Classic Design for Modern Living

Category: Home Staging

What Does Luxury Mean To You?

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

 

Why Is My Space So Dark And Dreary?

 

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Have you ever walked around your home and wished someone would come and rescue you? For many of us, the answer is yes. Why are we so afraid to change a few things to make our spaces brighter and happier? You know what I mean if you live in Chicago or anywhere that has long winters. Here are five easy and quick ways to lighten and brighten your home or apartment. As the master of transformation I can tell you change is good!

 

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1. If your rooms face east you are flooded with great light in the morning. If you leave the for the office fairly early you are not taking advantage of this feature. Spaces like this are often dark after 12:00 and throughout the afternoon. If your walls are painted a medium to dark hue and this is not working for you consider painting the walls a lighter color like creme, white, celadon, pale yellow or blue-gray.

 

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2. Do you need window treatments? Many of us have window treatments we despise. Crazy, right? How can you say you love interior design and keep them in your space? Consider taking down your window treatments if you don’t need them. However, many of us need something, consider roman shades made of sheer material, this is often just what the doctor ordered. Another great option is to have a wool casement made into panels hung on a wood or metal rod with rings.

 

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3. What about general lighting in the room? Many of us do not have down lights or hate them altogether. Recessed down lights can actually help light a room overall, but they can also be harsh. Consider many types of lighting to light a room well. A combination is best: sconces, table lamps, standing lamps, and up-lights behind furniture can create great effects. You can also use lighted sculptures which create a wow effect and save a dead corner. You don’t have to own a home or condo to have great lighting. Many rentals have greatly improved the quality of lighting offered. You can also achieve the same great results by placing several table and floor lamps strategically around a room; this is very effective in older or vintage apartments. I personally like incandescent lighting best, this is essential in bedrooms. Who doesn’t want to look better in the bedroom? LED lighting can be good too as long as it is color corrected. Fluorescent lighting isn’t needed in the home unless you are a woodworker with a home based workshop or repair cars in your garage.

 

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4. I am constantly asked if it is ok to paint stained woodwork. The answer is yes, unless you love stained woodwork. Stained woodwork can be beautiful in a vintage house or if done well. The problem is most of the time it is not done well and people are terrified to paint it. Fear not grasshopper, paint your woodwork if you wish!

 

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5. I find many young people in their first home are house poor. I have known many of my client’s kids since they were babies so I want to help them out too! The best friend of anyone on a budget is BM White Dove http://benjaminmoore.com it will instantly whiten, brighten and freshen even the dreariest of spaces. Invite a few pals over and pay them with pizza, beer and wine. When on a budget think like the Swedes, they have fantastic interiors whether they are contemporary or traditional. If your Grandmother has some mid-century furniture that is a win-win. If the pieces offered are not great, you can take her old things and whitewash them or have crisp white washable slip covers made to cover the old sofa with the horrible fabric. How’s that for instant cool? Have fun with this kids, and don’t forget once you are ready to buy furniture to buy the best you can afford so the pieces you purchase will last longer. You get what you pay for. When you buy quality you will only cry once when you write the check. Quality pieces will last the test of time.

Here is a link to an old post about white, it is chock-a-block full of inspiration and may be just the ticket for you http://wp.me/p2RdfV-g5

 

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I hope this post will be of help to you. If you have a particular issue you would like addressed in the future send me a shout out in the comments area below–better yet, email http://kennethwalter.com or call and tell me your issue 312-329-1007  The top five issues of the month will win a complimentary in-home consultation. Until next time, embrace the light, it’s a good thing.

Big Hugs~

Ken

 

PS: Perhaps you’ll find the perfect thing to lighten and brighten your space here.

 

Special thanks to:

http://archdigest.com http://traditionalhome.com and http://housebeautiful.com

 

 

 

 

How To Transform Your Space With Soulful Artwork

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

imageRecent installation of Raskey’s work at Maya Romanoff, Chicago

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.”

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Detail of Raskey’s work

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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,

Ken

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Photo Credits: Two photos of Hotel Allegro, Chicago by Michael Mundy

Character Study

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Are you a good judge of character? This post is all about adding character to a room. Many of us think this comes from a paneled room, thick moldings or other architectural features. Yes to all of the above, we can also add character in other ways. This room is chock-a-block full of character although it is clean and simple. The space has a terrific bow window paired with handsome antique mismatched chairs and old table. Character can arrive from other elements such as a mantlepiece, a carved wood accessory, statement pieces of furniture or even a found object–let’s explore further.

 

 

imageInstant character–what turns you on?

 

 

 

Paneling

imageHandsome Macassar Panels

imageHand Carved Quarter-Sawn Paneling

Elements or Features

imageReclaimed Oak Planks

 

imageA Wood Ceiling, Beams and Woodwork

Furniture

imageA richly carved bed adds instant character to this fun mix

imageThe daybed and carved gilt wood side table are dazzling

imageThe Ancient Chinese Root on the window sill is a great way to mix old and new

 

imageThis wood screen is stunning and useful

 

Wow, instant character! I hope this post will inspire you to move some things around your space. Is there something you have always wanted? It may be time to visit a vintage shop, antique dealer, or salvage yard. Other great places to go are estate sales and auctions, don’t forget treasure troves such as the attic or basement at your parents or other relative’s home. You never know what you’ll find, have fun!

 

Live, love, laugh and big hugs,

Ken

 

Control

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Now before we get carried away here, this is not the 50 Shades of Grey kind of control. What is on my mind is simplifying our lives with smart home technology. To simplify, I will refer to this as CONTROL. Most of us have TV’s, DVR’s, Blu-ray players, music systems and window treatments just to name but a few. Many of us really need a robust network. Many do not know what this is or what a difference it can make!

 

 

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However, so many of us are missing the point of smart technology. Yes Virginia, there is a way to simplify our lives. I am looking for simplification all the time, are you?

 

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If you are interested in controlling window treatments, technology, heat, HVAC, lighting and many other items while in your home, or remotely when you are out-of-town you are not alone. Many of my clients resist this technology as they fear it will be difficult to install or use once it is finally in their residence. Fear not, we can solve this issue!

 

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If you are interested in making your life easier please let me know. I work with many wonderful professionals who have various skills. I am delighted to recommend the right person who can solve your unique issue whether we are currently working together on a project or not.

 

 

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Keep it simple, it’s a beautiful thing~

Ken

 

 

Please Sit Down

Today I’m totally crushing on chairs–CCW, Chair Crush Wednesday! I presume this will not replace Woman Crush Wednesday or Man Crush Monday but you never know. Many of us have a favorite chair in our home. Do you?

imageA few of my favorite chairs clockwise from top left:

Egyptian Art Deco meets Mid-Century, A modern Fauteuil, clean lines in a Game Room, sexy time at the iconic Blue Bar, tufted coziness in matelasse

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The Bergere is a popular chair, a terrific shape that fits into traditional, transitional and even modern rooms. Many pieces manufactured today have less carving, sizes for these chairs tend to vary but are typically more luxurious than a Fauteuil (see next photo).

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The Fauteuil, is an open arm chair, the styles can range from Louis XV, XVI or many other periods. This chair was made in many countries so you can see many versions ranging from Italian, French, Swedish and more! The sizes can range from petite, perfect for a dressing table; small, perfect for dining; and medium to large, most suitable as larger side chairs in a Living Room. These chairs can have a lot of carving or cleaner lines as shown on the example above in one of our projects. Easily moveable, they can be moved from one side of the room to another to accommodate impromptu guests and furniture arrangements. They are suitable for Versailles or your chateau.

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The iconic Barcelona Chair designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe is a fantastic chair that is extremely versatile. This collection has many options:  daybed, chair, ottoman and coffee table. These pieces are strong statements used alone or in a grouping; a mid-century darling famously seen in Philip Johnson’s Glass House in New Canaan, many mid-century office buildings or your urbane neighbor’s Living Room.

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Charles and Ray Eames designed this magnificent chair and ottoman decades ago, the design still reads fresh and timely now. Talk about a classic that stands the test of time. Original versions had rosewood, the old ones are costly but worth every penny. Estate sales and restoration can be pay off and be your friend.

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Jean-Michel Frank designed this famous chair, if you have one it is worth a small fortune. It has inspired many adaptations. Poor Monsieur Frank committed suicide and left us too soon, I wonder what else he could have created if he stuck around longer.

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Hermes is now producing these Frank designs

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 Monsieur Frank continues to inspire me in our projects

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Philippe Starck designed the Ghost chair above, consider it the Fauteuil for the masses. It is available in many shades of Lucite ranging from clear, red, hot pink, black and many other shades in-between. The chair is perfect for many reasons: low in cost, easy to move and very flexible (looks good in many styles of decoration), it even stacks!

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 Talk about versatile!

I hope you have enjoyed this little history lesson. Perhaps you will be inspired to update your space. One word of advice, try to purchase the original designs if you can. This doesn’t mean you are paying a fortune for your furniture. It means you are buying the best you can afford, the cheaper knock offs will break way too quickly, the better versions cost more and provide lasting value. One more thought, if you haven’t heard of One Kings Lane check out this link, they have many wonderful chairs you have been looking for!   https://www.onekingslane.com/furniture/seating/accent-chairs

Please take my seat~!

Ken

P.S. Feel free to explore our old blog posts for additional great chairs!

A Design Journey

imageA new year, time for new adventures

 

Can you believe January is here again and almost over? Over the weekend I was thinking of the dialog between the main characters in Out of Africa. Karen von Blixen makes up stories to entertain Denys Finch Hatton; she says in her mind she is a mental traveler. This made me think of the transformative adventure we take when we hire a designer. My mind loves to travel, I am a big daydreamer. Have you dreamt of a transformation in your space?

 

imageThese dreamy clouds may become a rug

 

I recently began a project in a Chicago high-rise for a wonderful couple, they are really excited about redecorating their apartment. I am very excited about taking them to places they have never been before. It is a thrill to show them things never imagined. The client has a choice in all of this of course, it’s their home after all. Together we will find the perfect design solutions and furnishings required to create the home of their dreams. The adventure ahead will be thrilling.

 

imageAt the beginning, the possibilities are endless

 

Have you ever been on such a journey? It is never too late. And even if you have, perhaps it is time to go on an adventure with me. I invite you, allow me to be your guide. A professional designer can take you to places never imagined and edit these selections. Picking pretty things is the easy part, editing it down to the perfect solution is the key. The extensive education and experience a true professional has will make the journey a smoother one, believe me.

Bon Voyage-

Ken

Comfy And Cozy

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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.

 

 

Warmth Underfoot

imageHard surface floors really benefit from radiant heat

imageA carpet runner can also do the trick when properly placed

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Modern, Spare and Warm

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Cuddle up with a soft rug, real or faux

Let’s Get Cozy and Snuggle

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Clean and Cozy

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Modern and Rustic

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A well placed throw can make all the difference

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The shorter days make me want to sleep more, how about you?

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Put another log on the fire and open the wine

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A well placed daybed makes a great place for a nap or a cuddle

imageLight it up

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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?

Enjoy!

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