DIY Transformation from Delaware Condo to the Perfect Vacation Home

Action Jacksons: This energetic couple turned a condo in Lewes into their dream vacation home—in just 10 short weekends.



Bob and Teresa Jackson enjoy the condo’s living area with Coda and Chloe.

 Bob and Teresa Jackson started their quest for a vacation home by marking a spot on the map, centered on their home in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C. Then they drew a circle around it, encompassing destinations within a three-hour drive.

“If you buy a vacation home that is too far away from your primary home, you won’t get to enjoy it very often,” Bob Jackson says. “So we started visiting places to find the one we liked best.”

As it turned out, the sweet spot in the circle was Lewes. The Jacksons were captivated by the historic community’s blend of the arts, antiques and nature. They hoped to find a short sale and invest their own sweat equity to create a welcoming get-away for themselves, two tiny dogs and visiting friends and family.

“We wanted light and airy, but not overly beachy, green rather than blue,” Teresa Jackson recalls. “We tried to visualize what a home would look like after we had made it our own.”

In shopping for a short sale, the couple was prepared to take on properties that were not in good condition.

“Because the utilities are often turned off, you get problems like mold,” Bob Jackson says.

They toured half a dozen homes before they found a two-bedroom, two-bath condo at the Villages of Five Points that was clean, dry and in sound shape.

“It was clear the previous owner took very good care of the property,” Teresa Jackson says. “The appliances are like new.”

They also appreciated the location, a pedestrian-friendly community that is a pleasant stroll from shops and restaurants.

Still, there was lots of work to be done to transform a plain vanilla, builder’s-grade unit into the elegant, yet casual, retreat the couple envisioned. “So we were also happy to be about 500 yards away from Home Depot,” Bob Jackson says.

The Jacksons discovered this dramatic four-poster bed on craigslist. Making a List, Checking it Twice
First, the Jacksons made a list of what needed to be done. Then, they made a second list of tasks they could manage themselves and jobs better left to professionals.

Could Bob Jackson replace the fluorescent light fixture in the kitchen with contemporary track lighting? Absolutely. He also could take on the challenge of removing the baseboards and installing more substantial, upgraded trim work.

The Jacksons started with a DIY task, ripping out the existing wall-to-wall carpet, a chore that requires lots of elbow grease but not much skill. “There was carpet everywhere, even in the bathrooms,” Teresa Jackson recalls.

The exception was the ceramic tile floor in the kitchen. Bob took up the tile and relaid the unbroken pavers in the master bath. “There were more than 50 tiles in the kitchen and I only needed about 12 good ones for the bathroom, which wasn’t hard to do,” he says.

They hired a contractor to install dog-friendly engineered hardwood floors in a hand-scraped hickory finish in the kitchen, bedrooms and gathering area.

As the renovation progressed, they refined their list, deleting some items and adding others. The man-made countertops in the kitchen were in pristine condition. Why not wait a year or so to replace them with stone?

“We also decided to hire someone to do the painting, which we originally planned to do ourselves,” Teresa recalls. “With all the work we were already doing, it made sense.”

Bob and Teresa Jackson relax in a repurposed booth that  they salvaged from an Italian restaurant. The booth reminds them of a spot  in a cozy steakhouse. “It’s our little bit of Ruth’s Chris,” he says.A Place of Their Own
To maximize a feeling of spaciousness in the 1,300-square-foot condo, the couple relocated the dining area from the center of the floor to a spot against the wall.

They repurposed a high-back, horseshoe-shaped booth salvaged from an Italian restaurant as a banquette. Bob Jackson made a template for a granite tabletop and had it fabricated at Home Depot. They replaced a utilitarian lighting fixture with a sparkling crystal chandelier, using a swag to move it from the center of the room to the side.

“We bought the chandelier from Overstock and it arrived in pieces,” Teresa Jackson says. “I’m still not certain I put it together the right way, but we love the way it looks.”

The finishing touch is a collection of black-and-white photographs depicting Delaware beach scenes—a gift from a talented photographer friend.

When the Jacksons sit down to enjoy a glass of wine together, the booth reminds them of an intimate spot in a cozy steakhouse.

“It’s our little bit of Ruth’s Chris,” Bob Jackson says.

Teresa Jackson found this chest of drawers at a flea market and enhanced its shabby chic look with white chalk paint. A DIY Team
He learned basic do-it-yourself skills at a young age. His grandfather, a teacher, spent his summers renovating houses to rent or sell. “As a kid, I spent a lot of time scraping wallpaper,” he recalls.

Teresa Jackson, who owns a hair salon, has always had a flair for making things beautiful and recently has branched into interior design.

She found a slightly dinged chest of drawers at a flea market that she knew was a perfect fit for the vintage Americana theme in the guest bedroom. She enhanced the shabby chic look, painting the top and sides in white chalk paint. She coated the drawers with contrasting pale blue paint left over from the walls.

“Getting a deal on a piece of furniture and remaking it is fun,” she says.

The master bedroom is serene and light, accented with colorful paintings of birds. Painted tin ceiling tiles are mounted on the walls as pieces of rustic art.

In the living room, upholstered seagrass chairs and a sectional sofa provide lots of comfy seating for guests. The sofa is a sleeper to accommodate overflow guests.

The Jacksons found most of the wooden furniture in the condo on craigslist, including the high-end coffee table and end table in the living area they bought for $25 each. Another find was the dramatic, four-poster bed in the master bedroom.

“We even found our flooring contractor on craigslist,” Bob Jackson says.

The entertainment system in the gathering space was inspired by a project Teresa Jackson spied in a magazine. To make it, the Jacksons took a second-hand sideboard, another craigslist buy, and mounted a tall bookcase on either side.

“The bookcases came out of an office and I bought them because they were already wired for lighting,” Bob Jackson says.

He fashioned backs for the bookcases from beadboard and trimmed the entire unit with molding. Visually, the pieces are unified with a coat of spring green paint. Teresa Jackson painted the top of the chest and its hardware with contrasting flat black.

Sweat Equity Pays Off
The first weekend the Jacksons spent in their beach get-away, they slept on air mattresses and lived out of a suitcase. But after only 10 weekends of work, the condo was fully renovated, furnished and accessorized, down to the large mirror in the bedroom Teresa Jackson embellished with tiny seashells.

When you are going at a project hammer and tong, Bob Jackson advises evaluating which tools you should buy and what you should rent. Because he only needed them for a few hours, he rented an air chisel to remove the tile from the kitchen floor and a wet saw to cut tile for the bathroom.

He devoted several weekends to carpentry and millwork, bringing his table saw from home.

“If you don’t already have a saw it’s more cost effective to buy one because you will use it over and over,” he says.
“And when you’re done, you can sell it on craigslist,” Teresa Jackson adds.

Most important, build time for fun into your schedule. The Jacksons looked forward to their DIY weekends knowing they would enjoy a relaxing outing at the end of the day.

“It can’t be all work and no play,” he says. “Agree to put the tools away at a certain time, then go out and have dinner.”  

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February 2016

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Cost: Free with Museum Admission.

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Cost: $13

Where:
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View map »

More information

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

Where:
Penn Museum
3260 South St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
View map »

More information

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Website »

More information

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
Website »

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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
Website »

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Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will host Lymphedema support groups on the third Thursday of each month at the Seaford Library and Cultural Center from 1:30 PM to 3:00 PM. This free support group is...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Seaford Library & Cultural Center
600 N Market St, Ext
Seaford, DE  19973
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Sponsor: Nanticoke Health Services
Telephone: 302-629-6224
Contact Name: Robert Donati
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Looking for something different for your children to do this summer? Look no further than the Summer Camp Fair at the Delaware Museum of Natural History on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016. This free...

Cost: Free

Where:
Delaware Museum of Natural History
4840 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE  19807
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Nanticoke Physician Network General & Bariatric Surgery will be hosting bariatric support groups on the first Tuesday and third Thursday of each month from 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm at Nanticoke Memorial...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Nanticoke Memorial Hospital
801 Middleford Road
Seaford, DE  19973
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Sponsor: Nanticoke Physician Network General & Bariatric Surgery
Telephone: 302-629-6611 x 8810
Contact Name: Shelly Geis

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Rebecca Kobrin of Columbia University will discuss her paper, “Credit to the Nation: Jewish Immigrants, the World of Immigrant Banking and American Finance, 1873–1914.” The...

Cost: Free

Where:
Copeland Room of Hagley’s library building
298 Buck Road
Wilmington, DE  19807
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Telephone: 658-2400
Contact Name: Meg Marcozzi
Website »

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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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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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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
Website »

More information

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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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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More information

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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Two-hour guided tours are offered at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Guests will visit Eleutherian Mills Residence, the first du Pont family home built in America; the First Office...

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
Website »

More information

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
Website »

More information

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
View map »


Sponsor: The Gibby Center for the Arts
Telephone: 302-449-5396
Contact Name: Caroline Zeitler
Website »

More information

Meeting every Friday, Bayhealth Kent General Hospital, 640 s. State Street, Dover, 7:30 pm., Private Dining Room #3 in the basement. For those who have, or think they may have a gambling problem....

Cost: 0.00

Where:
Bayhealth Kent General Hospital
640 S. State Street
Private Dining Room #3
Dover, DE  19901
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Telephone: 800-855-2CALLGA
Website »

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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
Website »

More information

Freud’s Last Session centers on a hypothetical meeting between legendary psychoanalyst Dr. Sigmund Freud and young, rising Oxford Don, C.S. Lewis, to his home in London on the day England...

Cost: $18 online, $20 at the door

Where:
Bootless Stageworks
1301 N Broom Street
Wilmington , DE  19806
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Sponsor: Bootless Stageworks
Telephone: 302-887-9300
Contact Name: Rosanne DellAversano
Website »

More information

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

More information

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

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Pup-Purr-i...A little bit of everythng for pet lovers The PAWS for People 7th Annual Winter Conference is designed for pet enthusiasts, owners and all those who love animals.  Cost of admission...

Cost: $45 through 2.6; $50 after 2.6

Where:
Nemours A. I. du Pont Hospital for Children
1600 Rockland Road
Wilmington, DE  19803
View map »


Sponsor: PAWS for People
Telephone: 302-351-5622
Contact Name: Clarice Ritchie
Website »

More information

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
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

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
View map »

More information

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
View map »

More information

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
View map »


Telephone: 302-658-2400
Contact Name: Meg Marcozzi
Website »

More information

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
View map »


Website »

More information

Create and innovate at Hagley! Enjoy a family-friendly festival of invention, creativity and resourcefulness in celebration of the Maker movement. It will feature demonstrations from area...

Cost: $0-14

Where:
Hagley Museum
201 Hagley Creek Rd
2
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-658-2400
Contact Name: Meg Marcozzi
Website »

More information

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
Website »

More information

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
View map »


Sponsor: The Gibby Center for the Arts
Telephone: 302-449-5396
Contact Name: Caroline Zeitler
Website »

More information

Hailed by The New York Times as "a young piano visionary" and "one of the leading figures in the current renaissance of performer-composers," pianist Michael Brown, a 2015 Avery...

Cost: $30. Free for ages 10-18 & accompanying adult. $10 for students 18 & older.

Where:
Bethel United Methodist Church Hall
Fourth & Market Streets
Lewes, DE  19958
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Sponsor: Coastal Concerts, Inc.
Telephone: 888-212-6458
Contact Name: Edna Ellett
Website »

More information

The St. Elizabeth High School Alumni Association is hosting an art exhibition and auction on Saturday, February 20, 2016. The event will be held in the newly refurbished Grant Hall...

Where:
Grant Hall at St. Elizabeth Church
809 S Broom St.
Wilmington, DE
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Featuring Diane Monroe, jazz violinist in "What Is This Thing Called Freedom? The Transforming and Timeless Songs of Protest." Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016 at 7:30 p.m....

Cost: Free

Where:
Trinity Episcopal Church
1108 N. Adams Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Sponsor: Jackson ImmunoResearch
Telephone: 302-652-8605
Website »

More information

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
View map »


Sponsor: The Everett Theatre
Telephone: 302-540-8561
Contact Name: Chris Everett
Website »

More information

Freud’s Last Session centers on a hypothetical meeting between legendary psychoanalyst Dr. Sigmund Freud and young, rising Oxford Don, C.S. Lewis, to his home in London on the day England...

Cost: $18 online, $20 at the door

Where:
Bootless Stageworks
1301 N Broom Street
Wilmington , DE  19806
View map »


Sponsor: Bootless Stageworks
Telephone: 302-887-9300
Contact Name: Rosanne DellAversano
Website »

More information

Direct from TAO’s successful, sold-out, world-premiere run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, this brand-new production, "TAO: Seventeen Samurai," stops at The Playhouse on its...

Cost: $33–$39

Where:
The Playhouse
1007 N. Market Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »

More information

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

More information

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

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
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