Most people have mixed feelings about taking on a home-building project.
Laurie and Sands Chipman are not most people. “It was always our dream to build a house,” Laurie says. She and Sands met at UT—Laurie hails from Beaumont and Sands from Houston. After graduation, they relocated to Dallas, got married, moved into a Devonshire bungalow, and had three kids. And eventually, they outgrew the house and began searching for the next perfect spot.
They found it—a lovely older Colonial in Greenway Parks. The Chipmans brought in Sands’ childhood friend, Houston architect Ryan Gordon of Gordon Partners Design, LLC, to take a look. “The project began by analyzing the existing structure, but there were some challenges, like 8-foot ceilings,” Gordon says. They spent six months trying to make it work before deciding to start over.
“Once we realized we were going to scrape it, we began talking about style and architecture,” Gordon says. “The big challenge was Greenway Parks. It has some very specific guidelines—setbacks, lot-coverage ratios. It was a puzzle to fit it all within the parameters.” The Chipmans knew they wanted a home that wouldn’t be out of place in Long Island or Martha’s Vineyard. And that went for the interiors, too.
To that end, the team brought in interior designer Katie Collins of Collins & Sweezey. Collins had just completed a project in Martha’s Vineyard, so she knew exactly what aesthetic the Chipmans were going for. She entered the process early and collaborated with Gordon to design items like the fireplaces, implement materials, expand living spaces, and select fixtures. “I would show him pictures, and he would draw it up,” Collins says. She also worked closely with Laurie during the process. “Laurie did a great job. She knew exactly how she wanted the house to feel. Every picture was from the beach—air blowing through a room,” she says. “And it does feel like a summer house because it’s just so happy. It’s airy—and there’s so much natural light.”
Color is also key here. “They do not like anything with any brown,” Collins says with a laugh. She and Laurie chose to use a number of colorful paint colors and wallpapers throughout the house. “They like clear colors. Sands really likes blue,” she says.
Collins worked hard to employ the past and present in each home—mixing family heirlooms with child-friendly fabrics. “There are three young children who live here, so every room has to be kid friendly. Even a formal living room has to be almost bulletproof,” she says. “Kids are going to jump on sofas and sit on chair arms.”
Once the year-long process was completed, Laurie was delighted, of course, but she was also a little sad. “It was a big, daunting task, but I never felt like I wasn’t supported. I was actually sad when everyone was gone. It was so fun, and I really miss not having Ryan, Katie, and our contractor, Jim Reilly, to collaborate with every day,” she explains. “People ask, ‘Were you and Sands fighting all the time?’ But it really brought my family closer.” So does that mean she’s itching to do it all over again? “Well, this house is so perfect. I don’t really feel the need,” she says.