The interior makes this apartment special and exceptional


The odd-colored shag carpeting was the first sign of a bygone era. Long, lightless walls stretching from the small front door to the living room offered another clue to the apartment’s dated interior.

Interior designers Michael and Candace DeLoach knew the challenge was formidable for their clients at The Cypress retirement community on Hilton Head Island.

“It had rose carpet, and it just looked awful,” said Michael, who with his sister has owned DeLoach Design & Decoration, with offices in New York City and Charlottesville, Virginia, for the past 26 years. “It had good bones, good windows; the problem was it just felt dingy and claustrophobic and very dated.”

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After nine months of renovation, Hans and Opal Abbink moved into the apartment Aug. 3.  Hans had a few choice words about the original undersized kitchen.

“The original kitchen was terrible, it was for the birds,” Hans said. “There was hardly any room to maneuver. Now we have an island and an open wall. It’s a much better setup.”


The Abbinks enlisted the Savannah duo after they were recommended by one of Opal’s three daughters, Lynne.

The DeLoaches met with Lynne and the Abbinks to discuss plans for their new 1,200-square-foot two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment. Besides updating every nook and cranny, the team focused on two key considerations: creating an open floor plan and making the best use of the Abbinks’ collection of art and antiques. Opal told the designers which pieces in the art portfolio were her favorites.

“She’s the big motivator in art,” said Hans of his wife’s keen eye. “She’s always been interested in good art.”

Michael created gallery-like groupings, giving special attention to pieces by Walter Greer, Jonathan Green and Joseph Bowler.

He also removed walls separating the foyer/dining room, the kitchen/living room and in the living room that divided the room in half. The kitchen was enlarged to include an island. The smaller bedroom was transformed into a den.

“The doors were really small, so we raised the height of all the doors because the ceilings are very high,” Michael said. “We made a big opening into the study so the light would filter through.

“When you have a long living room and a nice-sized window, it would give a tunnel effect with nothing coming in on the sides,” he added. “By creating the opening to the study, you have another light source. We did it with pocket doors so it could be converted back into a bedroom.”

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Gray weathered wood was installed in the kitchen, sisal carpeting went down throughout and white marble showers replaced plastic tubs. A neutral backdrop helped the art to define the apartment’s color scheme, and shiplap boards provided texture.

The Abbinks purchased new furniture that better fit the size of their new apartment. And it’s fair to call their style eclectic. There’s a bronze sculpture in the living room, Chinese chairs in the foyer, an antique Italian writing table in the bedroom, and Japanese art in the study — joined by an African kudu animal skin cushion.

“The interior makes this apartment special and exceptional,” Hans said. “Everybody who comes in says, ‘Wow … this is so unusual, beautiful.’ It has a modern touch, but it’s a mix.”

Added Candace, “This is fresh and current … you wouldn’t expect to see what you see when you walk in. Most people their ages are afraid to make changes. I don’t think there’s a bone in her body like that.”

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Vendor List

General contractor:
Danny Blackwell of Keystone Craftsman, Inc

Interior Design:
DeLoach Design & Decoration

Creative Cabinets of the Low Country

Reed Electric


Skyline Services

Audio visual:
Low Country Electronic

BH Plumbing

Granite countertops:
Granite Depot

White glass tile:
Artistic Tile installed by Let’s Tile

Tile/wood flooring:
Variety Floor Covering