Georgian Style

I’m just beginning work with Sally on a project in Wellesley – a beautiful four square home whose interior trim and millwork are in need  of a serious update. Late this afternoon, using Winterthur’s Marlboro Room as inspiration, I quickly sketched a “cartoon” of the mantel and built-in cabinetry in the den.

Marlboro Room Winterthur

Simple profiles and rearranged proportions to fit the room to create two possibilities. On the left, the upper cabinet could be done with either solid raised door panels or with glass and mullions.

Federal Period mantel and built bookcase idea cartoon sketch, Wilson Kelsey Design

And as I am writing this, I see a second mantel idea. Pushes it toward a more Continental look. Hmmmm….

Have great week!


John Kelsey, Wilson Kelsey Design

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I’ll preface this post by saying this has been one of Those Weeks for me. Hard to articulate precisely why – just has been. It’s one of those weeks when I am eternally grateful that I met and married Sally and that she is my business partner. As you have seen/read, she brings a very different and complimentary energy and perspective to the blog, as she does to our work. 

This past weekend Historic Salem hosted their annual Christmas in Salem House Tour. This year’s primary theme was the homes of architect William G. Rantoul. All clustered in the neighborhood of Salem’s most prominent and historical street, Chestnut Street. Local Salem resident and awesome blogger, Donna Seger reports further on the Rantoul homes in her delightful blog Streets of Salem.

Included in the tour was an antique colonial originally built for the Stone family, possibly as early as 1762.  Sally and I have done interiors work for the current family, off and on, over the past 5 years.  We volunteered to be house tour guides last Saturday. This tour is the major fund raiser for the year for Historic Salem, Inc.

It is unclear precisely when the home was actually built. There is a cornerstone in the basement dated 1762. The earliest written documentation dates back to 1831, while the historic plaque on the home’s exterior says 1820. At minimum, the home’s history has been varied and checkered, including a friendly ghost, Becky, who has been making regular appearances to the current home owners since they bought the house about 21 years ago. The home owners say that one morning they found the brass newel post finial on their front stair, obviously unscrewed by Becky during the night. No one had heard a thing.

Before the tour started on Saturday, I made a quick trip through the house and took a few snapshots of decorations in a few rooms.

This is the front foyer.  I’ve always loved the boldness of the wall paper Sally and the homeowner chose. Below the chair rail Sally proposed a brown fabric instead of paint. The entire house is furnished and styled in a way that reminds me of an English cottage. I love it’s quirkiness. (Sally designed the lamp shade – another passion of hers.)

My station was in the renovated attic. It had been gutted,  exposing the structural cross ties. The chimney and fireplace were re pointed and made functional again. The existing wide plank floor was repaired and refinished, new electrical installed and custom millwork was designed. Once again, Sally’s color engine was firing on all eight cylinders – creating a cozy intimate loft space. Virtually every visitor loved the deep red ceiling, commenting on how intimate, comfortable and cozy the room felt.

Here’s what the room looked like when we started construction… 


The existing fireplace…

Demolition around the exisiting fireplace and chimney during construction…


The day of the Christmas Tour… Note the salvaged beam used for the mantel shelf. All Christmas decorations were done by Elfworks, from Marblehead, MA.

 Overall view of the room…

Note the antique ladder beyond the fireplace.

Sally selected a different flannel pattern for each family member, and had a blanket  custom made for them to cozy up with.  Each blanket was edged in a color-coordinated ultrasuede. I’m told there’s frequent falling asleep in front of the TV…

 Hope you enjoyed the mini house tour!

Have a great day! 



Sally and I are proud to be featured on the delightful blog, Jennings and Gates. Jennings & Gates is an Interior and Landscape Design firm located in the Virginia horse country outside Washington, DC. Parker Jennings is a designer, landscape architect and antiques expert, and Nina Gates is a designer, artist and equestrian. They tell me they love painting, reading, being outdoors, horses, dogs, gardening, cooking, hanging out with friends and making each other (and Winston, their dog) laugh and smile.

Winston smiling…

You immediately feel Nina’s engaging personality, sense of style and humor as she posts blogs that run the gamut from collecting antiques, to creating a Federal style kitchen garden, to choosing a proper pair of riding boots, interspersed with daily life in the country- visits from the farrier, putting up hay, raising chickens, seasonal cooking, and entertaining.

Poplar Grove, one of their projects.

It is filled with beautiful colors and museum quality period furniture.


Love the soft grays – how they play off the yellow.


The kitchen garden. I can smell the fresh herbs!


Beautiful fall foliage on the dogwood. It must be spectacular in the spring with it’s branches weighed down with flowers.


Wonderful textures and tones of green and yellow. I can only imagine that there’s a little stone bench nearby.


I’d love to have room in our yard for a chicken house.

The landscape is so pastoral and restful and the home’s interior gracious and inviting – beautiful project, filled with love and attention to detail.

This week Nina did a fantastic and informative filled post about antiques. You can read it here.

Thank you again Nina!