Dining Room Design

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 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

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2014 was a very good year. This was the year Sally and I had been hoping for since the bottom fell out in 2008. Yes, it’s been 6 long years. Sometimes we’re amazed we survived, since 2004 is our residential practices birth year. Projects covered the entire spectrum, from a postage stamp sized contemporary bathroom to finishing large project that Sally began working on 2 years ago – house, pool house and all the out door furniture around the pool. If variety is the spice of life, 2014 served us a spicy helping, as we worked on Contemporary, French, New England traditional/transitional, Arts and Crafts, Continental/Belgian influence projects, to name a few.

Let’s start with a glimpse at several of the projects we worked on this year. Here’s Sally’s large Acton project, taking over two years to complete. The home owners took the long view, making decision slowly and deliberately, even though it meant moving in to the house and living with temporary furnishings, etc for an extended period of time. The results have been worth the wait! The architect was Juan Darias, now with JW Construction. Juan did a terrific job coordinating this large complex project. (I apologize in advance for Sally’s and my photographs.)

Acton shingle style project, interiors by Wilson Kelsey Design,; Photo by John Kelsey

The pool house and pool furniture.

Acton shingle style pool house,; Interior Design by Wilson Kelsey Design; photo by Sally Wilson

View of the family room from the kitchen area – designed for the relaxed lifestyle of a family with 4 children.

Acton shingle style home, family room from kitchen; Wilson Kelsey Design; photo by John Kelsey

Wish I could show more, but I can’t at the moment…

Now let’s let the pendulum swing 180 degrees to look at a tiny contemporary bath Sally designed for a client in Brookline, replete with a custom vanity in hi-gloss paint, Porcelanosa sink and a Hansgrohe Axor Collection faucet. What you don’t see is the totally cool halogen Tech lighting.

Contemporary full bath, designer, Sally Wilson; Photo by Sally Wilson

Brookline bath; Wilson Kelsey Design, photo by Sally Wilson

Then there was the project with our most favorite client of the year! It was a partial renovation in Newton – including their kitchen, family room, creating a walk in pantry, home office and mudroom. Stylish, almost modern in feel – balancing traditional and modern materials and details. We turned to our Belgian interior design style for inspiration and spun it to fit our clients American lifestyle. Check out the bleached/painted floor. Both photographs are scouting shots taken by Michael Lee.

Belgian style influence contemporary-traditional kitchen, Wilson Kelsey Design; Photographer Michael Lee

Lounge area adjacent to the kitchen. Francois & Co. mantel. Town & Country gas fireplace.

kitchen lounge, Wilson Kelsey Design; Photographer, Michael Lee

A glimpse at a walk out basement in a home at the Ipswich Country Club, which we helped the homeowner convert into a bar/entertainment area. Detail of the bar. (Apologies for the photographs…)

Bar detail; Wilson Kelsey Design

Note the painted floor.

Entertainment area, Wilson Kelsey Design

How can I forget our large French Villa Style under construction in Newton? (See previous post here.)

The Foyer.

french villa style foyer stair, Wilson Kelsey Design copy

View toward the living room from the foyer.

Foyer toward living room; Wilson Kelsey Design

Living room toward the foyer.

Frenck style paneling, Wilson Kelsey Design 2

Paneling detail…

paneling detail; WIlson Kelsey Design

Kitchen detail…

kitchen detail; WIlson Kelsey Design

Master bath in progress, sans crown molding, antique mirrors, columns at arch and Sherle Wagner sinks/faucet sets…

master bath progress; Wilson Kelsey Design

In closing, a few design sketches from several current projects.

A contemporary media wall with Arts and Crafts influence cabinetry.

arts and crafts tv wall; Wilson Kelsey Design

French Villa Style powder room.

French villa style powder room; WiLson Kelsey Design

Belgian Style Master Bath

master bath design study

Belgian Style Pantry

pantry elevations - Version 2

Finally – Several fabric/color palettes… (Sally has an amazing color engine!)

fabric pallete, WIlson Kelsey Design

fabric palette, Wilson Kelsey Design

fabric palette; Wilson Kelsey Design

Wilson Kelsey Design girls bedroom fabrics

All in all, a very good year and we’re looking forward to an exciting 2015!


John Kelsey, Wilson Kelsey Design

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