Classic Design for Modern Living

Category: Private Clubs

Making Design Decisions You Won’t Regret

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

 

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

 

 

 

Building Materials

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

 

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

 

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

It is best to ask ourselves the following questions:

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

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

 

 

 

 

Wall Finishes

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Area Rugs/Carpeting

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

Fabrics

 

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

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Paint Colors

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

Big hugs,

-Ken

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

Springing Forward

 

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I was at a cocktail party last night at the new Ritz-Carlton Residences Chicago. We are fortunate to have designed a glamorous pied-à-terre which is currently for sale fully furnished. I met lots of buyers and brokers and was re-energized when I drove home. So many of us are embarking on new proects: redecorating, building a new home, downsizing, relocating or simply tackling that storage issue that has been driving you nuts.

 

With that said I want to give you my Top Five Reasons To Proceed On Your Project:

1. There is no better time to order outdoor furniture than now or last month! The longer we wait on this can make the difference between having furniture for Memorial Day or not.

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2. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming. So you want to redecorate your Living Room but are afraid you’ll blow your budget. A simple consultation can help you more than you know. This is harder than most people realize. You’ll be able to determine a budget that is workable and realistic; crucial if you haven’t worked with a designer or purchased furnishings for some time.

 

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3. Little Changes make a huge difference. Let’s say your budget is less than inspiring, that’s ok too. Repainting a room, rearranging your furniture and changing out accessories can create a new look that will energize you until you are ready to redecorate.

 

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4. Contractors are busy! This is particularly important if you have a project that must be done by a specific occasion. Many of us will be hosting parties for a wedding, shower, graduation or other occasion this year. We want to look our best, don’t we?

 

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5. The holidays will be here before you know it! Don’t laugh, but you know this is true. It takes time to find the right pieces, order them and install the room. Most retail stores stock little today so you will likely wait anyway. Going to a showroom that sells quality merchandise opens up many more options. This is crucial if you need something you will have for a considerable amount of time.

 

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Don’t procrastinate unless there is a significant reason. It is a mistake to put off making your home more attractive. Good design is healing, uplifting and restorative. People tell me I don’t entertain, no one will see this. That’s all the more reason, do it for you. A terrific interior is a big hug when we come in the door!

Happy Spring~

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!

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

The Perils of Doing It Alone

June 2, 2014

The Perils Of Doing It Alone

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This post is in response to people who have been burned by their architect or interior designer. I get it, I really do! I have noticed many people trying to do their projects on their own, so here are a few thoughts for you.

1. Most interior designers insist on taking you to a Design Center, most everything is expensive and you have to wait 4-6 months while your selection comes over on a slow-moving boat from Italy.

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I don’t work that way unless my client wants me to. I have many sources in Chicago that have items currently in stock. We can even make a decision in one day if you are on a tight schedule. Handsome furnishings come from many diverse sources. Consumers forget they are actually paying over 300% markup on items sold by retail stores. Design Centers have products at all price points. It is important to remember that most To The Trade showrooms provide better quality selections than what is typically found in shops open to the public.

2. Designers are too expensive and use their clients as ATMs.

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Designers can be compensated in many different manners, (hourly, flat fee or percentage), the basis is mutually agreed upon and must work for the client’s needs. The best part about hiring a trained designer is that you are actually paying someone who has professional expertise. The true professional has extensive experience, and can effortlessly assist you with your design dilemma.

3. Redoing a space is so complicated and time-consuming. I don’t want to be inconvenienced.

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Why not spruce up your existing space? We often forget what we have can be reused, reupholstered or repurposed. Many of our clients require staging in their home, this can really help prior to selling your property. We have had clients change their mind about moving once they see our completed staging. Sometimes we don’t know what we have until a professional helps edit and rearrange our possessions.

4. Designers only follow their own style, and do not really listen to their client’s opinion.

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A great designer really listens to their client, and takes extensive notes on what is needed. A true professional understands the client’s budget, and suggests appropriate pieces and furnishings that are within the budgetary parameters. There is nothing worse than being shown things that are out of the budget.

5. I want my style to show and do not want someone taking over my life.

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Most intelligent people are apprehensive when embarking upon a new relationship. Working with a designer is not supposed to make you feel on edge, feel free to express yourself and tell your designer what you like/dislike. A good designer will uncover what will look best while allowing your taste to show through. A talented professional will uncover your needs, and present items that meet these needs while exciting you with the potential they see in your new space.

Change can be very exciting in our lives, I invite you to consider making some refinements to your environment. Now is the perfect time to begin the transformation.

Here’s to new beginnings,

Ken