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Creating The “Wow” Effect With A Custom Pergola: Q&A With Kehoe Designs

Restaurant with custom Victorian Terllis
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1st Place Photo from Kehoe Designs in Forever Redwood’s 2021 Photo Contest

KEHOE DESIGNS is a nationally recognized décor and production company based in Chicago. Their stated purpose is to “inspire, personalize, and elevate meaningful celebrations for our clients,” with a special focus on events and interiors. 

Last year, Kehoe Designs engaged Forever Redwood as part of the renovation of a well-known restaurant in Chicago. Their goal was to create an environment that would appeal to all the senses, beyond experiencing delicious cuisine. The design included a breathtaking fabric sculpture, graceful hanging plants, alluring string lights, and a custom Forever Redwood Victorian Trellis Pergola in California Redwood.

The completed renovation for Alla Vita Restaurant in Chicago, IL

The completed renovation for Alla Vita Restaurant in Chicago, IL

In the words of one reviewer, the finished project is “jaw-dropping.” A photo of the pergola submitted by Kehoe Designs won 1st place in our 2021 Photo Contest. 

Over 45 ft long and 12 ft wide, the custom Victorian Trellis is central to the restaurant’s magical ambiance. During a recent Q&A with the team from Kehoe Designs, we learned what was behind the unique choice to install an outdoor shade structure indoors. We also learned about the experience collaborating with Forever Redwood, how restaurant patrons have reacted to the renovation, and the name of the cocktail inspired by the Victorian Trellis!

Victorian Trellis under construction: in addition to transparent premium sealant, black stain sealant was used to accent the design.

Victorian Trellis under construction: in addition to transparent premium sealant, black stain sealant was used to accent the design.

Q: How did Kehoe Designs find out about Forever Redwood?

A: Our team found Forever Redwood by searching online. In the discovery process, we were impressed by their level of customer service.

Q: Was the project for a new business or a renovation?

A: The project was to renovate an existing restaurant into a completely new concept. From ideation to creative services and sourcing — we led the environmental design to build a cohesive and transformative ambiance that would engage all the senses.

Victorian Trellis under construction

Victorian Trellis under construction

Q: The project is unique because the Victorian Trellis is inside of the restaurant. Forever Redwood structures are typically intended for outdoor use. What inspired the idea? How have the restaurant clientele reacted?

A: The overall concept was to bring the outdoors in. Utilizing the Victorian Trellis indoors evokes the feeling of sitting in an outdoor pergola. Guests are in awe of the interiors, and the restaurant even created a cocktail named “Under the Pergola.”

Q: The visual of the Victorian Trellis next to the drapery ceiling sculpture is quite remarkable. Did the ideas evolve together?

A: Yes, the pieces came together utilizing the outdoor-indoor concept. The slight breeze seen in the fabric installation further enhances the modern garden aesthetic.

Drapery ceiling sculpture

Drapery ceiling sculpture

Q: How was your experience working with Forever Redwood’s design team?

A: Working side-by-side with the design team and fabricators from Forever Redwood was relatively seamless. We easily adjusted specs and dimensions to make sure everything fit perfectly into the space per drawings and markups. Our additional add-on of the outdoor entryway arbor worked out very quickly and was effortlessly added to the order.

Q: Did Forever Redwood install the project for you?

A: Yes, the Forever Redwood team flew into Chicago to handle the installation. Their team came out to help unload the flatbed trailer that carried all the inventory to ensure each piece was accounted for and in tip-top shape. The Forever Redwood team was quick, courteous, and cleaned up after themselves. They went the extra length to make sure everything fit perfectly and created the space that everyone loves so much. The Forever Redwood team provided an exceptional experience.

Dining area near Victorian Trellis with tables and chair

Q: What do you love most about the Victorian Trellis?

A: Our favorite part is that we worked closely with the Forever Redwood team to design the perfect customized structure to fit in the unique space. The absolute WOW effect it has had on all the restaurant patrons has been a humbling experience. Not to mention the raving reviews it has received and continues to receive from so many Chicagoans and visitors.

Q: Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

A: Between our design, vision, and the Forever Redwood team ⁠— we are amazed at what we have designed together and excited for future collaborations!

Q: Final question! Congratulations on winning 1st place in our photo contest. How do you plan to use the $10,000 gift certificate from Forever Redwood?

We are still having discussions on how to utilize. Our team is considering the direction of possible pergolas that we could assemble, disassemble, and repurpose within different venues for various types of events. Keep an eye out for what the innovative minds at KEHOE DESIGNS create!

A huge thanks to the team at Kehoe Designs for participating in our Q&A.

Learn more about the company and their work at

All photos above credited to Anthony Tahlier

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