12 Must-Have Elements of Key West Style
A wide range of influences have created the small island’s signature breezy style
Just 94 miles from Cuba, Key West is a singular American destination. The small island’s influences include Spanish settlement that dates back to Ponce de León in 1521, a British takeover during colonial times, shipwreck salvagers, fishermen, traders, Cuban culture, Ernest Hemingway, Jimmy Buffet, LGBTQ pride and so much more. The resulting culture and atmosphere is unique and relaxing. Here are some ideas for how you can take a piece of it home.
Front porch panache. Key West is a great spot for watching the world go by and waving to it from the front porch. Carpenter Gothic balustrades, shutters and light blue ceilings are typical marks of a quintessential Key West porch.
Key West 1: Gray Livin’, original photo on Houzz
Cuban flavor. At just 94 miles from the southernmost tip of the Keys, Cuba is a Key West neighbor that shares a history of Spanish settlement and has remained an ongoing cultural influence. Cigar boxes and a conga bring a little Cuba to this D.C. bachelor pad, while the style, colors and bullfighting poster bring to mind one of Cuba and Key West’s most famous residents, Ernest Hemingway.
Framing the distinctive artwork from a cigar box top is an easy way to bring a taste of Cuba into a room.
Fish. Deep sea fishing is an activity associated with Hemingway and Key West. These days many prefer to use cruelty-free resin or metal fish sculptures as trophies.
Key West 2: Martha O’Hara Interiors, original photo on Houzz
Palm fronds. Even if you live in a climate like that in Minneapolis where you can’t plant palm trees, you can bring a bit inside. Look at the effect just two fronds have in this light and airy kitchen.
A woven ceiling fan. Add an air of Key West to your sunroom or porch. A tropical-style fan with woven blades will add Keys texture to your look.
Bahama shutters. These crank-out shutters shade the sun like awnings while allowing ventilation. They are a distinctive architectural element that calls to mind the Keys.
Key West 3: Bender & Associates Architects, original photo on Houzz
Here’s a glimpse at how Bahama shutters can enhance the interior of a porch. This mix of wood tones with soft greens is a popular Key West palette.
Fearless color. Key Westers are not afraid of bright color. Palettes pulled straight from a parrot’s feathers create a happy place to party.
Key West 4: Natalie Younger Interior Design Allied ASID, original photo on Houzz
Outdoor spaces are a good place to infuse with color inspired by Keys style. You’ll bring spring break fever to all of your gatherings.
Celebrate the rainbow. Key West is an LGBTQ vacation destination. Show your pride and support with a rainbow hammock. Swaying on your porch with a little Trop Rock playing will take you right back to your vacation days.
No room for a hammock? A rainbow of picket-fence fish folk art swimming across a wall creates a little Key West spirit.
Key West 5: Bay West Builders, original photo on Houzz
Fabulous greens. For those who prefer a more limited color palette, soft greens are a Key West way to go. This light mint works well with different shades of wood and woven textures that are prevalent all around the island.
Bring your Key West color inspiration into a workspace, so you can enjoy some of that barefoot and happy feeling even if you’re facing an endless spreadsheet.
British Colonial style. The British took over the Keys from Spain back in 1762. Furniture they brought with them had to be light, small and easy to move. Tropical items like bamboo headboards, trunks that doubled as chests of drawers and other campaign furniture like folding chairs and desks are typical of the look that still influences Caribbean style today.
Gauzy canopies. Draping white fabric from a bed recalls the light and airy feeling of a mosquito net, a necessity before screens were invented in the early 1800s.
Key West 6: MHK Architecture & Planning, original photo on Houzz
Colorful beach cruisers. Better for your body and the environment than mopeds and scooters, taking a spin on one of these will make you feel like a kid again. And they look adorable next to the house.