Troy Campbell; styling by Stephanie Davis
Accommodations: Two bedrooms, two baths, with additional sleeping space in dressing room (best for children)Rates: Jan 6-April 18, $2,940 per week; April 19-May 31 and Nov 3-Dec 17, $2,319; June 1-Oct 22, $2,100; Oct 23-Nov 2, $3,661; Dec 18-Dec 25, $$3,220; Dec 26-Jan 5, $3,710Availability: Year-roundLocation: Old Town Key West, FloridaNearest airport: Key West International Airport (EYW), three miles awayAmenities: Private multilevel deck, heated pool, hot tub, stereo with MP3 input, TV, DVD player, high-speed Internet access, fully equipped kitchen, gas grill, dishwasher, and laundry facilitiesNeed-to-know info: Pet friendly, four-person maximum occupancy, seven-night minimum stayDon’t miss: Dining at Seven Fish (305/296-2777 or 7fish.com) and Nine One Five (305/296-0669 or 915duval.com). Shopping for tropical fabrics at the Seam Shoppe; 305/296-9830 or seamshoppe.com. Exploring by water―you can rent boats at Garrison Bight Marina; 305/294-3093 or garrisonbightmarina.net.Contact info: Call 800/833-7368 or 305/294-0990, or visit rentkeywest.com (look for “Havana Lane”).(published December 2009, updated April 2010)
Guests walking into Havana Lane may want to keep their sunglasses on. Bright tropical colors radiate from pillows, seat cushions, artwork, and painted furniture. Set against Dade County pine, the splashy accents tantalize the eye, bringing the sunny vacation vibe inside.
With permission from Chavez Properties, the company that owns the cottage, British designer Derek Frost revived the rundown 1920s structure with the goal of creating a hideaway that doesn’t take itself too seriously. He retained the natural look of the pine floors, walls, and ceilings and preserved the retro, lived-in feel of what locals call a “conch house.” Derek brought in discarded, distressed lumber for architectural accents that underscore the home’s rustic charm. “The idea was to keep it very Key Westy, very relaxed, very un-done-up,” Derek says. “It’s absolutely not your standard rental property.”
Vintage and found furniture create a casual atmosphere, with end tables crafted from teak boat-hatch covers resting on rattan bases. Derek constructed the coffee table by attaching blue and red vinyl floor tiles to a wood frame that rests on a Mexican twig base.
When it came to color, he abandoned all restraint. “To me, Florida means bright-colored,” he says. Painted aqua and pink, the dining table and chairs make a playful statement. The whimsy continues in the kitchen, with mint-green candy-stripe cabinets. In the living area, haphazardly placed artwork forms a collage of color on the walls. Standard-issue miniblinds just wouldn’t do here, so tropical-motif fabric covers the window. Hot-pink molding crowns the space, and a hodgepodge of daring fabrics brightens remaining gaps.
The cottage’s tropical accents smooth the transition between indoors and out. Two sets of French doors open the dining area onto a spacious deck, pool, and sprawling gardens. Plants thrive in the area’s subtropical climate, creating a private retreat that’s enjoyable year-round. After all, Derek says, “you go to Florida to be outside.”
Just a few blocks away from the cottage, you can join the circus-like daily sunset celebration at Mallory Square and the thumping nightlife of Duval Street. You can also soak up Key West culture by bicycle or by foot, admiring the eccentric architecture and browsing local art galleries. There’s plenty to do offshore, as well: Rent a boat to explore the islands, fish, swim, snorkel, dive, or windsurf.
Just don’t forget your sunglasses.
(published December 2009)