What began with hopes of being recognized in a national magazine led to a Texas-based interior designer's dream coming true as she won "Best Kitchen" honors from the prestigious Southern Living .
Chandos Interiors, with designer extraordinaire Chandos Dodson Epley at the helm, is the latest recipient of the award, featured in the publication's August edition. The firm has two offices, one right here in Houston and another in Dallas.
Photos of the best kitchen, part of a finished new custom construction project in the Memorial area with builder Corbel Custom Homes, grace two full pages of the magazine — as do rave reviews from some of the judges/writers.
"We originally submitted the entire house and weren't even aware that we were being judged on what we had submitted," Epley, already an award winner in the interior design field, says. "It was probably in May when we were contacted that we had won 'Best Kitchen' — and we were thrilled."
Epley says she worked on the home "from the ground up" starting two years ago, striving to meet the client's wishes for transitional French with youthful details projecting a casual elegance. Epley managed to strike that balance, "putting heart and soul" into the house — as shown in the kitchen.
"We originally submitted the entire house and weren't even aware that we were being judged on what we had submitted."
"It's a very large space," she says. "It's probably about 800 square feet, so we wanted to 'warm it up.' "
As a full-service design firm, Epley and her team began by presenting the clients with renderings inspired from concept images. Once the kitchen design was determined, the group moved forward by selecting all the materials — from paints to species of wood to countertop finishes.
Sherwin-Williams' "Gray Mindful" brings a fresh neutral to the cabinets, long, hand-hammered pulls with pewter coating from Architectural Design Resource accent as hardware and Cuban concrete tile from the Houston Design Center in a gray, black, cream and terra cotta star pattern serve as the eye-catching backsplash and entire covering of the kitchen's main wall. Above the large granite-topped island, two lanterns from Shop by Brown cast additional light on the prepping space.
And speaking of the island, Epley won kudos from Southern Living experts: "With a clever paper towel holder, a disguised trash pullout and plenty of storage for linens and utensils, the island was designed to be the room's command central."
The magazine also cheered Epley's choice of the decorative hood, as she noted, "It needed to be something that had some presence." Thus, the stately vent cover, made of powder-coated steel and brushed nickel, made the final cut. Epley partnered with The Lonestar Range Hood Co. on the project.
Just off the kitchen is a light-filled nook that Epley transformed into a cozy retreat overlooking the pool and garden.
"The house has an open floor plan, and the client wanted a space to sit, not at the breakfast table that would be too central, but rather in the mix of things," Epley says. "She wanted a place to sit with girlfriends and enjoy coffee or wine."
Epley is now finishing decorating two Colorado homes, one in Beaver Creek and the other in Aspen — and planning her new own home to be built in January 2015. All well almost four months pregnant with twins.
Epley offers these design tips, highlighted in the Southern Living article:
- Every kitchen needs: "Patina. In the South, our rooms just seem to have more personality."
- Best design trick: "Remove window and door casings to give classic spaces a crisper look."
- Most worthy splurge: "Hardware with a handmade quality. You want to feel every dimple and bump."
- Can't get enough of: "Using painted brick inside as flooring or a backsplash."
- No-fail color inspiration: "Lots of white! It's so versatile and can go in a traditional or modern direction."
Chandos began her 14-year career after graduating from the University of Texas with a bachelor's degree in interior design. She honed her skills working for several of the nation’s top interior design firms, including Dan Carithers and the late Naomi Leff and Greg Jordan.
Chandos Interiors was selected by House Beautiful magazine as one of the “Next Wave” of Interior Designers in 2010. In 2012, Chandos Interiors was recognized as a "Star on the Rise" by the Decorative Center Houston.