This weekend Sally and I (with the good help of our son Drew) performed one of our Fall rituals – dismantling and saying goodbye to our screened porch until next spring.

screened porch; photographer John Kelsey

screened porch; photographer John Kelsey

If I’d had my druthers, I’d have spent the weekend at the Kemble Inn in Lenox.

Kemble Inn in the Fall

Leisurely exploring the grounds.

Kemble Inn, Lenox, Ma

Appreciating the fall flowers.

Kemble Inn, looking back toward the terrace

And savoring the fall foliage from the terrace.

view from the terrace

Or from my bedroom window.

view from the terrace

Even though the fall leaves in the Berkshires are past their peak colors, there are many attractions to make the trip worthwhile. This summer, Sally and I stayed at the Inn while we spent a wonderful weekend visiting her brother, who was hiking the Appalachian Trail. We took in two concerts at Tanglewood and visited two lovely Trustees of Reservations properties, Ashintully Gardens and Naumkeag. My blog post about our visit can be seen here.

Another nearby Trustees of Reservations property of interest is The Mission House in downtown Stockbridge. Finished in 1642 for missionary John Sargent, it remained in the Sargent family unit it was purchased by Mabel Choate who relocated the property to it’s present location. She then worked with landscape architect Fletcher Steele to design the Colonial Revival garden you see today.

Mission House, Stockbridge, MA

The Norman Rockwell Museum located on the Linwood House estate is must. Linwood was designed in 1885 by Stanford White for the Butler family.

Linwood House; photographer John Kelsey

Linwood House; photographer John Kelsey

Peering thru the glass at the front door…

Linwood House; photographer John Kelsey

The Norman Rockwell Museum, designed by Robert Stern in 1993. (Classic design ages so well, doesn’t it?) has all of Rockwell’s iconic paintings including many I had never seen before. I was amazed to learn how carefully he constructed his paintings.

norman rockwell museum

His studio.

Norman Rockwell Studio.

So carefully preserved.

Norman Rockwell Studio.

Equally fascinating is Spring Lawn, immediately adjacent to the Inn. Designed by John Alexander in the classical Beaux Art style. It appears to be slated for future development as an inn and spa.

Spring Lawn mansion; photographer John Kelsey

Spring Lawn’s interior stair.

Spring Lawn, Lenox, MA

On the other hand, should you just want to lounge around the Inn, the accommodations will not disappoint. From the moment you step thru the front door you sense the Inn’s graciousness and history. This is the main lounge, which over looks the Inn’s terrace and grounds.

Kemble Inn, Main Lounge

Grand Foyer

Kemble Inn, Grand Foyer

The Piano Bar is the perfect place for coffee and dessert after dinner.

Kemble Inn, Lounge/Piano Bar

I returned home with several ideas for cabinet door glass.

Kemble Inn, Window detail; photographer John Kelsey

Kemble Inn, Window detail; photographer John Kelsey

We both loved the details in the dining room. Actually quite restrained for a Victorian Era home.

Kemble Inn, dining room; photographer John Kelsey

Couldn’t get enough of the ceiling light fixtures…

Kemble Inn dining room light fixture; photographer Sally Wilson

Or the bar cart… A little Art Deco perhaps?

Kemble Inn  bar cart; photographer John Kelsey

Which of course leads to my favorite part – the food and wine… The Inn is blessed with a wonderful menu (beautifully prepared) and wine list. I’ll let the pictures do the talking…

Table Six at the Kemble Inn; photographer John Kelsey

Table Six at the Kemble Inn; photographer John Kelsey

OH yeah! Breakfast!!!

Table Six at the Kemble Inn; photographer John Kelsey

Very cool wine chiller idea!

Table Six at the Kemble Inn; photographer John Kelsey

We could linger on the front stoop and continue chatting…

Kemble Inn front door; Photographer  John  Kelsey

You get the idea. Sally and I would go back in a heart beat.



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There are days when you travel that, for one reason or another, turn into lazy days. The day Sally and I visited the Orangerie to see Monet’s Waterlilies exhibit was one of those days. We slept in, had a late breakfast and wandered down toward the Place Vendome, Place de la Concorde, the Tuileries Garden and the Louvre.

I think we unconsciously wanted to soak up the vibe of the city.

paris bicycle planter; photographer John Kelsey

I can’t begin to tell you how many pictures of doors I took… Their artistry and craftsmanship offer a hint/glimpse of what possibilities await behind those doors. Look at the majesty of their presentation! The freedom of expression in the detailing was something we saw everywhere and is clearly an integral part of French style and design expression.

Paris door; photographer John Kelsey

Often you would see the main entry door assembly preserved, wile the adjacent storefront was quite modern. Here the designers let the door assembly remain the focal point. Well done!!!

Paris door; photographer John Kelsey

Contrasted with this hotel entry. Although perhaps this used to be part of an open arcade and and been filled in at some point in time.

Paris door; photographer John Kelsey

Fabulous “coining” frames these doors.

Paris door; photographer John Kelsey

We took  a leisurely stroll thru Place de Vendome. Both the obelisk and The Ritz were undergoing extensive restoration/renovation.

Place de Vendome; photographer John Kelsey

Scaffolding covering the Ritz was printed to mirror the elevation of the building. We saw this where ever there was construction in a public square/place, minimizing the visual disruption of the area. Wish this were done it the USA!

The Ritz; photographer John Kelsey

We wandered up Rue de Richelieu and found a lovely bistro full of locals for lunch. (Photo taken later that evening…)

Bistrot Richelieu; photographer John Kelsey

There was a fair amount of people watching done in the Tuileries Garden. This was as close as we got to the Arc de Triomphe. There were only so many places we could visit in the time we had and our ultimate goal of the trip was to get up close and personal with traditional French interiors – to learn and  observe as much as we could about that are the basic building blocks of classic French interiors and how do they relate to each other. I had some theories and ideas, I wanted to see how they compared to the “real thing”.

Arc de Triomphe; photographer john Kelsey

We teased ourselves by walking thru one of the colonnades at the Louvre.

The Louvre colonnade; photographer John Kelsey

We then headed to our day’s destination, The Orangerie Museum and Monet’s Water Lilies exhibit.

Orangerie Museum; photographer John Kelsey

The Orangerie was originally designed to shelter the orange trees planted in the Tuileries garden. In 1921 the Orangerie became an annex to the Musee du Luxembourg. In 1922 Monet signed a contract donating the waterlilies panels to the French government  with the intent they ben housed in the Orangerie. The exhibit finally opened to the public in mid 1927.

Orangerie Museum; photographer John Kelsey

An two oval shaped rooms were designed specifically for Monet’s paintings. The paintings are breathtakingly beautiful.

Monet gallery in Musee de l'Orangerie Paris; source unknown

Monet gallery in Musee de l'Orangerie Paris; source unknown

Monet gallery in Musee de l'Orangerie Paris; source unknown

As we came out of the museum I couldn’t resist capturing the juxtaposition of the Grand Palais in the distance with the workers erecting a temporary pavilion in the foreground.

View toward the Grand Palais; photographer John Kelsey

 Seeing this Ferrari and Lamborghini parked in the Place de la Concorde was a classic reminder of the ever present dynamic tension between old and new.

Ferrari in Place de la Concorde; photographer John Kelsey

By this time Sally and I had worked up quite an appetite, so we set off to find Willi’s Wine Bar, where we had a fabulous meal! The wine was pretty darn good, too…

Willi's Wine Bar Interior; photographer John Kelsey

This was where the serious food photography began…

Willi's Wine Bar dinner; photographer John Kelsey

As some of you know, I’m a bit of a wine guy and I took full advantage of the opportunity to try new and different wines. I wish I could find this Voignier from Domaine Roland Grangier in the US.

Willi's Wine Bar, Domaine Roland Grangier; photographer John Kelsey

And for dessert I wanted something different… This lovely wine Vin de Paille from Domaine Pignier in Jura was out of this world! The grapes are picked and sun dried and are not pressed until January/February. The wine is not bottled for several years. It is also known as straw wine.  What was it like? Similar to a Sauterne, but with it’s own distinct character and style. Another wine I wish I could find here.

Domaine Pignier, Vin de Paille; photographer John Kelsey

There’s something about night time and the city lights of Paris – an immediacy encouraging you to look closely at your surroundings. As we stepped outside the wooden entry gates to the National Library of France beckoned to us. The  building complex is currently undergoing a major renovation.

National Library Gate; photographer John Kelsey

We wandered back down Rue de Richelieu taking in the sights before we found a cab back to our hotel.

Hausmann style restaurant  ceiling; photographer John Kelsey

A boutique hotel lobby.

Paris boutique hotel lobby; photographer John Kelsey

We checked out the competition…

interior design shop and studio in Paris; photographer John Kelsey

And wished we had the energy to stay up later into the evening…

Back streets of Paris; photographer John Kelsey

Tomorrow, the Louvre!



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I thought I’d book end my first Paris/Bruges blog by writing about our first day in Paris. Then we’ll see where mood, whim and fancy takes us.

While researching our trip, Sally found a fabulous river cruise on the Le Calife which we booked at the end of our first full day in Paris. We had been told we had to experience Paris at night – that it was the city of light. What better way to see the city lights than on a Seine River cruise. Not just any cruise, but a 2 hour dinner cruise! It turned out to be the perfect way to introduce ourselves to Paris!



Across the way was the Louvre. In front of us, the Pont des Arts, with it’s hundreds of thousands of love locks. The view got us excited about the following day and to forget our jet lag.


As night fell, we set off… catching glimpses of many famous landmarks such as Notre Dame.


The city scape…


A structure called The Paris Docks. Built on an old 1907 concrete warehouse structure on the banks of the Seine. Very cool at night!


The Musee d’Orsay. More on that another day…


The Palais Bourbon.


No tour would be complete without the Eiffel Tower. It’s scale caught me off guard. It is immense and beautiful!!! Oddly enough, this was as close as we got to the Tower. Just too many things to do… And like any good designer, we had to edit our list…


While the gorgeous scenery passed by the boar’s interior, food and wine was a delight as well. The bar was done in copper and glowed in the evening light.


The upper deck where we sat for dinner. Who needs decor???


As I had hoped, the wines were fresh and deliscious. I hope I can find this Philippe Tessier wine in the US.


As the evening drew to a close, we both agreed that the entire cost of the trip was worth it already!

Little did we know how much better it was going to get.



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