photos by Barry Fitzgerald
You know that incredible experience of Déjà vu? When you enter someplace for the very first time, and instantly you get that sense that you’ve been there before? When I first visited this vacation rental house, it happened to me. My mind sparked, the place seemed wonderfully familiar, and I felt an instant kinship with the surroundings.
As I toured the house and the grounds of the property, I quickly realized that my brain was just catching up to my fondest memories of favorite beach vacations in other parts of the Caribbean. The creative blend of tropical color and playfully elegant style reminded me of a favorite vacation villa in St. Barth’s and an endearing beach house in The Bahamas. A carefree beachiness permeates every room of this two-story wooden house and it had taken me right back to bliss. After that moment of recall it was then pronounced the Villa Déjà vu Key West. *
Ideally located, this property is set at the end of a quiet historic ‘dead end’ lane, just off the more elegant area of Upper Duval Street, in Old Town. Each house on the little lane is completely unique, mostly ‘build-as-you-go’ creations of skilled ship builders and carpenters in the 1940’s. This historic wooden house, originally built in 1943 has an uncharacteristically unornamented front entrance for Key West, and is set right up to the edge of the lane. But don’t let this illusion of simplicity fool you. Most of the outdoor space is reserved for the very spacious private backyard, which today has been turned into a showcase tropical pool garden.
The entire property was recently given a complete renovation and new interior design to bring it to modern standards. But in keeping with Key West historic guidelines, the footprint and façade of the house remain in tact. The layout of the Villa Déjà vu Key West vacation rental is ideal for family groups or groups of friends. The floor plan provides 2 spacious separate floors which are adjoined with a covered indoor/outdoor staircase, with a large indoor living room, and pool garden with large deck for all to gather. The 2nd floor is set so it almost feels like two houses in one.
Since the unique layout of this property is anything but straight-forward, the best way to understand it is to do a virtual walk-through. What better place to begin our tour, than the front entrance.
The front door takes you directly into an outdoor tropical style entrance hall, where you find the usual expected accoutrements of a chair and mirror for last minute fussing. (Immediately to your right, is door that leads to the master bedroom, but let’s leave that late for later when we look at that bedroom room.)
From the entrance way a door takes you into the downstairs hallway. When I first stepped into the hall, I was awestruck by the floor-to-ceiling mural depicting a Key West lane, painted by locally famous artist Rick Worth. The next thing you’ll notice is the artistic wide-planked wood floor that was distressed and painted a wonderful Caribbean blue that leads to straight ahead to the large, and very island-stylish, galley kitchen.
Kitchen: The fully equipped L-Shaped kitchen spans nearly the length of the house, and makes a bend toward the left at the end creating even more counter space. Lots of artistic touches make this a fun room to be in. I love the counter-height cottage style table and yellow art mural of a vintage Cuban menu board. A bank of sash windows is set above the counters at the back to bring in plenty of sunlight.
Bedroom / Bathroom One: With your back to the front entrance, looking toward the kitchen, the first door on your left is bedroom one. Here you’ll find a queen size bed with artistic handcrafted furnishings including wooden bed platform bed, lime-green headboard, and unique round bamboo end tables. Original distressed wide-planked floors are left a natural color in this room.
The bathroom for this bedroom is just out the door, a few steps past the cottage-style kitchen table to your left. The bathroom is decorated with Caribbean island theme art and offers a full shower, and was recently refitted with an apron front sink and dark-wood vanity.
Living Room: The sunken’ living room is on the opposite of the hallway from the first bedroom and bathroom. Spacious, artful and colorful all the way, there are too many special touches to mention. Bright and cushy canvas furnishings set against the wide-planked wooden floors and a reclaimed wooden Key West Navy trunk create relaxed island feel. A large white handcrafted ‘picnic-style’ dining table, lit with a pretty chandelier, is placed overlooking the pool garden. A large wide screen TV is hung on the wall towards the kitchen in case you need it. A vintage ‘Discovery Undersea Tours’ sign is featured as a show piece on the opposite wall from the TV.
Master Bedroom Suite: The master bedroom suite includes a sitting room / office, bedroom, and en-suite bathroom. The sitting room adjoins the left side of the living room, as you face the kitchen. In the photograph, you see the wicker chaise painted a coral color, and the corner of the writing desk painted a white patina.
Straight ahead, is the master bedroom with a queen size bed using similar artistic handcrafted furnishings as bedroom one, including a wooden platform bed. This time the artsy headboard is made with reclaimed shutters that are painted white patina along with the end tables. An added feature is the doorway that leads to the entrance hall, and the stairs that lead to the 2nd floor. Wood floors are left a natural color in the entire suite, except for the bathroom which has earth-tone tile. The master bathroom, which adjoins the sitting room, is shown with the antique wall mirror adorned with a starfish.
Second Floor Bedrooms and Bathroom: A hidden switch-back staircase off the downstairs entrance way, leads up to the 2nd floor bedrooms via a private entrance. A covered sitting porch, with classic Key West gingerbread railings, spans nearly the entire width of the 2nd floor of the house. Nestled behind mature tropical trees, the porch provides an exotic outdoor space with a private down look view of the lane below.
Step inside to a beautiful tropical 2nd floor suite with dark hard wood floors. Painted in white, and styled in soft colors, the 3rd bedroom is furnished with a queen sized platform bed, twin size trundle lounging bed and wicker writing desk. A European size refrigerator and microwave are conveniently placed toward the back of the room.
The 4th bedroom, which also provides a queen size bed, is located behind a white louvered wall at the back corner of the 2nd floor. White wicker and white patina framed mirrors in this bedroom make a striking contrast with the dark wood floors. The full bathroom for the 2nd floor carries the tropical white wicker on white theme. It provides a vanity with marble top, tiled floor, and a shower.
Pool Garden Grounds:
The spacious private back yard with swimming pool, sun deck, and lush landscaping is focal point of Villa Déjà vu Key West. Access this space through a double set of French doors topped with wide transom windows, just off the living room. A large blue awning covers the deck and is set as an outdoor living room with nice wood furnishings. A playful sign over the couch sets the tone, “Welcome To The Beach.” Even though you’re not right on the beach, South Beach is just a few short streets up Duval Street, but with this kind of privacy you just might end up spending most of your time right here. A combination of high fencing lined with an impressive variety of tall mature palm trees surround the decked courtyard and make a private backdrop for the nice size swimming pool with trickling waterfall.
Laundry: There is a laundry closet with a washer / dryer on the pool deck, on the back wall of the house near the kitchen.
The general design of this property lends itself perfectly to small gatherings of families and friends and should be considered an ideal spot for a gathering of family or friends.
*Note: This is a private vacation rental villa, not to be confuses with the former Déjà vu Resort in Key West that was closed in 2008.
Bedroom #1 – 1st floor – 1 queen size bed
Bedroom #2 – 1st floor – Master suite – 1 queen size bed.
Bedroom #3 – 2nd floor – 1 queen size bed – Twin trundle bed ( 2 twins)
Bedroom #4 - 2nd floor – 1 queen size bed
Amenities: Tucked back at the end of a ‘dead end’ lane hidden from view. Large back yard with private swimming pool, large sun deck, and lush landscaped garden, outdoor covered living room, privacy fences. 2nd floor porch overlooking lane below. Fully equipped kitchen, a/c, cable TVs, stereo, internet. Laundry room with washer / dryer. Linens and towels are provided. Catering can be arranged. Maid service can be scheduled.
Activities: Elegant Upper Duval St. – A few short streets from South Beach, close to the Southern Most Point of the United States. Café pedestrian neighborhood features wonderful eateries and internationally famous fine restaurants, coffee & tea house, fine gift and clothing stores, art galleries Grand Vin wine tasting, home made ice cream and frozen yogurt. Here you start at the top of Duval St. near the Atlantic Ocean and can take the 20 min stroll to the Gulf of Mexico (remember it takes 3 to 4 Key West streets to equal the distance of a typical city block). Sailing, boating, diving, museums, nightlife.
Area: Elegant Upper Duval Street neighborhood. Walk out your door and down the lane to all you want to see in Historic Key West. Historic area originally built around the Gato Cigar Factory in the 19th century. Lane where this house is located features a unique one-of-a-king collection of hand crafted historic wooden homes. Close to best restaurants, clubs, Hemingway House Museum, Light House Museum, Custom House Museum, aquarium, Ship Wreck Museum. Walk or bike to all Old Town features from here.
Restrictions: Smoke free house. No pets! (Please don’t ask).