Classic Design for Modern Living

Category: Wallpaper

Making An Entrance

 

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

 

 

Hello Gorgeous! You really made an effort putting yourself together, I love it–I really do! However, your Entry Foyer is another story. It’s always interesting to visit someone for the first time, I love to see a new entryway. Your foyer speaks volumes even before you give me a kiss and hug. I have some thoughts for you if you’re feeling a bit underwhelmed by your entrance, read on my little crocodile.

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

Many of my clients living in Chicago high rises have entry foyers that are so minimal they are almost non-existent. Another dreaded issue I face an interior designer is the “bowling alley” effect depicted above. I am a huge fan of glamour and impact so be warned, we will be creating something elegant with wow-factor. If your foyer is on the small side we will use a hand-made wallcovering or custom paint finish created by one of our special artisans. This is especially crucial if there is no room for any furniture in your entry. This conundrum is more common than you can imagine.

 

 

 

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

 

If you live in a pre-war building you most likely have a long Gallery, this is typically located off the Foyer. Many consider this a terrible waste of space but is quite luxurious to have! This Gallery is executed skillfully with the use of doorways creating an illusion of extra space. The eye-catching marble floor is noteworthy.

 

 

 

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

 

This Hacienda in California has a lovely wide, rectangularly shaped Foyer, almost a square. The inviting space features knotty pine flooring and a lovely beamed ceiling. The warm space is quite a sight to behold, it has an understated elegance which is slightly traditional yet modern all at once.

 

 

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

 

This cozy space located off of a very wide Gallery holds a sweet little surprise. This alcove to the side of the monumental stair provides a cozy space with original terrazzo dating back to the 19th century. The Gallery is so spacious there is room for a baby grand piano. While most people do not have this kind of space, it is a great reminder how to create multi-purpose areas within a home.

 

 

 

 

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

 

While this Entry may be too fussy for most people I think it is important to note the spectacular feeling it evokes. I am delighted by the stunning coloration and lovely details. The blue doors are a pleasant surprise too.

 

 

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

 

This lovely space located off the actual Foyer is a handsome ante-room to the Living Room and Dining Room. The floor is well executed and the center table superb. The floor could be replicated in stone or stenciled on wood. The warm white walls provide a wonderful backdrop since there is a lot going on in the space.

 

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

 

I love this simple and elegant Foyer. The wood flooring and boiserie are the stars of the show. The furnishings and art are minimal, they complement the space perfectly. White paint proves to be our friend yet again.

 

 

Whenever I begin work on an Entry Foyer I cannot stop hearing my mother’s voice from years ago: “always put your best foot forward”. The same can be said about your foyer. I look forward to creating the space of your dreams, I promise you will make a memorable entrance!

 

Big Hugs,

-Ken

 

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

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

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!

10 Surefire Ways To A Glamorous Room

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

 

Hello gorgeous, you look fantastic! Oh yes, I’m talking to you, but your space, hmm that’s another story. While you’re a knockout (I’m a great judge after all) your place has seen better days. It’s ok, I’m not judging, tell me all about it. I know you’re very busy and stressed out, it’s my job to make your dreams come true. I have seen it all as an interior designer, here in Chicago and farther afield we tend to put ourselves on the back burner. So now let’s focus on you, it’s your turn~here we go, read on if you have always wanted a glamorous space to curl up.

 

SETTING THE SCENE WITH GORGEOUS MATERIALS

 

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

Consider your gorgeous environment as a sexy extension of you, think about what makes you feel beautiful as a woman, for guys think of what makes you feel handsome. Think of how you feel when you are wearing that item everyone compliments, it instills natural confidence, am I right? The same goes for the interior. The materials you find beautiful or handsome can add natural glamour to your space. This applies to fur (real or faux), shimmering fabrics, glass, metal, marble, lucite or anything that reflects light.

 

THE FOYER

 

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

 

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

 

 

LIVING ROOM

 

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

 

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

 

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

 

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

 

I am constantly influenced by many things that cross my eye each day. A big inspiration for me is film and travel, as a kid I was seduced by glamorous movie sets. I think of my clients as the star of their film. A glamorous space is a wonderful backdrop to live your life in, you may even want to show it off–but it’s ok to have some things just for you.

 

 

DINING ROOM

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

 

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

 

Although glamour might not be your first thought when you see the image above, I find the space glamorous due to the gorgeous wrought iron on the windows and magnificent marble columns. The white walls are so elegant and fresh, note the delicate lines on the lovely caned chairs. Now lets focus on the second room, check out the acid green chairs using two different fabrics, the Murano glass light fixtures and fabulous mirror.

 

 

 

MASTER BEDROOM

 

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

 

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

 

I know a glamorous bedroom is a no brainer, you would be surprised if I told you how many people choose to live. We can create a very sensuous place to live out your fantasies. Live it up–you are worth it.

 

 

POWDER ROOM

 

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

 

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

 

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

 

So you are allowing someone into your gorgeous place, well done my little crocodile! A powder room is a great way to get your feet wet with a designer. Why not begin the journey and create a space your guests will enjoy using, they may never leave!

 

 

MASTER BATHROOM

 

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

 

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

 

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

No one can deny the pleasure of a great shower or bath at the beginning or end of your day. Frankly there is nothing like it. There is no better way to prepare for the adventures that are in store for you. White stone is very popular lately, but do remember that many of the most beautiful surfaces are very porous. Inside Tip: Take care to have your precious stone sealed or select non-porous materials in the colors you love most.

 

 

 

THE CLOSET

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

 

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

 

I personally have a small closet, I like it this way so I can survey all my shirts, pants, jackets and suits easily. Some of us MUST have a larger closet which is totally fine by me. Let’s plan it out properly! We will come over to review what you have, measure the amount of lineal hanging you require and design a space fit for a queen, king or something in-between. I love using lots of mirror, glass and wood in closets. What turns you on?

 

 

THE JEWELRY

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

Gorgeous lighting is like jewelry for your space, think of the reflections the beautiful glass or crystal will make. If decorative lighting isn’t your thing we can achieve the same details with mirrors, tables or accessories.

 

 

UNEXPECTED AREAS

 

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

 

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

Who said kitchens can’t be sexy?

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

Nothing is more fun than taking a mundane hallway to the next level by adding venetian plaster, luxurious wallcovering, or eglomise mirrors.

 

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

 

You deserve a glamorous place to conduct business.

 

 

 

THE TAKEAWAY

Kenneth Walter, Gray & Walter, Chicago Interior Design

 

We all have an idea of what is beautiful to us, don’t we? I hope you will take these ideas and add a little more glamour to your daily routine. You don’t need to do everything right away, start small with a few things: consider adding a pair of sexy stools, a great chandelier or table. When in doubt try channeling your inner-glam spirit animal.

Have fun and enjoy yourself, ACTION, it’s your scene-

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!

 

image

 

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!

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

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