Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Design In Five: Wilson Kelsey Design

To start the new year off right, we have not only one guest for the Design in Five series, but two:  the fantastic design team of Sally Wilson and John Kelsey, of Wilson Kelsey Design.  I learn so much from John and Sally's blog about New England design - blending traditional decor with a fresh perspective - not to mention great writing!  I was excited when they said they would like to participate because I knew they would bring a unique perspective, and they didn't disappoint.  In additional, all of these pictures are of their original work, so we can all learn directly from the source!  Take a look at their ideas:


Sally and I were thrilled and honored when Barbara asked us to be part of her Design In Five Series. My first impulse and thought was, “WOW! This is the equivalent of the kid in the candy store! LOVE IT!!! I can do anything I want! Cyberspace Show House! Room of my Dreams!” Then Barbara’s questions became very hard very quickly… There’s so much to consider when you design a room! But ultimately, Sally and I winnowed it down to these 5 Points – the aspects of a room’s design that emotionally resonate with Sally and me. The ones we use to tell a room’s story.

1.      Millwork and architectural detail
2.      Lighting
3.      Color
4.      Fabric
5.      Artwork

Using examples of our work, we’ve illustrated these points.

Number One: Architecture. If a room is basically sound, but it needs personality, then millwork and architectural detail will give a room context and style. It is the stage upon which the rest of the room plays out. Design a great room architecturally, and everything you add will be so much more successful.

Wilson Kelsey Design: Custom millwork and crown molding in dining room.
Photo: Laura Moss

Wilson Kelsey Design: Custom millwork and crown molding in master bath.
Photo: Laura Moss

Wilson Kelsey Design: Custom millwork in library.
Photo: Michael Lee
Second: Lighting. Lighting creates mood and emotion. Lighting can make or break a room’s design, no matter how well the room is done. We see everything based upon the lighting we have, whether natural sunlight, reflected light, or artificial light. I really feel let down when I see a new home with rows and rows of recessed down lights. That is not the way to make people feel comfortable in a room. It is with sconces, lamps, both table and floor, and candles that we feel connected to our environment. Somehow it is related to the thousands of years that mankind lived by natural daylight and candlelight. By changing the style of lamp you choose, you can support the style of the room. There are great modern table lamps and great antique ones to choose from.

Wilson Kelsey Design: Antique chandelier in dining room.
Photo: Laura Moss
Wilson Kelsey Design: Louis XVI style sconces in living room.
Photo: Michael Lee

Wilson Kelsey Design: Antique table lamps in foyer/reception hall.
Photo: Rick Mandelkorn
Third: Color. The room will be perceived by its color – whether white or pink! Color can be a neutral backdrop or it can take center stage. So much of it depends on the story you want the room to tell – and how loudly you want the room to speak… Sally and I love working with color, and we always start our design process by designing toward “feelings”. The right design, and the right color, come from our understanding of the feeling the client wants to create. Is it warm and cozy? Or is it fresh and casual? Is it formal for X room and casual for Y room? Is it sedate, or is it energizing? Whatever adjectives our clients come up with, we relate our experiences to that.

Wilson Kelsey Design: Neutral fabrics. It’s all about the view.
Photo: Rick Mandelkorn

Wilson Kelsey Design: Richly layered colors and textures.
Photo: Laura Moss

Wilson Kelsey Design: Blending strong wall color and fabrics.
Photo: Eric Roth

Fourth: Fabric. The choice of fabric continues the storyline of a room, but in a different way – through pattern, texture, etc. Furniture is a given, but the fabrics you choose to cover that furniture can establish the character of the room. That is where the adjectives come to life! Fabrics can make a room feel formal, or casual. They can be tactile, or a visual feast. (silk versus chenille for instance.)

Wilson Kelsey Design: Contrasting patterns, tones and textures add richness.
Photo: Rick Mandelkorn

Wilson Kelsey Design: Lush silk velvet on recamier contrasts with floor and fern.
Photo: Sam Gray

Wilson Kelsey Design: Needlepoint parrot, multiple fabrics and tassels.
Photo: Rick Mandelkorn
Five: Artwork. Artwork is the eye candy, where there’s an opportunity to conclude the story with an exclamation point. This, also, can help the descriptive adjectives to complete the statement. Is the artwork formal or not, and how does it contribute to the room? It helps to establish focal points, resonance, color, personality and completeness. Framing is especially important. The right framing and matting for the pieces as well as the room can make all the difference.

Wilson Kelsey Design: Antique tapestry graces a grand foyer.
Photo: Michael Lee

Wilson Kelsey Design: Antique oil compliments colors in the room.
Photo: Michael Lee

Wilson Kelsey Design: Contemporary oil draws you into the room.
Photo: Eric Roth

Both Sally and I often find ourselves drawing parallels between interior design and a symphony orchestra. Both are composed of different parts, each fulfilling different and ever changing rolls over time. Both done well can cause goose bumps, gasps of delight and applause. Both have encores.  In the case of a well designed room, you keep coming back for more.
Wilson Kelsey Design: French villa style living room, in construction.
Photo: John Kelsey

Wilson Kelsey Design: French villa style living room, progress photo.
Photo: John Kelsey

Wilson Kelsey Design: French villa style living room illustrating the Five Points.
Photo: Laura Moss

We’ve had a lot of fun putting his post together. It challenged us to stop and think very carefully about how we go about designing a room. We learned a few things about ourselves. Thank you for that opportunity, Barbara.


John and Sally

It was my pleasure giving you both the opportunity - thanks so much for your ideas!

I especially loved their points about adding millwork and architectural detail to a room. 
And how amazing was it to see how that French-inspired room came to life??  Stunning.
I'd love to hear what you all thought about John & Sally's perspectives on Design In Five!


The enchanted home said...

Beautiful! Am a fan of your work and that first room is just stunning. I so agree in that these five elements and how they come together will determine how successful a room is then all the other things are the icing on the cake.....beautifully done!

Sharon (Roses and Rust) said...

You illustrated your ideas beautifully in this post and have provided wonderful inspiration. Thank-you x Sharon

Wendi @ Classic Chic Home said...

Beautiful and informative post! You've covered the 5 essential elements that MAKE a room.
~ Wendi ~

I Dream Of said...

Thanks so much for introducing me to Sally and John. My husband is from New England, so I'm always working at bringing at least a bit of that sensibility into our rooms to make him feel at home. I'll have to add them to my "must read" list! Have a great week, Barbara.

Tatiana Doria said...

Hi, I have just found your blog and I love it. You share very useful information and beautiful pictures. I follow!


Anonymous said...

Love John and Sally's work and agree with their 5 elements as being essential to a well designed room...John and Sally have beautifully illustrated their point with their interior design images..and what an experience! would love to move right into the French Villa!!

Carol@TheDesignPages said...

WOW, I can't believe that gorgeous room started out as nothing more than a blank box. So utterly impressive.

Acquired Objects said...

What a wonderful post and really love John and Sally's work, it's simply beautiful. What a way to show your points too, love it!

Thoughts on Design said...

Thank you Barbara for offering Sally and me such a wonderful opportunity to share our knowledge and design philosophy! It is actually a good thing to occasionally have to take the time to ask oursleves, how is it that we do what we do? To consider in a very conscious and critical manner that which we do very day to the point of almost taking it for granted. We learned a fwe things about ourselves and are better for having you put us through our paces.

To all of you who commented. Thank you for supportive comments. They mean so much to us.

And to those of you who took the time to vist our blog and website yesterday. WOW!! A Huge Thank You!!! Google Analytics tells us yesterday was a record day on our blog and website!!! We hope you will become regular visitors!

Thanks again, Barbara!

John and Sally

Mona Thompson Providence Ltd. said...

A fabulous post. John and Sally are soooo talented. I'm sure glad I didn't miss this one. XO, Mona


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