Classic Design for Modern Living

Category: redo

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

5 Simple Ways To Spruce Up Your Space

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

 

I have noticed the temperature in Chicago dropping a bit, I suppose this is inevitable. October is almost here after all. Many of us are thinking of ways to change our homes and apartments since the holidays will be here before we know it. I am always thrilled to see the difference a few enhancements can make. The interior design ideas I am suggesting can be very simple to somewhat complicated, so plan accordingly. No one enjoys being half done, especially if you have guests during the holidays. Here are a few thoughts for you.

 

 

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

 

 

New Furniture:  Stating the obvious here, I find it so amusing how we all procrastinate. That said, if you need new furniture before the holidays it is not too late. Don’t put off the inevitable. I can assure you that prices will increase in the new year so this is the best time to purchase new furniture. I constantly hear horror stories from new clients about purchasing furniture from well known retailers. Did you know interior designers have access to high quality lines (made in America) that are less expensive and better made than many popular retailers?

 

 

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

 

 

Clean up/create Guest Bedroom: Did you say you have guests staying with you over the holidays? Well fear not my little crocodile we better get cracking. Whether you have a few things or nothing at all there is plenty of time if you get motivated now. We have wonderful sources for bed linens by the way.

 

 

 

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

 

 

Painting: Nothing transforms a room quicker than repainting it; whether the room needs a clean coat of paint or you want a new color. This is the simplest solution for maximum change and achieved fairly quickly. Whether you hire a painter (highly recommended) or do it yourself be sure to have everything buttoned up prior to pulling the trigger.

 

 

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

 

 

Throws/Pillows:  Your space can really benefit from new pillows, a throw or both. I firmly believe a handsome  throw is essential with the upcoming cooler weather. It’s always fun to change things around during the change of seasons isn’t it?

 

 

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

 

 

Accessories & Artwork: What are we all waiting for? I visit clients who have artwork stacked in closets and boxes of objects that could be displayed. If this is not the case for you it’s time to visit a showroom or gallery and pick up a few things. Beautiful things come in all price ranges so let’s get out there and find something wonderful!

 

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

 

Pressed for time? I cannot stress enough how great these things are: fresh flowers, some candles, a new tablecloth or even a beautiful bowl of fruit. These little things can enhance your space in an afternoon prior to the arrival of your guests. It’s the little things that count and are the best. I’ll be curious to hear what you choose to do. Please give me a call if you need help or just want to chat. I’ll look forward to it!

 

Big Hugs,

-Ken

P.S. If you are looking for tips to get organized you may enjoy this post http://wp.me/p2RdfV-js

What Does Luxury Mean To You?

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!

The Guide To Picking The Perfect Area Rug

 

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

 

I really enjoy being an interior designer! It’s my responsibility to guide a client in the correct direction right away. We certainly don’t want any mishaps later. Floor coverings are critical, particularly in Chicago or any other place that experiences long winters. This would be an excellent time to talk about area rugs. Here is a step by step guide to finding the perfect area rug.

 

 

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

And away we go…

  1. Neutrals: Chicagoans typically love neutrals. That said, it is typically easier to work with a neutral as you can easily change accents like pillows or accessories in the future.

 

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

I do love a great geometric pattern!

 

 

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

This pattern is available in any color, but the neutral palette works.

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

Getting bolder!

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

This rug is neutral and bold all at once.

2. Size Matters: Be sure that your rug is the right size. The rug can go under the seating as shown below, at the very least it should kiss the front of the seating. This is crucial, you don’t want to create a tripping hazard! I also want to point out the lovely yellow in this rug. I’m not sure why so many people shy away from yellow, but this works. Don’t be afraid of color!

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

 

 

 

3. Color: I believe every room needs some color, even if it’s muted. I’m asking you to consider leaving your comfort zone if you’re reluctant to have a more colorful rug. I recommend trying to be a bit bolder if you can. Do consider your rug as a purchase you will keep for more than a year, so we must weigh your ability to keep liking what you purchase. Are you the kind of person who likes to redecorate often or do you tend to hold onto things?

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

This rug may have muted color but it packs a subtle punch.

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

I realize this isn’t for everyone but it’s powerful!

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

Love this rug!

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

This runner is colorful, modern and tribal all at once.

4. Sisal: I use sisal a lot as it is a great layering tool. Many people consider sisal too delicate for stairs, this isn’t true if you purchase the right specification. Reader be warned, you do not want to confuse this type of sisal from what is commonly available at big box stores. You get what you pay for, but you knew that already, didn’t you?

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

 

 

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

Look how perfect sisal is in this setting!

 

5. Go big or go home: If you can, do try to leave your comfort zone. I know that making a statement is tough sometimes but don’t be afraid to have some fun. Sometimes we get stuck in our heads and that can ruin everything, look how fun these two rugs are. I like the leopard rug so much I’m showing it three times, hint-hint!

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

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

I’m a huge fan of skulls, are you?

The takeaway is to be fearless and have a bit of fun. Perhaps a bold rug is not for the Living Room, feel free to try whimsical designs in kids rooms, game rooms  and garden rooms. Here are more tips to make your space cozy. If you are in search of the perfect rug please let us know, we are here to help. I am offering 20% off area rugs for the month of February. I hope you take us up on it!

Big hugs,

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

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

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!