Keys Homes
Sunday, February 9, 2014
Love of Place

By BARBARA BOWERS Special to the Citizen

In wonderfully off-key Key West, love songs and affairs are more than physical, they can be downright solid. It is not unusual, but rather normal for residents here to find uncommon items and often, intense measures for showcasing their affections for their homes.

Consider the curbstone-edge for the pool at 1214 Olivia; there are heavy granite baubles the owner scoured the island and salvaged for this particular purpose. Or the living room addition at 1114 Margaret, built initially to accommodate a large painting by Cuban-artist Alex Ruis. But like the dynamics of so many romances that shift along uncharted paths, when the contemporary addition was complete last year, the Ruis painting better fit into the dining room of the existing structure.

Such attention to detail--maybe even obsessive love of one's place--is found on the path of Old Island Restoration Foundation's house tour Feb. 14 and 15. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., tourgoers surely will borrow ideas from, if not fall in love with, five properties open to the public on Valentine weekend.

The tour's wide array of architectural styles and interior charms may begin or end with any of the properties, but if you start at 710 Windsor Lane, you can wind your way around the island's centrally located cemetery with little backtracking. What's more, just up this street from the cemetery, you'll find that one of the few new houses in the historic district is engineered and constructed in SIPS, the energy efficient and environmentally-friendly Structured Insulated Panels System.

"Gramatica SIPS International in Tampa pieced it together like a puzzle from the floorplan I submitted," said homeowner Janet Hinkle. "SIPS offers less construction waste and more weather-resistant strength."

The finished puzzle for the 3,000-square foot luxury home includes a three-bedroom/3.5 bathroom primary residence and a detached one-bed/one-bath studio apartment on a double lot.

Classically arranged in the manner of neighboring houses, what's not to love about this thoroughly modern one in contrast to the aged elegance at 618 Grinnell St.?

This classic eyebrow house built in 1889 was renovated in 2011. From raised footings to hand-painted hardwood floors and Myra Negron painted palm fronds on some of the interior walls, nothing has been overlooked by homeowners Chris Mario and Jim Schufreider.

You're bound to love their great room, a former three-room addition from years ago which the gentlemen upgraded with leather-finish granite on kitchen counters, beveled glass doors that lead to side decks, and pool and lush garden.

At 704 White St., the pool, deck and garden is currently in the planning stage, but its great room is also the result of a renovation that turned small rooms into a single large one: "Before we bought the house in 2012, the interior was gutted and restructured," said Sue Fowler.

Loving touches like the Thomasville "fishing chairs a-la Hemingway" decorate the 974-square foot bungalow, which retains its three vertical lights in wood windows and three-bay front porch typical of American Craftsman turn of the 20th century architecture.

Quality craftsmanship defines and underscores the renovation of another early 1900s house, this though built in the manner of Victorians. At 1214 Olivia, many of its original architectural features -- windows, doors, chandeliers -- are in place, enhanced by contemporary upgrades of both indoor and outdoor kitchens, as well as the detached guest house on the oversized, well-tended lot.

The international decorative flair inside and outdoor Asian sculptures reflect the homeowner's work and travel worldwide, similar to that of Architect Richard Logan, who redesigned 1114 Margaret St.

Logan says this 1968 CBS structure "was a blank canvas ... with no signature features except for its low profile." That all changed with the new living room and miniscule attention to every square inch of living space in the house: folding doors that double as walls, the 7-foot high, six-panel Chinese screen hung on the living room wall that reflects its gold-guilt lighting through slatted trellises

You can feel the love in signature pieces like Logan-designed and custom-made sofa, bar stools, table and light fixtures; in the paintings by resident artist J.H. Allen; and hear the love song from either front-side entrance all the way to the rear garden's "tea house" and water features.

Tickets for the Feb. 14-15 house tour may be purchased either day at the front door of each property. Tickets cost $30 per person, and are available in advance at 322 Duval St., by calling 305-294-9501, or go to

Barbara Bowers is a Key West writer and host of a radio talk show about owning and maintaining property in the Florida Keys. To suggest a home to be featured in the Keys Homes section, send an email to Homes listed for sale may not be considered.

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