When Marlene Weiss-Alexander and her husband, Lee Alexander, decided to move to DC from Potomac, finalizing the floor plan of their new home in Phillips Park was easy. Working with GTM Architects’ George Myers and Mark Kaufman, she says, they customized an existing plan to “bring certain elements of Potomac to DC,” including large closets, a three-car garage and an open kitchen and family room—features rarely found in older city homes.
Defining a style for the interiors of their Colonial-style home, however, was not so simple. “The pressure of doing your own home is unbelievable,” Weiss-Alexander admits. “I wanted a style that reflects who I am. I wanted it to be artistic and edgy, but also comfortable. I create so many styles for clients, but doing my own house was the most challenging.”
Weiss-Alexander, who recently completed residences for clients in Palm Beach, Aspen and Rehoboth Beach, decided to blend elements from each of these projects in her new home. “It’s a gathering of things I’ve learned from other projects and my travels,” she says. In every room, she has mixed classic furniture, luxurious textiles, eye-catching art and a dose of glamour, balancing every bold gesture with a measure of restraint.
“I treat each room like a blank canvas,” says Weiss-Alexander, who has a degree in fine art. “I keep layering until I get the final product right.”
Subtle metallics dress up the living and dining rooms, which face each other; Weiss-Alexander grounded the glitter with sisal rugs. Platinum tones accent the living room’s painted ceiling, the Niermann Weeks chandelier and the Edward Ferrell + Lewis Mittman chaise in Armani silk. In the dining room, warm shades of bronze embellish the ceiling—which is covered in Donghia paper—as well as the hand-embroidered Holland & Sherry drapes and the Murano-glass chandeliers.
The foyer leads back to the open kitchen and family room. Inspired by Aspen style, Weiss-Alexander created a rustic yet comfortable vibe in the family room with its stone hearth and ceiling beams. Four barrel-backed chairs covered in chenille are grouped under a dramatic chandelier by Wired customized with citrine crystals and iron trim. An inviting sectional faces a focal wall where the couple’s ceramics, glass and wood collections are on display.
Weiss-Alexander traveled far and wide to find the right material for her kitchen island. The search led to a Marva Stone showroom in Virginia Beach, where she discovered Fusion granite. Despite some trepidation that it would be too busy, she had the top and one side fabricated from thick slabs of the exotic stone. Surrounded by solid-colored Wood-Mode cabinets, subdued Caesarstone countertops and Durango limestone on the backsplash and floors, the treatment works. As Weiss-Alexander explains, “I wanted the kitchen to be simple, and the island to be the star.”
A shopping trip to New York led to the discovery of the stainless-steel light fixture hung over the island. Its modern edge appealed to the designer, who can easily change accessories displayed on top of the piece. “I can use candles, sculptures, branches or flowers on it,” she says, “so I’ll never get tired of it.”
The home’s lower level houses Weiss-Alexander’s office suite, which includes space for two employees, a fabric library and conference room. The couple shares a home gym decked out with weights and cardio equipment.
In their second-floor master suite, Weiss-Alexander evokes a calm “California” sensibility with a soothing palette and more than a touch of luxury. “I wanted a peaceful place to begin and end the day,” she says. A Pollack wall covering that blends cut velvet and chenille provides a lush backdrop to a headboard of Alexander’s design covered in mohair. Two Fuse pendants made of striped agate gems hang like earrings completing a chic ensemble. Calling these bedside lights a “splurge,” Weiss-Alexander admits, “I have a thing for light fixtures—and I don’t like to compromise on beauty.”
The master bath is as equally soothing with Durango limestone flooring and countertops and an oversized shower where a band of metallic tile creates a bit of dazzle. An adjacent bedroom was converted into a dressing room for Weiss-Alexander; Old Dominion Trim Specialists outfitted it with shelves and cabinetry to store her every belt, bag and shoe.
After moving in last year, the Alexanders love their new home. It’s so comfortable, in fact, that Lee, a Washington attorney, seldom wants to leave. “And when we go away—we love to travel—” Weiss-Alexander insists, “we can’t wait to be back in our own bedroom again.”
Stacy Zarin Goldberg is a photographer in Olney, Maryland.
ARCHITECTURE: GEORGE T. MYERS, AIA, and MARK KAUFMAN, GTM Architects, Bethesda, Maryland. INTERIOR DESIGN: MARLENE WEISS-ALEXANDER, Weiss-Alexander Design Group, Washington, DC. CONTRACTOR: SANDY SPRING BUILDERS, Bethesda, Maryland.