My Real-Life Big Beach Build

DIY Network star Marnie Oursler takes on colossal coastal projects—this time, her own!

Photo By: David A. Land

Photo By: David A. Land

Photo By: David A. Land

Photo By: David A. Land

Photo By: David A. Land

Photo By: David A. Land

Photo By: David A. Land

Photo By: David A. Land

Photo By: David A. Land

Photo By: David A. Land

Photo By: David A. Land

Summer Means a Full House...

...When you live at the beach. If you happen to be an expert at designing beach houses, like fifth-generation home builder Marnie Oursler is, expect family and friends to stay a while. The host of DIY Network’s Big Beach Builds wouldn’t have it any other way.

The House

After moving around Bethany Beach, DE, for years, Marnie finally bought an unsalvageable house in her ideal part of town, tore it down and put up a 6,400-square-foot retreat. The decor strikes a balance between relaxed and refined. “Some beach houses are so nice that you’re like, ‘Man, I don’t want to mess anything up,’ ” she says. “I’m laid-back, so it’s OK to sit on my sofa even if you’re sandy.” But her lack of house rules doesn’t mean there aren’t beautiful details, like coffered ceilings, herringbone-pattern floors and whitewashed barnwood. Marnie also thought of everything to make guests comfortable: There’s plenty of cushy furniture to sink into, a screened-in porch and three roomy balconies for breathing in the salty air, and a bunk room for her nieces and nephews. She situated her bedroom on the top floor so overnight guests have the lower levels to themselves. “The privacy helps it feel more like a vacation for them,” says Marnie. “But I admit, my room has the best views!”

Kitchen

Now that’s an island! Marnie built a 14 1/2-foot-long stunner with two countertops: a 4-inch-thick walnut one for the seating area, and white quartz for the rest. “I did that partly to break up all the white surrounding it,” she says, “but also because I like the wood for mealtimes. It resembles a kitchen table.” She put beadboard in the squares in the coffered ceiling. “It adds character to what otherwise would have been just drywall,” she says. The barstools are from Restoration Hardware; their chambray slipcovers by Bemz pick up the blue in the mosaic tile backsplash by AKDO.

Living Room

“You can’t go wrong with blue and white—it’s beachy and classic,” says Marnie. A U-shaped brushed-linen sectional from Restoration Hardware is the pinnacle of cozy. It faces the fireplace, but it’s easy to talk to people in the kitchen while lounging on it. Marnie did shiplap walls (painted Pearly White by Sherwin-Williams), added white oak floors from Old Wood Delaware in a herringbone pattern, and painted the back of the bar and the coffered ceilings pale blue (Iceberg by Sherwin-Williams). A polished nickel light fixture and a stainless steel range hood tie the spaces together.

Dining Room

Marnie eats at the island most of the time, but when people come over, this 6-foot-diameter pedestal table is a catchall for meals, puzzles and games. It’s also where Marnie gets work done when she has the house to herself. “I didn’t want this room to feel formal—slipcovered chairs with numbers on the backs are casual and quirky,” she says. (They’re from Ballard Designs.) An unfinished wood chandelier from Interior HomeScapes and a jute rug by NuLoom are stylish nautical touches.

Game Room

Sure, Marnie could have bought a standard Ping-Pong table, but where’s the fun in that? Instead she had a local woodworker build one with a weathered flag design on top. “I wouldn’t challenge anyone to a Ping-Pong match, but the kids are great at it,” she says. Another character boost: a feature wall. The surf scene is wallpaper from magicmurals.com. “I like to surf, so I prop up or hang boards around the house—it’s the easiest art,” says Marnie. The cotton rug is from Annie Selke’s Dash & Albert.

Bunk Room

Marnie had a blast designing this space for her youngest houseguests. Each of the custom built-in beds has a sconce for reading and matching striped bedding by Levtex Home. She spruced up the stair risers with tiles from Aguayo Tiles, did X-railings on the upper bunks—a nod to the other X designs throughout the house—and added blue ladders, with boat cleats from a local marine store to use as hooks. “The drawers are where the kids stash their arcade trinkets,” she says.

Master Bedroom

For her room, Marnie aimed for Scandinavian simplicity. The walls are a combination of shiplap and reclaimed barnwood with a whitewash treatment. Marnie designed a built-in platform bed and nightstands using the same whitewashed wood. “I like doing that for clients, too, because it adds character, but it’s also functional—you don’t need to buy a bed frame or nightstands,” she says. White linen drapes and a West Elm duvet cover with a half-moon pattern add to the room’s dreamy look. The chambray shams and blanket are from Restoration Hardware. For contrast, Marnie added swing-arm sconces in an oil-rubbed-bronze finish.

Master Bathroom

Marnie wanted a spacious bathroom, but she kept it streamlined by choosing one material (Carrara marble) and using it several ways. There’s a slab on the counter, rectangular tiles for the backsplash, and larger tiles laid in a herringbone pattern on the floor. “The differences are subtle, and nothing clashes,” she says. She paired the cool stone with mirrors from Joss & Main and sconces in a polished chrome finish from Restoration Hardware.

Bathroom

Carrying over the fun from the bunk room, Marnie had a three-faucet trough sink by Kohler installed in the adjacent bathroom. She painted the bottom blue (Iceberg by Sherwin-Williams) to match the ladders on the bunks. “The sink is a huge hit with the kids—they like to brush their teeth at the same time,” says Marnie. The floor-to-ceiling tiles from Aguayo Tiles are the same as the ones on the bunk room’s stair risers.

Mudroom

Marnie had traditional vertical tongue-and-groove wall paneling installed, then made it cute with a mermaid-hook coatrack from Tulip, a local store. The baskets are filled with sandals and swim gear friends and family have left behind. “They’ll be back,” Marnie says, laughing. The floor is vinyl tile by Coretec that looks like wood. “It stands up to all the water and sand that get tracked through here,” she says.

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