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
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
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
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
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
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.”