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Inspiring Conversations with Dawn Chau of Paradigm Interior Design

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dawn Chau. 

Hi Dawn, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I grew up in a small farming and ranching town in Montana.  My parents were both creatives.  My Dad built our house and was always tinkering in the garage or rebuilding a car; my Mom was always creating something with ceramics or oil paintings, whatever she felt inspired to do. I was fortunate to travel to Brazil in high school for a month and that experience solidified my desire to explore and live somewhere new.  While in my senior year of high school I shadowed an architect whose wife was an interior designer.  I realized I loved architecture and interior design so as I began the process of searching for a school, I honed in on interior design because it would allow me to move out of Montana.  You see, architecture was available at all the in-state schools but interior design was not.  See how clever I was?!  I pursued a Bachelor’s degree at the Art Institute of Colorado.  

Early in my career, I worked at the high-end tile and plumbing showroom, Ann Sacks where I gained invaluable information on plumbing and tile. From there I worked with a high-end residential designer for three years. Wanting to express my own creativity I realized the best way to do that was to go out on my own. I’ve been in business 18 years and have worked in Colorado, Arizona, and NYC. 

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Hell no! I started my business in Denver, CO (2004). My career was taking off.  I was getting press, doing fun projects and involved in the design community. In 2008 my husband was offered a job in NYC. After much deliberating, we decided to go…but only for a couple years. I flew back and forth working through existing jobs and taking on new ones. After about three years we realized it was time for me to shift to NYC because we didn’t know when we’d return to Colorado. 

Starting my business there was much harder as I didn’t have any connections initially. I had to build from the ground up, again.  Things were slow so I took advantage of being able to take classes. My favorite was woodworking where I met several amazing craftsmen that showed me the ropes and helped me gain a better knowledge around craftsmanship. I quickly learned that the things I designed were far too complex for me to implement to the standards I desire. We also found out that we were expecting our first child. Those two things told me I should step out of the shop.  After all,  large table saws and finishing fumes are not the safest environments! From there our family grew.  As any working Mom can tell you, starting and stopping your career to care for your family is rewarding but also challenging.  I considered design as my first “baby” and I felt the need to keep it “alive” too! Being a mom and running my own design business is something that is a constant ebb and flow. Some days are easy, some days are hard but I wouldn’t trade either. Now I’m seeing the creativity in my children and it inspires me in a new way. 

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
Paradigm specializes in whole house remodeling and new construction. We believe the best projects are the ones with a full team on board working together (architect, contractor, and the trades) and guiding the client through this process. 

We pride ourselves in taking an in-depth look at each project and providing a fixed fee based on the scope of work.  

I am passionate about working with local artisans, sourcing unique materials, educating the client on all decisions they need to make, and finding ways big and small to make an impact on our planet. I am an ASID (American Society of Interior Designers) member and also part of the GFDA (Good Future Design Alliance). The latter is a commitment to reduce construction and design waste. We really need to change our habits and thoughts around construction and disposable furnishings and I’m determined to do everything I can. 

Can you tell us more about what you were like growing up?
We lived in a very rural area so we had to create our own fun as there wasn’t much to do. Growing up I played any sport I could get my hands on that meant basketball, track, and volleyball. I think growing up I was more of an introvert and tomboy…maybe that’s why I love being on jobsites.  I love the process of construction, the tools and the details that go into everything.

In high school, I had the opportunity to take a woodworking class and I chose to build a futon. It was the beginning for me. I loved it so much and that’s why I pursued woodworking in Brooklyn. There’s something about the smell of fresh-cut wood and working with your hands to build something that is so rewarding! 


  • My initial consultations are $750 which is credited back if the client moves into the next stage of work.
  • Each project is a fixed fee based on the scope of work.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Jeff Morris

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