Florida Design Magazine Vol. 13, No. 2 Page 1
Above: The living area opens to a view of the Gulf of Mexico. Canvas draperies with starfish tassels and rope tiebacks allude to the home’s nautical theme. “I wanted to give the room the feel of a sea captain’s cottage,” says designer Phyllis Taylor.
A Key West Vacation
Home Reflects An Elegant Blend Of Nautical Wit And Antique Wisdom
Surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico’s turquoise blue waters, Sunset Key floats on the horizon like a dreamy tropical paradise. A short boat ride from the docks of Key West, this small island community provides an idyllic setting away from city life.
Drawn to Sunset’s Key’s beauty and peaceful isolation, Tampa residents Don and Erika Wallace saw it as an ideal location for their family vacation retreat. “This is the nicest area with a beach in Key West,” Erika says. “And we have a great vantage point for viewing the fabulous sunsets.”
Inspired by the maritime setting, designer Phyllis Taylor used a seafaring theme and splashes of aquamarine blue, citrus yellow and lime green to shape a lively interior. “Don and Erika have two young children, so they wanted something casual, colorful and easy,” says Taylor, who also designed the couple’s Tampa home.
The home’s open floor plan centers around the living and dining areas on the first floor. For the living area, Taylor selected casual furnishings for comfort, antique pieces for character and charm, and accessories for whimsy and local flavor. Natural fibers, such as water hyacinth, sisal and rattan, forge a link between the indoors and outdoors.
Taking into account the practical requirements of the Wallaces’ active family, Taylor covered a sofa with a washable white slipcover. Woven water-hyacinth chairs flank an antique French table whose top becomes a game board when turned over. A child-size antique American rocker snuggles close to the cocktail table, while a full-size antique rocker completes the arrangement. Hand-painted, blue-and-white wicker stacked boxes add to the room’s lighthearted feel.
An antique apothecary cabinet backs up to the sofa, forming a visual division between the living and dining areas. In the dining area, dark wood chairs with wicker backs and a vintage settee surround an antique French table topped with white marble.

Windsor blue cabinetry and millwork defines the adjoining kitchen, where barstools pull up to the breakfast bar. Natural light brightens the kitchen through paned windows and the nearby entry doors.
In the foyer, a striped area rug in blue and lime-green hues contrasts with the distressed walnut flooring used throughout the home. An antique Asian chest rests against the stairway, which leads to the second-floor bedrooms and gallery.
Downstairs, the master bedroom blends British Colonial styling with island chic. Light drifts in through wooden blinds on the windows and doors, casting ripples of shadows on camel-colored walls. Above the East Indian canopy bed, a fan stirs the air, gently ruffling the drape of sheer fabric on the canopy.
An aqua-colored duvet with a blossom pattern spreads a tropical garden over a taupe-and-white striped bedskirt. In lieu of a bedside table, Taylor topped an oversized ceramic urn with a canvas flounce. Next to the bed, an antique, carved-wood folding chair boasts a British Colonial pedigree. The rugged texture of the area rug — woven from jumbo rope fiber — underscores the home’s natural setting.
Relaxation comes naturally on the rear porch where Adirondack chairs call for daydreaming and cool drinks. Teak chairs around the pool provide for lounging in the sun.
“We spend a lot of time on the porch or in the pool or spa,” Erika says. “It’s one of my favorite spots. We usually invite another couple to come down with us, and after a day of fishing, we like to sit out here and watch the sun set.”
Graced with a gabled tin roof, shady porches and an upstairs veranda, this two-story home captures the spirit of Key West’s historic “conch style.”