U.S. Marshal and Television Producer Renovate House in Lewes

They saw it on Mulberry: the Borights turn an old house in Lewes into their full-time home



The Boright family: U.S. Marshal Barry, television producer Stephanie and daughter Sydney.

Stephanie Antosca Boright and her husband, Barry, share a passion for breathing new life into old houses, even on vacation.

Over the years, they have restored 15 homes, including a circa 1860 house at the beach that they renovated twice—first as a weekend get-away and then as their primary residence.

For years, the energetic couple enjoyed taking a break from high-powered careers in Washington, D.C., in laid-back Lewes. They rejuvenated a tired house on Mulberry Street, a quiet byway that is a living primer on American architecture, lined with homes built over two centuries.

“Then an old house down the street went up for sale,” Stephanie Boright says. “It was in terrible condition and we thought we should buy it before someone knocked it down.”

The house had been empty for five years, save for a family of foxes. Stripped of most of its detail and dragged down by a sagging, ill-conceived addition, the structure was in such bad shape it presented a challenge even for the Borights.

Dining room chairs are wrapped in sea grass. Barry Boright created the table. The painting is of Stephanie’s daughter. It was made by Stephanie’s mother.They demolished and rebuilt the addition, stabilized the roof and opened the living spaces to create a welcoming retreat where they could enjoy time off with friends and relatives.

Walls were removed from both sides of an enclosed staircase to allow natural light to flow through the first floor. A small parlor was outfitted with a gas fireplace and built-in bookcases, an intimate nook for reading or playing music.

All the walls were taken down on the second floor to reconfigure what was once a maze of corridors and small bedrooms into larger rooms radiating from an open central hall. The hall is furnished as a secondary sitting room, a place where visiting friends can unwind.
 

From Get-Away to All the Way

When Barry Boright, a U.S. Marshal, accepted a job heading an area bureau, the couple moved to Lewes full time with their young daughter Sydney. They immediately started gathering ideas for a project they hadn’t undertaken before, transforming a second house from a weekend hangout to a year-round home.

A small parlor was fitted with a gas stove and built-in book cases.But before the Borights got out their hammers, they put on their thinking caps and contemplated how they wanted the house to function.

“Live in the house the way it is for a few months and see what works and what doesn’t,” Stephanie Boright advises. “We needed to live with the clutter to figure out the best way to design new ways to store the things we had.”

The stacked washer/dryer that was just fine for beach towels and T-shirts was taken out and replaced with a second-floor laundry area equipped with side-by-side full-size appliances that can accommodate loads of linens and winter clothes.

In a vacation house, the owners typically bring clothes with them, then take them home when they leave. During the summer, Sydney used the under-the-eaves cupboard in her bedroom as a playhouse. When the Borights became full-time residents, closets became a priority.

 The porch is finished in wicker for a vintage feel. “Now, I actually keep things in my closet instead of playing in it,” Sydney Boright says.

The master bedroom is still spacious, even after the Borights borrowed square footage from the room to create a walk-in closet.

A large balcony expands the space visually and provides a tranquil setting for morning coffee or an afternoon nap. Carpet loomed in a sisal pattern provides the earthy look of woven twine with the durability and sumptuous foot-feel of wool.

“A bedroom isn’t just a place to sleep, it’s a place to relax,” Stephanie Boright says.
 

Lofty Ambitions

She is a successful television producer, whose credits include the reality series “I Survived,” and the long-running White House drama “The West Wing.” Because she does most of her work from home, she required an oval office of her own, a command post from which she could run her business.

Walls were removed to let natural light flow freely. Stephanie Boright found it in the attic, transformed from a dark and dreary storage area to a bright and cheerful workplace. A dormer increased the amount of head room and also allows more sunlight into the office. A window seat is a serene spot to read. Beneath are file drawers for paperwork.

During the renovation, the Borights repurposed as much as they could from the original house. A clawfoot tub was refinished and installed in Sydney’s bathroom. In the kitchen, a large central island was made from wood and beams salvaged from the demolition of the rear addition.

“It’s a new house, with old bones,” Stephanie Boright says.

On the outer side, the island accommodates seating for casual dining. On the inner side, there is open shelving, the better to keep pot and pans at the ready.

“It’s so much easier to get at things when you need them if you aren’t opening doors and drawers,” she says.

A friend who was remodeling a kitchen donated more cupboards, installed in the adjoining family room to provide a bar and additional storage. A large sectional sofa is dressed in durable slipcovers in keeping with the relaxed, no-fuss vibe.
 

The finished house. Personal Space

Throughout the house, there’s a casual and contemporary feeling. Lines are spare, clean and uncluttered. Colors are soft and hushed.

“I like pale blues and greens because they remind me of the sea,” Sydney Boright says.

In the dining room, the little girl playing on the beach depicted in the painting over the mantel is Sydney. The artist is her grandmother.

Her father created the rustic table surrounded by chairs covered in woven sea grass.

“We had a table in the space but it just didn’t fit the room,” Barry Boright recalls. “What we needed was a long, narrow table.”

He admired the harvest-style piece in a friend’s dining room and learned that his pal had made the table himself.

Colors are soft and hushed.Flush with inspiration, Barry Boright headed to the home improvement store, where he bought 2-by-10 inch and 2-by-12 inch pine planks, and 4-inch square posts for the legs. He set up a work station on the sidewalk, where he assembled the pieces.

“I trimmed it out with 2-by-3 pine, stained and polyurethaned it, and had the perfect-size table,” he says.

The screened porch on the back of the house, furnished in wicker for a vintage feel, is a casual gathering place during the warmer months, where the family enjoys fresh air without the whine of mosquitoes.

“In summer, this is where we live,” Stephanie Boright says.

When the Borights decided to live in Lewes full time, they built a pool that allows them to enjoy their backyard throughout the week. The old garden shed is now home to an outdoor shower.

A decorative touch. Hydrangeas flourish in the moderate, garden-friendly climate of Sussex County, producing lovely bouquets with a minimum of effort. The exuberantly blooming shrubs are romantic and nostalgic, a charming match for the house that is in keeping with the Borights’ respectful approach to renovation.

Throughout the project, the couple discovered scattered reminders of their home’s history. Memorabilia included flags and military uniforms from the 1940s and a stack of tickets to the inaugural voyage of the Cape May-Lewes Ferry, launched July 1, 1964.

In all, the Borights donated five boxes of relics and photographs to the Lewes Historical Society.

A poignant discovery was a pair of child’s boots tucked inside a wall, a 19th-century tradition believed to bring the homeowners good luck.

Before the wall was closed up for the next century or so, the family placed a memento marking their time in the house.

“Now, there is a pair of Sydney’s shoes in the wall,” Stephanie Boright says.
 

 

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February 2016

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View map »

More information

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Our Winter Group Show features oil paintings by Rosemary Castiglioni, Jim Gears and Mary Ann Weselyk. Still-life paintings with subtle color variations by...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
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Telephone: 302-654-8638
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Features activities and crafts that help visitors learn about local and national political roles in environmental conservation. Visitors can learn about the battle that politicians fought for a...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Delaware Museum of Natural History
4840 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE  19807
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The Philly Home Show will inspire your inner HGTV star at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia from Feb. 12–14 and 19–21. The show will feature highly interactive...

Cost: $13

Where:
Pennsylvania Convention Center
1101 Arch St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
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Explore some of the diverse ways that human beings have understood sex and sexuality, gender and gender diversity in this small but broad new exhibition, presented in conjunction with the 2015-2016...

Cost: Free with Museum Admission.

Where:
Penn Museum
3260 South St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
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What was behind the legendary story of King Midas and his golden touch? That is the question to be answered—not with chests full of gold, but with a spectacular array of ancient artifacts,...

Cost: Adults $20; seniors $18; students (with ID) $15; children (ages 6–17) $15

Where:
Penn Museum
3260 South St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
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Guests can explore three floors of exhibitions in the Visitor Center, stroll along the river through dozens of historic structures from the Industrial Revolution, and explore the gardens and...

Cost: $0-14

Where:
Hagley Museum
201 Hagley Creek Rd
Wilmington, DE  19807
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Telephone: 302-658-2400
Contact Name: Meg Marcozzi
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Penn Museum opens the world premiere exhibition The Golden Age of King Midas—featuring ancient treasures on loan from the Republic of Turkey—with a spectacular daylong public...

Cost: $15

Where:
Penn Museum
3260 South St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
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This art exhibit features fine art works and three dimensional pieces that embrace the subject “red.” Artist are free to use their imagination and creativity, so works will include...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Gibby Center for the Arts
51 W Main St.
Middletown, DE  19709
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Sponsor: The Gibby Center for the Arts
Telephone: 302-449-5396
Contact Name: Caroline Zeitler
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For more information, please contact: Dave Ruffner ​Rehoboth Beach Film Society 107 Truitt Ave. Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971 302-645-9095, ext. 4 administrator@rehobothfilm.com...

Cost: Free

Where:
, DE


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
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The Rehoboth Beach Film Society and CAMP Rehoboth will co-present "Tab Hunter Confidential" and "Portrait of a Serial Monogamist" as part of its annual Another Take...

Cost: $8

Where:
Metropolitan Community Church
19369 Plantation Rd.
Rehoboth Beach, DE  19971
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Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
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"La Sylphide" shares the beautiful and romantic story of our hero, James—a young Scottish farmer who, on the eve of hid wedding, abandons his betrothed, Effie, after being...

Cost: $25

Where:
Salesanium School
1801 North Broom St.
Wilmington, DE  19802
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Sponsor: Academy of International Ballet
Telephone: 1-866-908-5666
Contact Name: Denis Gronostayskiy
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Venture back with us for an evening where we re-imagine the Victorian Industrial Age as seen through our steam-powered, futuristic goggles.  Our biggest fundraiser of the year and all proceeds...

Cost: $100-$110

Where:
Smyrna Opera House
7 West South Street
Smyrna, DE  19977
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A spoiled orphan girl is sent to live with her uncle on the Yorkshire moors and discovers renewed life, for herself and her sickly cousin, in bringing her dead aunt’s secret garden back to...

Cost: $15–$18

Where:
The Secret Garden
47 W Main St.
Middletown, DE  19709
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Sponsor: The Everett Theatre
Telephone: 302-540-8561
Contact Name: Chris Everett
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Location: St. Mark’s High School, 2501 Pike Creek Road, Wilmington Time: Registration: 11:30 a.m. Race: 12:30 p.m. Fee: $25 (until Thursday, Feb. 11), $35 after and day of event...

Where:
, DE

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Location: Beebe Healthcare’s Medical Center, 424 Savannah Road, Lewes Date: Saturday, Feb. 13 (and the second Saturday of each month) Time: 9 a.m. Fee: Free For more...

Where:
, DE

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Ditch the winter whites for a world of dazzling color at Longwood Gardens, where you can stroll through thousands of orchids in bloom. Kennett Square, www.longwoodgardens.org 

Where:
, DE

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A successful writer of Broadway thrillers is struggling to overcome a dry spell when he receives a script from a student —a potential Broadway hit. Thereafter suspense...

Where:
, DE

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Regional artists Carol Tippit Woolworth, Catherine Drabkin, Pahl Alexander Hluchan, Colleen Randall and Dan Jackson explore the concept of place—physical, emotional and spiritual—in...

Where:
, DE

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