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Show & Tell: Lake Forest Showhouse & Gardens: Part 5

Part of the thrill of doing a showhouse as an interior designer is the freedom to fashion a true fantasy. No client musts, no negotiating styles, handling heart-pounding requests or crazy midnight calls: Showhouses only ask for originality and unbridled inspiration. Kenneth Walter, principal of Gray & Walter in Chicago, fully luxuriated in the indulgences  of creative liberty, turning out a unique design for the second floor nook and landing. Two spaces sharing an open passage, the project had Walter and his team taking on the challenge of making visual transitions from one place to the next feel natural and seamless. Rising to the occasion, Walter devised a totally immersive client tale (detailed below) and let his imagination and passion for travel narrate the journey. We’re excited to see his finished design, which captured some extraordinary African objects (our latest procurements) in  his signature way.


Second Floor Nook and Landing. Photo: Werner Straube

PR: Tell us about the vision for your space.

KW: When I saw the lovely house I realized I had to create a client story in my mind. Once this was done I could design for them. I imagined a vibrant young couple with four spirited kids and two golden retrievers. This would be their first home in the United States in many years, as they have dual citizenship. My goal was to create a gorgeous space that would be youthful and fun like my client, nothing pretentious.


Second Floor Nook. Photo: Werner Straube

PR: You had the rather unique role of designing the second floor nook and landing. How do you approach these kinds of areas in the home, which need a thoughtful approach while also standing on their own?

KW: The house is full of beautiful details: dark woodwork, plasterwork, and gorgeous mouldings. There is an old world feeling overall. However, I was concerned that the house would look too heavy and serious. I decided to take a more youthful approach. I strove to create a fun vibe that would evoke a lighter feeling despite all the gorgeous period details.

Details in the Second Floor Nook and Landing. Photos: Werner Straube

PR: You featured several African masks in your design—why were you drawn to these pieces, and why was PAGODA RED the perfect place to source?

KW: Every time I visit PAGODA RED I am transported to a magical place. I can circumnavigate the globe without leaving Chicago. The gorgeous pieces at my disposal are exceptional, each one is worthy of consideration. It’s always hard to choose, but I ended up with three gorgeous African masks. I felt they offered the perfect counterpoint to play with the mid-century furniture, artwork, rugs and glamorous lighting in my space. I believe the pieces from PAGODA RED were the perfect choice.

Second Floor Landing Towards Nook.

Second Floor Landing Towards Nook.

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