Text: Lauren Gentry Walker
Photos: Dana Hoff
Host of DIY Network’s Big Beach Builds and CEO of Marnie Custom Homes, Marnie Oursler knows exactly how to bring beauty, sustainability, and brilliant design to her seaside creations. As the daughter of a home builder, Oursler grew up learning about construction and gaining firsthand knowledge of the business of building. Upon graduating from college and working multiple jobs to purchase her first fixer-upper project, she found the perfect bungalow in need of major renovations and resold it nine months later for profit. Her hard work and perseverance led to the birth of Marnie Custom Homes and more than 100 homes built to date.
For an active family with dreams of a traditional beach home with plenty of contemporary aspects, Oursler took on the challenge of designing an abode with a modern feel that still blended beautifully into the mid-Atlantic coast of Delaware. “This was such a fun project,” says Oursler. “We started building it in the fall of 2019 and finished in the fall of 2020, so obviously the pandemic added a layer of difficulty. My clients are really fun, amazing people, and we did a lot of video chatting for the design selections. It was a real collaboration.”
While living beachside is a dream come true for many, the challenges of dealing with sand, people coming and going, and the packing and unpacking of coolers and tote bags still must be addressed when planning the layout of a home. Oursler intentionally created a mudroom-style beach prep room that prevents the rest of the house from getting dirty. “I wanted everything to be clean and functional while still allowing for a lot of fun,” says Oursler. “The kids are high school age, so there’s always teenagers in and out, and this room is perfect for filling coolers, unloading at the end of a beach day, and washing towels.”
The owners requested a private suite that resides by itself on the fourth floor, and while the children have their own individual spaces, a large bunk room that can sleep up to 14 people was added along with a separate guest suite. In the central dining room, the sprawling table seats up to 10 people and was oriented to maximize the ocean view while giving guests a breathtaking seaside seat. Along with a clean and serene aesthetic, the primary goal for the kitchen was to add as many refrigeration options as possible. Two large refrigerators with freezer doors flank the impressive 48-inch range, and the custom zinc hood ties in seamlessly with the veining in the countertops. Oursler also added refrigerator drawers close to the outdoor area for conveniently grabbing beverage refills.
“I loved everything about this project,” says Oursler. “It was a pleasure to work with this family, and so much detail went into every element. We worked with Restoration Hardware on the furnishings, and the entire thing was an incredible collaboration. Every single room is so special.”