Lighting Design

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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Our French Villa style project continues to make slow steady progress. The marble floor in the foyer is installed and protected. Crown molding from White River is up and looks terrific and we’re waiting for the painters to complete painting. Then the stair’s hand rail and balusters will be installed.

For a previous progress post see here.

french villa style foyer stair, Wilson Kelsey Design

In the midst if it all we are selecting the decorative lighting for the home. From the onset of the project, Sally and I have both been in agreement that the ceiling fixture in the foyer needs to be a lantern as can be seen in the doodle on the left.

foyer crown options, Sketch by John Kelsey, Wilson Kelsey Design

Each time we have brought up the subject we have gotten push back from our client, who wants to see a large crystal chandelier in the foyer. It’s a case of simple, clean and elegant vs. large and dramatic. We see the room as an expression of the spirit of late 17th early 18th century French villas and chateaus, in which the ceiling fixture plays a supporting role. Besides, when you have a stair that will be a piece of sculpture, who needs more?

While Sally and I were in Paris this fall, one of our objectives was to study/photograph foyers of the classic chateaux to see if there was a patten that we could use to convince our client. There was and it confirmed our position – lantern!

A stair hall in the Carnavalet Museum.

Carnavalet chandelier, Photo by John Kelsey, Wilson Kelsey Design

At Fontainbleau.

Fontainbleau foyer, photo by John Kelsey, Wilson Kelsey Design

Petit Trianon at Versailles.

Petiti Trianon foyer, photo by John Kelsey, Wilson Kelsey Design

Petit Trianon foyer, photo by John Kelsey, Wilson Kelsey Design

All of which has led us to propose this Dennis and Leen Versaille lantern.

Dennis & Leen Versaille lantern

We hope she “bites”…

(It’s beginning to feel more and more like a chic Paris apartment!)


John Kelsey, Wilson Kelsey Design

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Updating a Kitchen


In the midst of getting ready for a major presentation to client tomorrow, I wanted to squeeze in the follow up to my previous post. This is the kitchen that did not make it in to the Boston Common story.

In spite of all the lighting, the dark trim and black countertops make the room feel very dark. I would rework the lighting layout, bringing more light the bear on the work surfaces and counter tops. Personally, I’ve never liked exhaust hoods over the kitchen island. They’re obtrusive and generally pretty ugly. Having said that, if you have to have one, make it a piece of sculpture. Use it to enhance your kitchen experience.


Taking my own advice, I designed a sculptural exhaust hood, which incorporates it’s own task lighting. The trim has been lightened and a light granite or marble back splash and counter top helps brighten the space. (I might do the entire kitchen in a light or fumed French oak.) The floor has been replaced with a more durable and lighter colored staggered stone pattern. To give the cabinets and island a furniture-like appearance, I eliminated the toe kick space, except where the fridge and micro wave are located. You can see the hutch leg peaking out from behind the island… By adding panels to the fridge doors and putting the micro wave behind a set of doors, I have been able to design a built in that has the appearance of a tall hutch. I do like the notion of the open shelves above the sinks, but they need to be framed better, so I added closed cabinets at each end. The glass doors have been redone to make them feel more window-like.


Now it’s back to meeting preparations!

Have a wonderful weekend!


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