Discretely built back off the street to quietly overlook an historic tropical garden, this Elegant Key West Tree House, encompasses the entire 2nd floor of a beautifully renovated 1930’s building. Perched among mature tropical trees, the 1200 square foot 2nd floor flat is situated on a quiet road in the exclusive Old Town Casa Marina neighborhood. With a wide wooden covered porch spanning the front of the house, every room still has the original casement windows providing a fabulous look-down view of different garden scenes.
The owner’s affections permeate the flat’s soft elegant style inside and out. It recaptur...es a “bohemian and chic” way of island life, one we knew when we were free in spirit, contemplating and passionately embracing the forces of the Caribbean, sailing back and forth between Key West and The Bahamas, returning to this flat to settle in and contemplate our next travel adventures.
Entrance for this property is through a pretty arbor gate, down a path that gently winds through the garden, and then up a private wooden switch-back staircase towards the back corner of the building. Since it’s nestled into the trees on the 2nd floor, the entrance is very private from the ground below.
Interior Layout: With wide open archways, tall ceilings, and shiny hard wood floors that flow from room-to-room, the home feels very spacious, yet like a reassuring cocoon all at the same time. The first thing you notice when you step inside is the Brazilian tiger wood floor spanning the entire length of the open concept ‘great-room’ which encompasses about 2/3 of the flat. Your eye is then drawn to the tall ceilings, wide archways, and plaster walls painted in different faux colors to define the different ‘living zones’ - the living room, dining area, and full size kitchen. An eclectic mix of furniture styles, art, and treasures collected by the owner over the years, mix effortlessly to create an interesting and refreshing décor throughout the home.
The front door to the flat leads directly into the living room, where a traditional over-stuffed sofa and comfy large ‘chair and a half’ make it easy to plunk down as soon as you’re inside. Antique side tables and unique lamps, a Queen Anne style hinged coffee table, and an arched dark walnut entertainment center complete the living room furnishings. A hand-painted folk-art sofa-table, placed at the back of the large chair in the first tall archway, indicates you’ve entered in the dining room ‘zone.’
A Queen Anne style cherry-wood dining set placed in the middle of the wood floor, a matching ‘highboy dresser’ standing to the side, and simple crystal chandelier clearly define the elegant dining area. To ensure the space feels relaxed, a casual plaid easy-chair is placed in the corner where you can comfortably hang-out half-way between the living and dining area. A beautiful historic feature of the dining area is a twin-set of original corner break-front cabinets that grace the interior wall on either side of an archway, near the hall that leads to the two bedrooms and bathroom.
A second tall archway defines the next ‘zone’ in the great-room, the fully equipped large ‘U-Shape’ kitchen. The kitchen was renovated to modern standards with a design that carefully considered the historic period of the house. On the exterior walls, the original solid wooden cabinets that reach to the tall ceiling were kept in place, but sanded and refinished in yacht fashion. On the interior wall, a spacious pantry was built next to the double door refrigerator. On the front exterior wall, a beautiful custom ‘European-style’ laundry center was custom designed, complete with a Bosch washer/dryer and black granite counter top. A small kitchen island, on rollers, rests in the center of the kitchen.
A single French door on the front wall, leads from the kitchen to one of the nicest features of this property - the wide covered front dining porch with a beuatiufl view of the front garden. The porch is set with a wooden dining table and wicker chairs, providing an ideal place for breakfast, coffee, or an evening glass of wine.
Back inside, towards the middle of the great-room through a wide archway, we find the hall leading to the bedrooms and the fully renovated vintage style bathroom. Facing the hall, the master bedroom is on the left side, the office / guest bedroom is on the right, and the full bathroom is in the middle. The alluring master bedroom has a sense of romance and opulence with two beautiful dark wood dressers, and a tall 4-poster king-size bed set against soft yellow walls. A door connects directly from the master bedroom into the bathroom; the bathroom is also accessed from a doorway off the hall.
The elegant bathroom was renovated by a master craftsman who used vintage-style American Standard fixtures and built hand-made wooden wainscoting painted bright white. The original bathtub, tucked beneath its own tall arch, was kept in place but trimmed with a chic faux marble tile that is repeated on the bathroom floor and again in the free-standing shower. The separate shower stall is fit with a custom frameless glass door. Beautiful lighting fixtures, selected for their vintage look, are fitted with dimmer switches to create the perfect bathing mood.
The spacious 2nd bedroom is set up with versatility in mind. A desk and a book shelf provide an ideal home office, while a queen size bed and antique armoire provide an inviting bedroom. Incongruous design solutions are a specialty for the owner, and the fun color theme for this room is ‘linen and blue jeans.’ Faux painted walls really do look like blue jeans and with the linen headboard and lamp shades create a feeling of bohemian luxury. A trunk imported from India, and French script fabric chairs, add more unconventional notes.
Garden: This flat is situated on the south-side of Old Town Key West, in a mature tropical tree garden, called ‘Molly Parker’s Garden’ that was originally created in the late 1930's by Ms. Molly Parker. She planted this private garden as a retreat to relax, romance, recreate, and restore the sense of self by reconnecting with nature. While this property is only a slice of the original garden, it originally spanned an entire block and was considered to be ‘out in the country’ on Key West. One of the largest Mahogany trees on the island is still on this property. We have also found historic tourism booklets that identify the garden as a tourist attraction during the Great Depression, as an attempt to boost the local economy. The homes on this property were built in the 1930’s in concert with the gardens and fresh water wells found in this area. Today the tranquility of this historic setting helps to wash away the demands and stresses of hectic modern life. It is professionally maintained, and features a meditation garden.
When researching the origin of this garden, we were thrilled to find a 1939 Key West Citizen Newspaper report written about Ms. Parker and her garden. It stated then what we still enjoy today "visitors find what imaginations have pictured..." lavish growth of tropical vegetation, fragrant flowers, and slender stemmed palms cutting the skyline, velvety butterflies idling in the sunshine. (The Key West Citizen, Dec. 27, 1939). There are still a few local Key West “Conchs” (residents) alive who remember Ms. Molly Parker from their childhood, and talk about her as the “Johnny Appleseed” of Key West as she was credited for planting most of the old Grandfather Mahogany trees and tropical fruit trees on the island.
Activities: Higg’s Beach is a very short stroll away where you can enjoy white sands, turquoise waters, and historic piers. Dob Beach is also close by. Within 5 minute stroll to White Street Pier, West Martello Fort, tennis courts near the beach, Key West famous Salute Restaurant on Higgs Beach, Casa Marina Resort property, Faustos Fine Grocery Store, Sandy’s Café walk up restaurant and Cuban coffee, local art galleries, and weather station. Walk or bike to most Key West Old Town attractions.
Area: The Casa Marina neighborhood, is a small exclusive residential district which has grown into one of the most sought after neighborhoods in Old Town Key West. In the mid 1900's this area was considered the "country side" of the island, and the modern day result leaves a legacy of outstanding turn-of-the-century, mid-century and modern architecture with beautiful gardens and more yard space than is typically found in the other residential districts in Old Town Key West. Quiet residential area, close to the Atlantic Ocean and the White Street gallery and shopping area.
Restrictions: No Children. Smoke free house. Best for mature couples. No pets please.
Additional amenities include: cable flat screen TV in living room and master bedroom, artistic personalized décor, c/d player - radio, washer / dryer, amenities: wide sitting porch that overlooks mature manicured tropical tree-garden.
As featured in USA TODAY and recommended by Travel + Leisure in its annual Villa Guide:
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