Villa Style

This Saturday, Sally and I were delighted to learn Ocean Home magazine had named Wilson Kelsey Design as one of it’s 2016 Top 50 Interior Designers. “The Ocean Home 50 includes high-profile designers – including Bunny Williams, Martyn Lawrence Bullard and Vicente Wolf – but also an array of lesser-known yet equally masterful interior designers creating exceptional designs for coastal homes from Laguna Beach to The Hamptons,” comments Andrew Conway, Ocean Home’s editor.


Ocean Homes magazine 2016 Top 50 Interior Designers

It means a great deal to us that Ocean Homes would put their name behind ours.

Oceanview Sun Room; Wilson Kelsey Design; photographer Rick Mandelkorn

There are many others who deserve credit and our thanks for their commitment to excellence, quality and great design! Our clients, the architects and engineers we work with, the contractors and their subs who actually make it all happen, drapery work rooms, artists and art galleries, decorative painters, antique dealers, custom cabinetry shops. etc. We’d be just another name and face in the crowd with out you. Well done!


John Kelsey, Wilson Kelsey Design

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The holiday break is over, the new year has begun and we’re back at it at the WKD Ranch. I have projects going into construction and new ones on the boards. Sally has completed designing several little and one large decorative gems and has new ones in the works. The year is starting off well.

To start 2016 on the blog, I want to circle back and complete the Elements of French Style video’s. I had posted the first in mid December and then ran into technical difficulties that prevented me from posting the remaining three before Christmas.

In this segment Sally and I will discuss the building blocks of classic French Style interior architecture. We both feel strongly that you you need to get the bones right. (Video 3 explores the French Style’s decorative elements and video 4 covers today’s modern interpretation of the style, of which there are many.)

I’ll post a few pictures and let the video “do the talking…”

Starting in the foyer, you need a black and white checked marble floor, a beautiful wrought iron stair with a curb concealing the stairs treads and rises and a lantern for lighting. The lantern is a must…

Look carefully at the proportion of the black checks in relation to the white squares. The checks are often too small.

French Style, Black and White check floor; photo by Wilson Kelsey Design

From Petite Trianon. Fear not, the stair does not need to be this ornate with gilding.

French Style, wrought iron stair; photo by Wilson Kelsey Design

Interior room floors are typically wood. Versailles parquet in formal/public front rooms and less formal patterns in the private spaces. This is the entry to the hall of Mirrors in Versailles. Note the other classic architectural element seen in this image – large windows, allowing maximum light into a space.

French Style, Versaille parquet; photo by Wilson Kelsey Design,

And the far less formal floor here…

French Style, wood floor; photo by Wilson Kelsey Design

In the above photo you see two other critical elements of French Style. The large mirror over the mantel and the coved ceiling.  The mirror is intended to reflect light and expand the room visually. Curved crown molding and coves are used to either visually bring the ceiling down to the wall as above, or extend the wall up and out on to the ceiling, as below. We also see the beginnings of another very critical component of French Style, the chandelier and lighting. Note how it is reflected in the mirror…

French Style, crown molding; photo by Wilson Kelsey Design

Many times, there is another large mirror on the opposite wall, and the chandelier and candelabra are placed so light would be reflected back and forth to infinity, as in the image below.

French Style lighting; photo by Wilson Kelsey Design

In the midst of this, I dare not forget door hardware. In our travels, I thought I would find very orate and fancy hardware and I did on occasion. But, surprisingly, more often than not the hardware was very unadorned and simple.

French Style, door hardware; photo by Wilson Kelsey Design

I’ll close with the same image that concludes the video because it shows many of the basic components of French Style (and it’s beautiful). Large mirror over the fireplace, large windows, chandelier, cove/crown at the ceiling, etc. It also expresses the masculine/feminine dynamic I felt in many of the rooms Sally and I visited. The strength and weight of the fireplace mantel balanced by the softness of the tapestry for example. What other examples can you find?

French Style summary; photo by wilson Kelsey Design

Enjoy the video…

Just a reminder, you don’t have to replicate the ornate details and gilding. That’s just stuff. What is important to remember are the ideas and concepts and their relationships one to the other.

Have fun French Styling…

John Kelsey, Wilson Kelsey Design

If you would like our assistance in creating your French Style Home, contact us here.

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Last spring, Sally and I prepared and video taped a 90 minute presentation about French Style based on our trips to Paris that we presented as part of Boston Design Week. The premise was to share our knowledge and what we have learned about how to create French Style in Your Home. The presentation was broken down into 4 parts.

1. Differentiating French from English Influence

2. Architectural Elements of French Style.

3. Decorative French Style: Room by Room

4. Modern Examples of French Style

In Differentiating French from English Influence, Sally and I illustrate how different stylistically the United States was from the French during the late 18th/early 19th centuries due to our English influence and heritage.

First, the French are sexy.

Sexy French Style

While we’re reserved, stoic. (Especially we New Englanders.)

English stoic

French food has been turned into a high art form.

French food

While our Colonial/Puritan heritage tells us food is fuel.

Colonial food

French interiors are dramatic.

french interior; photo by Wilson Kelsey Design

Compared to our Colonial Period interiors.

colonial interior

Clearly, our English heritage sent us down a different fork in the road. This will become more evident in this video and those that follow.

Who knows what would have happened if the outcome of the French and Indian War had been different? We might be speaking French!



 Part 2 explores the architectural building blocks of creating French Style in your home.


John Kelsey, Wilson Kelsey Design

If you would like our assistance in creating your French Style Home, contact us here.

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