Close To Home. A couple shares their expansive collection of art

Close To Home. A couple shares their expansive collection of art
The living area with abundance of global art and antique furniture.

By Lexie Jordan | 

The home at 510 Bellvue Place is heaven for any art aficionado. Owner Jon Sheiner admits “the house has almost hit its saturation point.” Sheiner and his wife Susan White are connoisseurs of art, gardening, travel, antiques and Chow Chow dogs. A miscellaneous assortment, but when combined, makes for remark able home decor.

The neighborhood in the northernmost part of Old Town is secluded, but a mere five-minute walk from the heart of Old Town. White has lived in Old Town for more than 45 years and resided in her current home for the past 25. She said she and Sheiner chose to live in North Old Town after they got married because of the convenience to D.C., the waterfront, the seclusion, the big windows, natural light and the walkability.

“I just feel that we’re in this little oasis. I love that you have to walk in and it’s this little private street,” White said. The community within the area is also a plus for Sheiner and White.

“I love the diversity of the community and the age mix of the community and the other When White and Sheiner married in 1998 – at the Holiday Inn on King Street like true Alexandrians – they had both lived very well-traveled lives as D.C. lobbyists. They collected many amazing pieces throughout their travels. In addition, they both grew up with artistic and creative parents. Sheiner’s mother was a designer and White’s an artist. The cultivated taste they developed individually called for a splendid merge.

Upon their marriage, they sought to buy a home. Having lived in Shirlington and Old Town respectively, they had a surplus of knowledge regard- ing the neighborhoods in the Arlandria area.

After barely any scouting, the couple landed on 510 Bellvue Place.

“From the beginning, it was within seconds that I said to Jon I want this house,” White said. The home was built in 1996 and had only one owner before the couple purchased the property. When they moved in, they decked their house in decor.

With the help of a good friend who has an amazing eye for art and framing, the bare walls quickly became a museum of fine art – and White and Sheiner can name practically every artist, builder, gardener or designer that contributed to their house.

The house is a beautiful escape and truly transports you into the world of Sheiner and White. The attention to detail throughout their home is apparent, with hidden gems at every turn that reveal the personalities of the two residents.

However, before you enter the home, the garden is where your eyes land. The stone fixture of an adorable Chow dog and the abundance of color in the small front yard brings a very welcoming feel to the home. The garden was the first of only three renovations the couple did to the property.

“When I saw that our front yard was just grass, I thought that’s ridiculous. It’s big enough for a garden. Who’s going to want to stare at grass?” White recalled.

The love of different cultures from all over the world is evident from the moment one steps into the house. Indigenous puppet art from Vietnam is tucked away under the en- trance table. A three-piece set of lemon paintings from a Tuscan artist also lines the wall, in addition to art from local Alexandrian artists.

The downstairs area is treated as the basement since there is no official one. There is a den with a bar and an exit to the backyard where there are plentiful flowers, a grill and a table for outdoor dining.

The stairs to the upper floors are lined with a red tapestry rug, which was put in for the chows. The walls also have tributes to the beloved Chows and other artworks. Upon entering the second floor, there is a lovely dining room table and a large Vietnamese paint- ing of several women talking. There is also a seating area which features one of the most interesting pieces in the house: an antique couch reupholstered by the man who helped with the furniture for the White House under the Kennedy administration.

The seating area also features art from Vietnam, masks from Africa, paintings from France and Germany, a lounge chair from Sheiner’s mother, original artwork from White’s mother, a fan that was used by White’s grandmother and White herself in their weddings. There is even an original Barbie wedding dress mounted on the wall in a glass enclosure.

Everything in the house has a story behind it and there is something new to notice at every turn.

“There’s a difference between decorating and collecting, and if you see things you love, things will eventually go together,” White said, remembering this piece of advice she received from a friend.

The kitchen is one of the few renovations the couple did to the house. Long windows line the south facing wall and the cabinets are made from cherry wood. There is also a wine rack and a little dining table.

The entire half bath on the second floor is dedicated to Chow memorabilia. The couple has had three Chows live in the house: Salva, a rescue that White had before the marriage, Chili and Sophie – Sophie being a show dog which they bred. White always had a fascination with Chows, as she noticed that only fascinating people seemed to own them: Martha Stewart, Georgia O’Keefe – her favorite artist – and Sigmund Freud to name a few.

“Man, a lot of interest- ing people have Chow dogs,” White laughed.

The landing as you reach the third floor is decorated with family photos in gold frames placed in a diamond shape. The third floor is also home to the guest bedroom and bathroom. This floor also houses the gym room which has another bathroom and more memorabilia of the couple throughout their years working on Capitol Hill.

The fourth floor is the owner’s level. The fifth and final bathroom was the most recent renovation done to the house.

It has an Asian style with horizontal wood slabs on a portion of the wall and marble for the floor and shower. Unsurprisingly, the master bedroom also houses a range of art, though the room matches the theme of the owner’s bath and maintains its Asian inspiration.

Even though the house has stairs to four levels, the couple has no plans to leave anytime soon.

“We resolved that the number of stairs actually helps us. It helps us, it keeps us healthy.

Frankly, both of our dogs lived a lot longer than their breed typically does because they would go up and down the stairs every day,” Sheiner said.

Sheiner and White love their home and all its quirks. In their words “it feels like we have a good energy in here.”

The couple plans on traveling more in these coming years. They joked they are hesitant for fear they will be tempted to buy more pieces and will have no room on the walls on which to store them.