July-August 2014 | BEACH HOUSE



Tami Oltman and Sea Level Designs have been bringing the beach to resort homes for 35 years

Written By: Nick Brandi | Photographer: Grant L. Gursky

“I am so thankful for the friends we have made over the years and the friends I work with every day,” said Tami, who celebrates the 35th anniversary of her store, Sea Level Designs, this year. ”As I reflect on the history of the store, I realize what a wonderful adventure it has been!”

Tami emphasized that friends and family have always been an essential component of the Bethany Beach boutique. Sandy Prettyman, for example, is not only the manager; she is Tami’s best friend. They have watched each other’s children grow and mature, and Tami says she has been an integral part of Sea Level’s growth over the years. Tami’s husband, Murray, who owns a healthcare-IT company called Wavelength, helps with tech support and the occasional buying trip. Their son Zach, meanwhile, also works in the store and in its warehouse, and even the youngest son, Nathan, helps out when and where he can. 

Tami fell in love with beach as a young girl, when her family and numerous friends would camp on Assateague. “I actually 
first learned to drive a car on the Assateague salt flats,” Tami recalled. “My cousins and I spent endless days exploring the beaches, collecting shells and swimming in the ocean. Our parents’ vacations always included a beach; the outer banks of North Carolina and Florida were favorites.” 
Her mother’s family owned beach property in Fenwick, where they also camped for many years, surrounded by cousins, aunts and uncles. Her brother Greg surfed; her father, uncles and grandparents fished; her mother, aunts and friends socialized on the beach. 

“Today, when my husband and I take family vacations, beaches, beach-life and sandcastles are always part of that very special time,” Tami shared. “I love everything about the beach; it’s the most peaceful place I know,” she continued. “The warmth of the sun, my toes in the sand, the soothing sounds of the surf bring me instant relaxation and peace. That’s what is so wonderful about Sea Level: It reflects my love affair with the beach.” 

Predictably, Tami saw to it that the staff at Sea Level was especially talented when it came to sharing that love of the beach. On some days, they will be found helping excited owners accessorize their dream homes or perhaps helping them prepare their houses or condos for the rental season. On other days, they may be helping a bride-to-be design table favors from starfish and shells or assisting a vacationing family as they choose the perfect gift for friends or a special keepsake commemorating their time at the beach.

You’ll find pictures of mermaids and regal egrets, sea-glass lamps, area rugs with starfish designs and beautiful glassware etched with sea shells. There are flip-flop earrings, beach bags and pillows shaped like shells or embroidered with beautiful herons and fish. Sea Level has furniture, lamps and hand-painted serving pieces, as well as beach-themed placemats and napkins, hats and totes, scarves and jewelry — everything from the refined and elegant to the fun and funky.

A visit to Sea Level Designs will conjure up all the wonderful imagery of a summertime at the beach — maybe even inspire some lifelong memories yet to be made.


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