by Laura Petrides Wall | Photographs by Catherine Nguyen
As a child, Mandi Chappell used to make fun of her father’s Asian art collection. “He had a real passion for it and collected pieces when he traveled,” she says. Even though his travel was often domestic, her father had an affinity for Oriental style, bringing home everything from small decorative ornaments to large rugs. “Admittedly, I did not appreciate the beauty of the pieces he collected,” says Chappell. She particularly disliked a pair of Chinese guardian lion statues, sometimes known as foo dogs, that her father purchased. However, since his passing a few years ago, Chappell has developed an appreciation for his beloved collectibles. It is not coincidence that these same two foo dogs, meant to ward off evil and offer protection, now flank the front doors of her family’s new home.
After months of searching for an existing home in Raleigh, Chappell and her husband, Brian Chappell, finally settled on purchasing an older ranch home on a large lot in Country Club Hills. “It was a tear-down, but the location was ideal. We decided to go for it,” says Chappell. With the help of architect Tony Frazier and builder Richard Gephart, their custom home became a reality. After 15 months of construction, the Chappells moved in last December. They intend to stay. “This is the first and last house we will build together,” she says.
Once construction was complete, Chappell turned her focus to the home’s interior. She worked with interior designer Tula Summerford to pull together pieces new and old. Chappell says she loved Summerford’s design work and personality, so it was a natural collaborative fit. “I saw the different kinds of work that she had done. She really understood what I wanted,” Chappell says. Through the design process, the two found new use— and created a stage—for her father’s remarkable collectibles. Together, they created an inventory of the Chappells’ existing furniture, antiques, and art, and then narrowed things down to best fit the space. “I like people to keep things that they’ve inherited,” Summerford says, “I think it’s a reflection on their life, their travels, and their lifestyle.”
The Chappells repurposed existing family furnishings and splurged on lighting, wallpaper, and hardware. Taking personal style into consideration—Chappell’s love for color, animal prints, and the sentimental art collection—created a cohesive, multilayered, and inspired look.
They’ve settled nicely into their new home, which they share with children Jack, 14, Molly, 12, and Katherine, 9. “It’s better than we could have ever dreamed of. I never thought I’d live in a house like this,” says Chappell. More importantly, she sees their space as a tribute to her late father. “I wish he could see the foo dogs on the front porch.”