glows and changes color, mimicking the changing evening/night sky. Spot on!!!

Beautiful European Kitchen, Source Unknown

 My regret is I was moving so fast I failed to note the image source or if there was a designer credit.

So if you see this and can help me credit the designer, let me know who it is.



To visit our website, click here.

To follow us on Facebook, click here.

To follow us on Pinterest, click here.

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

After a wonderful client meeting in Milton this past Friday morning, Sally and I gave ourselves permission to taken part of the afternoon off. It was lunchtime and while the air was humid, the temps were comfortable and the sky hinted of a Dutch Master’s hand.

Farnham's saltmarsh view; Wilson Kelsey Design

We drove straight to Farnham’s in Ipswich for fried clams and a lobster roll. While other’s may say Woodman’s or the Clam Shack up the street have the best fried clams, Sally and I have always loved the lightly breaded style of Farnham’s. And the view of the Essex Salt Marsh is beyond compare.

Farnham's, Ipswich, MA

Farnham's fried calms

Farnham's lobster roll

Our appetites satisfied, we hopped in the car and drove a very short distance north on Rt. 133 for a walk on the Allyn Cox Reservation, headquarters of the Greenbelt, Essex County’s Land Trust. The reservation consists of 26 acres of land, salt marsh and river frontage on the Essex River.

Greenbelt, Allyn Cox Reservation

We took the short walk to the Essex River, where we could see Choate Island and the back of Crane Beach and the Crane Estate, a Trustees of Reservations property.

Choate Island

Crane Beach, Essex River front from Allyn Cox Reservation

We reminded ourselves to take the Essex River cruise next time…

Essex River Cruise

Back at the car, we decided to drop in on one of favorite North Shore antique shops, Andrew Spindler Antiques.  Allen has an eye for  the very special and unique, regardless of period or style. Visiting his shop is always a wonderful adventure of discovery and surprise. We never know what we will find when we walk thru his front door.

FAB bronze brackets on the front stoop!!!

Bronze Brackets, Andrew Spindler Antiques

Devine regency Style painted chairs. Mmmm!

Regency Style Painted Chairs, Andrew Spindler Antiques

How about these rare Folly Cove Designer prints? When the designs ceased to be produced, their sample books, prints and remnants were donated to the Cape Ann Museum.

Folly Cove Designers, Andrew Spindler Antiques

Or this early two piece table? Might fit perfectly into the Belgian Style kitchen we’re designing.

antique two piece table, Andrew Spindler Antiques

If mid-century modern is your style, he’s got you covered…

pair of mid-century modern chairs, Allen Spindler Antiques

My absolute favorite was the huge French horse racing poster, in perfect condition.

French horse racing poster, Allen Spindler Antiques

And these little painted rocks…

I really wanted to bring them home with me…

Hand painted rocks, Andrew Spindler Antiques

We drove back to the office refreshed and recharged.
I wonder where our next drive will take us?



To visit our website, click here.

To follow us on Facebook, click here.

To follow us on Pinterest, click here.

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