Home Is Where The Heart Is

Following the passing of her mother and sister, Susan Eubank fulfilled a dream by completely renovating her family's Bethany Beach cottage — while preserving of lifetime of memories

Story by Alison Clary       Photos by Svetlana Leahy

After her mother and sister passed away two years ago, Susan Eubank decided she wanted to make her mother’s transformation dreams for their family’s beloved Bethany Beach cottage a reality as a tribute to them both. She knew this was not going to be a typical renovation, given that she was seeking to preserve the memories of their loved ones’ longstanding “home away from home,” which was originally built by her grandfather in the 1940s, while bringing it new life. Given the uniqueness of the project, she decided to enlist the collaborative help of reputable local experts, including designer Joyce Galello of Joyce G. Design LLC, Tim Tribbet of Hickman Builders and architectural designer Barbara Nowakowski of Design Dreams.

Joyce Galello, a design veteran with a National Certification for Interior Design, demonstrated her expertise by balancing and blending the old and new interior finishings of the home, while creating a magnificent antique coastal-themed dwelling. At first glance, the transformation is extreme, having gone from dreary wooden paneling and harsh carpeting to a stunning, bright, seaside-inspired interior. However, as you look a bit closer, it is easy to see the many memories and tiny details of the home that remained intact, just integrated in a fresh, new way.

“Anything sentimental that I wanted to keep or create, Joyce found a way to make it happen and ensure it looked beautiful,” shared Susan.

One particular example was an antique chandelier, which Susan wished to retain and incorporate. After they recognized it just was not working in its current location, Joyce suggested it should be moved to the newly designed bathroom, where it adds a touch of elegance to a typically lackluster room.

“I wanted the final product to allow for all of our family members to stay and always fit comfortably, and we discovered an expansion was necessary in order to achieve this,” shared Susan.

Leveraging his years of experience, Tim Tribbet carried out the construction, all while taking a hands-on and collaborative approach. In addition, Tim oversaw a half-demolition and full rebuild to ensure the home was structurally sound and brought up to code. He also enlisted the help of skilled carpenter and son Tyler to construct the bunk bed structure (above). John Powell lent his talents to the project by creating a sturdy and appealing headboard (far left) that precisely matched Susan’s cherished fireplace, which she considers to be the heart of the home. Joyce and her daughter, Michelle, an art teacher at Stephen Decatur High School, crackled and distressed its finish to blend in harmony with the antique pieces Susan wanted to keep in the home.

Barbara Nowakowski, an architectural designer with 32 years of experience, collaborated with Tim and Joyce as she designed and drew up a completely transformed layout for the home. Her objective was to incorporate Susan’s ideas and make certain every existing or added space was being used in the most efficient way possible.

“It was a fun challenge, as there were many new architectural elements we completed, such as the built-in bunk beds, heightened ceilings, and even a new upper deck off of one of the bedrooms,” shared Barbara.

Ultimately, the three professionals’ cohesive approach proved successful in bringing Susan’s, as well as her late loved ones’, visions to fruition, thereby ensuring the home can continue to serve as their family’s summer sanctuary for many years to come.