Keys Homes
Sunday, September 23, 2012
Real life still life

By BARBARA BOWERS Special to The Citizen

When two designers live together the finished interior is "our personal art gallery," said Michael Davison, art director, artist and graphic designer, who owns a townhouse at the Key West Golf Club with Jean Goeddel, artistic designer of many kitchens and bathrooms, including her own.

"In the Keys, I'm a designer and consultant with Nancy Stock at Signature Spaces," said Goeddel, "so she's had some input into our home, too."

At 1 Spoonbill Way, the corner unit that Goeddel and Davison own, less than 800 square feet is home to more than five dozen oil or watercolor paintings, silk screens, lithographs, wood block prints, you name the art form and it hangs on a wall.

Then there are the three-dimensional art forms; sculptures made of everything from feathers and paper to glass and metal. Free-standing or hanging, all the art is original, with many works by local artists, chief among them is Davison's art.

Within the 2-bedroom/1.5 bath townhouse, there's even some furniture. For instance, two contemporary, leather recliners in the living room reside across from a custom-made black credenza topped with the big-screen TV. But of course, this is not just a TV stand; no, this ensemble becomes a piece of art when a 3-foot table, sculpted and painted like a cat, also stands on the credenza and frames the TV.

The cat-framed TV is backed by several handmade paper fans on the wall behind it, made by St. Louis artists Connie Miller and Ellen Bales. Some of Davison's paper-and-branch sculptures arranged on the tabletop add even more interest to the real-life still life.

Here, every wall, every nook and cranny becomes a still life, defined by Merriam Webster's dictionary as "a picture consisting predominantly of inanimate objects," but usually the "picture" is a painting or photo, not every square inch of a home.

Although the collective artistry is a testament to the designers, Goeddel called it "a mish-mash of stuff we really like, and we're not afraid to put together."

Mingled among the living room's contemporary furniture stuff, such as the striking 6-foot-tall Fast Buck Freddie's silver-painted cabinet, is a Danish folding table and a roll-top desk, antiques passed from parents to Davison and Goeddel, respectively.

Nearby in the "palm bathroom," which is the half-bath inserted beneath the stair case, the little space is huge with character in the form of palm trees, palm fronds and even metal monkey masks above the toilet.

What palm bathroom would be complete without monkeys?

When the couple moved to Key West in 2000, they bought 1 Spoonbill Way not necessarily because of the tropical foliage, although palms inspired them, but because "my sister lives at 3 Oak Way Drive in St. Louis, and I had to be Number 1," said Davison, in his characteristically sarcastic brand of humor.

A little more seriously, he notes that the townhouse was almost new; built in 1998, and purchased from the first owner.

"In the various phases of the golf club development, our duplex building is number 205 of the 390 buildings in the community," Davison said.

Relatively new though the townhouse was in 2000, the couple redesigned it. They screened in the rear porches, up and down, to create outdoor rooms. Downstairs, the porch is the year-round dining room, draped with white hotel sheets for privacy, and sprinkled with colored bowls by local potter Grace Calleja atop white shelves supported by vintage Victorian brackets.

Davison built and installed the shelves. However, carpenters were hired to enclose the second-floor balcony at the front of the unit. These days, the expanded indoor space of the guest bedroom features additional closets, a daybed that opens into a double bed when needed, and many, many framed works of art.

Across the hallway, past the bathroom, past hats on pedestals, past colored vases on shelves above the stairs, the master bedroom is decorated with a collection of masks from around the world. Some made locally at Maskerville peer down from floating, overhead shelves on one wall and from atop two mirrored armoires on another.

"To create a larger sense of space, we inserted armoires where closets used to be and returned the ceiling to its true vault," said Goeddel. "You can see the difference in the spaciousness of this ceiling and the guest room's half-vault ceiling."

Space was not the issue with the original kitchen, though, it was just "impractical," Goeddel said. "The corner sink was unusable, it had no storage."

Okay, no storage suggests a space problem, but kitchen makeovers are Goeddel's specialty, and in her still life, it's also a study in light-and-dark contrast akin to, say, a Caravaggio, and is just one more masterpiece in the personal art gallery.

Barbara Bowers is a Key West writer. To suggest a home to be featured in the Keys Homes section, send an email to barbara@bbowers.com. Homes listed for sale may not be considered.

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