The living room of a Meadowood Estate designed by Mary Anne Smiley.

The living room of a Meadowood Estate designed by Mary Anne Smiley

Mary Anne Smiley had big plans for herself as a young woman. During childhood, she began drawing house plans and dreamed of a career in architecture.

Several years later, she tried to begin architecture studies at Oklahoma State University. But it was the 1960s, and the dean informed her, “Women do not enroll in architecture.”

Mary Anne Smiley

Mary Anne Smiley

That unfortunate turn of events led her to a different kind of adventure—she decided instead to study interior design and fine art. This began a successful career as an interior designer, and today, Smiley is recognized her as one of the top designers in Dallas. She received a Best of Houzz 2014 award for service, and a Best of Houzz 2015 award for design.

“I went to college with the intention of being an architect, but I am so glad the dean told me women could not enroll in architecture, as I think that would have been so limiting for me,” Smiley said. “I also wanted to be an artist so bad, but realized I did not have the raw talent required for that at that time—during the 60s, if you were not angry, and interested in phallic symbols, you did not have what it took! I think all-in-all, I landed just where I needed to be.”

Smiley’s love of bright color made her a pioneer of its use in Dallas interior design, and a signature of hers is bright spots of pure color against soft pearl-finish backgrounds. She’s also known for her ability to mix antiques and lavish textiles with cutting-edge products, from metallics to recycled plastics.

“I love to mix elements,” she said. “For instance, in the Highland Park contemporary study, for the desk, I used two contemporary chrome bases for a custom acrylic ‘tray’ top with honey onyx insert. The unique thing about this desk that you do not see, is that the onyx has a hollow space that encompasses an LED light grid that lights the onyx top without any evidence of a light source or wiring, as the wiring is concealed inside the chrome base, running directly into the floor, with the transformer for the lighting mounted beneath the floor.”

Today, she brings her talents to clients with her company, Mary Anne Smiley Interiors, creating carefully curated spaces for a range of clients. Her work is simply stunning.

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Stephan SardoneParting is such sweet sorrow. At least it is for us at CandysDirt when one of our favorite homebuilders puts his sensational reno on the market.

Stephan Sardone, owner of Sardone Construction, took the L-Streets house at 10229 Linkwood Dr. in Lake Highlands to the studs and reimagined the space entirely. What emerged is extraordinary—we’ve written about it twice, here and here.

“We essentially demolished its entire insides and redesigned it into an open concept that maximized every inch of the home,” he said. “We were able to fit three full bedrooms and two full bathrooms—and the master bath is really large—as well as an incredible open living space and nice-sized kitchen.”

Stephan SardoneTo make this house happen, Sardone partnered with Larry Paschall of HPD Architecture in Oak Lawn. Together, they totally overhauled the 1,320-square-foot interior. They moved all interior walls, changed the layout of the space, and created a vaulted ceiling with wood beams by pushing out a gable on the roof.

Sardone’s abode served both as a home for him and his wife, and as a contractor showcase to show potential clients just how to create a smart, efficient design. It was a no-brainer to choose it as today’s Thursday Three Hundred. It was listed Friday by Michael Cassell at Gilchrist & Company Real Estate for $379,900.

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All photos: Kevin Twitty

In January, I wrote a post called 5 Dallas Interior Designers to Watch in 2015 and Kevin Twitty of Frisco’s IBB Design Fine Furnishings made that list.

Twitty creates original, inspired interiors and shows tremendous ambition and attention to detail in his work. He seems to have an intuitive nature that helps translate a client’s wants and needs into beautiful, functional spaces that serve as the stage to create their memories.

Since I published that post, I’ve wanted to talk to Twitty and find out more about his background, influences, design process, and upcoming projects. As I suspected, he’s a genuinely likable guy with a great story, incredible passion, and a general joy of living that he brings to his work.

Kevin Twitty_Headshot

All photos courtesy of Kevin Twitty

Twitty got his professional start following his first semester at Stephen F. Austin State University, where he was an accounting majoring. On winter break, he took a job at a small showroom at the Dallas Trade Mart helping with visual displays.

“Day one on the job was a 12-hour marathon of learning, creating, and refining new designs and it left me yearning for more,” he recalled. “When I returned home that evening and shared my day with my mother, tears started to run down her face as she told me, ‘You’ve found what you are meant to do. I’ve never seen you this happy.’”

Upon return to college, he changed his major to interior design and never looked back. That showroom job lasted for seven years.

“My time there was invaluable to my growth as a designer and I was able to hone my skills and better understand scale, space, and balance,” he said. “I’ve now spent the better part of a decade making spaces of all kinds beautiful and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”

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All photos: Sardone Construction

All photos: Sardone Construction

Stephan Sardone did not arrive at his career in home renovation by direct route.

The Flower Mound native headed to graduate school with the intention of earning his masters, then traveling to Papua, New Guinea, to work with indigenous tribes and translate their native languages, as well as aid with microfinance projects and community development.

Now, with two masters degrees in hand, he performs a different kind of community work: helping Dallas homeowners translate their vision for a home remodel into reality.

The transition started with a side business during his undergrad days. Sardone was an eager student with an entrepreneurial spirit and a knack for laying tile. It lasted into his graduate school days, and he drove around in a minivan, filled to the brim with tiles, and took on clients under the name Tile Fast.

“Tile Fast was never supposed to go anywhere, it was just supposed to teach me business and such, but then it turned into kitchen remodeling, then into full-scale remodeling,” he said. “It took about six months after I graduated to realize I was going to stay in the business because I really liked it.”

Stephan Sardone portrait

He changed the name of his company to Sardone Construction in 2010 and has earned accolades as his reputation has grown for creating smart and efficient designs that maximize space in a truly beautiful way.

The most important thing is to do really high quality work, have high standards, and give our clients a good experience,” he said.

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Karen Eubank of Eubank Staging and Design is one of many locals who won a Houzz award this year. Photo: Shoot2Sell.

Karen Eubank of Eubank Staging and Design (and a Candy’s Dirt contributor) is one of many locals who won a Houzz award this year. Photo: Shoot2Sell.

We love to boast about how ingenious and imaginative the housing construction and design pros are in North Texas. So when Houzz announced their winners of “Best Of Houzz 2015” awards, it was no surprise that Dallas-Fort Worth made quite a splash.

Houzz is an online home remodeling and design site that showcases the work of architects, homebuilders, interior designers, landscape pros, and other residential remodeling professionals. Their Best Of Houzz awards come in two categories: customer service and design. Customer service honors are determined by a variety of factors, including the number and quality of client reviews from 2014. Design winners’ work ranked most popular among the more than 25 million monthly users on the site.

I’ve spent the better part of the last five days combing through the champs, savoring the superb photos, and picking a few of my favorites to share with you today. Candy already mentioned Tatum Brown Custom Homes’ win yesterday, but I’ve got a few others that caught my eye.

First, all five of the designers I wrote about at the beginning of the month in 5 Dallas Interior Designers to Watch in 2015 were Houzz winners (bam!), so a huge shout-out to these five:

Here are seven other DFW Houzz winners that will impress you with their discerning style and exquisite work.

 

1. CAROLINA V. GENTRY, RID: DESIGN AND SERVICE AWARDS

Photo courtesy Kevin Dotolo

Photo courtesy Kevin Dotolo

Photo courtesy Kevin Dotolo

Photo courtesy Kevin Dotolo

Photo courtesy Kevin Dotolo

Photo courtesy Kevin Dotolo

Carolina V. Gentry is a principal interior designer at Pulp Design Studios in East Dallas and her aesthetic is fluid and elegant. What I loved most about her interior designs was the clean, almost architectural feel, and details that feel high-end without being fussy. Many of the photos in her Houzz portfolio feature mirrored or silver accents that lend a midcentury vibe to the overall modern look.

But there’s nothing sterile about her the contemporary ambience—her work is warm and welcoming. She has more than one hundred photos on Houzz that will inspire you. Jump to read about six more winners!

 

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Now is the time to start planning your backyard pool, says Harold Leidner. Find out why winter is a great time to get started.

Well, the holidays are over, it’s cold outside, and everyone is back to work and school. Now it’s back to the grind and the long haul till spring break. Maybe you’ve been thinking about putting in a pool, or maybe you’ve been remembering those warm summer days and how nice it would have been to have a pool in the backyard? You are not alone, but is now the time to start thinking about getting that pool project? We asked our friends over at Harold Leidner Landscape Architects to suggest a few reasons why you might want to get that project going.
Jump to see five reasons why you should start building your backyard oasis right now!

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