Photos by Heartbeat Branding Co.

From Beachfront Beginnings

The Current Sits Down with Jess Weeth on Building a Design Empire from a Blog

In 2016, Jess Weeth decided to blog about her passion project: Renovating and decorating the ranch home in Lewes she bought with her husband Alan. Fast-forward eight years and Weeth Home is now doing high-end residential design projects from the Hamptons to Miami Beach. 

“It all started at Delaware Beaches in typical local fashion,” says Weeth, 37. “Everything grew very organically, and it started by word-of-mouth, which I think is something special and super unique about this area,” she said. “Friends, and then friends of friends started asking me to come over and help them style and decorate their houses.” 

Weeth began doing the jobs on nights and weekends. She read countless home design magazines and looked at a myriad of Pinterest images. She used her shelves at home as practice to place the items she envisioned for her clients’ spaces. “I was just really obsessed, and I’ve remained that way to this day,” Weeth says. 

The referrals kept coming and the timing was good, as home growth in the area exploded immediately after COVID, when more people decided to try to swing living at the beach year-round. Soon, she was schlepping her computer and sample items to Starbucks to present her vision to clients. The business grew to the point where she needed her own studio, so she bought a shop on Rehoboth Avenue, where she does her work and makes presentations to prospective clients on the second floor. The first floor is Weeth Home’s retail shop, where visitors can pick up a gift or an item for their home that is a perfect slice of Delaware beach décor.

“The retail part really evolved from people peeking into the windows of the studio thinking it was a shop,” Weeth explains. “I had to buy accessories for the homes I was designing anyway, so it made sense to open a shop. We’ve also gotten a number of clients that ended up doing full homes with us who found us just from walking into the store.”

Raised at the beach

Weeth grew up in Rehoboth. Her parents moved to Second Street in Lewes when she was six months old. Her ophthalmologist father operated the Delaware Eye Institute on Route 24 and they moved to the nearby Wolfe Runne a few years later. Weeth attended Worcester Preparatory School in Berlin, Md., a 50-minute drive, where she was an elite tennis player. She eventually went to Duke University, where she played Division 1 tennis on the team that won a national championship her senior year. She graduated with an English degree and a certificate in marketing and management. 

The vibe is ‘I’m spending my best weeks of the year here with the people I love the most.’

– Jess Weeth

At Duke, she was recruited by Abercrombie & Fitch and entered its leadership development program in Columbus, Ohio, where she didn’t know a soul. She met Alan there, who had been recruited into the same program while he was at Columbia University. She traveled with the Abercrombie design team from Paris to London and to Hong Kong. Then she went to factories in China, Korea and Turkey to select fabrics, negotiate prices and work on garments as they were being made. “It was an incredible opportunity to see just what goes into bringing a creative vision to life for the masses,” Weeth said. 

It also made her realize that she was happiest when she was closest to the creative side of the operation, which she was a part of for seven years. She had almost entered the architecture program at the University of Virginia but was told she wouldn’t have time for that in addition to playing D1 collegiate tennis, which she was committed to, so she chose Duke. She and Alan did a major renovation of their first home in Columbus. “That really got my creative juices flowing,” Weeth said. 

Coming home 

When Jess and Alan decided to move to the East Coast to start a family, they figured they’d end up in Baltimore, Washington D.C. or Philadelphia. But Alan saw that Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton was looking for a marketing person. He got the job, which meant Jess was coming home. The young couple had their first child, a son, Wes, a year later and Jess transitioned to remote work for Abercrombie. 

When her blog about renovating and decorating her home led to requests from friends for help, Weeth sensed a desire from people for the very style she was crafting, which is a different take on coastal design. Essentially, it’s a mix of the elegance of classic homes and the relaxed component of beach homes. “I love the marriage of something that feels elevated and classic, but is still super approachable,” Weeth said. “It feels like you can be laid back and barefoot while still having a little bit of polish.” 

She took some online classes at the Interior Design Institute but credits her onsite work as the key to fine-tuning her style. She left Abercrombie and began working with a part-time project manager from home. Today, Weeth Home has six full-time employees and instead of single room redecoration or kitchen renovation jobs, the team works on ground-up builds with architects. “We do the soup-to-nuts now, creating an entire space plan that includes selecting every building material, every cabinet, every finish, every light, every sofa, curtain, pillow and flower,” she said. 

As that style evolves, Weeth also tweaks elements of it to meet the needs of towns up and down the East Coast that might have different sensibilities. She’s fascinated to see if her work can play a small part in developing a style that could play in different markets. “I’m very interested in how the vibes from the style in our little neck of the woods start to influence other areas,” she added. “People all over the country want a Cape Cod Nantucket house, and I’m curious if a Mid-Atlantic coast style that blends some Philly and DC style with an Eastern Shore vibe will resonate with people.” 

Taking the shop to a new level 

The design projects are Weeth Homes’ bread and butter, but the shop will be a larger extension of the business this year. Instead of focusing solely on items people want to take home for themselves or as gifts, the inventory will include favorite items the team is using in its current and upcoming major design projects.

The store will also now feature one-of-a-kind antiques and vintage pieces to allow people to treasure hunt and go home with unique items. Weeth Home is partnering with local artisans to collaborate on new items, such as a line of Everyday Earthe pottery and tablecloths and napkins made by a local textile designer. 

“The shop is still a great place to pick up a gift, but the new offerings are more for a home lover who has a great table or shelf and wants something hard to find that will make it really great,” Weeth said. “And I think offering the things we’re excited to put in our upcoming projects brings a little more passion into what we’re selling.” 

I love the marriage of something that feels elevated and classic, but is still super approachable.

– Jess Weeth

The team will showcase some of the shop’s favorite pieces and fabric collections at the Rehoboth Art League Cottage Tour on July 9 and 10. The league, which supports the arts year-round, opens a few beautifully decorated homes for people to walk through each summer. Weeth Home is decorating a room for the tour in the league’s historic Peter March Homestead, which was built in 1743. “It’s a great event to promote the arts and the community and we’re excited to show some of the things we’re putting together for the shop,” Weeth said.

Year-round beach living

As someone who grew up in Delaware beach communities, Weeth finds it difficult to separate her business from where it’s located. She credits the area’s growth with the growth of her company. “Finding my place where creative help was needed with all of these homes being built really propped me up, as did the sense of community here,” she said. “Most people I do work for now I’m meeting for the first time, but it didn’t start out that way.”

The business first gained traction with the local referrals from friends and neighbors. “I wanted those first homes to be as perfect as I could possibly make them and really took it to heart that it was an opportunity to do great work,” she said. “I think the testimonials in the community here really allowed me to do what I love.” 

The post-COVID movement toward remote work helped create the building surge, so when the Weeth team is working on a project in Henlopen Acres or other nearby communities, there are as many full-time homes as beach houses. How Weeth decorates the house depends on what its use will be. “Designing someone’s main residence rings true to me because I grew up here,” Weeth said. “It was never our ‘beach house.’ It was always ‘our house’.”

Family life 

The Weeths love living here, as well. Now in Rehoboth in a home five minutes from the shop, the couple also has 3-year-old twins, Vivy and Cash. The family loves the beaches and tries to get onto the water as much as possible. “There’s a ton of fun to be had on a boat,” she said. “It’s a fun place to hang out with friends, and there are lots of great restaurants in Dewey where you can pull up and dock your boat, which is a very cool way to go to dinner and grab a drink.”

The family also rides bikes on state park land from Gordon’s Pond to Cape Henlopen. “The main streets in Rehoboth and Lewes have evolved a lot, and there are so many fun little hidden gems in both of those areas. The local community celebrates Christmas and Thanksgiving and fall and winter life – all while still embracing summer,” Weeth said.  “Summer life feels like a party. By the end of August, do you want your town back sometimes? Sure, but that’s part of the fun. We’re also ready for the town to come alive again in May.”

Weeth also loves the generational vibe that she says is as palpable among annual visitors as it is with local residents. “I see it and I feel it. It’s hard to deny,” she said. “The houses on the sparse streets in February and March are going to be totally packed with everyone’s family members on all the porches throughout the summer. The vibe is ‘I’m spending my best weeks of the year here with the people I love the most.’” 

Part of those weeks are the little downtimes in the homes when people aren’t at the beach, on the water, or enjoying the nightlife. “Yeah, it’s cool to go out and everything, but you can just see the life that these houses have, which is super inspiring and very special to me.”  

Jess’s Local Faves

  • Beach: Tower Road and Block W in Rehoboth 
  • Restaurant: Henlopen City Oyster House – a lunch date there over Mussels and the Henlopen City Burger makes us feel like we’re really livin’ 
  • Coffee: Our studio is literally a crosswalk away from Rise Up and a Coffee Smoothie is such a treat, also love The Point and their Belgian Waffles!
  • Dessert: Mint Chip Ice Cream from King’s Ice Cream in Lewes – same answer since I was 2 years old!
  • Shop: Lewes Mercantile Antique Gallery is a current favorite  
  • Sunset Spot: Grain on the Rocks is a fun spot to let the kiddos watch the boats come in 
  • Trail: Gordon’s Pond 
  • Lunch Spot: Cohos Market – our go-to for lunch for our team and on presentation days 
  • Happy Hour: Chesapeake and Maine, any of the keg-conditioned cocktails are really tasty
  • Meal: Pappardelle from Sazio, or anything from Heirloom in Lewes
  • Beach Activity: Walking with our little ones to collect shells and can’t overlook the nostalgia of the boardwalk and Funland with our kiddos. 
  • Beach Read: Usually a design magazine (predictable, I know!) but lately I have been enjoying a Taylor Jenkins Reid breezy read at the beach
  • Live Music Scene: Bottle & Cork
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