French Country Design

Our work pace has slowed sufficiently that I’ve taken a few hours each of the past two days to sort and organize images for an update to the Work in Progress section of our website. At one point the realization came to me, “So, this is why there’s been no time to blog these past 5 months!” The sorting and organizing should make it easier to write more blog posts as well.

I thought I’d start with a kitchen/bath and “Oh by the way, I’ve never liked the way the fireplace and closet doors by the fireplace looked.” project that is just ramping up in Charlestown. The kitchen and bathrooms are relatively simple, while the fireplace/closet door problem is more challenging. (And more fun…) Right now, the fireplace elevation looks like two doors in a wall with the fireplace in-between. Overall, the room lacks focus and has no organizing/interesting architectural detail to speak of. The client’s taste leans toward Late 1700’s French Neoclassical and English Georgian (with a little New England sea captain thrown in for good measure…). “Casual elegance” were the descriptive adjectives written in their programming form.

The obvious solution is to build a mantel surround that ties together and conceals the two doors, thus bringing coherence to the elevation and creating a focal point for the room.

With that in mind, I began to cast about for ideas and inspiration. One source I always turn to when paneling is involved is the work of my Belgian friend Greet Lefevre and Lefeve Interiors. What I’m seeing here is how the paneling frames and bridges over the mantel as well as the finish, which is saying casual elegance to me.

Lefevre Interiors, living room paneling details

Here, Greet steps the formality down even further.

Lefevre Interiors, mantel surround paneling

We can’t forget the Georgian, New England sea captain. What a contrast in styles!!! This is an example of the work of American architect Phillip Trammell Shutze.  I can see a connection is aspects of the paneling between this and the image above.

Swan House, Phillip Trammell Shutze

Winterthur never disappoints. Typical of many early colonial homes, one wall would receive paneling while the rest of the walls in the room would be plaster. Both this image and the Swan House image give clues as to proportion and detail when dealing with a lower ceiling height. (My favorite reference book on Winterthur is Winterthur Style Source Book, Traditional American Rooms, by Brent Hull and Christine Franck.)

accent paneled wall, Winterthur

While not necessarily using specific details from any of these images, I created the first of two “cartoons”. The doors by the existing stone fireplace are concealed as full height “wall panels”set within flat stock door jambs. the existing stone mantel is deep enough that I can pad the wall around and above it such that this paneling sit slightly in front of the plane of the door jambs. The full height doors and the long shadow lines created by the trimmed fireplace give vertical lift to the room and create a focal point for the room.

French Neoclassical fireplace surround A, Wilson Kelsey Design

Adjacent to the surround is the kitchen, which will be opened up so it is visually connected to the living/dining room. I have designed the living/dining side of the counter to feel/look like a kitchen island to which one can pull up chairs.

Cartoon 2 illustrates my premise that sometimes you need to draw an idea simply to prove to yourself that it isn’t as good an idea or is an inappropriate solution. The idea was to study the effect of further panelizing the doors and to see what would happen if the counter were to be de-emphasized. Too busy and too weak…

French influence fireplace surround B, Wilson Kelsey Design

The contractor LOVES cartoon 1. The client feels #1 is the best choice, too, but is concerned that it may be too formal. My feeling is with the proper trim profiles (simple and not fussy) and the right paint color (a warm griege with a glaze) the room will snap together fulfilling the goal of casual elegance.

What say you?

Cheers,

John Kelsey, Wilson Kelsey Design

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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!

Cheers,

sally and John

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

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!

Cheers,

John Kelsey, Wilson Kelsey Design

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