Chad Dorsey Creates A Chill “Surf Shack” In Dallas

The first thing you should know about designer and trained architect Chad Dorsey’s east Dallas “surf shack,” which he shares with his partner Kurt Bielawski, is that there’s no water in sight. He couldn’t even catch a wave kicked up by the wake of a speeding motorboat at White Rock Lake nearby because they were banned in 1952.

What makes it a surf shack is the home’s laid-back West Coast-style attitude. Dorsey spends a lot of time in Los Angeles, where he has a satellite office. He’s attracted to this rudimentary architectural genre because, he says, “They’re simple and made with materials that are very livable.” The idea came to him when he saw the property’s windswept trees, one of which grows almost horizontally, and the overgrown tangle of underbrush that, he recalls “felt to me like a path leading to the beach.”

Today, guests arrive into a front yard of crushed limestone that stands in for beach pebbles. The 3,000-square-foot, two-bedroom home is a simple gable-roofed structure covered in cedar shakes that are stained black to simulate Japanese shou sugi ban (charred cedar). This is flanked by two garages clad in black corrugated metal – a material that also graces the house’s roof – which create a de facto courtyard at the entry.

Inside, the architectural envelope consists of bleached walnut millwork and polished concrete floors, the latter a practical choice given that the couple has two dogs: Lucy, a Corgi mix, and Jackson, a Jack Russell terrier. The furnishings are a hodgepodge of pieces Dorsey has collected over the years and new ones, so that, he says, “They feel like they’ve been passed down from generation to generation.”

There’s a big coffee table in the living room with a fissure down the middle that Dorsey acquired years ago at a sample sale. “I moved it from one home to another but never really liked how it looked until it got here,” he says. “It feels right in this space.” Seating around it is varied – Eames lounge chairs with ottomans, a pair of 1970s chairs with rounded backs and two wood-framed sling chairs that belonged to his uncle. “The rounded corners of the sofa and chairs feel more relaxed and comfortable,” Dorsey observes. Everything sits on a deeper toned wool rug. “The darkness of it grounds the space, but it also has light colors in it that allow the furniture to sit on it without too much contrast.”

A big open kitchen facing east (for morning light) accommodates Dorsey’s love of cooking in a way that also enables socializing with Bielawski and their guests. The island’s surface stone, he says, “reminds me of crashing waves. The white looks like foam and the midnight blue underneath is the water.” A dining room lies off this main space through a bar sporting copper shelves and countertops that “I let go so they can age out.” The tile behind them is matte black, which picks up his frequent use of black accents in other rooms (the slingback chairs, the custom Nero Marquina marble top of Kara Mann’s dining table, the couple’s tester bed, also by Mann, of black leather and black-painted aluminum).

Black is also a major component of a graffiti wall done by a local artist in a home office off the kitchen. Just about the only room devoid of this inky shade is the master bath, which is clad floor to ceiling in large-format tiles of dramatically figured, honed Breccia Fiore marble. This material exemplifies Dorsey’s predilection for organic plays of texture. Throughout are nubby fabrics, warm woods and steel shelves designed by Dorsey (living room), along with leathers, cork (in a den-like “man room”), marble and concrete.

Yet all these, while undeniably high-end, lack the polished sheen that would attract too much attention. “It’s relaxed luxury that can go unnoticed by most people,” explains Dorsey. “It attracts a discerning eye to pick out the subtleties in a fabric or a rug.”

Instead, the overall impression just feels casually assembled, “like a 1940s house down by the beach with shingles and furniture put in it for the weekend without much thought. There’s nothing that feels precious. Having people dressed up in this house would just feel weird.”

Photography by Stephen Karlisch.
Styling by Jenny O’Connor Studio
Floral Design by Haile Wossen

For more like this surf shack. be sure to check out this bohemia chic islad home.

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