Design & Home

This Bethany Beach Fixer-Upper Was Dramatically Transformed in Just Two Months

And on a relatively tight budget of $150,000.
This Bethany Beach Fixer-Upper Was Dramatically Transformed in Just Two Months
Photographs by Dana Hof.

Builder Marnie Oursler typically constructs brand-new custom houses from the ground up. This project was different. She had only two months and a slim budget of $150,000 to rehab a 1960s fixer-upper in North Bethany. The house belongs to one of Oursler’s best friends—who agreed to turn over complete design control so Oursler could feature the renovation on her DIY Network show, Big Beach Builds. “It was a little nerve-wracking because I was like, ‘Oh, my God—I hope she loves it,’ ” says Oursler. “But at the same time, it was a lot of fun.”

Before the renovation. Photograph courtesy of Leslie KDP.Before the renovation. Photograph courtesy of Leslie KDP.
The new wall of shelving adds more storage space, without detracting from the kitchen’s airiness.A new wall of shelving adds more storage space, without detracting from the kitchen’s airiness.

I wanted to capture all of that light,” says Oursler. “It has great windows and great bones, but the house was just dark. 

Builder Marnie Oursler heightened the beachy feel with a bright-white palette. Photograph by by Dana Hof.
Oursler heightened the beachy feel with a bright-white palette.

Luckily—given the time and budget constraints—the main-floor layout didn’t need much changing. Even so, Oursler made it look and feel much larger thanks to some relatively affordable updates. She tore down a bank of kitchen cabinets that partially blocked the house’s large front windows and painted just about everything white—the ceiling, the walls, the original wood floors (which had been hidden beneath cheap laminate). She converted one section of a former screened porch into a spacious butler’s pantry off the kitchen. Another piece of it became a new deck.

She turned part of an old screened porch into the butler’s pantry. Photograph by Dana Hof.
Oursler turned part of an old screened porch into the butler’s pantry.

The downstairs floor plan was reconfigured more dramatically. Two small bedrooms and a bathroom were combined into a single master suite. Oursler added an outdoor shower that connects to the indoor one via a sliding glass door. “It makes one big shower if you leave that door open,” she explains. The house’s brown-on-beige exterior was freshened up with white paint and black window trim. “It was a really inexpensive way to get a modern feel,” says Oursler.

The lower level was reconfigured into a luxurious master suite, including this bathroom with a shower that opens to the outdoors via the glass slider. Photograph by Dana Hoff.
The lower level was reconfigured into a luxurious master suite, including this bathroom with a shower that opens to the outdoors via the glass slider.

This article appears in the June 2019 issue of Washingtonian.

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Senior Editor

Marisa M. Kashino joined Washingtonian in 2009 as a staff writer, and became a senior editor in 2014. She was previously a reporter for Legal Times and the National Law Journal. She has recently written about the Marriott family’s civil war and the 50-year rebirth of 14th Street, and reported the definitive oral history of the Lorena and John Wayne Bobbitt case. She lives in Northeast DC with her husband, two dogs, and two cats.