Designer Crush: Chad Dorsey Design


Drawing on his training as an architect, Chad Dorsey approaches every space with a consideration for proportion, light, and scale. He gravitates toward quiet palettes, custom furnishings, handcrafted details, and meaningful objects to convey the unique personalities of his clients. Dorsey’s eponymous Dallas-based has an outpost in Los Angeles and offers a full-range of design services across the country. Learn more in our Q+A below.

How did you get your start in design?

My mom was a huge influence. She always had a home project going on.  She loved antiques, so we were always hunting for something new and exciting, or looking for new wallpaper…and even shopping for new houses.  When I was about seven my parents decided to build a new home so they hired an architect. I always looked forward to the meetings with him to see his latest iteration of the floor plan. This ultimately started my obsession with residential design. As I grew older, I drew houses at my desk for fun. So, from a young age I always knew I wanted to be doing Architecture and Interior Design.

I pursued a degree in architecture, after college I landed at Wilson Associates, where I managed interior architecture and interior design for luxury hospitality projects, luxury residences, and airplane interiors.

In 2005 I established my own studio, designing custom residences for clients. 

How does your training as an architect influence your approach to design?  

I think very spatially, always about how someone will feel in the space.  I like to let the furnishings respond to the space. It is important to let the Architecture lead the space, and let the furnishings respond.

Your aesthetic has been described as “relaxed luxury” — what does that mean to you and how do you embody that in your projects? 

Relaxed luxury is the idea of living casually with things a person loves to touch and feel in a way that is approachable and not precious. Relaxed luxury is understated. Often quiet, it can go unnoticed, but the user with a discerning eye will appreciate the details and the soothing feeling. Relaxed Luxury is achieved with custom furnishings incorporating handcrafted details, meaningful objects, and a true sense of the people who live there. 

How do you define “California style” and how do you differentiate it from “Texas style,” since you work in both markets?  

To me, California is laid-back chic. Texas can be a little more buttoned-up, but I feel that there are actually a lot of similarities between how Texans and Californians live.  Despite the heat, Texans love outdoor living as much as Californians. There is also a strong appreciation of modernism in both markets…and they are both definitely CAR STATES! I opened a studio in Los Angeles last summer and split my time between Dallas and LA. I find there are people in both markets that share my sensibilities…I think my style is really universal.  It responds to the surroundings in a bespoke, timeless and honest way that supports the architecture or the climate.

Describe one particularly memorable project and what made it so special/challenging/rewarding.

I finished a project a few years ago where my firm not only handled the architecture of the house, but also ended up handling all interior furnishings. This was at the time one of the most extensive interior projects we had worked on. The client respected my opinion always, but pushed me to go to the next level. Sometimes it was finding or using a source or vendor that was a hard to find, or designing and fabricating custom details such as a leather wrapped handrail with a steel insert sandwiched between White Oak panels. My client made me a better interior designer and I am forever grateful. This project went on to be published in a national magazine and won three Design Awards including Best Residential Interiors.

What’s your dream vacation destination/itinerary and why?

I love travel…I can always go somewhere. I love to fly, the longer the flight the more I enjoy it.  On the plane I can decompress and listen to music. So maybe an around the world trip without a return date! Ultimately, I love not having an agenda, but I would start in New Zealand (on my hot list right now) and take it day by day until ready to return…

Lightning round!

First celebrity crush?

I can’t narrow it down to only one! I had so many. 

Easy go-to dinner recipe?

Herb roasted fish (Ina Garten). Literally this can be prepared and cooked in 30 min total with little mess and is healthy. I served recently at a dinner party and is so elegant and impressive.

  • 8 ounces boneless fish fillet, such as snapper or cod
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 1 large sprig fresh thyme
  • 2 large green olives with pits
  • Extra large egg
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 
  2. Place the fish fillet on a piece of parchment paper and sprinkle it with the salt and pepper. Drizzle the lemon juice and olive oil over the top of the fillet. Lay the thyme on top and place the olives next to the fillet. 
  3. Beat the egg together with 1 tablespoon of water for an egg wash. Brush the egg wash around the edge of the parchment paper and fold it in half. Carefully fold the edge of the parchment paper under and around the fish to make a package. Place the package on a sheet pan and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until the fish is cooked through. Serve hot in the parchment paper.

Most quotable TV show or movie?

For me its Seinfeld. It’s been 25 years since the original season ended, I can relate to every show.   

“Can you spare a square?” 


“Hello, Newman”

“Yada Yada Yada”

Favorite song lyric? 

“California” by the Lagoons. It’s light hearted and relaxed. “I’ve been sipping on some California wine, everything feels fine…”

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