Can “elegance” and “gaming” coexist?


Don’t let the Chiang Mai Dragon wall paper fool you, this room is a hard working beauty! Can elegance and gaming coexist?  This is the question we pondered as we wondered what to do with a smallish room just off the entry of a beautiful old stone house in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia. Although it’s used primarily by the client’s teenage boys to play video games and watch television, the room’s location and visibility dictated that it be designed in a way that was both aligned with the rest of the house and welcoming enough to be used when entertaining.  Our goal was to create a cozy, inviting space that would withstand the wear and tear of the teen boys but also be beautiful and, dare I say, even elegant.  We started with a large Kravet sectional which provides maximum seating while the dark, tefloned fabric provides maximum durability and stain protection. The wonderful custom designed stools (upholstered in a Kravet Jonathan Adler fabric) are durable, provide storage and the tops flip over to become tray tops too. We chose a neutral Kravet grasscloth wall paper with just enough texture to add interest for the walls and went with Ballard Design’s antelope carpet (one of my favorites) for the floors. We transformed an existing console with a coat of high gloss Hague navy paint and some new fancy hardware. The James Hare fabric shade with a citron trim (we picked-up this great color again with the sectional’s zebra pillows) provides the final piece of the puzzle. And the best part is how much not only the clients but the boys love the room!



Bring on the Stripes!

It’s been my experience that most people have a love-hate relationship with stripes –they either love ’em or they hate ’em!  Stripes are the perfect mate for a room of florals and ikats.  They add a nice linear and (often) masculine touch to a gaggle of pillows (a little known fact:  a group of pillows, just like a group of geese, are technically known as a gaggle).  A stripe is delicious on the back of a dining chair and spectacular on a roman shade.  And don’t even get me started on how much I love a horizontal stripe on a drape.  So chic!  But there’s nothing I like better than a striped umbrella.  It brings a garden to life with whimsy and a joie de vivre that screams summer.  Black or deep brown stripes add an unexpected punch to a patio, but for me (of course) a colorful stripe can’t be beat!

Kelly Nelson Designs

garden for Kelly Nelson Designs June 9, 2017

Kelly Nelson Designs

The Art of the Entry Console

I love a good console table.  It’s the perfect place to make a statement with a sculptural lamp (or two!), place photos of loved ones, sit trays and bowls for keeping track of keys, and to showcase a favored knickknack.  And because of its linear nature, it’s also the perfect foil for a curvy mirror or a show-stealing piece of art.  Entry ways are visitors’ first peek into your world and how better to say “welcome” than with a beautiful bowl of orchids.  But there’s another (and dare I say, more utilitarian) reason that I include them in almost every house I design.  Console tables, along with their drawered and doored brethren, are key to keeping both my entry way and my life organized.  In addition to providing a place to stash keys, glasses, wallets and watches, in our house, my husband and I both have our own drawers (I think one of the keys to a good marriage is having separate bathrooms and separate entry drawers:).  The drawers allow us to keep track of items headed in and out of the house (the ubiquitous field trip permission slip and extra hand sanitizer) while nicely concealing everything from view.  I even like to use the area under the console for stools or storage (the rough, organic texture of a basket looks especially good paired with a sleek cabinet).  So go forward brave soul and create your own intoxicatingly beautiful (and functional) entry.  Below are some of my recent designs to get you started!

Kelly Nelson DesignsKelly Nelson Designs..April 17, 2013YEE_0072-20150910_comp28 Harbor Road, Rehoboth Beach, DE 19771

Foo Dogs and Easter Eggs

There’s something about April that just makes me happy.  Actually there are several things.  The warm air, the flowers, the promise of summer, Easter candy, my daughter’s birthday, all help make April my favorite month of my favorite season.  And when I combine my love of spring with my love of all things chinoiserie, well, it just doesn’t get much more perfect.  Happy spring time!


Plates by Anthropologie, burlap charges were a steal from AC Moore, the Foo Dogs are from Kravet, table and chairs by Grange and the vase is vintage.FullSizeRender

Why I can’t be a minimalist and other excuses for collecting!

I admire minimalist rooms.  Heck, I’ve even designed a few.  But minimalism has never been a look that I’ve been able to achieve in my own home.  For our recent move, all of my photos and knick-knacks were boxed.  As I was assembling the new rooms, I started out by displaying just a couple of photos here and there.  But before long, nearly all of them were out and about.  I had tried to edit them down to a select number of favorites but I found it too difficult to stash away the cute photo of Sophie without her front teeth or Adam laughing in the water fountain.  (I did manage to stow away all my wedding photos in a dark corner of the basement, but that’s another story entirely).  And besides, seeing all of those smiling faces just make me happy.  And isn’t that what interior design is all about?

About now, some of you who know me may be thinking that I’m being a bit disingenuous about all of this.  After all, I am the person who used to clean my children’s rooms by simply throwing away all those small game pieces.  I’m not a fan of clutter or messiness, but I do think that a room needs a certain amount of “things” to make it look warm and inviting.  That’s the downside of those minimalist rooms, they tend to look a little cold and sterile to me.  Who are the people who live there and what do they care about?

Below are some of the most meaningful pieces from my own home:

In the mudroom, a painting that my late grandmother did of a child’s red sneakers.  It just seemed right that this piece would hang in the mudroom;


Over the fireplace, pieces given to me by people I love;


On the second floor landing, shelves full of photos, knick-knacks and books that evoke fond memories;


On our dining room cabinet, vintage glassware collected over the years and the German-made bride and groom that topped my grandparents’ wedding cake;


Over our living room sofa, a piece of art that my husband and I found while traveling in Italy;


In the entry, a drawing that Sophie did in school, framed and hung on the wall like the “real” piece of art that it is;


And last but certainly not least, perhaps my favorite “piece” our cat Shadow.  And in case you were wondering about Shadow’s imposing girth, the “F” word that’s not allowed in our house is “fat!”


The grass( cloth) is always brighter on the living room wall!

I’ve had a long-standing love for wallpaper.  Always loved it, always will.  Grasscloth is one of my favorites and a go to for clients but it wasn’t always this way.  Growing up, I still remember sitting at our dining room table covertly scratching and pulling at the chunky, thick fibers stuck on the wall.  Well I’m happy to say that those days are gone.  Today’s glasscloth is sleek and smart, comes in hues both bright and neutral, and is the perfect way to add texture and interest to a boring wall.  It works beautifully both in traditional and modern settings.  I’ve used hand printed grasscloth papers (Schumacher’s options are spectacular) to add both pattern and texture to a space, metallic hues as subterfuge for large televisions and bold colors to pump up the wow factor in alcoves.  Even just papering a single accent wall (try the headboard wall in a bedroom) can bring a room to life.

I just installed a pretty sea-glass colored grasscloth in my own living room.  The living room of our newly constructed home was looking a little….blah……cold……in a word, uninteresting.  It just needed a little something-something, if you know what I mean.  Even though the wallpaper color was similar to the existing paint color, the paper really warmed up the space and brought the room’s other colors and shapes into sharper focus.  Take a look at these before and after photos and let me know what you think.







Lizards for Christmas?

I have been fortunate to work with the amazing and indefatigable make-up maven Mally Roncal for the past couple of years, transforming her newly constructed home into a reflection of her exuberant personality.  This make-over has included lots of tasteful animal prints, glittery lizard wall paper (Osborne and Little’s Komodo wall paper, see photo above), yards and yards of beautiful puddled drapes in every room, extra-large, gold covered driftwood scones and plenty of pretty pinks and purples.  The decor is unmistakably Mally and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

But amid all of this beauty, Mally has a not-so-secret issue with Christmas hoarding.  She was recently featured on the Rachel Ray Show discussing and addressing this vice.  I don’t think Mally is ever going to stop being Mally, but the clip has helpful tips for everyone and it also gives us a chance to see her newly designed first floor (you just need to look past all the balls and tinsel).

Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season and 2015!