By BARBARA BOWERS Special to The Citizen
Built in 1907 -- and bought by Norma and Dick Klein in 2006 -- 526 Frances St. is a "no period" kind of place.
"We buy what we like," Dick said of the interior furnishings that feature a leather sofa ensemble next to American Indian art. Intricate Asian paintings hang above painted antiques by the late, local artist Jeffrey Beal.
Plush wool rugs from Archeo Gallery accent some of the hardwood floors; an old Java teak table also from this Duval Street gallery complements the reproduction dining room table and sideboard that was purchased in Key West at Royal Furniture.
Colorful quilts decorate the beds in two of the four rooms on the first floor of the original house. A Steuben crystal display in the family room addition at the back of the house is a flashback to Dick's former career with Corning. Even the shell and coral collection atop a distressed entertainment center -designed by Rick Karo- in the living room hails back to his Navy days in Okinawa.
"It's a hodgepodge, but it's our house," he said.
The trick is getting the hodge to podge with panache, as the Kleins have done so well. Neutral colors tie together interesting and varied pieces of furniture. Throughout the house, their "No Period" period consistently reveals a lifetime of travel and collecting; everything from Japanese prints to paintings by Brazilian artists to an unusual painting by a Key West favorite, Sal Salinero. In it, Salinero steps outside the box of his well-known parrot and jungle scenes into an earlier, tamer garden of tulips.
The architectural mix of the four-bedroom, 3½ bathroom house also reflects the ageless blend of no particular period. For instance, the gingerbread at the peak of the Hansel and Gretel-like, single-story front porch coaxes eyes up even farther to big dormers that sprout from the second floor's front-gable roofline: A peak above the peaked porch, a peaked dormer here, a peaked dormer there reminds Dick of the fabled "House of Seven Gables."
At the house's rear, a 2004 addition by the former owners merges the 1907 wood-frame vernacular with a contemporary extension of the second-floor master suite and balcony, which sits atop the family room and kitchen addition downstairs.
"It's beautiful, a showcase kitchen with high quality Hansen & Bringle cabinets, but I need a ladder to reach them," said Norma. "Because I like to cook, some of the design is not practical for me." The answer to her dilemma? "We just go out to dinner more," she said.
Folding-glass doors by NanaWall create the indoor/outdoor effect many people in Key West love by opening from the family room to the pool and garden. Also off the family room is a long hallway to the big guest suite, roughly a third of the house's 2,900 square feet.
Formerly two separate lots, the house at 522 Frances St. is now linked to the family room and kitchen at 524 Frances St. This guest suite is, nevertheless, nearly a still-separate residence with private entrance through the garden, a full bath and a laundry room.
Equally important to the Kleins is the guest suite's renovated ground-level floor plan, laid out parallel to two of the bedrooms in the primary residence: "By using this as our guest suite, our kids can attend to their kids, who wake up early in the downstairs' bedrooms, without waking us up in the master suite upstairs," Dick laughed.
The master suite harbors an unusual split bathroom -- shower, vanity and water closet in one dormer; tub and vanity in the dormer opposite. In the former attic space between the dormers, the Kleins expanded and finished closet storage to the outer edge of the front-gable roof.
The sleeping area is in the new section above the family room, and the staircase that accesses the master suite is central to the first floor. Here, though, the newel post and stair treads "face the back of the house, I'm told, to simplify the removal of chamber pots," Norma said.
Of course, that particular period in the Florida Keys -- the outhouse period -- has happily given way to indoor plumbing.
Barbara Bowers is a Key West writer. To suggest a home to be featured in the Keys Homes section, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Homes listed for sale may not be considered.