Classic Design for Modern Living

Category: photography

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

 

5 Surefire Ways To Design Like A Professional Designer

Gray & Walter Interior Design Chicago

 

Each day we are inundated with gorgeous images of rooms we drool over. Many people do not understand there is an art to putting spaces together. I recently met a man with absolutely no furnishings, a small budget and a very tight timeframe. He was moving into his new home in 12 days, can you imagine the pressure? Although he couldn’t have been nicer I could not help him. I really wanted to take him under my wing and guide him. However, he was completely unrealistic in his thought process, this is the biggest issue most people have. We must get real my little crocodiles. Here are 5 surefire ways to handle interior design projects.

 

Gray & Walter Interior Design Chicago

 

1. Get the core pieces right. What does that mean? Core pieces refer to the most important items the space will contain; if we are talking about a dining room it is the table and chairs, in a Living Room it is the sofa, chairs and tables. You get the picture, right? Focus on buying the best you can afford. This doesn’t mean you have to take a second mortgage. However, it is better to have an empty corner than purchase  something in haste due to budget constraints. There are great looking things at all price points. See this blog post for more information http://wp.me/p2RdfV-i6

 

Gray & Walter Interior Design Chicago

 

2. Where do you start? I tend to buy the most important furnishings first. If I am doing a Living Room I focus on the sofa, lounge chairs, end/cocktail tables, and lamps. I tend to buy the area rug last, this makes things harder but has always been my modus operandi. I love a challenge and tend to prefer a space that isn’t so matchy-matchy. This is not for everyone however, many prefer to start by purchasing the area rug first as this is easier. If you agree, by all means purchase the rug first!

 

Gray & Walter Interior Design

 

3. When on a budget the biggest impact you can have on a room is paint. Why oh why is this so hard to understand? Painting a room can totally change the overall look of a room by adding color or no color at all! BUT…please go easy on the “feature wall” idea of doing one wall in a different color or wallpaper, this has been done to death. Try to think out of the box and push yourself. Do consider painting a room in turquoise, aubergine, chocolate brown or black. Don’t be afraid, it is handsome and soothing!

 

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4. Restoration Hardware is a great source to educate yourself. By looking at their website or catalogs you can learn how to put a room together (and how not to). You can actually buy some core pieces there too, just make sure they fit and are the right scale. Designer Tip: don’t buy everything in one place or your home will be without soul. The truth is most people do not understand SCALE and that’s ok, neither does Restoration Hardware. It’s easy to be seduced, the pictures in the catalogs or online are gorgeous! In many ways it’s like looking at sexy photos of Kate Moss, David Gandy, Gisele Bundchen or whoever makes your heart go pitter-pat. Beautiful things are everywhere but they are not always for US! The key is to know what works for you. Does the furniture actually fit in the space, will it come through the front door, the service elevator or down the hall? These are issues I hear about all the time at my first appointment with a new client. We are here to help you! Back to Restoration Hardware for a second, the stuff is handsome but the sales people have never been to your home. What do you do when your space doesn’t look like the photograph?

 

Gray & Walter Interior Design Chicago

 

5. Simplicity is a beautiful thing. Not everyone needs a decorator, just don’t overdo it if you do your own space. There is nothing worse than a room that is too stuffed with furniture, objects and clutter. Purchase a few artifacts, and some great art. Don’t be fooled  by pretend pieces with “character”, buy the real thing which quite often is less expensive! Limit patterns and colors used together. Anything goes but will you be happy with the chair you reupholstered in lime green and pink silk saris next year?

 

Gray & Walter Interior Design Chicago

 

Decorating a room looks so easy, fast and inexpensive! What??? If you are a fan of Bravo, DIY, HGTV or Houzz you may have come to this conclusion. I assure you gentle reader, it is far from easy, and nothing like putting a cute outfit together. Hiring a professional to do a master plan will allow you to purchase all the elements you require over time. It will make your budget stretch further. When in doubt do hire a talented designer to come over for a consultation. The price of an initial consultation is worth every dollar spent and will keep you on the right track. Who has time to waste purchasing and returning things over and over that simply do not work?

 

Big Hugs,

Ken

PS: Still stuck? Then check out our website, we have a new enhanced shopping and interior design experience for you. Perhaps you’ll find what you’ve been looking for. Happy Hunting!

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

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