Meet the Designer: John Willey

Willey Design is noted for expressing diverse clients’ points of view.
John Willey Portrait 2 Cropped

Photography by Todd Cross Photography

Illinois native John Willey originally intended to study architecture, but soon realized he favored the dynamics of design over drafting plumbing systems. His experience runs from working with Vicente Wolf and Jeffrey Bilhuber to being the in-house designer for architect Steven Lerner. Established in 2006, his own firm, Willey Design, implements full-service projects: from drafting plans and elevations to installing beautiful interiors.

With last year’s arrival of baby daughter Marlo, Willey and his husband “cut the cord” and left the city. The firm opened an office in Lakeville, and they moved full- time into the house they’d purchased five years ago and updated as a getaway home. “Every weekend, we found we wanted to stay a little longer,” says Willey. “After 14 years of crazy work, I was ready to move on and wanted space to be a dad.” Seeing things anew through his daughter’s eyes, Willey is looking forward to experiencing the impact of “a little female energy” in the house.

John Willey Granite Counter Top

Photography by Robert Granoff

C&G: How did you decide on stone countertops in your kitchen?
I found the granite locally and felt it had a wonderful textural quality, a rural vibe. It really made the kitchen.


John Willey Sculpture 1 Rough Silo

Photography by John Willey

C&G: What’s a favorite souvenir you and your husband acquired in your travels?
When we were in the Mexican town of Todos Santos—which has a charming arts community—we found a pair of abstract fish sculptures. One is bleached and the other is natural walnut. We had Lucite pedestals made to showcase them in our home.


Kim 2 Alt

Photography by Rebecca McAlpin

C&G: How has your palette evolved over the years?
I’ve mellowed to a cooler palette—grays and blues.

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Photography by John Willey

C&G: What’s a favorite aspect of fatherhood?
The joy of seeing things through my daughter’s eyes. I designed the landscaping and the Zen fountain in our yard, and it’s a lovely place to relax and explore nature with her.

Floatation Amp Ok Rough Silo

Photography by John Willey

C&G: What is a design item that you favor?
I love Ingo Maurer’s beautiful Floatation pendant—three layers of cascading rice-paper discs. Light as a kite, it hangs there and softens every room.

John Willey Red Door

Photography by John Willey

C&G:Why did you paint your front door bright red?
Back in the day it was a historical color; it told passing people that they could come in and shelter from the journey. I amped it up a little as a classical punch to the chalky gray house.

John Willey Ct Landscape 3

Photography by John Willey

C&G: What do you like about living in Northwest Connecticut?
I’m from the flat Midwest, so I love the undulations of the gentle hills before they get more dramatic as you go farther north.