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A 1930s University Park Home Becomes a Perfect Nest

Heather and Scott Alexander renovated their Park Cities house. And it's just as nice as they are.
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photography by Manny Rodriguez

A 1930s University Park Home Becomes a Perfect Nest

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Beauty may be only skin deep, but Heather Wiese-Alexander has it covered. Sure, she’s beautiful on the outside—she was voted one of D Magazine’s 10 Most Beautiful Women in 2008. But she’s also talented. The former Neiman Marcus art director started Bell’Invito, a luxury paper and engraving company. She also transformed Nest, the Snider Plaza store  she owns with her husband, from a country-kitsch shop to a modern space with cool gifts, furniture, and art. And the lady is pretty on the inside, too. Not only is she one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, her husband, Scott (who, incidentally, is gorgeous as well), is a peach, too.

Unfortunately, being nice doesn’t insulate anyone from the headaches that come with falling in love with an old house. Heather and Scott found their run-down house on University Boulevard in 2005. The timing was perfect—Heather had started Bell’Invito in 2004, and they hadn’t even considered the acquisition of Nest yet. The Alexanders were drawn to the Craftsman style, coved ceilings, wide lot, and greenhouse in back. They made an offer, and it was theirs.

Like so many houses built in Dallas’ early days—many of them now long gone—this one has an interesting story. Robert Stewart Hyer, the first president of Southern Methodist University, and his wife, Margaret, built the house in 1934 after his tenure. Although it probably would have been faster and less costly to scrape the house, the Alexanders resisted. Instead, they rebuilt the house from the studs, leaving the floor plan intact. The work took two years.

Heather’s attention to detail came in handy during the renovation. “Heather has a perfect eye for visual measurement,” Scott says. “I have to,” Heather agrees. “We don’t do any mass-production printing—we only use letterpress or engraving on Bell’Invito stationery—so I notice even a one-millimeter discrepancy.” She designed all the pulls and hardware to complement the style of the house. An article in an in-flight magazine led her to Brooklyn artist Michael Anchin, who designed the hanging light fixtures in her kitchen and the longneck vases in the bedroom. The Alexanders opted to keep the front rooms of the house the same, but they added a kitchen and family room downstairs, as well as an upstairs master. They were mindful of using elements true to the original house, such as the coved ceilings in the family room.

The long straight lines of the Arts and Crafts-style home lend themselves to modern furnishings. A pair of Barcelona chairs flank a Deco-inspired fireplace designed by Heather, with a custom daybed by Beth Dotolo of Nest Interiors facing it. Art hangs throughout. And that may be Heather’s favorite part of furnishing her house: discovering new artists. As she has found pieces she likes, she also buys for Nest. “We knew we wanted to change the image and inventory of Nest when we bought it. At the time, everything had inspirational sayings on them,” Heather says, laughing. But the change in selection didn’t exactly go off without a hitch. “Many of the items that we just couldn’t understand were the ones that were selling and paying the rent,” she says. “And some older Nest clients got completely upset by the changes we were making.” But with Heather’s eye, Scott’s financial savvy, and the talent of buyer Donald Fowler, Nest has emerged as one of the most stylish stores in Dallas.

And guess what? It couldn’t happen to nicer people.

Styled by Jenny O’Connor  |  Flowers by Haile Wossen

Plus! Heather Wiese-Alexander Throws a Garden Party.