Marnie Oursler stars in Big Beach Builds, which premieres on Friday, February 5th on HGTV.

Photo courtesy of Marnie Oursler

By Claire Handscombe


Growing up in and around DC with parents who were both builders, Marnie Oursler had no intention of following in their footsteps. But when she moved to Bethany after college and could only afford to buy a house which needed to be renovated, she discovered how much she enjoyed working on it. “It was interesting how much of it came so naturally to me, from growing up in the industry,” she says. “Once I started doing it for myself, it was a totally different perspective.”

From these humble beginnings in 2003 came Marnie Oursler Homes, the company she started in 2007  and which is now on track to earn over $9 million in 2016. And then, in August 2015, a couple of production companies approached her after finding her online. They followed Marnie at work for a day interviewed her and pitched a pilot to HGTV. The show, named Big Beach Builds, airs on Friday, February 5th, at noon.

Marnie-Oursler small

Photo courtesy of Marnie Oursler

She calls the experience very surreal. “I’ve done this for so long every day. And to me, the most mundane things – I was marking up the studs, laying out kitchens and doing some things that I have done forever – it was surreal that people would be interested.”

The beach lifestyle suits Marnie, she says, because it’s a more laid back atmosphere than cities, which matches her personality and the way she likes to live. “And then the houses are more casual as well, a lot of big open spaces – the interiors are just more relaxed feeling, not as formal, and definitely geared for entertaining and hanging out.”

Marnie loves to use locally sourced materials, so that she can support the local economy and also use reclaimed products. When the Bethany boardwalks were redone, she was offered the use of the old wood. She made tables from it and auctioned them off for charity. She also uses it in houses as accent pieces on walls and in stairwells, where it looks like art when you walk in because of the different patterns in the wood.

“It’s really neat when you have the Bethany boardwalks in your house,” Marnie says. “A lot of people have so many memories of their families vacationing here, so it definitely makes it special.”

If you’re looking for a neat way to reclaim local products for interior design, Marnie’s advice is to find objects that are special to you, or that serve a different purpose.

She’ll have many more tips for us on Big Beach Builds. Tune in to HGTV on February 5th at noon for the pilot episode.

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