photos by Barry Fitzgerald
When I first toured this special Key West ~ Indies vacation house, I was struck by the refreshingly authentic blend of its multi-cultural exterior design and interior decor, and felt as if I could be standing in a villa in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). It's not surprising the home embodies this "savoir fare" given that the beloved owners hail their main port in London, England. In the BVI there's an endearing island design that smoothly melds a sophisticated British Colonial gracefulness with a carefree Caribbean flare, and the overall effect both warms the heart and tickles the soul with a fanciful-folly-of-charm. And yet here it is, right in an old historic residential neighborhood of Old Town Key West, a bit of the best of a special West~Indies style.
Neatly situated between a fashionably narrow island street in the front, and a hidden lane in the back, the spaciousness of this "house-plus-guest-cottage" style villa is subtlety camouflaged from view. From the curb, you first notice the pastel privacy wall with a gable-shaped gate adorned with lattice that artistically mirrors the steep tin roof-line. White gingerbread woodwork along the roof soffit sets a whimsical tone and clearly states that you're about to enter a Caribbean island home. Once inside the privacy gate, the colorful tropical landscaping set against the turquoise colored exterior siding welcomes you to enter the house.
INTERIOR DESIGN AND LAYOUT: Entrance halls are usually unique in some fashion or another, helping to set the tone for "what's next to come." The one in this home seems to invite you to step inside, pause for just a second... and get ready to enjoy the delightful interior composition you're about to discover.
The Main House: The front door of this villa leads into the main house which embodies the open dining-kitchen-living area, a private elegant library-office,2 bedrooms (each with a queen size bed) and 2 full bathrooms (one en suite).Once in the front door, turn right and go down the little hall to the west side of the house. Here you'll find the grand great-room that extends to the back wall of the house, and made to feel even more spacious with bright-white open beam ceilings that snug all the way to the top of the roof gable. Sky blue walls and earth-toned floors are perfectly paired with bright white traditional cabinetry and an eclectic mix of elegant wood and wicker island furnishings. A striking collection of original art work sets an upscale tone which is carried through to the next room, the spacious and attractive library-office.
It's rare to find this kind of full library-office setting in a private home made available to rent in Key West, and the amenities it offers are noteworthy. A large collection of books in a floor-to-ceiling custom built-in book case, a spacious desk, a flat screen TV within view of the desk, DSL, plus a fine view of the outdoor swimming pool and garden provides the perfect tropical island setting for the executive business person or writer who needs to work remotely during their stay in Key West.
The fully equipped contemporary Caribbean-style kitchen is also noteworthy. A split-level cooking and breakfast counter is staged for the cook who loves to entertain and is made complete with a view of everything going on in the great-room and pool garden. White kitchen cabinets with glass front doors feel crisp and light and the bright varnished wooden breakfast counter carries through the West~Indies charm that is infused throughout the house. Paddle fans hung on extended poles from the ceiling gables and sky-lights invite the sunshine in and keep the breezes stirring. A full bank of over-sized single pane glass doors topped with transom lights span all across the back wall of the great-room as well as the office, "to bring the outside indoors."
The back glass wall of the living room flows easily to the outside pool deck and a broad-sweeping loggia provides a great covered outdoor dining area. This space has the same steep gabled roof and gingerbread trim as the rest of the roof line plus the covered area can be extended with a retractable awning.
The two bedrooms in the main house enjoy a split floor plan (located on opposite sides of the house) and offer maximum privacy from each other. To find these two bedrooms and bathrooms, you return to the front entrance hall.
The 1st bedroom is situated just past the kitchen to the left with the bathroom just off the hall. Furnishings for this room include a traditional mahogany colonial style 4-Poster queen size bed. Placed against a traditional sky blue wall, it is charmingly balanced with colorful Caribbean folk-style furnishings and art. The full bathroom for this bedroom is fancifully dressed from floor to ceiling with blue and white tropical sea-shell wall paper, traditional-Colonial porcelain and light fixtures, and then perfectly punctuated with a whimsically framed island art mirror.
To reach the 2nd bedroom you proceed to the other end of the entrance hall, past the front door, to the east side of the main house. This bedroom is considered the master bedroom for this villa and is equipped with a spacious en suite blue and white bathroom. The unique master bath has a heart-felt island colonial feel with some adorable details including floor to ceiling wall paper and an arched white tile back splash at the foot of the bathtub.
But the most prominent feature of the master suite is the gorgeous hand-hewed 4-Poster queen size bed which is a piece of hand-made island art in-and-of-itself. Made entirely from huge exotic tropical wood planks and logs it is a stunningly sturdy piece. The owner of this villa has beautifully tied it in with the West~Indies colonial theme by topping the bed with a traditional blue and white quilt, and then complimented it with an exotic wooden wardrobe and mirror, and wicker chair with ottoman. Large original paintings of soft blue tones subtly soften the walls of the master bedroom and compliment the blue, white, and wood theme.
The Guest Cottage: A relaxed indoor-outdoor Caribbean life-style is made comfortable and easy in this Key West villa with the "house plus guest-cottage style" floor plan. An expansive wooden lounging deck and lushly landscaped pool garden in the center of the property connect the two buildings. To reach the cottage, walk back through the great room of the main house and exit to the back deck. Across the deck to the northwest side of the pool garden, you enter the cottage through a double set of French doors along the pool side of the building.
Quaint yet stylish, the West~Indies style pool cottage is intended to be used primarily as sleeping quarters with two bedrooms on opposite ends of the cottage, and one shared bathroom with shower in the middle. The charming bathroom has a free-standing pedestal sink, tiled shower, and artfully framed island style mirror.
Notable authentic island design features of the 1st bedroom are the bare wood walls and bright white open beamed ceilings. This bedroom is the more updated of the two cottage rooms, and offers a modern queen sized pencil-stick 4-Poster bed and complimentary wood and island wicker furnishings.
While the 2nd cottage bedroom is dated by its original simplicity, it "holds its own" with isle style authenticity. With all the creative new architectural interpretations we find in Key West today, it is refreshing to me to find an adorable interior space in its near original form. Old cottage wood ceilings and walls have been refreshed by exposing the original ceiling beams and then painting them out bright white. This bedroom provides two twin beds that can be pushed together if you want to make a king size bed.
A fanciful feature of the pool side guest cottage is the wonderful outdoor garden shower that has been conveniently placed on an exterior wall by a back door. Shown in our slide show with the brilliant tropical pattern shower curtain, the outdoor shower seems to be artistically framed by the gingerbread trimmed soffit and turquoise wood siding and completes the down-island charm of this adorable cottage.
GROUNDS: For many folks, a private tropical pool garden is central to the Caribbean island lifestyle. This villa embraces this contemporary standard with all the most desirable accoutrements including an oversized wooden lounging deck, swimming pool, outdoor shower, extra tall privacy fences, covered loggia, and lush tropical landscaping. An outdoor dining table and chairs are set just outside the great room in the loggia and chaise lounges are set around the swimming pool.
Natural wood decking is complimented with traditional Caribbean style pavers and bricks in the garden. The entire property is surrounded with tall privacy fencing and has locking gates. Private off-street parking for 2 cars is provided at the rear of the property just at the end of a hidden lane, which can also accessed through the pool garden via a locking privacy gate. Finally, the front curbside of the property is landscaped with a variety of tropical trees and flowers.
Note: The unique amenities offered in this uncommon Key West villa make it ideal for sophisticated individuals with discerning tastes and is best suited for a small family with one or two older children, a couple, or executives, especially for a person requiring an office space. This home should never be considered as an option for travelers looking to stage a party or any kind of event.
This home is offered as an exclusive vacation rental in the most requested location in Key West. The property will not tolerate smoking inside. Only very well behaved children are welcome. This property is not child-proof. We do not accept guests less than 25 years of age unless accompanied by a family group or guardian.
Main House - 2 Queen Size beds
Guest Cottage - 1 Queen Size bed, 2 Twin beds (can be made as a King size bed)
Amenities: Solar heated swimming pool, large wooden deck bricked courtyard, tropical gardens, BBQ, fenced yard with locking gates, private off-street parking. Fully equipped kitchen, a/c, telephone, color cable TV, DSL, stereo, washer / dryer. Linens and towels are provided. Catering can be arranged. Maid service can be scheduled.
Activities: Downtown Old Town Key West residential neighborhood just 1 street from Duval Street just around the corner from art galleries, wonderful eateries and internationally famous fine restaurants, coffee houses, fine gift and clothing stores, nightlife, museums, all features Old Town Key West has to offer. Close to Key West Historic Seaport Harbor Walk, sailing, boating, diving, and outstanding seafood restaurants.
Area: Located on a fashionable narrow residential street in downtown Old Town Key West, this villa is one street from Duval Street. Close to a diverse variety of shopping, offices, entertainment, restaurants, bars, and historic churches. Just around the corners off either side of Duval Street you find an impressive array of historic Victorian and cottage style residences. From this area you can walk to the Mallory Square Sunset Celebration and the Key West Historic Seaport Harbor Walk in 10 to 15 minutes.
Restrictions: Smoke free house. Only well behaved children. Absolutely no pets please.