Today Curbed sits down with Houston-based designer Chandos Dodson to chat about a project she completed in 2009 for a first-time client, her top-to-bottom approach, and the challenges of combining modern sensibilities with comfort.
Despite a career as a prominent real estate professional, the owner of this Houston townhouse, a single gentleman in his fifties, had never properly settled into a home. So he recruited local design luminary Chandos Dodson to revamp what she described as a "generic three-story townhouse." Built in the 1980s, the townhouse received a "soup-to-nuts" renovation from Dodson, who stripped the walls down to the studs, added eye-catching metal windows and doors, and carved out an epic master bathroom. The designer took on the challenge of creating a space that feels "modern, yet warm," aided by a client who "spared no expense" in the creation of his dream home.
? The client trusted Dodson so explicitly that he brought just one item from his previous home, the Southwestern landscape painting that now hangs over the fireplace, "purchased in Santa Fe years before." From there, they went on to choose "every door handle, every cabinet knob, and every bathroom fixture" together, with assistance from an art advisor in the selection of artwork, most of which was purchased through local Houston galleries.
? One of Dodson's favorite facets of the project is the expansive master bathroom, where the client requested "all the bells and whistles" like multiple shower heads and body sprays. That was a challenge in a bathroom that had a large window running along one side, so instead of cramming the shower along the rear wall, the designer devoted half the space to a "wet room"—housing what must be one of the city's most spacious showers, even in "everything is bigger" Texas—and frosted the glass. Floor-to-ceiling tile prevents humidity from spoiling the party. Dodson called it "one of the best bathrooms I've ever done."
To Dodson's eye, some modern interiors look too sparse or too much "like a hotel." Here, she kept the accessories minimal, but still aimed for a space that looked lived in and simply felt "comfortable [for] just lounging around and spending time." The master bedroom, with its strictly neutral color palette, is a case in point. The range of colors is minimal—stretching from a golden brown wood to the pure white bedding. Dodson instead employed texture, on the walls, on the tall tufted headboard, and with the subtlety pinstriped carpet, to find a "happy medium."
? The designer, a Houston native who spent three years in New York after college before returning home to found her own firm, draws her "formal training in traditional French and English design" in part from the time she spent working for AD100 designers Naomi Leff and Greg Jordan, and from her mother, an antiques dealer. That doesn't mean all of the furnishings are antiques, quite to the contrary. Dodson credits "great Texan craftsmen," like Houston's Joseph Company, with her ability to incorporate plenty of custom furnishings. All of the upholstery pieces used in this project, plus dining chairs and a bathroom cabinet, were custom produced by local artisans.
? Dodson, whose stock among potential clients has only risen since she was named to House Beautiful's list of "Next Wave" interior designers in 2010, is currently wrapping up two "cute, quick decorating projects"—the sort that don't require top-to-bottom renovation—but is also set to complete an 8,000-square-foot, custom-built Houston mansion by February. Done in a "transitional French" style, it will combine traditional French furnishings with the owners' collection of contemporary art.
· Chandos Interiors [official site]