To say that Philip Mitchell is a lover of fine things would be an understatement.
“I’m a huge collector,” he explained in a recent interview with House Tipster. His collections range from art, to family heirlooms, to antiques of all kinds. This love of objects and the memories they hold is a trademark of his interior design style and way of making a space feel modern and elegant, yet still very comfortable and personal.
Mitchell was introduced to the elements of interior design at a very young age. His mother and her family had beautifully decorated homes and Mitchell was encouraged to develop his own interest in decorating details. His mother often helped friends and family accentuate their homes where Mitchell learned the basics of upholstery, custom furnishings, antiques, and different kinds of artwork.
Growing up in the Canadian countryside with frequent trips to Los Angeles, California, Mitchell was exposed to different lifestyles and cultures. One thing he found to be consistent was that despite the current trends, style was more about the person and what was important to them.
After working for two of Canada’s largest interior design firms for several years, Mitchell set out on his own and opened Philip Mitchell Design in 2002 in Toronto, Canada.
With a reputation as an interior designer already established, Mitchell had no shortage of clients and was able to form new relationships throughout Canada and the United States. He later opened an office in New York City for the convenience of clients with homes and apartments in the New York City area who he had met.
A Passion for Excellence
Mitchell describes his design style as classic, curated, comfortable, and personal. “I love the idea of creating a personal style versus just dictating to a client what they should have in their space.
I think it should be more collaborative and a partnership in being able to use their things in an interesting way to create a feel for them that they love and love to be comfortable in,” says Mitchell. His firm’s success is based on a client’s personality and own style which becomes the starting point for the project.
The goal is to create a space that is inviting and livable with a balance of fine furnishings, fine art, custom textures, and as many cherished objects as possible without a cluttered or chaotic feel. Mitchell takes on projects large and small and has no problem finding just the right design elements to fit the space. In fact, his own apartment in New York City is a bit on the small side (650 square feet).
He uses multifunctional furniture with shelves and drawers, and wall mounted lighting to free up space. No matter how small the space, there is always room for personal touches.
Mitchell’s passion, attention to detail, and knowledge of color, textiles, and historic architecture and objects, are what makes his room designs unique and visually appealing. He begins every project by studying and researching the home or building, the local environment, and the character of the space.
He likes to use local craftsmen and artists when possible to preserve the spirit of region. His idea that style comes from within and is timeless allows him to combine old and new design elements in a way that makes a room very elegant, yet personal. “If you’ve got something that’s beautiful from a family, if you’ve got something that’s super traditional that’s not necessarily your style, there lots of ways to incorporate that and mix that into your own personal style by selecting things that are definitely you, but then incorporating them together,” explains Mitchell.
International Designer Fame
The work of the Philip Mitchell Design firm has appeared in many magazines and he was selected as one of Canada’s top 25 interior designers by House & Home magazine in 2011.
In addition to the magazine features, Mitchell has been chosen to show off his talents at the Kips Bay Decorator Show House in New York twice. His first room in 2015 was a spiral staircase that was noted for its patterned wallpaper and many, many pieces of fine art (nearly 300 paintings), much from his own collection.
This year, Mitchell was given a drawing room which he decorated with many personal items as well. “There’s a lot of pieces here that are collected, that are not necessarily my personal style, but because they came along with different generations of my family, it was nice to mix those things and incorporate them into what we’re doing in this space. It’s more of a reflection of my individual style,” he explained of creating the 2018 Kips Bay exhibit.
Mitchell’s passion for fine art and craftsmanship has lead him to design his own line of furniture. “The Philip Mitchell Design Furniture Collection” creates one-of-a-kind pieces that range from contemporary to modern traditional styles. Mitchell saw a need to offer something unique to his clients rather than customizing someone else’s style. All pieces are made in North America.
Mitchell splits his time between his offices in Toronto and New York. In addition to his apartment in New York City, he has a quiet country home in Chester, Nova Scotia which he shares with his husband, Mark, and two adorable dogs named Jacob and Wylo. Jacob and Wylo are often pictured in many of Mitchell’s magazine features. You can see one of the dogs in House Tipster’s interview of Mitchell at his 2018 Kips Bay exhibit.
It’s no surprise that Mitchell’s homes are full of paintings, antiques, and other cherished collectables. His high standards for creating a space that is both elegant, but comfortable carry into his personal life as well. Having a sense of home, is not about the latest trends or colors, but more about what makes a space feel lived in, loved, and timeless. This can only come from being surrounded by objects with deeply personal meaning. “I think everybody’s spaces should have something personal in them,” says Mitchell.