At Home with Marcus Washington

Alice Busch helps this Redskins linebacker furnish two residences, with an eye toward building a lakefront dream home in his native Alabama


Marcus Washington likes to shoot pool with friends in his
Leesburg home.

Great Falls Distinctive Interiors’ Alice Busch conducts extensive interviews with clients each time she begins a new project. While the exercise is always beneficial, it yielded unusually lofty results when she sat down with Washington Redskins linebacker Marcus Washington, who had enlisted Busch to decorate both his Leesburg townhouse and a residence in his beloved hometown of Auburn, Alabama, where he played football for Auburn University.

“We asked a ton of questions and took meticulous notes,” Busch says of her initial meeting with Washington. “Toward the end of our conversation, I asked where he saw himself 10 to 15 years from now.” It was the answer to this final question that became the guiding principle for both design projects.

Unlike many rising stars, Washington had a very specific answer. He hopes to be ensconced in a custom home on Lake Martin, about 30 miles outside of Auburn. I definitely have a place in mind,” Washington says. “The water is very relaxing for me, and I prefer a lake to the ocean. When I told Alice my plans, we put our heads together and tried to come up with some furniture we could have in these two houses that we could pull together and would look nice if I decide to combine them later.”

Their meeting of the minds spawned a pair of residences that, while situated some 650 miles apart, undisputably share the same soul. Both are rooted in rich earth tones and sophisticated, accommodating furnishings. The aura in both homes is warm and relaxing, masculine with just a dollop of pizzazz. While the Alabama house is a more obvious paean to Auburn University’s mascot, the tiger (including a sumptuous custom patterned rug in the family room), the Leesburg house boasts a wall in the study that pays tribute to Washington’s sports idols. Present company includes athletes Michael Jordan, Walter Payton, Lance Armstrong, Muhammad Ali and Tiger Woods.

The two homes even share a few identical pieces, like the barstools in the room where Washington shoots pool with “his boys” in Leesburg that eventually will be combined with their counterparts in Auburn to form a complete set. “We’ve done a measure and library of every piece of furniture and fabric in both houses so we know exactly what he has,” Busch says.

“He’s not a flamboyant person, and he’s very conservative financially and is clever enough to know this won’t last forever,” she adds, referring to the life cycle of a professional athlete. “I usually don’t do ‘temporary,’ but we made smart decisions on pieces that will last.”

Perhaps because he knows the stadium lights don’t shine on any player forever, 29-year-old Washington is clearly soaking up life as one of the Redskins’ go-to defensive players, now embarking on his third season with the team. “I really love DC,” he says. “I wouldn’t want to play football anywhere else. The fans are great. The coaches are great. And to get the chance to play for Coach [Joe] Gibbs and be a part of all the history of this team is really special.”

But the life of a professional football player can wear and tear on a guy, even one who stands at a sturdy six feet, three inches. Washington’s Leesburg residence clearly reflects his need for “a little chill” after putting in grueling hours to stay on top of his game. “My Auburn home has a little more pop to it,” he says. “Here in DC, it’s a little more laid back. That’s important to me because at the end of the season when you’re out of the hustle and bustle, you want to be able to be home and be just a normal guy.”

Nowhere are the comforts of home more evident than in the family room, presided over by an oversized chocolate sofa. It was this space, in fact, that initially led him to Alice Busch, who had decorated a home for his teammate, Shawn Springs. In the three years since Washington bought his townhome, he had room that would have beautiful furniture that you couldn’t sit on,” he says. “I have never understood that.”

Neither, as it turns out, has Busch, who is known as much for her attention to quality as she is for her bent for eye-catching fabrics. “Good fabric on good framework is key—especially with a guy that size,” she says. “I raised four sons on one couch, and three of the four fought over who would get it when they were grown.”

Her philosophy dovetailed beautifully with Washington’s current and long-term plans, and guided décor decisions in the former dining room, which they converted into a study/entertainment room with oversized leather club chairs, a pool table, the aforementioned bar stools and loads of memorabilia. Comfort and quality also take center stage in the downstairs home theater, a cavernous room distinguished by luxurious seating, ambient lighting and a meticulously arranged poster wall.

Although Washington stepped aside for some of the furniture purchases, he was right in the mix when it came to arranging photos, jerseys and other objects dear to his heart. “He’ll tell you he doesn’t have strong opinions about decorating, but we redid the pool room wall three times and the poster wall in the movie theater twice,” Busch says warmly.

Now that his two residences are complete, Washington is thinking of a new enterprise—renting out his Auburn home during the many months he is in DC. “So many people come into town to see games and I think with the tiger theme it would be fun for the right kind of person,” he says.

Does he have the real estate bug? “I do have a little interest in real estate; it’s kind of the ‘in’ thing to do right now,” Washington says, then pauses. “But right now I’m staying focused on football and the Redskins,” he says with a chuckle. “This little football thing I do.”

Washington’s residence in his hometown of Auburn, Alabama, pays homage to his alma mater’s football team, the Tigers, as reflected in the custom-designed rug in the living room.  The media room in Washington’s Auburn residence boasts a plush carpet by Stark and Ligne Roset’s classic Togo seating—in tiger orange, of course.


The family room in the Leesburg home was designed for relaxation.


The current dining room in Leesburg is an elegant spot for intimate dinners.


The former dining room in the Leesburg home was converted into a
study/entertainment room with oversized leather club chairs and
loads of football memorabilia.


Washington’s residence in his hometown in Auburn, Alabama,
pays homage to his alma mater’s football team, the Tigers, as
reflected in the custom-designed rug in the living room.


The media room in Washington’s Auburn residence boasts
a plush carpet by Stark and Ligne Roset’s classic Togo
seating in tiger orange.


A custom-designed desk and leather chair outfit Washington’s
home office in Auburn. Photos and mementoes from his college
football days mingle with Redskins photos and memorabilia.


New custom bedding by Exclusive Draperies and Upholstery
Inc. dresses up one of the guest bedrooms in the Auburn home.


Exclusive Draperies and Upholstery Inc. did the drapery and
cornice in the master bedroom in master bedroom.