Classic Design for Modern Living

Category: Dogs

Making Design Decisions You Won’t Regret

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

 

One of the toughest challenges a homeowner can face is trying to make intelligent choices when building a new home. It is equally daunting when undertaking a renovation or redecoration project. The choices are endless since the internet serves a buffet of information. The intel acquired online is sometimes useful, many times it is misleading or unsubstantiated. What to do? As an interior designer, it is my responsibility to navigate the troubled waters faced while making the required selections to complete your project. I have seen more than one relationship tested here in Chicago and further afield. Let’s not let this happen to you, here are a few key points to consider my little crocodile.

 

 

 

Building Materials

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

 

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

 

The process of selecting building materials can be confusing. Consider the process of selecting one faucet let alone six more! Many times we are seduced by a glossy photo or a room seen in a film or television series. However, this does not always translate well into real life. Bear in mind these are artistic depictions of spaces designed to entice.

It is best to ask ourselves the following questions:

Will it work for my actual purposes? Will I still like it in a year let alone five? Will it hold up the way I live?

This is especially true of white marble which is very popular again; beauty is important but white marble is extremely porous. What happens when you are an active cook spilling red wine, balsamic vinegar and olive oil? It is always best to ask your designer, architect or contractor many questions. I never want to rain on anyone’s parade, I must advise my clients so they don’t make a mistake. Please remember these are materials you will not be changing casually like throw pillows. Check out this blog from the archives if you are interested in learning more about stone.  http://wp.me/p2RdfV-tg

 

 

 

 

Wall Finishes

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

 

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

 

Have you ever considered paneling a room with custom designed woodwork? This is a major architectural feature which will be a significant investment. While the first photograph depicts a handsomely wrought space, the second photograph is equally compelling. Here are two very different styles of spaces, they both have “wood” walls…amazing, no? Of course there are many other ways to finish a wall: painted drywall, venetian plaster, tile, wallpaper. Which one is right for you? The choices are endless. I always recommend engaging professional help in the form of an architect or designer to set the style-table initially. This is very important if you choose to furnish the space later on your own.

 

 

Area Rugs/Carpeting

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

 

Area rugs and carpeting can be challenging as well. There are a lot of choices even in the mid-range market. Years ago this was not the case. As the interest in home furnishings and decorating have increased so have the choices. Many retailers offer dubious quality at high prices, the higher prices do not always denote quality (yes RH we are talking about you!) so let the buyer beware. You will find it’s better to accompany a designer when making a major purchase. Designer Tip: Try not to bind solid carpeting to make an area rug, a small-scale pattern (see above) actually has more interest. The carpet pattern is subtle once the furniture is placed in the space. If you are interested in learning more about area rugs click on this link http://wp.me/p2RdfV-pY

 

 

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

 

I find it endearing when my clients tell me they hate rugs. Ahh, the dusty oriental rugs of their childhood memories at grandmother’s stuffy home. There are many “happy” rugs which can be custom colored at no extra charge, hooray! Now you can achieve the custom designed rug you have been craving. I would call that a win-win!

 

 

 

Fabrics

 

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

There are fabrics, and there are fabrics, oh heavens! Here’s another tip, when you have to order furniture choose wisely. You will most likely have these pieces for a substantial amount of time. Do you really think you will like that sofa or pair of lounge chairs in the hot pink floral fabric next year? If so, then please proceed–otherwise I would go with a solid and do the throw pillows in the floral. Many fabrics look handsome initially but begin to show wear after six months or less, don’t let this happen to you. There are many things to look for beyond a pretty fabric. Can I have an all white room? The answer is yes, but please let me select the “magic white fabrics” for you. You can even spill red wine on them, they are cleanable. I call them Ken’s little helper!

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Paint Colors

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

 

Benjamin Moore has named Shadow, the color of the year (see above) http://benjaminmoore.com

While I happen to think this deep eggplant color is sexy, it is not for everyone. I am a fan of dark rooms. Who doesn’t love a cozy atmosphere? However, dark colors can make the room harder to light and may make the room appear smaller. I don’t mind this at all, but if you do, there are many paint options other than white! It is always best to engage a professional when making paint selections. I cannot begin to tell you how many color palettes we create each year for our clients. Designer Tip: The wrong color of paint costs the same as the correct color. Hire someone to assist with the paint palette, you won’t regret it!

 

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

 

A final word. Many of my commercial clients with public spaces or residential projects with kids and dogs often wish for “bullet proof” finishes/surfaces. While nothing is totally bullet proof, I firmly believe there are many choices that are better than others. The best choices will survive even the toughest customer: a sloppy hotel guest, a toddler with chocolate fingers or that adorable puppy that just had an accident. It is our pleasure to guide you through the minefield of choices. I look forward to hearing from you!

Big hugs,

-Ken

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It’s The Holiday Season

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

 

It’s the holiday season yet again! How did the year sweep by so fast? If you are like me you are asking yourself this right about now. So now what do we do? There is less than two weeks until Christmas and Hanukkah, we celebrate both at our home! In the spirit of giving I am going to share a trade secret with you. Did you know one of my cherished interior design sources has a holiday bazaar now? The Golden Triangle conveniently located near the Merchandise Mart in Chicago is one of my favorite shops of all time. I highly recommend a little trip if you are struggling with your holiday list. Stressed out and can’t make the trip? The Golden Triangle has a website, how convenient at this hectic time of year! Here are a few of my favorite things spotted on my last visit this week.

 

 

 

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

Yours truly reviewing the troops!

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

The Perfect Pairing: Paris Flea Market & Holiday Bazaar

 

 

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

Absolutely Amazing Artwork By Adam Siegel

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

Gorgeous Green Glassware Awaits You

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

Handsome Pair Of Brass Bulldogs From France

 

 

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

Deck The Halls!

 

 

 

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

There Is Something For The Hardest To Please

 

 

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

My Favorite Adam Siegel Painting!

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

Treasures From Around The World Abound!

I love the holidays so much, I can’t wait to have all my girls together under our roof. It will be noisy and lovely! I wish you the happiest times during the holidays and hope you savor them, be sure to hold your dearest family and friends close to your heart and enjoy every crazy moment. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for always being there for me. I wish you abundant happiness, great health, and much love throughout the new year.

Big hugs,

-Ken

PS  A big thank you to the talented Adam Siegel for doing my portrait while surveying his amazing artwork currently hung at Golden Triangle.

For more information: https://www.adamsiegel.com or https://www.goldentriangle.biz

 

 

A Passage To China

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

 

In my mind I am a mental traveler…to paraphrase the words of Isak Dinesen who wrote Out of Africa, a favorite of mine. Today I am traveling to China via my hometown Chicago. There are many reasons China can be too far a journey. As an interior designer I would be happy to hop on a plane! However, I am in luck today, all I had to do was drive fifteen minutes from my previous appointment to Pagoda Red’s new location on Morgan Street in Chicago. Come along, I think you will enjoy it!

I was full of anticipation as I pulled into their convenient parking lot. I had not visited since Betsy Nathan moved her shop a year ago. Upon entering I was struck by the glorious pieces sitting on a dark and sexy vintage tile floor imported from Asia. What a warm welcome I received and I suspect you will too! You will see a handsome array of modern pieces as well as artifacts that a scholar would love. Since I am not a scholar of Chinese Art I will merely say the mix is wonderful.

 

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

What A Glorious Array!

 

 

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

19th Century Courtyard Panels backed with “Utopia” fabric from Pierre Frey. Look at these gorgeous 18th Century Hand Carved Lion Dogs and Fabric Draped Stool

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

Love the modern Painting paired with the Chinese Half Table and Shanghai Deco Arm Chairs

 

 

 

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

Jade Meditation Stones lead you out to the Asian Garden

 

As I toured the gallery I was in for more than I bargained for. Betsy took me to see the mature Asian garden, this in itself is a feast to behold. I was literally transferred to another place and time, you must see this garden to believe it. I am a big fan of gardens in general so you will not be disappointed.

 

 

 

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

Carved Lion Dog Markers standing tall, so proud & inviting!

 

 

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

 

Sadly I didn’t get to take any photos during my garden tour. The day began scorching hot and sunny, but that changed after the garden walk when the weather changed dramatically. The heavens burst with a symphony of lightning and thunder which turned this visit (originally scheduled for an hour) to well over two hours, it was still pouring when I left. No worries, I made it out unscathed. I drove home happy in a pounding rainstorm, I had lots of things to daydream about and present to clients.

 

 

 

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

Carved Hitching Post From Northern China, 19th Century

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

When Worlds Collide:  Boho Meets Deco

I sat for quite a while in this room and watched the rain pour and pour. Thanks for your gracious hospitality Betsy, I enjoyed the Prosecco and nibbles too. Inside tip: it is always wise to feed the hungry interior designer my little crocodile. We do get hungry!

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

The mesmerizing power of crystal, made of rock crystal as old as the earth

I don’t need a crystal ball to know you will enjoy taking a trip to Pagoda Red. Happy Hunting, and a big thanks to you for reading my posts, your comments delight me!

Big Hugs,

-Ken

 

5 Gorgeous Ways To Select Outdoor Furniture

Chicago Interior Design, Kenneth Walter Gray & Walter Interior Design

 

 

I have Springtime on my mind! This is a tough road to travel for an interior designer or anyone who lives in Chicago during the winter season. I want my clients to feel comfortable at all times, that includes telling me their honest opinion. I experience hesitancy sometimes when we are doing a project that requires outdoor furniture. My clients have said: we don’t have a long enough outdoor season, our summers are so unpredictable, we don’t live in Florida, should we even bother…I get it, I feel your pain too. However, we don’t have to live like monks (unless we are), yes Virginia, we can embrace the beautiful weather when it hits, so let’s get ready for warmer weather my little crocodiles!

 

 

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

  1. Get out of Dodge! Is the warm weather ever going to come? This is what I ask myself countless times from December to May, and sometimes still in June. It’s always refreshing to take a trip somewhere warm and sunny. Here are two gorgeous hotel rooms, but you can easily bring the outside in–even in the winter. There’s nothing more inspiring than being relaxed and enjoying some well-deserved time off for good behavior. This is the perfect way to begin the inspiration process, here are a two great examples.

 

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

 

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

You don’t have to live on an island or in the desert to employ some of these tricks. Why not try bringing nature in, consider neutrals or light colors, add greenery and light if you can, it will work wonders.

 

 

 

 

2. Having a great meal together is something most of us can agree upon. Many of us wish we had a terrific patio or terrace to entertain on. Not all of us have this lavish amount of space, but here are some tips we can use from any of these photos.

 

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

I really prefer round tables, look at this great lazy susan–genius!

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

This works very well in a more compact area

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

One of our clients has a huge pool area, this really helps when creating multiple groupings

 

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

Love this indoor/outdoor room, open the doors and let the breeze in!

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

Here is another great round table in a no-maintenance material

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

What a handsome mix!

3. Well now, let’s go out on a limb here…who doesn’t like to lounge around occasionally? Haha! Here are some gorgeous shots that are breathtaking as well as inspiring. So happy the sun is out today as I write this!

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

A nice mix of two different materials are shown on this furniture

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

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

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

These photos show there’s really nothing like teak!

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

Wicker and Teak, why not?

 

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

I find this quite ship-shape, ahoy!

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

Clean & Modern

4.  The big obstacle I find as an interior designer is many of our clients lack the required space to lay out furniture. This is typical in Chicago and many other cities across the country, fear not–I have solutions for those of us who are spatially challenged!

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

Perfect grouping for a medium sized patio

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

This is perfect for a back porch, terrace, or fire escape if space allows

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

A compact dining solution in a happy orange

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

Stack chairs can be a real blessing

 

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

Sometimes all we have room for is a chair & table outside our door, this works!

 

 

 

 

5. I like to carve out little places to hide out, chill and take a breath, you’re welcome! Perhaps you have a little area we can convert into a delightful little haven.

 

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

Just outside the kitchen or a hidden corner of the yard

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

Perhaps off the driveway, behind the garage or near the pond

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

Perfect for those oddly small areas of hardscape

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

Why not seize the area off the kitchen for outdoor dining?

 

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

 

I hope these ideas will inspire you to enjoy the warmer weather. You don’t have to live in California or the south to enjoy your outdoor area. Cheers to warmer weather, ring me up–I know we can come up with the perfect solution for you!

Happy Spring!

Ken

 

Almost Summer!

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Now that Memorial Day has finally come and gone I am thinking about Summer. How we will spend our days and nights once the warmer weather firmly hits? I’m a big fan of warm weather, no coats…hooray! Here’s a few more things that I’m excited about.

Being Outside

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 Warmer weather means we are going to enjoy being in the yard again!

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 My magnolia tree was glorious this year!

Designing Beautiful Spaces

image This client was downsizing so we had lots of interesting things to repurpose!

Finding New Artwork

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 I’m nuts for contemporary photography of all types

Helping Our Environment

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 Love, love, love repurposing furniture and buying vintage furniture. This is very eco-friendly!

Milestones

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 My daughter Lauren just received her Masters Degree in Art History!

Recharging

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 It can be a trip you have been planning for a long time, dinner outside at a local restaurant or a ball game. This is the time to recharge our batteries, travel, see friends and family and enjoy life.

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But don’t forget our furry pals, they need a break too!

Helping Our Neighbor

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 As we all know, our “neighbors” in Nepal have been through Hell and back with two major earthquakes. However, our neighbors in Texas have had horrible flooding recently too. Let us be mindful of others and help as many as we can who are in need. We are all in this together, helping others makes us all feel better.

Live, Love, Laugh & Big Hugs,

-Ken

We Need Artwork!

With September around the corner the time to focus on artwork is now.

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Would you like this above your sofa…

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…or this?

I am really enjoying each day of Summer! However, I know some of some of us will soon be struggling while attempting to spruce up their environment for the upcoming holidays. I am not suggesting Holiday shopping in August! I am referring to being prepared for the upcoming holiday season, and getting what you need done sooner than later. That said, I have a few visual treats for you if you are considering adding some artwork to your space. Artwork is very personal, it comes in all price brackets ranging from priceless pieces to more approachable pieces for those of us on a budget.

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Sometimes a mirror will suffice,

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wallpaper will do the trick at times also.

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This piece is magnificent and highly collectible. What do you think?

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I recently met this talented young artist. Imagine, original artwork for $900.

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Vintage photographs are wonderful!

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I love this edgy work, he does conservative images too.

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Sometimes you want something that will create conversation.

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There’s here’s nothing like David Hockney…

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…or Jean-Michel Basquiat.

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Perhaps it should be Jamie Wyeth…

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…or a work by Albrecht Durer?

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Sometimes you need to soar on an angel’s wings.

I can help you find whatever you need: auction, galleries or artists I know. I am ready and willing to create a collection or add to what you already have. I absolutely love to create gallery walls of old family photos. Imagine all the fun conversations and reminiscing you will do with your guests over the holidays.

Hope you have a wonderful August,

Ken

Dog Days

doca-pet-dogleg-diner

Madame Fifi deserves the best. So don’t serve her meals in a grungy bowl. Invest in Doca Pet’s modern contraptions that come in fetching colors.
Available at docapet.com, $30-$188.

On May 9th, we are hosting a private event at the Merchandise Mart’s DreamHome to benefit the Anti-Cruelty Society.  If you would like an invitation, please contact us.  So, in keeping with our upcoming event we thought it appropriate to write about pets!

There is no better feeling than coming home to my dogs after a rough day at the office.  I know I’m not alone in showing a lack of self-restraint when it comes to pampering my pooches.  As an interior designer, my clients often ask me to come up with solutions to tackle messy pet problems.  A few things I like to recommend:

1- I think its important to have cleanable materials when you have dogs, use common sense when selecting textiles to begin with. It’s best if you have dogs or little kids to remember this. I personally recommend clean white towels (cloth or paper) to pick up nasty stains. The sooner the better, the trick is to get the “offense” up quickly, remove as much from the surface as possible, then follow up with fresh club soda. I keep a stock of small bottles so the soda is always extra fizzy, this really helps pull out the tough stains. The really bad ones will need professional help from time to time but I’m a huge believer in club soda. We have a secret trove of fantastic fabrics that are beyond pet friendly. You would be amazed what fabrics we have access to.

2- Professionally seal your furniture and rugs annually.

sweaterdogs

Georgia and Quincy, the culprits of many pet stains in the Walter house!

3-  Wool rugs are much more pet stain friendly

4-  Create a designated pet area where floors are porcelain tile and can be cleaned easily.  This area can accommodate food storage, storage for extra towels and blankets, a bathing area with a hand-spray and built in water and food bowls.  It’s also great to provide hooks for hanging leashes and towels.

5-  Dog stuff can clutter up your interior very easily.  We love having baskets around for toy storage.  The container store has lots of great options.

Some of our favorite items for the pampered pooch:

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Burberry Plaid Dog Coat is 100% Virgin Burberry plaid wool jacket, fully lined, velcro closure, $54.95

trixie-peanut-leapfrog

For comic relief on a leash, please see: Leap Frog hoodie.
Available at trixieandpeanut.com, $29.

westpaw-eco-nap

This is Spot. See Spot snooze on an Eco Nap washable mat (made from recycled soda bottles). Available at westpawdesign.com, $29-$96.

muttropolis-wool-balls

These colorful boiled wool orbs are meant to be drooled on, not drooled over. Though we can understand both. Available at muttropolis.com, $4-$6.

lvbowtie

Super slick bowtie collar & leash set from Louis Vuitton. Nothing says “Spoiled & Fresh” at the same time like a dog collar and leash set from Louis Vuitton. The Baxter collar line from LV is pure canine elegance mixed with a healthy dose of conspicuous consumption. The set comes decked out in the famous LV patterned canvas backed with buttery smooth leather.

hermes dog collar l

Hermès dog collar ($350) & leash ($350)

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Square Tribeca Bin from The Container Store

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X-Small Marché Basket from The Container Store


 

 

 

 

 

In the Dog House

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If you are looking for some fabulous DIY dog houses, Japanese graphic designer and curator Kenya Hara debuted “Architecture for dogs” at Design Miami in early December. Some call it architecture, I call it Barkitecture. The star studded cast of international designers and architects includes Mvrdv, Kazuyo Sejima, Sou Fujimoto, Reiser + Umemoto, Atelier Bow-Wow, Torafu Architects, Shigeru Ban, Kengo Kuma, Toyo Ito, Hiroshi Naito, Konstantin Grcic, Hara Design Institute and Kenya Hara. 13 different houses were designed each earmarked for a different breed.

Download plans at www.architecturefordogs.com

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Here are a some of our favorites:

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Hope you enjoyed our post!  Comments are always welcome!  Please visit the Gray and Walter website for more ideas for your interiors, www.kennethwalter.com

Cheers,

Kenneth Walter