By Joshua Peacock
Trite adages should be avoided at all costs, but in the case of Michael and Candace DeLoach’s revitalized Tybee condo, it’s difficult to do better than tried and true: don’t judge a book by its cover.
At the far end of an unassuming grey stucco complex on Tybee’s North Beach, their private condo is set apart from its neighbors in a myriad of ways. Throughout its 1,450 square feet, this magnificently curated vacation hideaway is accented by family heirlooms and historically significant antiques, and its proximity to the water creates the illusion of private beach access. The overall aesthetic is the product of Michael and Candace’s wildly eclectic approach to design, and it serves as a vibrant advertisement for their business, DeLoach Design.
The condo was purchased pre-construction in 1997 by Michael and Candace’s parents, Ray and Carleen, who were interior designers and collectors as well. Since they planned to retire there, Ray and Carleen saw fit to customize, dividing the space into a single bedroom with a study and great room, instead of the standard three-bedroom plan.
While the original layout, designed by architect John Kern, stationed a master bedroom on the ocean side of the rectangular apartment, the DeLoaches moved the bedroom to the opposite end, granting ocean views to the great room instead. This switch was a primary reason for their redesign, and more than two decades later, their decision still proves to be a good one. The great room, now a shared living and dining area, is the home’s gathering place.
As with most powerful design elements, this one involves some drama. Upon entering the condo and traveling down a hallway, visitors will find that the space around them has suddenly tripled in size, with floor-to-ceiling windows leading to a balcony, and beyond that, a sprawling ocean vista. North Beach stretches in both directions, as far as the eye can see. Cockspur Island dots the near horizon, and Daufuskie Island and Hilton Head seem to float far off in the distance.
Owing in part to those views—and some well-placed mirrors—natural light seems to pour into the room from all angles. Doric wood columns, salvaged by Ray and Carleen from a turn-of-the-century house in downtown Savannah, stand guard at the entrance. This is the ultimate in form-meets-function: in addition to bolstering the room’s aesthetic, the pillars hide steel support beams.
After their father passed away and their mother moved to Virginia, Michael and Candace set out to update the home, taking cues from those columns to marry Greek Revival touches with midcentury, contemporary, Mediterranean and Caribbean design elements. The result is a vibrant and airy home, where color is tempered by neutral moments in every room.
Modernizing some of the condo’s more formal moments, they converted the study into a second bedroom featuring spectacular ocean views and a 1940s Eros armoire purchased in Paris. In the hallway, a plush daybed is surrounded by a gallery wall of watercolor paintings, mostly of local scenes in Thunderbolt, Tybee, and downtown Savannah.
The laundry room’s beadboard ceiling and Michael and Candace’s grandmother’s antique paddle collection transform the space into a nautical dream. Close the door and you’re aboard a schooner en route to the Caribbean. The kitchen is an homage to their parents, prominently displaying Ray and Carleen’s collection of blue and white vases —though new appliances lend a modern feel.
Back in the great room, a number of the accent pieces and artworks were transferred from the DeLoach family home on Washington Avenue in downtown Savannah. A Florence Knoll seagrass credenza cabinet from the 1950s acts as a bar, surrounded by abstract art from Carleen’s personal collection. A vintage Baker sectional and love seat, refurbished by Michael and Candace, provides essential comfortable seating for the incredible ocean view.
“Anyone can do a pretty room, but to do a room that makes you feel good—I think a big part of it is comfort and proximity,” Michael says. “A lot of people, when they do a big room, they push all the furniture away and you’re too far apart to talk.”
And for visitors in need of a talking point, note the terra cotta white rabbit perched innocently on top of a Conover grand piano. There were only six made, and Savannah’s most famous antique collector, Jim Williams, had two in his home, making this an important local historical artifact, even in a room so full of life and lore.
Ultimately, the refurbished condo is a distillation of two generations and four distinct design perspectives, with new additions balanced always by the original owners’ vision. Here, as ever, good taste endures.