Golden State of MindAuthor:California Home And Design
Chad Dorsey brings a laid-back California sensibility to his Texas abode
In Chad Dorsey’s Dallas neighborhood, the homes range from classic 1940s structures to newer builds. While his falls in the latter category, it presents a departure from its peers—evoking a surf shack, perhaps one more typically found in Los Angeles, where the architect and interior designer lives part-time. “It’s a simple structure that could be on the water somewhere,” Dorsey explains. “It might not necessarily look that impressive, but it’s all about this relaxed luxury sensibility.”
The 3,000-square-foot dwelling he conceived is fronted by crushed limestone, calling to mind sandy beaches. The landscape merges newly planted greenery with longstanding elements, such as the sculptural oak tree that greets visitors. The two-bedroom structure, flanked by two-car garages, is clad in shou sugi ban shingles, which have undergone a centuries-old Japanese process that uses fire to preserve and protect the wood. Ebony-hued corrugated metal roofs complete the dark envelope.
The inky exterior is juxtaposed with interiors where expanses of glass invite natural light, 11-foot-high ceilings lend an airiness and the walls are cloaked in Benjamin Moore’s Vanilla Milkshake. Concrete floors (ideal for the canines in residence: Jackson, a Jack Russell terrier, and Lucy, a corgi mix), bleached walnut millwork and baseboards comprised of white bricks constitute the material palette. Marble also turns up throughout, including the navy-and-white iteration that surmounts the kitchen island (suggesting waves crashing on a shore) and the main bathroom’s textured marble wall with peach and burgundy tones.
As far as furnishings go, “I don’t like a bunch of store-bought stuff,” says Dorsey. “I’ve got a lot of pieces that are personal to me and then mixed in pieces that are found.” Anchoring the living room is a coffee table purchased 15 years ago at a showroom sample sale. “It has a huge fracture down the middle; it’s really cool,” he observes. “And it’s perfect for the surf shack.” Fringing the table are a pair of vintage chairs Dorsey reupholstered in a woven by Kelly Wearstler; the Kelston sofa from DWR; and a couple of chairs that once belonged to an architect uncle and whose black leather Dorsey updated.
He has the same uncle to thank for the Ludwig Mies van der Rohe dining room chairs; their leather seats and backs were replaced, too. “I interned with him before college,” Dorsey notes. “We had a lot in common—design and love of automobiles.” The Aim chandelier from Flos presides over a custom dining table by Kara Mann with a custom Nero Marquina black marble top and brass base. The room’s vintage Herman Miller credenza from Gilbert Rhode, procured from an estate sale, is part of a set that Dorsey’s parents bought him when he was just out of college.
Since the coronavirus pandemic struck earlier this year, Dorsey has come to appreciate his domicile even more. “I’ve been building and selling houses for 15 years and have always done it for resale and to check certain boxes,” he says. “In this house, I designed what I wanted for me, for experiences that are important to me.” A well-equipped kitchen and a good-size bathroom and closet, for instance, were essential. “I kept everything very simple,” Dorsey adds, citing his philosophy on relaxed luxury: “It’s about the materials and the placement of things that feel special to the person living there.” – Anh-Minh Le