Merrill Romanik Provides Design Inspiration for New Place of Welcome

Merrill RomanikMerrill Romanik learned early on about the difficult life of a seafarer from her father who served in the United States Coast Guard. He shared stories of his days at sea and how much he missed home. He also instilled in her the idea that serving his country was one of the most noble and honorable things a person could do.

“He taught us to love the ocean, but also to respect it,” says Romanik, a principal at Synalovski Romanik Saye (SRS), an architecture, planning and interior design firm in Fort Lauderdale.

In addition to his Coast Guard career, Romanik’s father enjoyed renovating homes on the weekend.

“I was blessed to see first-hand the process of having a vision and then making it happen,” she says.

She also was fortunate to have a few architects serve as fuel and inspiration to pursue her career path.

That long-standing love of the ocean, coupled with her love of design, led her to donate her architectural and design expertise to Seafarers’ House new Place of Welcome. Romanik first learned of Seafarers’ House from Thom Heaton, Controller for American Maritime Officers and a long-time supporter of our organization. Heaton once worked with her at SRS and when Seafarers’ House launched its capital campaign to build a new Place of Welcome, he called on Romanik to lend a hand. She agreed.

Taking into consideration that mariners often spend a lot of time in close quarters, Romanik designed Seafarers’ House soon-to-be-built Place of Welcome to be open and airy to “provide seafarers with relief from their confined time at sea,” she says. She also designed it to be fluid, so that as Seafarers’ House needs change it can be set up for a multitude of functions.

Romanik says one of the more exciting elements will be the new restaurant that will serve as the anchor and offer a menu filled with international flavors that will provide seafarers with comfort foods that they miss from home.

Since working with Seafarers’ House, Romanik has come to understand that the organization doesn’t just provide a place of respite, but also “a compassionate hand that comforts mariners” as well as a place to “regroup, reconnect, refresh and prepare them for their next journey,” she says. “I’m very proud to be part of this project as are all of our team members at the firm. We cannot wait to see it come together!”