Hello gorgeous, you look fantastic! Oh yes, I’m talking to you, but your space, hmm that’s another story. While you’re a knockout (I’m a great judge after all) your place has seen better days. It’s ok, I’m not judging, tell me all about it. I know you’re very busy and stressed out, it’s my job to make your dreams come true. I have seen it all as an interior designer, here in Chicago and farther afield we tend to put ourselves on the back burner. So now let’s focus on you, it’s your turn~here we go, read on if you have always wanted a glamorous space to curl up.
SETTING THE SCENE WITH GORGEOUS MATERIALS
Consider your gorgeous environment as a sexy extension of you, think about what makes you feel beautiful as a woman, for guys think of what makes you feel handsome. Think of how you feel when you are wearing that item everyone compliments, it instills natural confidence, am I right? The same goes for the interior. The materials you find beautiful or handsome can add natural glamour to your space. This applies to fur (real or faux), shimmering fabrics, glass, metal, marble, lucite or anything that reflects light.
I am constantly influenced by many things that cross my eye each day. A big inspiration for me is film and travel, as a kid I was seduced by glamorous movie sets. I think of my clients as the star of their film. A glamorous space is a wonderful backdrop to live your life in, you may even want to show it off–but it’s ok to have some things just for you.
Although glamour might not be your first thought when you see the image above, I find the space glamorous due to the gorgeous wrought iron on the windows and magnificent marble columns. The white walls are so elegant and fresh, note the delicate lines on the lovely caned chairs. Now lets focus on the second room, check out the acid green chairs using two different fabrics, the Murano glass light fixtures and fabulous mirror.
I know a glamorous bedroom is a no brainer, you would be surprised if I told you how many people choose to live. We can create a very sensuous place to live out your fantasies. Live it up–you are worth it.
So you are allowing someone into your gorgeous place, well done my little crocodile! A powder room is a great way to get your feet wet with a designer. Why not begin the journey and create a space your guests will enjoy using, they may never leave!
No one can deny the pleasure of a great shower or bath at the beginning or end of your day. Frankly there is nothing like it. There is no better way to prepare for the adventures that are in store for you. White stone is very popular lately, but do remember that many of the most beautiful surfaces are very porous. Inside Tip: Take care to have your precious stone sealed or select non-porous materials in the colors you love most.
I personally have a small closet, I like it this way so I can survey all my shirts, pants, jackets and suits easily. Some of us MUST have a larger closet which is totally fine by me. Let’s plan it out properly! We will come over to review what you have, measure the amount of lineal hanging you require and design a space fit for a queen, king or something in-between. I love using lots of mirror, glass and wood in closets. What turns you on?
Gorgeous lighting is like jewelry for your space, think of the reflections the beautiful glass or crystal will make. If decorative lighting isn’t your thing we can achieve the same details with mirrors, tables or accessories.
Who said kitchens can’t be sexy?
Nothing is more fun than taking a mundane hallway to the next level by adding venetian plaster, luxurious wallcovering, or eglomise mirrors.
You deserve a glamorous place to conduct business.
We all have an idea of what is beautiful to us, don’t we? I hope you will take these ideas and add a little more glamour to your daily routine. You don’t need to do everything right away, start small with a few things: consider adding a pair of sexy stools, a great chandelier or table. When in doubt try channeling your inner-glam spirit animal.
Have fun and enjoy yourself, ACTION, it’s your scene-
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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!
Don’t let a grand setting put a damper on your holiday
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
If you know me, you understand how important artwork is as I transform interiors. Art is a fundamental part of my personal life as well. I’m constantly explaining how a well thought out interior can heal us and provide the salve we need after a tough day. My focus for this post is about the healing power of artwork.
I recently became acquainted with the talented local artist, Sarah Raskey. Sarah and her husband Tim Manning opened a new art gallery in the West Loop area of Chicago in 2014. Raskey is an amazing woman, a licensed psychotherapist, does counseling with art therapy, an adjunct graduate art therapy professor at the School of The Art Institute and who has spent many years working simultaneously as an exhibiting artist. How on earth does she have time to do all of this? Sarah’s work is very soulful and personal, the work is a reflection of her life’s journey.
My goal as an interior designer is to create an environment evocative of who my client is. I believe these pieces are calming and healing, they speak to my holistic approach when creating an interior. Shown above is a recent installation of Sarah’s artwork in one of my projects, it is proof that Sarah is a force to be reckoned with.
The above two photos (middle and lower) illustrate a recent installation at the recently remodeled Hotel Allegro in Chicago. This piece, Lady Lucent of Awakening, is elegant and arresting, a real presence and a testament to the power of art. In short, it is a real attention grabber! The detail above evokes a glamour not seen very often, reminiscent of vintage portraits of Greta Garbo and Jean Harlow by George Hurrell.
As a champion of artists there is nothing more fun than visiting an artist’s studio, you never know what you’ll find. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting many in my life and Sarah’s studio is no exception. Artists are a blast to hang with, Sarah is a wonderful, caring and giving person. It is really easy to sit down with her to discuss the piece you wish to buy from her gallery or have commissioned.
Sarah is known for giving clients various opportunities to add their own personal touch, idea or sentiment when purchasing a piece. She finds significance by letting clients “create what they need” and even offers to embed items that are dear to the person who has commissioned the piece of artwork. Examples of such items are poems, pictures or keepsakes, which are able to be visible on the painting or kept hidden. At times these items can also be personal things from her own collection or travels. I think this is a wonderful way to make a piece of artwork very unique…and uniquely yours.
I recently came across this quote by Sarah Raskey, it sums up acquiring artwork quite well:
“Surround yourself with artwork that doesn’t run out! What does this mean? That it doesn’t become invisible and irrelevant. It does not rely on brand names and popularity in order for you to love it. It does not fade or come and go with trends or entertains society’s latest beliefs regarding beauty. Because after all, art is anything we want it to be, a natural metamorphosing resource, as well as a glimpse of our own reflection.”
Detail of Raskey’s work
Our Bedroom Vignette at Chicago Luxury Beds
I am thrilled to have collaborated on a few projects with Sarah and her husband Tim Manning. I hope these images stir you in some manner, perhaps they will move you the way they move me. These images are only a tiny glimpse of Sarah Raskey’s work, they are best appreciated in person. I would be delighted to arrange a personal visit to her lovely gallery, I invite you to check out her website sarahraskey.com
Wishing you Peace & Love,
Photo Credits: Two photos of Hotel Allegro, Chicago by Michael Mundy
October is here, the chill is beginning to set in. Are cooler nights better for sleep? Many say they are. I have been focused on getting my home ready for the cooler weather and the holidays right around the corner. We are here to help you get ready. It is definitely not too late to make changes. Here are a few suggestions.
Modern, Spare and Warm
Cuddle up with a soft rug, real or faux
Let’s Get Cozy and Snuggle
Clean and Cozy
Modern and Rustic
A well placed throw can make all the difference
The shorter days make me want to sleep more, how about you?
Put another log on the fire and open the wine
A well placed daybed makes a great place for a nap or a cuddle
The right artwork is calming and restorative
Now that the golden hour arrives sooner I must time my dog walks earlier to enjoy the last moments of light. For some reason this is now my favorite time of the day. I love the crunchy leaves with the setting sun in the distance. What do you enjoy about Autumn?
It’s never too late, really!
With Autumn right around the corner we continue to organize our client’s lives, it’s fun, you feel better, it’s a win-win actually! Transforming our client’s spaces is the name of our game. A few thoughts on being organized:
Is this what you want?
1. Many of my clients have become obsessed with creating space for backpacks, briefcases, purses and mail this summer. Another popular topic was making sure there were great areas in the home to do homework, paperwork, scrap booking…you name it!
A large table can multi-task for homework, meals, projects etc.
2. I am amazed at tall preteens squeezing into an old bed they outgrew five years ago. The grownups are suffering too, some of my clients are celebrating their tenth anniversary with bedroom furniture from their bachelor(ette) days. This sounds like the time to treat yourself too! What are you waiting for? I’m giving you permission to enjoy your bedroom too!
Make sure your bedroom fits your needs.
Is this style age appropriate for a 15 year old?
It appears we have given up…
Please don’t be this person!
Time to cocoon!
Snuggle up, sleep well.
The details count, buy the best mattress you can afford, you won’t regret it!
3. With the holidays right around the corner I am organizing closets and reconfiguring spaces to accommodate special dishes/silverware, linens or holiday decorations. I can personally attest this makes life so much easier!
Clear containers are even better, you don’t even have to make labels.
It’s time to get cracking before the holidays are upon us. I’m inspired and have more ideas than you can imagine! I’ll be looking forward to hearing about your unique needs.
Time to get to work,
June 2, 2014
The Perils Of Doing It Alone
This post is in response to people who have been burned by their architect or interior designer. I get it, I really do! I have noticed many people trying to do their projects on their own, so here are a few thoughts for you.
1. Most interior designers insist on taking you to a Design Center, most everything is expensive and you have to wait 4-6 months while your selection comes over on a slow-moving boat from Italy.
I don’t work that way unless my client wants me to. I have many sources in Chicago that have items currently in stock. We can even make a decision in one day if you are on a tight schedule. Handsome furnishings come from many diverse sources. Consumers forget they are actually paying over 300% markup on items sold by retail stores. Design Centers have products at all price points. It is important to remember that most To The Trade showrooms provide better quality selections than what is typically found in shops open to the public.
2. Designers are too expensive and use their clients as ATMs.
Designers can be compensated in many different manners, (hourly, flat fee or percentage), the basis is mutually agreed upon and must work for the client’s needs. The best part about hiring a trained designer is that you are actually paying someone who has professional expertise. The true professional has extensive experience, and can effortlessly assist you with your design dilemma.
3. Redoing a space is so complicated and time-consuming. I don’t want to be inconvenienced.
Why not spruce up your existing space? We often forget what we have can be reused, reupholstered or repurposed. Many of our clients require staging in their home, this can really help prior to selling your property. We have had clients change their mind about moving once they see our completed staging. Sometimes we don’t know what we have until a professional helps edit and rearrange our possessions.
4. Designers only follow their own style, and do not really listen to their client’s opinion.
A great designer really listens to their client, and takes extensive notes on what is needed. A true professional understands the client’s budget, and suggests appropriate pieces and furnishings that are within the budgetary parameters. There is nothing worse than being shown things that are out of the budget.
5. I want my style to show and do not want someone taking over my life.
Most intelligent people are apprehensive when embarking upon a new relationship. Working with a designer is not supposed to make you feel on edge, feel free to express yourself and tell your designer what you like/dislike. A good designer will uncover what will look best while allowing your taste to show through. A talented professional will uncover your needs, and present items that meet these needs while exciting you with the potential they see in your new space.
Change can be very exciting in our lives, I invite you to consider making some refinements to your environment. Now is the perfect time to begin the transformation.
Here’s to new beginnings,
Gilbert K. Chesterton wrote, “White is not a mere absence of color; it is a shining and affirmative thing, as fierce as red, as definite as black.” We couldn’t agree more. White is a statement, bold in its brightness and unabashedly spare. Lately, winter white is everywhere. It’s a classic that exudes chic simplicity in any room.
Any skilled designer knows that selecting the perfect white paint is anything but simple. What’s a seemingly basic element—the essence of simplicity—proves to be one of the most complex decisions with hundreds of possibilities. Elle Decor asked 11 decorators to share their tried-and-true favorites when it comes to this dynamic shade of nothing. Read more….
As a chicago interior designer, many people ask me about my favorite colors. White is no exception and the choices can be daunting for the untrained eye. Take it from an expert, tried and true, Benjamin Moore 925 is a winner for trim and ceilings.
I’m often influenced by art, fashion and nature for my projects. Below are some beautiful images I’ve collected for inspiration. Cheers- Kenneth Walter
LIVING + DINING ROOMS
ARCHITECTURAL + DETAILS
*Thank you to Fred Michel for the extraordinary photograph of viburnum entitled “Shasa”. To see more of Fred’s beautiful work click here https://www.flickr.com/photos/horticultural_art/
Bedrooms are one of my favorite rooms in the home, a bedroom must be comfortable and serene. I design master bedrooms as a private retreat for my clients.
Elements of a great bedroom include:
-Foundation: Don’t underestimate the power of a great night’s sleep. Your matress is the most important element in the room. We have some tips below from Chicago Luxury Beds about how to select the right mattress for you. Chicago Luxury Beds is providing a wonderful mattress for the model showcase we are creating at the Ritz Carlton Residences. You’ll have to come by and see it for yourself, stay tuned for the opening in November.
-Fabulous Sheets: I love Pratesi, they make the softest most luxurious bedding in the marketplace.
-Bedding Toppers: Accent pillows, cashmere blankets or a colorful throw will pull your entire room together.
-Create a Focal Point: Use a great wallcovering, window treatment, piece of art or fireplace.
-Mix and Match Furniture: Bedroom sets are a thing of the past. I love creating full dressing rooms for my clients and keeping furniture within the bedroom suite more decorative. Don’t be afraid to mix and match to create an eclectic vibe. Upholstered headboards are still a strong trend and allow for a personal touch by mixing shapes, custom fabrics and trimmings.
-Window Treatments: Don’t skimp on window treatments. Decorative panels add softness to the room while shades should be black-out lined to guarantee a good night’s rest.
-Lighting: I believe there should be a combination of ambient and task lighting in the bedroom. A great chandelier should always be on a dimmer. Bedside lamps or sconces should be on dimmers as well but should be bright enough to read by. Don’t forget lighting should be flattering, we all want to look our best, don’t we?
Big Hugs, Ken
How to select a mattress at Chicago Luxury Beds:
In their video, chiropractor Robert DiDomenico points out that we tend to think about eating right and exercising when we consider our health, but “it’s equally as important to make sure that we invest in a good quality mattress, for after all, we spend one-third of our lifetimes sleeping in bed.”
1) Use an expert. Looking for the right mattress can be confusing, so Chicago Luxury Beds provides in-store sleep ambassadors who can ask the right questions and look at your sleep positions to help you find a bed that optimizes comfort and support.
2) Take your time and try several beds. Give yourself a minimum of 30 minutes to try different beds. Lie down in your normal sleep positions and see what feels comfortable. Always compare the firmness of each bed before making your final choice.
3) Check the level of support. If the mattress is too firm, you will be able to slide your hand easily between the mattress and hollow of your back, which creates pressure around the shoulders and the knees. If the mattress is too soft, the spine will bow downward, causing pressure around your hips.
4) Measure your bedroom. It’s best to buy the largest mattress your room can fit. King size allows for the most personal sleeping space, which can reduce sleep disturbance.
Chicago Luxury Beds are handmade from all-natural materials, because a mattress made with the best craftsmanship and care makes all the difference in finding one that fits your preferences and comfort.
An excerpt from Elle Decor:
“Growing up in the family business means there’s a past to honor and traditions to carry on. For Federico Pratesi, head of the four- generations-old Italian linens firm, the history he inherited is a star-studded one. When his stylish parents, Athos and Dede Pratesi, helmed the company, a glittering crowd slept on the famously luxe sheets—among them Andy Warhol and Elizabeth Taylor, whose violet eyes inspired a set of vividly hued bedding.
Pratesi still sets the mark for luxury, with its high-end linens and a cashmere collection launching next month—all made by artisans at the family’s factory in Tuscany.
Back in Italy, family is never far. His mother remains an elegant fixture among the looms. “She’s the creative muse,” Federico says. And his two children, ages six and seven, love coming to the factory. A fifth generation in the making? “It’s my secret wish.”
Below are a few of my favorite bedroom projects. For more interior design ideas from Gray + Walter , please visit our website.
Just as we were wrapping up this post we ran across an article from Dering Hall featuring celebrity bedrooms….Courtney Cox, David Adler, John Mayer, Sarah Jessica Parker and more! ENJOY!