Estate of the Arts

Everything old is breathtakingly new in the Weinstein home in East Memphis.

photographs by Andrea Zucker

Over the past decade East Memphis has witnessed a wide variety of renovations — some modest, some extravagant — but few have been as perfect a mix of old and new as the lovingly restored home of Jane and David Weinstein featured on this month’s cover. Indeed, this particular jewel demonstrates just how seamlessly and elegantly the past and present can peacefully coexist.

Dating to 1939, the Weinstein home was one of the first built on its street in a heavily-wooded area that was at the time considered “way out east.” Originally, it was a simple, white-clapboard structure; years later, the second owners bricked the exterior and updated the residence extensively.

In 1998, the Weinsteins became the third family to cross the threshold. Nearly 60 years old, the house had by that time clearly seen better days. When first exploring the wildly overgrown property (looking much like Memphis’ own version of Grey Gardens), Jane asked her husband what he thought of the pool. “What pool?” replied David. 

While clearly this did not bode well for the amount of work in store, the Weinsteins loved the house and the neighborhood, and felt up to the task. In fact, the present renovation is actually the second major remodeling completed since they have owned the home, and other minor nips and tucks were made along the way as well.

The design for this renovation was a joint effort. Jane Weinstein made some preliminary sketches, and a family friend, Justin Carr, drew what became the template for the renovation. Don McLemore was the architect who finished the project, and the builder was Drew Renshaw. This time the changes and additions were on the east side of the home, and the “West Wing,” where the three Weinstein children have their bedrooms, was left untouched.

While the neighborhood retains a peaceful, semi-rural feel with its towering trees and its deep lots (the house sits on an astonishing two acres), nothing seems old-fashioned about the Weinstein home. Its new façade is cedar post-and-beam construction, which gives it a rustic, yet updated and contemporary look. The brick around the entry has now been stuccoed, and the handsome front doors are mahogany.

A transitional-style kitchen blends the traditional and contemporary, with boards that originally saw use in an old Lowenstein's Department Store warehouse.Jane Weinstein’s father was the late Harris Sorrelle, the prominent sculptor and painter, and one-time head of the University of Memphis’ sculpture department. Jane herself is an accomplished photographer and painter whose bold, colorful work is all around the home, blending contemporary and classical elements — think Warhol crossed with Matisse (one of Jane’s favorite artists). Jane is a big booster of the Memphis College of Art; every year, she buys works by other artists at the college’s holiday bazaar. Not surprisingly, David and Jane first met at a Memphis Brooks Museum of Art gala. 

Along with their accomplished interior designer and good friend, Lee Pruitt, the Weinsteins graciously took the time to do a walk-through of the house with us. Once inside, the space opens up dramatically, with interior columns framing a wide-angled, light-filled view of the beautiful backyard. Beyond the entry is a stylish reception room with a large, zinc-topped table in the center, an antique painted chest, and a grand piano filling the space. A stunning painting of David’s grandmother and a self-portrait by Sorrelle hang on the walls.

The large living room features new upholstered pieces in neutral colors with differing textures — cotton chenille and Clarence House tweeds — all the better to make the works of art “pop.” An old leather chair and a table of reclaimed lumber to put your feet on add warmth and comfort. The flooring is heart of pine, the striped rug is by Stark, and a fish sculpture over the mantel came from a New England art fair. 

The wine “cellar” can be seen off of the living room. It is in fact a small, climate-controlled, glass-doored room, with scores of bottles that are tantalizingly visible and accessible. (In Jane’s words: “Maybe a bit too accessible.”) 

The state-of-the-art kitchen is painted Benjamin Moore’s warm “Maritime White,” a fitting color for a family that spends a lot of time in New England on the island of Nantucket. The cabinets are done in Moore’s “Bennington Gray.” The beams were salvaged from an old farmhouse, and other boards were reclaimed from the old Lowenstein’s Department Store warehouse — all of which add texture and hominess.

The elegant white-paneled dining room features a marble floor, a stone fireplace, and dramatic white sculpture. Yet this cool formality is softened by the texture of the wooden beams and the warm glow from the dramatic dark metal chandelier, the handsome wall sconces, and the flickering fire.

Lee Pruitt describes the master bedroom as “serene and down-to-earth,” but I would have to add “luxurious” as well. He has paired pale blue walls with neutral linen slip-covered club chairs, Italian painted chests, and creamy alabaster lamps. The Wilton carpet brings the space together in shades of chocolate and blue. “His” and “her” elegant bathrooms with walk-through showers feature Italian marble flooring.

A long hallway with clerestory windows leads past the dining room back to Jane’s new studio, which is entered through an ingenious barn door. Next comes the family/media room (too stylish to be called a “man cave”), outfitted with pool table and television. Adjacent is a home theater with stadium seating, reclining chairs, and ultra-suede upholstered walls. Now that’s entertainment!

The large living room is as comfortable as it is beautiful.

Outdoors is a stunning new covered terrace that leads to beautifully landscaped grounds complete with swimming pool and tennis court. The Weinsteins are a tennis-playing family, and David tells me that his court is constructed of the latest “post-tension concrete” with acrylic coatings. The family has collected the sculptures that dot the landscape over the past 12 years, and Jane proudly points out that one of the pieces stood in her father’s old schoolhouse studio in Somerville, Tennessee.

Clearly, through its three owners, the Weinstein home has been a comfortable, well-loved family home. However, the current occupants have taken this magnificent property to new heights, and dramatically transformed it into a sophisticated dream house with increased light and space, a flowing modern floor plan, and luxurious amenities. 

As we were completing the photo shoot for this article, a colleague summed up the home’s allure, saying, “If I lived here, I would never leave!” Couldn’t have said it better myself! 

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