Classic Design for Modern Living

Category: live it up

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

 

 

Where Did You Get Your Marble Countertop?

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

 

Hmm, that’s a great question. Many people do not understand the adventurous life of a stone cutter. Perhaps a better word would be dangerous. I can attest this is not a job for wimps. As an interior designer, I see people go crazy for the gorgeous stone materials we present for their kitchens and bathrooms. However, few understand the process to harvest the stone from a mountain. Believe me, it’s not like walking into a showroom in Chicago or wherever you live. It’s actually quite an operation. So let’s take a little trip to Italy!

Colonnata is an ancient town, nestled in between the staggering Apuan Alps. The effects of the quarries is etched on the mountain faces as the sprawling green trees succumb to the blinding white of the exposed stone. Block has been quarried from this region for over two millennia, and it shows no signs of slowing down. At several sites in the region, evidence of mining dates as far back as 600 BC. The town of Colonnata was founded in 40 BC to house slaves for the Romans as they began to dig into the mountains as Grecian marble had become too expensive to continue to import.

 

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

Blinding white beauty

 

Carrara was removed in large blocks, and sent cascading down the mountainside, rolling over greased timber. The crude method of extracting and delivering the stone has changed in more recent years. Now, impossibly small “trucks” wind down tight switchbacks with comically large blocks of stone attached to the beds of their vehicles. Michelangelo worked here for years helping to plan roads and quarries. Eventually, he would personally select the block from which his famous David and Pieta would emerge from.

 

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

The immortal David by Michelangelo

An old man who owns several quarry plots shows me a photograph from 40 years ago: a landscape of the mountains. It’s yellowed with time, and the landscape has changed, but the hills and peaks still provide for the people here. He’s proud of the work they do. Proud of the long and storied history of the artists, the workers, and the communities that grew in the shadows of the mountains. Special thanks to Spencer Roberts of Materials Marketing for the rich background information. Click here to learn more about  the wonderful products sold at Materials Marketing. http://www.mstoneandtile.com

 

I must say that I appreciate these hard-working individuals more than ever! Check out the fascinating video below and read on if you want to know more about natural stone.

 

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=du9_Kn2y2VA

 

The temples and the sculptures built by the Romans themselves to worship their Gods – and later the Christian deity that replaced them – were created from stone originating in an area of Italy known as Carrara in the province of Massa. Here over thousands of years, mountains that once raised above the clouds have been carved and sliced – transforming the landscape, making it look like a leftover plate of cheese from a dinner party. As a result, the mountain landscape has been altered for the purpose of creating products both beautiful and useful; as diverse as the Roman temples and churches, Michelangelo’s David and other statues, and of course our kitchen and bathroom counter tops.

 

 

Removing the stone is quite a process…

 

In a sense this is the making of a modern landscape. It’s like standing on the floor of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican with a panoramic view of the Mediterranean sea and the Italian Alps surrounding you. The three and a half hour (around 50 mile) journey through mountains is not exactly smooth sailing. Thankfully the expert driver kept perfect control of the vehicle, making sure we were not rolling off the mountain side or creating a new path. The dust alone can give you a heart attack.

 

 

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

The laborers go through Hell to harvest the stone from the mountain

Harvesting marble is a process that happens year round. However, weather conditions and market demand for this supremely white marble causes the process to move to a different part of the mountain range regularly. This is why the mountain’s scenery looks scarred and misshapen from here. From a distance the mountain range takes on a surreal beauty—the forest has white zigzagging lines and patches like the remaining snow from the glacier era. The beauty comes at a high price in this part of the world. The carver was covered mostly with red-yellow mud from the neck down. The man with leathery weather-beaten skin looked somewhere between 30 to 60 years old, “..now days we have machines doing all the heavy lifting once the cutting is done. You just get wet and feel cold a lot. Cutting the marble is easy. Trying to not get killed around here is a job itself.”

The carver’s main job besides separating the marble rock from the mountain is communicating using a special set of hand gestures. (See YouTube video above) What a surprise to learn that marble is a very soft when freshly cut–the huge block can easily break apart like a piece of chalk. This explains why artists like to use marble instead of other types of stone besides it’s beauty. Because Carrara’s region mountains range is part of the Apuan Alps and among the highest in the area–the weather here can be unpredictable and extremely dangerous to work in. On a clear summer day, the Mediterranean sun can bake you alive and if that does not do it, the following will. Skin cancer from over-exposure to ultraviolet light, lung failure from inhaling marble dust all day long, and long exposure to bright surfaces as well as dust can easily blind you for life. If something dangerous happens to you up here you will be lucky to make it to the hospital before bleeding to death. Standing in one of the marble quarries the size of a football field but shaped like a giant white bowl will make you feel like a stick figure.

 

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

We never really think about where beautiful stone comes from

 

 

I hope you enjoyed learning about stone and the removal process, I really like to know where the materials I use originate from. Natural stone is unique, just like each of us, it has nuances, shading, markings and even imperfections–they truly add to the beauty of the slab which will be turned into a wall, counter tops or flooring. Do let us know if you would like to look at stone sometime, it is a fun trip to make!

Cheers,

-Ken

 

 

 

Can We Go On Vacation And Redecorate?

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

Why not my little crocodile! I’ll bet you have a mile long to-do list. Is it brimming with all the things you’d like to accomplish? Heaven knows I have a list too, I’m obsessed with my lists! As an interior designer I must tend to my client’s lists first. You know how it is, the proverbial shoemaker without shoes. Please don’t feel sorry for me. I love what I do–whether the project is in Chicago or far away, it is my joy to make your dreams come true.

So it is almost summer once again, I hope you want to go somewhere fun. And no, I’m not talking about the responsibility trip like a cousin’s wedding, a family reunion and the like. I’m hoping you are getting away somewhere really romantic and adventurous, a cruise up the Danube, a week on the Amalfi Coast or Provence. Oh baby, now we’re talking!

This post is for feeding your wanderlust and getting some things done at home too, let us begin~

 

BIGGER PROJECTS

 

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

We have all spoken to someone who thinks massive change can happen in the space of a 30 minute episode on HGTV. We all know that simply isn’t true! But true change can happen if you plan ahead, hire a great general contractor, architect or interior designer in advance. Once all the I’s are dotted and the T’s are crossed you may go on vacation and relax. This also means you should trust those you have hired. This is not recommended if you are a control freak. I get it, please remember that we all have email and cell phones, this is unless you are traveling to Siberia where the cell service may not be stellar. I say let go and trust, anyone worth their salt will correct any issues upon your return.

 

 

MEDIUM PROJECTS

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

 

So you’ve been pining away for extra storage under the stairs, a new mud room or sprucing up the laundry room…perhaps this is more your speed. These are more doable projects if you haven’t a lot of time prior to leaving town. Do remember the same rules apply, no messy demolition until all items are located and received by your contractor. This is half the battle!

 

 

 

 

SEND YOUR FURNITURE ON VACATION

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

These projects are still important and must get accomplished sooner or later. I have a lovely new client who told me she’s had things on her list for five years. I get it, I do! So here’s what we’re going to do, let’s do a few little things. What about the gorgeous sideboard that works in the room but needs to be tweaked? What did you say, you don’t like the color any longer? No problem, we can send it to the shop, it can receive its makeover while you’re sunning yourself in Capri.

 

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

 

Grandma’s chairs can go to the upholsterer and be reborn

 

 

ARTWORK SAFARI

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

Why not reframe artwork? Perhaps it’s time to frame artwork you purchased in haste that has been sitting on the floor of the closet or heaven forbid hung on the wall without a proper frame. Do send it all to the framer prior to leaving town.

 

MORE THOUGHTS

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

This photo shows that little things make a difference. We all know how much better a room looks after it receives a fresh coat of paint. If you are allergic, the new paints are less smelly. However, some people are  sensitive to the slightest odor. It is always a good idea to go away during painting or floor finishing if you are extra sensitive. Note: I love these simple yet elegant new bed linens. Wouldn’t it be lovely to come back from your vacation and have all new luxurious linens on your bed? It could really help calm your frazzled nerves once you start looking at your inbox again.

You don’t have to be rich and famous to do some of these things while you are away. It takes planning and a bit of discipline, that’s all. This summer may not be the time for the project of your dreams; perhaps the timing will be better in the autumn or after the new year. It does help if you have someone to trust–a great painter, contractor or designer are your allies, do remember that. Help is but a phone call away.

 

Happy Trails-XO,

-Ken

 

P.S. Click here http://wp.me/p2RdfV-a0 for great ideas on what to take with you on your upcoming adventure. Don’t forget to send me a postcard, I would love to hear from you!

10 Surefire Ways To A Glamorous Room

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

 

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

 

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

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.

 

THE FOYER

 

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

 

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

 

 

LIVING ROOM

 

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

 

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

 

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

 

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

 

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.

 

 

DINING ROOM

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

 

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

 

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.

 

 

 

MASTER BEDROOM

 

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

 

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

 

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.

 

 

POWDER ROOM

 

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

 

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

 

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

 

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!

 

 

MASTER BATHROOM

 

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

 

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

 

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

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.

 

 

 

THE CLOSET

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

 

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

 

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?

 

 

THE JEWELRY

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

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.

 

 

UNEXPECTED AREAS

 

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

 

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

Who said kitchens can’t be sexy?

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

Nothing is more fun than taking a mundane hallway to the next level by adding venetian plaster, luxurious wallcovering, or eglomise mirrors.

 

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

 

You deserve a glamorous place to conduct business.

 

 

 

THE TAKEAWAY

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

 

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-

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

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

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!

Celebrate

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We are firmly into December. Tonight is the final night of Hanukkah, tomorrow is Christmas Eve and in eight days it will be a new year. Before we know it we will be toasting each other, reflecting on the old year, kissing and hugging each other. So before it gets too crazy with friends, presents, and family dinners I want to say what a gift it is to know you and be a part of your life. I wish you dear friends a fantastic holiday season. Enjoy it all: the fun and laughter, even the stress and obligations as it will all be over so quickly. I am striving to be present in my life and enjoy it to the fullest, I hope you do too.

Peace & Love to you at this joyous time,

Ken