Finding Their Place
The Boyds transformed their plain beach bungalow into a home fit for a tour
By Lynn R. Parks | Photographs by Carolyn Watson
From the August 2019 issue
Josie and Bob Hunsberger had been looking for several years for a vacation home in coastal Sussex. Residents of the Seaford area, they wanted to have a beach house and at the same time keep their home in western Sussex County.
They had lived in the latter for more than 20 years and raised their two children there. Over the decades, Josie had accumulated boxes of decorative items, including many she would put out for holidays, and had about 50 pots that she kept filled with plants.
When they finally found a house to buy in Lewes, Bob announced that they should be ready to put their Seaford home up for sale within a year.
“I was like — ‘I don’t know.’” Josie says. “I wasn’t ready to sell our house in Seaford.”
That changed last summer, though, as soon as they moved into their beach home.
“We had settlement and within a week, I knew that I was ready to sell in Seaford,” Josie says. Over the course of a year, she gave away most of her decorative items, as well as chairs and sofas, as the Lewes home came with furniture. And at Bob’s suggestion, she gave up her flower gardening.
“It was so freeing!” she says. “Everything that we had in Seaford was tasteful, but we had a lot of stuff. Here, I feel as though I can breathe.”
The Hunsberger home is on Lewes Beach and backs up to the Lewes-and-Rehoboth Canal. From the second-story screened porch on that side of the house, the view takes in the University of Delaware’s Hugh R. Sharp Campus, including its 250-foot wind turbine, and the U.S. Coast Guard station at the mouth of the Broadkill River. From a rooftop sitting area, the view expands to include Delaware Bay and Broadkill Beach, northwest of Lewes along the bay coastline.
Bob and Josie can watch the “Pirates of Lewes” ship make its regular trips on the canal, freighters chug along Delaware Bay, and the Cape May-Lewes Ferry pull into its terminal.
And then there is the wildlife. To the southeast is a wide expanse of marsh and woodland and it isn’t uncommon for deer, rabbits and groundhogs to wander into the Hunsberger yard. Recently, Bob watched a turtle laying her eggs and spotted two stingrays in the canal that appeared to be mating. He keeps a pair of binoculars on the living room coffee table for just such occasions.
“The house itself is very nice,” Josie says. “But the views elevate it to a whole different level.”
The main entrance is on the ground level. In the foyer are just two pieces of furniture, a grandfather clock and a piano, both of which Josie and Bob moved to Lewes from Seaford. A water sculpture, with a sheet of water sliding down a wide board into a copper trough, hangs on one wall.
Also on the ground floor is a guest suite, with two bedrooms, a sitting area, a bathroom and a small kitchen.
The living area, including two guest bedrooms and the master suite, is on the second floor. Walls throughout are painted shades of clay; floors, except in the tiled kitchen and bathrooms and the carpeted bedrooms, are oak. In the living room are an L-shaped leather sofa and a couple of chairs. Two paintings by noted Sussex County artist Jack Lewis (both depicting Bridgeville-area scenes) hang over a mission-style desk that’s tucked into an alcove.
Mission-style furniture is also in the master bedroom. Windows in the master bath face north, so that someone taking a shower or a bath can watch boats traveling on the canal.
A small third floor is where the media room is located. Four lounge chairs are lined up in front of a large television; granite-topped black cabinets hold video equipment and conceal a small refrigerator.
When Josie and Bob were looking for their vacation home, they often found themselves on Lewes Beach, and even on the cul-de-sac where they eventually bought. “We always adored this street, and this house,” Josie says. “But nothing here ever seemed to go up for sale.”
One day last spring, their real estate agent arranged for them to see a house on Indian Beach, south of Dewey Beach. As they were leaving there, the agent said she had found another place to show them.
“We drove to Lewes, then across the canal, and we were getting closer and closer,” Josie says. “Then we turned and we were like ‘Oh, my gosh — this is the cul-de-sac!’ And then we stopped at this house. We couldn’t believe it. We made an offer on it that day. Our agent said, ‘Don’t you want to think about it?’ And we said, ‘No!’”
That was more than a year ago. And Josie still marvels at their good fortune.
“I don’t ever want to take this for granted,” she says. “I walk in with groceries and I say, ‘Thank you, Lord.’ I still feel like I have to pinch myself.”