Interiors by John Chadwick

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Design Focus: John Chadwick
Rugs Are Artwork on the Floor



The soft raspberries, greens, and creams in this spectacular Serapi resonate on the walls, upholstery and even artwork in this elegant room.
Courtesy of Interiors by John Chadwick. Photography by Michelle Wurth.


The delicately patterned Aubusson breaks up the expanse of the green wall-to-wall carpeting thereby defining a seating enclave in his large sitting room.
Courtesy of Interiors by John Chadwick. Photography by Michelle Wurth.


A native of Oklahoma City, OK, John Chadwick was raised in the southern decorative tradition. “Everybody’s grandmother had rugs where I grew up—that’s just the way I was raised,” states the interior designer who has been established in Manhattan since 1995. Having started with dhurries in his first job in Oklahoma City in 1973, he has since vastly expanded his oriental and decorative rug repertoire which currently ranges from Persian antiques to contemporary Tibetans. Today, Mr. Chadwick uses them wherever possible in residential and commercial interiors alike and particularly in locations featuring hardwood or stone floors.

“For me, the subtle softness and irregularities of oriental and decorative rugs is what distinguishes them from machine-made carpeting,” states the designer whose work has taken him throughout the country including California, Georgia, Texas, and Arizona. “Having a rug is like having artwork on the floor. They are just as much a part of the room as the walls are.” Moreover, unlike wall-to-wall carpeting, oriental and decorative rugs have an intrinsic investment value. “1 love the fact that they can often be traded in as long as they’re in perfect condition,” says Mr. Chadwick who at one time was involved in custom-designing a collection of hand-tufted rugs.
When shopping for a rug, its size, shape, and design are the most important criteria of selection. Not surprisingly, the client’s budget and lifestyle play a critical role determining whether the rug is to be an investment or a purely decorative piece. In a typical instance, a client may postpone the purchase of an expensive antique rug in favor a reproduction because of young children and dogs in the house. However, notes the designer: “In the end, the most important thing is that it is the right rug for the space whether it be antique or new.”
“As I don’t have a particular style, I’m open to a whole range of choices depending on the client’s particular lifestyle—this is the most gratifying part of my job,” continues Mr. Chadwick. Originally a traditionalist at heart, the designer has since embraced an eclectic decor ranging from elegant traditional to contemporary minimalism. When designing a more formal interior, he leans toward rugs such as Aubussons, Savonneries, Tabrizes, and Lavar Kirmans. However, when doing a library, for instance, he might choose a piece exhibiting a more geometric pattern with a tribal influence such as a Bokara, Heriz, Serapi, or Caucasian. Meanwhile, he adores using Tibetans in contemporary interiors and flatweaves, including kilims, sumaks, and dhurries, in beach houses. Moreover, he observes: “Nothing is more stylish than Art Deco Chinese rugs. They are the most transitional of rugs as they work equally well in traditional and contemporary settings.” While he has not yet used them, he plans to soon explore the realm of vegetable-dyed reproductions which he appreciates for their soft and subtle hues.

The yellow. midnight
blue, rose, and green hues in this
dramatic Chinese Art Deco rug are the
springboard for the color scheme in the
wall coverings and chair coverings.
Courtesy of Interiors by John Chadwick.
Photography by Michelle Wurth.


Ideally, Mr. Chadwick prefers starting the decorative process with the rug. “The rug provides color 'transportation' for the room so that all its colors flow from the rug,” he notes. However, he finds it equally easy to work the rug around existing fabrics when the situation arises.

The geometric repeats in this Kashguill-design rug is the counterpoint to the floral chintz in the armchairs in this sumptuous living room.
Courtesy of Interiors by Jon Chadwick. Photography by Michelle Wurth.

In Mr. Chadwick’s projects, rugs find their place throughout the house—from reception rooms to bathrooms and kitchens—and as well as in executive suites. Thanks to his uniquely versatile approach, the designer feels free to use more than one rug in a room. Indeed, he often enjoys using rugs to define specific spaces such as living and dining areas in Manhattan apartments.

When coordinating rugs from one space to the next and from one room to the other, he uses color as opposed to rug genre or style as the determining guide. He has no problem with coordinating an Aubusson with a Serapi. for instance. “They are all artwork. If each room were limited to a particular rug style, it would be like having the Picasso or Matisse room. This might be a safe but not an artistic approach. Instead, each room should tell the story of the client’s life.”

When mixing and matching rugs with fabrics and vice versa, he is not afraid to set pattern over pattern as long as the overall balance between the two is achieved. When mixing a floral-patterned rug with a floral-patterned fabric, he makes sure that the scale of one is larger than the other. He often balances a floral pattern in one medium with a geometric design in the other. “Pattern is what makes a room cozy,” he says. “Beige and cool rooms may be very elegant but they are definitely not cozy.”

As for flooring, the designer prefers hard surfaces, including wood and stone. He also often uses an accent piece over sisal, which he finds a very effective means of disguising an otherwise unattractive floor. As for placing rugs over broadloom, he is averse to this practice as he finds that they “crawl” even with anti-skid padding.

Thanks to a currently favorable economy, clients are continuing to express a strong interest in purchasing high-quality rugs. “Rugs are here to stay,” comments Mr. Chadwick, “as people are always drawn to what delights the eye.”

The warm glow of an allover floral design Sarouk is echoed in the brick walls creating a warm and inviting atmosphere in this living room.
Courtesy of Interiors by John Chadwick. Photography by Michelle Wurth.



A native of Oklahoma City, OK, John Chadwick began his career in interior design in 1973 after obtaining his M.A. in interior design from the University of Central Oklahoma. After working for a number of years in interior design in Oklahoma City, he established his firm Interiors by John Chadwick in Manhattan in 1995. His projects, both residential and commercial, range from New York City to San Francisco. His works have been featured in a number of publications including The Robb Report, Interior Design Magazine, The New York Times, House Beautiful, House & Garden, and Contract Design. Mr. Chadwick has also been featured on an NBC affiliate for interior design segments. A five-time winner of the Symphony Designer Showhouse Competition in Oklahoma, he is a member of the ASID.

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• Design Focus: John Chadwick •
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• The Designer's Oklahoma Residence •

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Interiors by John Chadwick

Revised: October 16, 2015
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