The Holidays Again, Oh No! 15 Survival Tips For You

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter Interior Design, Chicago Interior Design

Illustration by Jeremiah Goodman

 

The holidays are here once again, each year I am astounded by how quickly the year has passed. Does this happen to you? In my work as an interior designer I am busy making your space magical, I rarely have time to do anything for myself. We have seen the perfectly set tables and decorated trees in holiday movies. I can’t help it, I’m a hopeless romantic. This post is aimed at each of us who really want to prepare for the holidays but need a little motivation. While I admire great cooks, I personally leave anything fancy to the professionals. Yes, I can roast a turkey quite well and make certain dishes. But let’s be clear, I am no chef. That said, here are some ideas anyone can use to really enjoy the upcoming holidays.

 

 

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter Interior Design, Chicago Interior Design

 

  1. Think small! I love the above photo, it is evocative of the kind of dinner most of us would be pleased to sit down to. I particularly like the image as it is not a traditional setting like a dining table. Not everyone has a large family or a large dining room for that matter. This looks perfect to me!

 

 

 

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter Interior Design, Chicago Interior Design

 

2. If you have a home and are organized you most likely have a mud room or great entrance area that is perfectly suited to the storage of boots, hats, coats and the like. Not everyone has this kind of space yet pine for a mud room. If you think you don’t have any room look at the image below, if it can be done in a hotel room it can work in your space.

 

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter Interior Design, Chicago Interior Design

 

 

 

 

 

3. What if your entryway is empty? Most homes I visit today are more than half empty. I am not speaking of my clients but am referring to this attitude of never making time to furnish your home. This handsome console would add pizzazz to your entryway. It would also make a terrific sofa table or center table.

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter Interior Design, Chicago Interior Design

 

 

 

4. Storage issues you say, we all have them. When in doubt, buy a cabinet–it is the perfect way to hide things in a mud room; additional placemats, napkins or place settings in the dining room; or use as a media cabinet. I love this piece, it is handmade by a great group of veterans in Texas. What do you think of the steel and reclaimed wood?

 

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter Interior Design, Chicago Interior Design

 

 

 

 

5. You just found out you’re hosting a holiday dinner, lo and behold your range or oven are broken. I will never forget we had the same issue a week before Thanksgiving many years ago. Mr. Aware, yes me, missed that little detail. We moved into our new home (100 years old but who’s counting) in August of 1998, everything was working ok at the time. That was not the case in mid-November. Great, oh great! The heat was on in more ways than one, luckily we were able to get a new oven a week before Thanksgiving.

 

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter Interior Design, Chicago Interior Design

 

 

 

 

6. I have a small budget, I can’t do any of this! That’s ok too. A fresh coat of paint on the wall is a no brainer even if you and a few friends have to do it one weekend. The new Benjamin Moore latex paints are terrific, many will cover in one coat as long as you are not covering a super dark color.

 

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter Interior Design, Chicago Interior Design

 

 

 

7. I’m not hosting at my house and I hate the host house, now what? Ok I get it, but please get over it. The main thing is, you will all be together (sometimes that’s the real problem, smile)! Does it really matter if your Great Aunt Gertrude or Nana’s house is a bit grand and not your taste? I say embrace it! Enjoy their dishes, crystal and flatware. Why not? It’s just one day, and think how happy Nana will be to see her things being used and enjoyed by her nearest and dearest. Oops…do I hear a broken glass falling? They are just things! If she’s afraid of breakage then use the everyday service or rent it, most places will deliver and pick up for a very small fee. It’s worth it!

 

Kenneth Walter, Chicago Interior Design, Gray & Walter Interior Design

Don’t let a grand setting put a damper on your holiday

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter Interior Design, Chicago Interior Design

Sometimes the old ways are the best!

 

 

 

8. I don’t want to have my holiday dinner inside, what do I do? Lucky you! We have had some really warm weather lately in Chicago, this is not realistic for us however. If you live in the south or somewhere with warmer weather by all means have the gathering outside. Hell yes, why not? Please invite me next year!

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter Interior Design, Chicago Interior Design

 

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter Interior Design, Chicago Interior Design

 

 

 

9. Our Guest Bedroom is dreadful and my mother-in-law is a royal you know what! Better get cracking my little crocodile! There are plenty of ways to do over a bedroom quickly. Look at the handsome photo below for inspiration. Chances are you will not find the exact items readily but you can find very nice things at Crate & Barrel for instance. Better yet call me, we can take care of this issue quickly!

 

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter Interior Design, Chicago Interior Design

 

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter Interior Design, Chicago Interior Design

What a great use of an attic space!

10. For Pete’s sake I don’t live in a house, I have a little apartment and have to serve four people. Problem solved, look at the lovely room below, the set up is clean and modern and will solve your issue–bam!

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter Interior Design, Chicago Interior Design

 

 

11. Stock the liquor cabinet, make sure you have plenty of mixers in individual bottles. Do you know what your guests like to drink? If not, you need to make a few calls or send some emails.

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter Interior Design, Chicago Interior Design

 

 

12. My room is a mess, there is stuff everywhere. Dedicate one day to it and put your clutter away, try to pull the room together the best you can! When in doubt donate things you no longer use or put things in storage if you plan on needing them again.

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter Interior Design, Chicago Interior Design

 

 

 

13. Hang your artwork! I meet people all the time who have things stacked up everywhere. I am not talking about artful arrangements of pictures propped on the mantle. This has to go!

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter Interior Design, Chicago Interior Design

 

 

14. The little things count! Ok I get it, you don’t have a room like this. But you could, start small! Buy a throw to cuddle with, a few pillows and candles. Put some nuts in a dish and candy in another, don’t forget some great books on the coffee table to inspire looking and conversation.

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter Interior Design, Chicago Interior Design

 

 

15. I’m broke and just lost my job. Well that happens! So make some cards, paint some cool glasses and give them to your family. What did you say? You’re not artistic, well that’s ok. Write a hand written note telling someone how much they mean to you. Give your sister-in-law some IOUs for babysitting so she and your poor brother can get away from the kids to feel human again. Help your Dad clean out the garage, yes really! You get it, not everything good comes from a store.

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter Interior Design, Chicago Interior Design

 

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter Interior Design, Chicago Interior Design

 

I am so grateful to have my family, my health and a profession that gives me immense joy. What are you grateful for? I wish you and your family a wonderful holiday season ahead.

 

Big Hugs,

-Ken

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