Hurricane Matthew Makeover

A Sneak Peek Into Our Publisher’s Inner Sanctum

by Elizabeth Skenes Millen
Photography (after photos) by Christian Lee

Makeover0618 2On Tuesday, October 11, 2016 my life changed forever. I heard my home in Hilton Head Plantation had been destroyed by Hurricane Matthew, but it wasn’t until the following Tuesday that I saw it with my own eyes and felt it with my own heart. I kept a chin-up attitude. My husband (at the time) and I jumped right in, helping the mitigation team empty the house. Our stuff had been reduce to debris. I had to find somewhere to live, contact insurance people, mortgage people, tree people, contractors, structural engineers, storage companies, and mold mitigation teams. I also had to ensure the next issue of Pink would come out on time to keep my business and livelihood alive. It was overwhelming to say the least.

In the midst of this storm another storm was brewing. One I thought was being held at bay. That was the storm of my 24-year marriage ending. Without saying too much, eight days after returning to my crushed home, my hopes of saving our marriage were also crushed when I was served divorce papers. I had no idea they were coming. I felt like my life was over. Every familiar thing I had known as my normal was gone, other than Pink.

I had no idea what the future held. I thought I would be back in the house by February 2017. After moving and living in six different places, it wouldn’t be until November 27, 2017, when I finally spent the night at home, with a count of exactly eight days, once again, this time leading to the day the divorce was final—the saddest day I’ve had on earth, thus far.

Looking for lessons in all experiences, I couldn’t help but notice in all the devastation and destruction, the master bedroom—our bedroom—was damaged the most. Two trees pulverized the back wall of our room, as one snapped in half, causing the other to uproot. Together they slammed through the roof causing both the house’s and their own demise. It jolted the house so hard ceilings caved in, roof joists splintered like twigs, and a huge gaping whole, which went from one corner of the house to the other, was ripped open, allowing rain to soak the house over the next four days and cause sheetrock to literally peel down the walls.

After much back and forth with insurance and mortgage companies, getting bids, and preparing the home for rebuilding, construction finally started the last week of May. I was already on my third move. The hope was to be back in the house by September 1. While the builder did a good job of almost meeting that date, the mortgage company absolutely didn’t care. The final inspection was ordered to get the certificate of occupancy, and 53 days later the mortgage company released the funds.

Once back in, I slept on a mattress on the floor. I needed to buy furniture, but I also needed to put together the contents claim for the insurance company. One night, while falling asleep, I thought, “This room should have a makeover.” Here at Pink, we make over women every month. People love seeing before and after pictures. The next morning I called Moss Creek Furniture, an advertiser in Pink, and made an appointment to meet with Brian Saul, General Manager. I explained the situation and told him my idea. He liked it and was more than happy to be involved. He introduced me to Nikki Woody, the interior designer at Moss Creek Furniture. After a visit to the beautiful showroom, where Nikki and I talked about my style, she made an appointment to come to the house to measure and plan. We ordered a beautiful bedroom set and agreed to use a mix of old and new. There are a few things in the room that made it through the storm. One is my pride and joy, Candace Lovely original oil painting called “Wave Runners.” I didn’t have time to evacuate much, as the College of Charleston called, demanding all students out of dorms by 9:00 am the Wednesday before the storm, which made me leave three days early. I took the dogs, and later in the week my husband grabbed the paintings—the only things we evacuated.

Makeover0618 3Another piece in completing the room involved draperies and pillows. Before the storm, the room had a triple window looking onto the backyard towards the golf course. During construction, I decided to make that window a sliding glass door. Randy Young, of Randy Young’s Upholstery, came to my house to help me decide what would work best. I went to his showroom to choose fabric, and his workshop went to work sewing draperies, a roman shade for the side window, throw pillows for the bed, and recovering an antique ottoman to fit the room.

Once everything was planned, it was only a matter of weeks before my room transitioned into a masterpiece. I have never had a room so beautiful. I love every single thing about it. It is peaceful, gorgeous—a true place for serenity. This room makes me feel regal. I can’t tell you how much it has meant to me to have my customers come together for me.

When I returned home from evacuation and saw the house, I started taping positive affirmations on the garage door and front door. Most of them were about finding beauty in the midst of ugliness. The beauty I got to experience because of Matthew came in the form of hope, in neighbors and friends showing up to help and in strangers stopping me to ask if I was doing alright. And it was this beauty from everyone’s hearts that gave me the strength to come back home and truly make it mine.

Thank you to everyone who showed up, said something, inquired, said a prayer and lifted me up. For that, I am humbled and forever grateful. I want to give a special shout out to the following VIPs. You can check out their ads on page 48.

Moss Creek Village Furniture is located at 1569 Fording Island Road (Hwy 278) at the base of the Hilton Head Bridge on the Bluffton side. They offer a huge selection of beautiful furniture, specializing in the Flexsteel Home line. Moss Creek Furniture has the largest in-store collection of recliners, priced for all budgets. The staff is knowledgeable and friendly, and Nikki Woody worked wonders in pulling this project together. Log onto or call 843-837-4000 for more information.

Randy Young’s Upholstery is located at 3165 Argent Blvd, Suite C, off of Hwy 170. Visit their showroom for a large selection of in-stock fabric. Offering custom draperies, custom slipcovers and custom reupholstery, or simply new cushions for your sofa or chairs. Log onto or call 843-645-2442.

Domestic Cleaning Company sent members of their loyal staff after all the furniture was in place and everything was pulled together. They cleaned head to toe, which made the room heavenly. Domestic Cleaning is locally owned by Melanie and Eric Carver, who believes in quality service and great customer care. There office is at 119 Arrow Road Suite A, Hilton Head Island, and they can be reached at 843-785-7444.

Robert Construction, under the project management of Jay Ramowski, was contracted for the reconstruction of the house, including structural roof restoration, roofing, sheetrock, painting and decking. Call Nelson Rodriguez at 843-227-2382. They did a great job.

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