Interiors by John Chadwick

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John Chadwick
Local Designer's New York Transition

By M.J. Van Deventer


Sunlight adds a smoothing , honeyed glow to this uptown living room.
Photo by Tim Lee

Ten years ago, a dream came true for interior designer John Chadwick.

After a lifetime of yearning to live in the Big Apple, he finally achieved his goal.

Now, Chadwick shuttles between New York City and points of interest on the East Coast and his hometown of Oklahoma City to work with a diverse and impressive clientele.

“I had always gone to New York anytime I could get away. And that proved to be very fortuitous. By the time I was able to move there, I already had many friends and I knew my way around the city,” he said during a recent interview at a client’s home in Nichols Hills.

A graduate of the University of Oklahoma, Chadwick majored in French and English with a minor in design. He worked toward his master’s degree in design at the University of Central Oklahoma, but the lure of the real design world was far stronger than that of academics.

He began designing in 1972. In the intervening years, he has amassed an impressive clientele, including Oklahoma City residents Frank and Nadine McPherson, David and Barbara Wilson, Meg and Chris Salyer, Mike and Billie Fogart and Dean and Carol Stringer.

Currently he is working on the Country Club Drive home of Barbara and Roger Simon, the Gaillardia residence of the J.L. Walkers and the Quail Creek home of Brad and Irma Lund.


A few strategically placed tulips speak volumes as accent pieces in this glossy Tribeca apartment.
Photo by Paul Warchol Photography, Inc.

This beautiful kitchen with curved stone bar was featured in luxury magazine The Robb Report
Photo by Lydia Gould Bessler\

Cool colors, unadorned woodwork and recessed lighting help define this master bedroom.
Photography by Lydia Gould Bessler


More than two decades ago, when Chadwick was one of the central figures in the Oklahoma City design community, he was known for vivid colors, lots of chintz and accessories that fit that style of decorating. Much like Tulsa designer Charles Faudree, whose signature style is French Country, Chadwick was known for a similar, classy look: Traditional English Tudor.

Living in New York has substantially altered his approach to designing spaces for his clients. “My style has evolved into a more sophisticated, chic and glamorous look,” he explained. “New York has given me the opportunity to explore that facet of design.”

Chadwick never felt stifled in Oklahoma City, but the vast resources, stimulating ideas and constant focus on fashion and design that surround him in New York have made a tremendous difference in the way he looks at a design project. “I think my clients are happy to see this side of me,” he said.

One of his first projects after moving to New York was an apartment for a Brazilian woman. “She had such a glamorous apartment in the city, so I chose luxurious fabrics and elegant accessories to complement her lifestyle.”

One of the biggest differences in Chadwick’s design approach is simplification. “I’ve gotten rid of the tchotchke — a Yiddish word that means ‘lots of stuff.’ Accessories can be such a burden. I have edited my accessories to be simple. It’s a pared-down look based on just a few things to make a larger statement,” he said. “There is something magical when you have only a few things you love to create a design vignette. Too much becomes less special.”

That philosophy was evident on the day of our interview at the home of Barbara and Roger Simon, a home originally built by Roy and Alta Woods and featured in Architectural Digest in the mid-1950s. Its Palm Springs contemporary style would not lend itself to the European Traditional style featured in the Simons’ previous Nichols Hills home on Buttram Road.

The furniture for the formal living room, overlooking the Oklahoma City Golf and Country Club golf course, arrived the afternoon of our interview over a simple lunch from Scotty’s, one of Chadwick’s favorite delis. The style was sleek and chic; the upholstery had subtle textures in earth tones, contrasted with the sheen of marble accent tables and the contemporary sophistication of a brushed steel console. It is a clean, updated modern, streamlined look that complements the architectural bones of the home. It is contemporary elegance and simplicity at its best.

Sleek chrome makes a stylishly sparse bathroom.
Photo by Lydia Gould Bessler

With the view of the golf course and minimal window coverings, nature is an accessory in the Simons’ fabulous formal living room.

In print or in design, classics never go out of style.
Photo by Tim Lee

For his own residence in New York, Chadwick combined two apartments, which have what he calls “a crystal clear view of the Chrysler Building,” one of the landmark buildings in New York City. From his terrace, he can see the Empire State Building.

But achieving the look he wanted there was not as simple as remodeling in Oklahoma City. Chadwick laments, “Here, we have driveways where carpenters can set up their gear to do remodeling work. Not so in New York. It all happens within the apartment. It’s like living through Dante’s Ninth Circle of Hell. You are left with more dust than you can imagine. It’s much more difficult than renovating projects here. I was fortunate to have the terrace, where some of the work could be done on the outside.”


Chadwick laughs and says, “It’s rather humbling when you have to live through all that mess.”

But that stressful project is over and now, after a long day of seeing clients, designing plans and shopping for their needs — we ran into Chadwick in Bloomingdale’s in New York during the Christmas season on a buying jaunt for a client — he goes home to a living room that is attired in a restful seafoam green. Wool upholstery adorns the furnishings. A color scheme of deep rhubarb, orange and yellow makes it an exciting and inviting space.

Another aspect of Chadwick’s design talent that has changed is his attention to the changing moods of the sun and how it affects design projects. “I was so used to sun-drenched colors here in the Southwest and I never realized how washed out and muted the color scheme is in the Northeast. It’s made a big difference in my color palette.”

Chadwick is known now for the creativeness of his design range. He has designed corridors in exclusive shopping emporiums. At the opposite end of the design spectrum, he has completed barrier-free lobbies and corridors and homes and offices with cutting-edge industrial versatility.

“I guess I would like my clients to know that I can do a variety of interior looks.”

These examples of Chadwick’s earlier work exhibit the vibrant colors, busy patterns and abundant chintz and accessories that were popular at the time.
Photos by Michelle Wurth

After 10 years in the metropolitan city of his choice, Chadwick is having a fabulous time. He has a great apartment on Park Avenue. He loves going to the ballet, the symphony and Broadway plays. Dining out is a special experience. He avails himself of walking tours in areas he’s not quite familiar with just to know the city and its history better. And it’s easy to hop a train and spend the weekend in Washington, Philadelphia or Boston, areas where he also has clients.

Professionally, he is designing spaces for CEOs, executives, filmmakers and people who like a fresh, uncluttered look in their living spaces. He is putting all of his energy into working as completely in a modern, industrial- inspired design style as he once worked in traditional themes, including English Tudor.

He comes home often to see his parents in Stiliwater and visit nephews and nieces, and enjoys the tight-knit family structure he has always loved. But, he says. “Every time I step out on the streets of New York City, I know it’s everything I ever wanted.”

And what would Chadwick, who was the king of chintz-inspired designs in the late 1980s and early ‘90s, like to be known for today?

“Versatility,” he says so simply. “The ability to adapt to the client’s needs and wishes.”


• House Porn Wednesday •
• Mixing patterns is easier than you think in decor •
• Refreshing Green •
• Contemporary Jewel •
• A Tropical Paradise in Quail Creek •
• Rhythms of Tuscany •
• New Flatiron Style •
• From the Bible Belt to the Big Apple •
• Design Focus: John Chadwick •
• Studio Style •
• What's Ours is Yours •
• The Designer's Oklahoma Residence •

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Interiors by John Chadwick

Revised: October 16, 2015
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