Key Lime Chic

Citrus Hues And A Modern Interpretation Of Classic Southern Federalist Style Strike A Pitch Perfect Theme For A Renovation Of One Family's Island Retreat Off Key West
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Accessed via shuttle boat just a few hundred yards due west of Key West, Fla., the private residential and resort isle of Sunset Key contains less than 70 total sites, only a handful of which directly front the Atlantic Ocean. And it is one such desirable property that provides the setting for this idyllic winter retreat. "The homeowners are Northeasterners, a couple with three teenage children who maintain permanent residency in Connecticut," architect Bill Taylor says.

A cover project in Florida Design magazine was the genesis for Taylor's firm being awarded the design commission: the featured home caught the owners' attention because it involved a major renovation for another residence on the island that had been completed by the architect and his wife and business partner, interior designer Phyllis Taylor. "The house they'd seen in Florida Design had a laid-back, Bahamian feel that captured the tropical locale but with a bit more formality," Phyllis says. "Plus, the owners understood the Colonial aspect of Key West architecture, which led to our suggesting an adaptation of the Southern Federal style of Charleston (South Carolina)."

Thus began a complete renovation that included an exterior update of fresh paint, new louvered shutters and outdoor lighting. While the interior also takes its cues from the graceful, Low Country style, Phyllis strikes just the right balance of refined elegance and casual flair. Color and texture provide relaxed counterpoints to the meticulous woodworking that prevails throughout, including citrus green grasscloth on the foyer and living room walls that initiates the home's signature hue, married with cool aqua and pops of sunny yellow as visual echoes of the sea and sky view.

Two-tone checkerboard marble flooring in the foyer gives way to hardwood oak in the living room, where an area rug from Stark Carpet sets the theme. The surrounding furnishings emerge accordingly, from an antique bamboo screen, to black-lacquer, Chippendale-like wing chairs. The space is grounded by a centerpiece grouping composed of two sofas clad in a cool aqua-toned cotton blend and a pair of vintage aluminum chairs. Here, as throughout the entire residence, meticulous paneled moldings are enrichments not normally found in a Key West home and reference the Southern Federal style. "Interior architecture is more important than furniture; it's the emotional connection to the home," Phyllis says.

Given that the interior was completely gutted, Bill confides that the entire project hinged on a challenging endeavor that involved a new floating stairway. A reorganized floor plan now emanates from the sculptural piece, allowing the kitchen and dining area to open onto it, and providing a see-through view of the ocean through the entry and living room.

"It was a big challenge adding formality here," Interior Designer Phyllis Taylor says of the kitchen, where custom cabinetry and white-tiled walls fashion a crisp look.

In addition, the kitchen, which remains open to the foyer, displays the same refined elegance and architectural detailing as the living and dining areas. Here, the designer's custom refrigerator and pantry armoire, a one-of-a-kind mahogany piece, references the home's Colonial roots. A dramatic cutout outlined in panel molding opens the kitchen to the dining area, which features an elegant walnut table paired with comfortable wicker armchairs.

A Far East theme reigns in the master bedroom, where calming tones of gray and black highlighted with citrus green provide continuity with the main living spaces. "This space is all about texture and light," Phyllis says, citing the sheen of the silk-grasscloth-upholstered walls and the play of light from the French doors. The focal point of the space is an Asian-style, black-lacquered bed from William Switzer.

"The owners wanted something casual but dressier and with more panache than the typical, funky Key West cottage style," the architect summarizes. "Clients have a fantasy that they are trying to create visually, and it is our job to interpret all of the components and create something that is entirely unique."

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Interior Design
Phyllis Taylor, Taylor & Taylor, Miami Beach, FL

Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn, Atlanta, GA

Text by
De Schofield