Classic Design for Modern Living

Category: Rugs

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

A Passage To China

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

 

In my mind I am a mental traveler…to paraphrase the words of Isak Dinesen who wrote Out of Africa, a favorite of mine. Today I am traveling to China via my hometown Chicago. There are many reasons China can be too far a journey. As an interior designer I would be happy to hop on a plane! However, I am in luck today, all I had to do was drive fifteen minutes from my previous appointment to Pagoda Red’s new location on Morgan Street in Chicago. Come along, I think you will enjoy it!

I was full of anticipation as I pulled into their convenient parking lot. I had not visited since Betsy Nathan moved her shop a year ago. Upon entering I was struck by the glorious pieces sitting on a dark and sexy vintage tile floor imported from Asia. What a warm welcome I received and I suspect you will too! You will see a handsome array of modern pieces as well as artifacts that a scholar would love. Since I am not a scholar of Chinese Art I will merely say the mix is wonderful.

 

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

What A Glorious Array!

 

 

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

19th Century Courtyard Panels backed with “Utopia” fabric from Pierre Frey. Look at these gorgeous 18th Century Hand Carved Lion Dogs and Fabric Draped Stool

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

Love the modern Painting paired with the Chinese Half Table and Shanghai Deco Arm Chairs

 

 

 

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

Jade Meditation Stones lead you out to the Asian Garden

 

As I toured the gallery I was in for more than I bargained for. Betsy took me to see the mature Asian garden, this in itself is a feast to behold. I was literally transferred to another place and time, you must see this garden to believe it. I am a big fan of gardens in general so you will not be disappointed.

 

 

 

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

Carved Lion Dog Markers standing tall, so proud & inviting!

 

 

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

 

Sadly I didn’t get to take any photos during my garden tour. The day began scorching hot and sunny, but that changed after the garden walk when the weather changed dramatically. The heavens burst with a symphony of lightning and thunder which turned this visit (originally scheduled for an hour) to well over two hours, it was still pouring when I left. No worries, I made it out unscathed. I drove home happy in a pounding rainstorm, I had lots of things to daydream about and present to clients.

 

 

 

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

Carved Hitching Post From Northern China, 19th Century

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

When Worlds Collide:  Boho Meets Deco

I sat for quite a while in this room and watched the rain pour and pour. Thanks for your gracious hospitality Betsy, I enjoyed the Prosecco and nibbles too. Inside tip: it is always wise to feed the hungry interior designer my little crocodile. We do get hungry!

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

The mesmerizing power of crystal, made of rock crystal as old as the earth

I don’t need a crystal ball to know you will enjoy taking a trip to Pagoda Red. Happy Hunting, and a big thanks to you for reading my posts, your comments delight me!

Big Hugs,

-Ken

 

What Does Luxury Mean To You?

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

 

 

 

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