Lighting Design

Sally and I frequently receive calls from home owners who tell us they have purchased a newer home based on location, school system and or look of the home’s exterior, etc., but they don’t like the interior architectural detailing and decor. As one client related, “The interior has no gravitas.” And they ask us, “Can you help us upgrade the design of the interior architectural detailing, hardware, decorative lighting and decor?” We, of course, say yes.

Presently, Sally is working on a project on the North Shore of Boston in which she is helping a client undertake a phased major cosmetic overhaul of a newer Colonial Style home, converting it to the look and feel of a French Country estate. The project has been broken down by phase based on looking at logical architectural breaks and transitions, the client’s travel plans and what they intend to invest on an annual basis in the house.

The first phase was the renovation of a small foyer and powder room. Originally designed around a masculine “hunt club” theme, Sally and our client collaborated to create a gracious welcoming experience for owner and house guests. The very awkward powder room was expanded and reconfigured.

Here we see the existing conditions. Dark wood, dark paint and cramped dysfunctional powder room.

foyer existing conditions

Note the inexpensive door hardware, six panel colonial style doors and hunt scene drapery…

foyer existing conditions

powder room existing conditions

The powder room was expanded by eliminating a closet. New two panel doors and crown molding were selected. The bi-fold doors were replaced with flat panel doors to be covered with wall paper. The entry is on the right. The door on the left leads to the kitchen.

Existing Conditionsproposed floor plan, Wilson Kelsey Design

In order to create the desired French style our client was asking for, Sally worked with our friends from Zoe Design to create a custom chinoiserie wallpaper for the foyer, including covering the bi-fold doors concealing of the washer/dryer. (BTW: Zoe Design’s new website is Inspiring!!!)

Zoe Design chinoiserie wallpaper

In the powder room an antique mirror feature wall, custom hand painted vanity, marble vanity top and mirror were proposed.

proposed French Style powder room elevation, Wilson Kelsey Design

vanity sink base, Wilson Kelsey Design

Door hardware, powder room faucet set, vanity mirror and lighting throughout were thought of as jewelry a woman might wear when she attends a cocktail party – that final touch pulling everything together.

Mudroom style board, Wilson Kelsey Design

door hardware, Wilson Kelsey Design

For the floor, collaborating with Zoe Design, Sally and our client designed a grid with a fleur-de-lis at each intersection.

Floor & Mural by Zoe Design; Design by WIlson Kelsey Design


When the work was completed, the new foyer looked like this! Fresh, welcoming, and inviting. Love the tufted upholstered wall!

Mudroom:Foyer; Wilson Kelsey Design

Mudroom/Foyer; Wilson Kelsey Design

The powder room became a little jewel, fit for a queen!

French Style Powder Room; Wilson Kelsey Design


Sally recently produced a short video describing the renovation of the foyer/power room in more detail, which can be seen here.

Every home has a story. What’s your?

John Kelsey, Wilson Kelsey Design

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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

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

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