Podcast, Ep. 217: designer Philip Mitchell

Designer Philip Mitchell

Photo: Annie Schlechter. Designer Philip Mitchell

We are so excited to welcome back one of our favorite guests, Philip Mitchell, of Philip Mitchell Designs to the show! He is a Toronto and New York based designer with a full service firm. He has been featured in House Beautiful, Better Homes & Gardens, House & Home, Veranda, Architectural Digest, and more. His upcoming book, Collected Interiors: Rooms That Tell a Story, is available for pre-order now. We talk about Philip’s love of storytelling, finding joy in the unexpected, a commitment to loving your space, and ART!

What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • Discussing Philip’s new book and his belief that a house should tell a story.
  • Philip’s two questions he asks all clients.
  • What are some exercises we can do to edit our own design ideas?
  • How Philip breathes new life into old pieces.
  • Philip’s philosophy and approach to art.
  • Why Philip thinks loving a piece is more important than style or investment value.
  • Philip loves unconventional places to display art.
  • When does Phillip like to place lighting on art?

Decorating Dilemma

Hi ladies,

I love the podcast and am currently working my way through the archives. Not only is it helpful but so entertaining.

I need major help with this room. We moved in a year ago as a rental but are currently in the process of buying it. My style is California coastal minimalist. We are very casual; I hate clutter and I’m not afraid of some negative space. But I like large scale art and color too. It faces north so the lighting is very tricky. We are currently planning a kitchen renovation so the budget for this room is minimal. Also, I have 3 young kids so the furniture stays and the window treatments are custom by the previous owner so they also stay. Sadly, the ceiling fans are also nonnegotiable because we live in a tropical climate.

My plans are:

  • Move the two chairs to another room and buy a pair of accent chairs
  • Move the large abstract art to the entry way, put something square there
  • Get a third white shelf and then center them and style them
  • Get better looking ceiling fans
  • Maybe an upholstered ottoman

My questions are:

1.) Paint- I tested a series of colors in the light blue, light green family and they look terrible in this lighting. I’m down to White dove, simply white and edge comb grey (all Benjamin Moore) but is the room going to be too boring if it is white? What other colors would work in a very long northern room?

2.) I’m on team Taryn when it comes to family photos but the gallery wall at the back doesn’t seem to make enough of an impact. We don’t have a dining room; this is the dining area. I have always loved Grey Malin’s large scale aerial photography and think a triptych would look amazing there. But if I have actual tropical views, can I also have photography of tropical type views? What else could I put there?

3.) Are the lamps large enough? How do I add more lighting?

4.) Any recommendations for an ottoman than is large enough for the space



Hi Sarah,

Your space and your view are extraordinary! These are all great questions. For me the number one thing regarding the paint is that Northern rooms are tricky. It looks as though you are in a very tropical location. I would tend to go very neutral, use one of the whites you have, because then it will not fight with all of the colors that will change throughout the day with the light.  Regarding the shelves, I agree with all of your suggestions. I love the idea of doing a new pair of chairs. I would also add a third chair by the fireplace. I love the family gallery wall, but I would move it to where you have that contemporary piece of art. Then you can move that piece to the “gallery” wall. Just swap them!  It’ll be a great focal point. I know you are on a budget, so I would find similar fabric drapery panels to match what you already have on some of those bare windows. I don’t feel that your lamps are too small, but I would probably move the side table with the lamp over to the sofa backing to the dining room. Then I would look into adding another small side table where we are taking that one away. Then possibly a floor lamp there and over by the small chair next to the fireplace. Instead of having a giant ottoman in that big floor space, how about more than one thing? Maybe a rectangular ottoman (forget the tray…it always falls with kids!), round table, and square table. It will add some flexibility and practicality with a room that the family uses often. Let’s also toss some color in here with pillows, drapery, or other accents.

We are so jealous of your view and think buying this place was the RIGHT move! Thank you so much for listening and please send us some after photos!

Mentioned in This Episode:

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Happy Decorating!

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Abbey Nolte

Abbey is a homegrown Georgia peach who loves a fresh take on Southern design. When she’s not working behind the scenes of the How to Decorate blog and podcast, you can find her cheering on the Appalachian State Mountaineers and spending time with her wheaten terrier, Charlie.