The star of DIY Network’s Big Beach Builds is known for turning drab coastal homes into light, bright vacation escapes. Here, the fab features her clients ask for the most.

By Marisa Spyker
December 04, 2018
Maria DeForrest/Courtesy of Marnie Oursler

Whether you’re dreaming of renovating a current home, building anew, or are simply dreaming, chances are you’ve spent more than a few afternoons glued to a design-focused reality show. And if your dreams involve bliss in a beach house—don’t they all?—chances are you’ve spent a good share of those afternoons binging Marnie Oursler’s Big Beach Builds. The DIY Network staple follows the Bethany Beach, Delaware, native as she renovates tired coastal homes in and around her hometown.

Naturally, after years of transforming beach homes into their best selves, Marnie’s learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t—and what the next big thing in coastal design really is. We tapped the expert builder and TV star to see if she’d share what her clients are pining for most. Here’s the scoop on Marnie’s top five beach house trends for 2019:

Dana Hoff/Courtesy of Marnie Oursler

All-White Kitchens with Wood Islands
While all-white kitchens have gotten mixed reviews in recent years, in a beach house, they still feel light light, bright, and classic. “Most of our kitchens have white cabinets,” says Marnie. If you want to add a hint of contrast, however, Marnie suggests splashing in some wood. “We are featuring wood islands often, mixed with a [white] stone countertop. The wood is a softer surface, so for dining, it feels more comfortable.” The durable stone surfaces, Marnie adds, are ideal for food prep and cleanup.

Related: 7 Kitchen Trends That Can Raise the Value of Your Home: 

Open Plans
The tide is certainly trending toward open spaces in modern design, but at the beach, it’s especially nice. “We have great rooms, dining rooms, and kitchens all combined together in one room,” Marnie says. “At the beach, it’s nice so everyone can be together. Kids can be doing a puzzle at the dining room table, while adults are in the kitchen or great room.”

Dana Hoff/Courtesy of Marnie Oursler

Bunk Rooms (That Aren’t Just for Kids!)
Own a gorgeous home by the beach? You can expect a lot of visitors. That’s why bunk rooms have been prevalent in beach homes for years. But these days, Marnie says, it’s not just the 18-and-under crowd that’s using them. “Our bunk rooms have become much more elaborate in recent years,” she says. “I am designing them with queen beds on the bottom and full beds on top, with full stairs for easy access in between, USB outlets, shelves, and lights for each bunk.”

Color Pops
Neutrals might seem (nearly) fail-proof, but at the beach—specifically in a vacation home used for escape—spaces benefit from a hit of cheerful color. A perfect way to add just enough? Turn to the tile, says Marnie. “We are including a lot more bright-colored tile accents than ever before, such as cement tile, penny rounds, colorful herringbone patterns—mainly for shower wall accents and kitchen backsplash accents.”

Dana Hoff/Courtesy of Marnie Oursler

Natural Wood Accents
Want to bring some warmth and contrast to an interior space? Marnie suggests weaving in splashes of natural wood, on ceiling beams or an accent wall, for instance. “We are featuring a lot of wood walls with linen drapes, wood coffered ceilings with painted drywall between, and a mix of old wood beams with painted wood,” says Marnie. “This creates a very organic, natural look and the contrasting materials are unique.”