Classic Design for Modern Living

Category: patron

How To Create A Handsome Study

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

 

Most designers tend to throw around favorite words, I suspect I do too. If you know me, you already know I tend to use the H word quite often. In this case H is for handsome! As an interior designer I must embrace many styles effortlessly to delight my clients here in Chicago and further afield. I must be well versed at all times. However, I do have a style that I really love, it’s not for everyone though. I work very hard to find the style that is best for you!

Secretly locked inside of me is a european gentleman living in grand style wherever I roam. You must know by now I’m a bit of a daydreamer! This special space resides within all my imaginary homes: the flat in Paris and London, the grand palazzo in Venice, the country house in Tuscany and in the English countryside. Each home has one common denominator. What is that you ask? Well, I will tell you all about it now, it is the gentleman’s study. The study is a place to retreat and read, have a tot or two of your favorite hooch, listen to music, work on your hobbies or whatever you wish! And never fear ladies, the room can be for you too! Here are my thoughts about creating such a space.

 

 


 

 

 

The Lean & Clean Study

To achieve this look you must be disciplined. No clutter is allowed, haha! But the rewards are wonderful, less is more…but there must be great storage to hide all the things people have today. Whatever happened to that paperless society we’ve been reading about forever?

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

This look requires great discipline

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

Plenty of room to spread out

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

This space is compact but has everything

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

Sometimes all you need is a quiet place to read


The Collected Study

This type of study is a bit more cluttered, but in a good way! Here is your opportunity to have more objects on display. Do you need a space for your stamp or book collection, display trophies of some sort, or perhaps artwork? Some of my clients like the newest technology, we can help with that too. What about games, whether virtual or old school like cards, billiards or darts? Just relax, we have you covered.

 

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

This is not Granddad’s study

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

Clean, modern, slick & sexy

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

This space has plenty of room for modern & old school games

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

The study and dressing room combined

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

This study is fresh, clean & not fussy


The Old World Study

To some, a study must have paneling, leather chairs and the smell of cigars, I understand this very well. But this is not for everyone. The study is all about the inhabitant, it must speak to you. How will you use it? Is it just for you or will you entertain in it? No room for such a space you say? You would be surprised, this kind of space can be kitted out in a studio apartment. The photo below has everything you need, a bar, a hidden tv on a lift and a murphy bed behind the wall panels.

 

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

Old World meets the 21st century with hidden technology

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

This long space allows plenty of room for billiards & cards on one end

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

The other side of the room is for sitting, watching TV and reading

 

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

Heaven…just add scotch


Who Are You?

Think about what you like to do, what are your hobbies, will you entertain in the space? What is your budget, what is realistic to achieve within the space you have? I have created three “study profiles”.  I am definitely not a one size fits all kind of guy, neither are you but you will get the idea–scroll down for more.

 

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

Professional athlete and adventurer, he is interested in the world around him.

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

Magazine editor, man of the world, loves wine, reading and collects watches.

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

Actress, mother and fashionista, a mix of old and new, she loves beauty.


Inspiration To Build Your Study Around

 

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

Do you like antiques?

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

Are you looking for a multi-purpose space?

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

Perhaps you live in an old building but want a little fun.

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

Sometimes it begins with a pair of chairs!

 

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

A cozy and petite space can also double as a study

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

The rustic study

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

The study and art gallery combined

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

Is this what you are looking for…

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

…or this?

The study is a wonderful space to hang out, read or merely daydream. Let us know how we can help, I would be delighted to create a little slice of heaven for you. I’ll be heading home now so please excuse me, my first stop will be my study/dressing room to change out of my work clothes.

Cheers,

Ken

 

 

 

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

Details, Details, Details

bw43Can you imagine Louis skimping on his home?

Are you a patron, client or just an admirer of beauty?

I am referring to fine detail, whether traditional or contemporary, and how it can enhance your space. Can you imagine King Louis skimping on Versailles? I know that I cannot even contemplate that. We all know about the French Revolution, don’t we? Today’s world is so different from the era of King Louis & Queen Marie Antoinette. We really don’t have to go back that far to remember the great homes along Fifth Avenue during the Gilded Age. What about The Rockefeller, Vanderbilt and Frick residences along New York’s Fifth Avenue during the first half of the 20th century? So many handsome and stately homes were demolished along Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive. I am fortunate to have decorated two of the seven that remain. It is tragic that so many wonderful houses chock-a-block full of great detail have been demolished. Can you imagine if more of these treasures remained? I am not waxing nostalgic to say we should return to the time of Robber Barons and their spoils, but we have many parallels in the world today.

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imageMr. Henry Clay Frick’s Home along Fifth Avenue in New York City is a fine museum worth visiting.

Many people bemoan the rich for many reasons, I am not here for that. These people of means are called upon to contribute to the great museums, hospitals and many worthy organizations that serve the needs of the rich and less fortunate. These wealthy individuals were also wonderful patrons who commissioned architects, artists, designers, metal forgers, stone masons, plasterers, gardeners, and painters to produce gorgeous hand wrought artistry in their homes. It was a time when Mr. Frick’s house had to be better than Mr. Carnegie’s. I think you get the picture. We don’t have to go back to gilded woodwork and hand wrought plaster work. However, we do have the capability if this is the client’s desire. We all know Bill Gates and Warren Buffet keep a lower profile, are generous with charitable causes and do not flaunt their wealth as King Louis once did. Staying below the radar is popular with today’s new guard. These tech-titans have chosen a different path than the 19080’s when the masters of the universe flaunted wealth for sport.

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imageMr. Calvin Klein purchased and razed a faux castle in The Hamptons to build something contemporary yet elegant.

The point of this entry is to talk about being a patron, you don’t have to be a billionaire or even a millionaire to be a patron. Some money is required, but let’s not get carried away yet! The time has now arrived to focus on real things like furniture, fabrics, area rugs, accessories, and original artwork. We should not focus on how little we can pay for it. Let’s look at buying less with an eye for quality. When is too much too much? How much do we really need?

With that said, many of the places I have counted on for years have closed. I have been very sad about the demise of many dear sources that have gone out of business. Tastes change, the world changes, many designers and their clients lacked the interest to keep wonderful businesses alive and thriving. Now their doors are closed forever. A prime example was Chicago’s last custom source for Trimming or Passementerie as our French friends call it. Call it what you wish, trim is a good thing.

Theodore Merwitz Custom Trim was my favorite custom trimming source. They made beautiful tassels, fringes, cord welts and the like. Merwitz recently shut their doors after more than 50 years in business. I was friends with the late Mr. Charles Klein, who learned the trade from his father-in-law, Mr. Theodore Merwitz many years ago. You see Mr. Klein married Mr. Merwitz’s daughter, he needed to provide for his bride and the family that eventually came along. As time went on Mr. Klein taught the fine art of trim making to Scott, Mr. Klein’s son-in-law. There’s an art to making custom trim, the hand labor is grueling, the workshop was blazing hot in the summer, the office was air-conditioned but not the workroom. The fine artisans worked in difficult conditions in the warmer weather, they had a job to do and always came through admirably. I can vividly remember Mr. Klein working in his undershirt in the workroom well into his eighties. He always smiled, never complained or missed a deadline.

imageMy private box of custom trims. It was so much fun to select all the custom colored thread to create something special.

When clients need trim that the stock houses don’t have a custom coloration was necessary. Many of my clients don’t want formal draperies any longer, you can see how Merwitz might close their doors. The demand isn’t there to remain open when very few clients need the source. How many historic homes,  museums or period rooms need to redo their trim? However, there are contemporary trims that aren’t fussy or formal. Many contemporary furniture pieces have brush fringe on the leading edge of a cushion. I have been working on a historic home that has become much more contemporary than its previous iteration. The new modern window treatments have a trim detail that is fun and playful.

imageThis pom-pom trim was the perfect choice for our fun-loving client.

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imageReady made tassels and flat tape (above), colorful brush fringe and ribbon guimpe (below).

Attention to detail can be seen in ultra contemporary buildings and interiors too. A building designed by minimalist architect John Pawson, Richard Meier or Renzo Piano is rich in sophisticated detail, just not fussy. The spare, clean and rich details (yes rich!) remain nonetheless.

imageThe spare detail in this architectural masterpiece is stunning.

imageContemporary yes, but the details are rich and abundant.

imageContemporary, warm and cozy without being fussy.

imageCleaner lines, yet warm and contemporary in feel.

Whether you are traditional, contemporary or something in-between we can create something special for your space. The end result will be created just for you. It will be an honor to be your guide along the journey whether you need a full redo, a minor facelift or a little face time (consultation). Now the question remains, how can we transform your environment?

I look forward to helping you become a patron on your terms!

Ken