Each island of the Florida Keys features a distinctive ambiance. No two islands are alike, each with unique lifestyles, design trends, dining options, and shopping scenes. An attribute that separates the Florida Keys from the rest of the country is its unique architecture, which defines the aesthetic of the islands. Whether you’re interested in investing in a property on Key West or Marathon, here are the top seven architectural styles you can expect to find during your home search.
Unique architectural styles found in the Florida Keys
Old Town Key West has perhaps some of the most fascinating architecture in the Keys with its deeply rooted history. The homes in this particular neighborhood were constructed from wood by shipbuilders in the 19th century. The craftsman built these homes farther inland and created the Conch style — homes characterized by two stories, wraparound verandas, and shuttered doors and windows. These homes are often accented by bright colors such as turquoise shutters or pink bases. The Old Island Restoration Foundation
hosts a yearly tour in December, during which some of the area’s most historic homes boast festive decorations. These houses are a cultural treasure of the Keys, and a lucky few get to call these extraordinary properties their home.
Cigar Cottages & Shotgun Homes
Another popular style in Key West is the cottage/shotgun style. In the late 19th century, many Cuban cigar makers immigrated to Key West, where they constructed single-story cottages. These homes usually featured a long central side hall lined by three rooms. The name “shotgun
” originated from the idea that a bullet could be fired through the front door and exit cleanly out the back door, demonstrating the central hall as the architectural backbone of the property. In Key West, you’ll find rows of these quaint cottages, many of which are painted with bright tones inspired by the tropical location. Their accents are delicate and charming and contribute to an enchanting atmosphere of coastal elegance.
The more ornate homes in the Keys are Queen Anne
style which is “late Victorian-era homes.” This style is defined by
a steep roof, cross gables, and a large porch, all constructed with exceptional craftsmanship. Several of these homes include design flourishes along the gables to enhance the colorful appearance of the property, gesturing to the fantasy of living in paradise. Living in a Queen Anne home is akin to living in a tropical fairytale and is the quintessential Florida Keys experience.
Despite the Florida Keys’ impressive dedication to preserving gorgeous examples of historic architecture, many stunning modern homes are scattered across the region and elevate the tropical lifestyle in their own way. Highlighted by striking glass and stone exteriors, these properties add variety and texture to the islands’ look and feel. Their floor-to-ceiling windows, high ceilings, and open floor plans maximize sweeping views of the coveted location. Many modern homes in the Keys are generously sized to accommodate homeowners’ desires to cultivate a high quality of life and offer a truly exceptional residential experience.
Albeit rare, some Keys homes are Mediterranean-style
with red-tiled roofs and brick or stucco exterior walls, usually painted white. Stone and iron are the most common secondary materials in Mediterranean homes — heavy, carved wooden doors and rod iron balconies complete the look reminiscent of the architecture found in Southern Italy and Greece. Usually sporting thick walls, these homes are excellent at resisting heat, making them ideal during the hot summer months.
Another less common architectural design in the Keys is Spanish Colonial
. These homes are typically constructed from coquina rock which handles warm climates very well. Similar to Mediterranean homes, Spanish Colonial walls are made from white stucco and are quite thick. Wooden beams support these usually single-story homes, which have small windows and limited “ornamentation.” One of the most desirable features of a Spanish Colonial home is the hidden courtyards which, when completed with a manicured garden, are perfect for outdoor dining, entertaining, and relaxing.
Balinese architecture is also available for those who enjoy a more Asian-influenced style. While this is the rarest of all styles in the Keys, it’s available to those homeowners who are willing to pay a premium. Balinese homes are Indonesian, using natural materials like thatch roofing, bamboo poles, and stone. These homes are known for tall guard walls, large yards, and sturdy foundations. The homes themselves are a culmination of several pavilions — each of which houses a different room. Overall, Balinese architecture is intended to make residents feel relaxed, tranquil, and enjoy a high degree of privacy.
Decorative elements across the styles
Regardless of architecture style, there are several design elements
all Keys homes share. Bright colors are the standard, as they add a playful element to otherwise ornate tropical homes. Florida Keys homes don’t fade into the background - they maintain a dramatic, animated presence. You’ll note elaborate fences, gardens full of colorful blooms, and large, house-wide porches to enjoy lazy tropical afternoons.
Because the Keys are islands, much of their design is inspired by the coastal location. Salmon
is a popular paint color, especially when paired with sand-colored shutters and other accents. Hand-carved details reinforce the sense that homes on the Keys have deep ties to wooden ships and the water. Properties also embrace local nature with landscaping, including large palm fronds and other vibrant native plants.
Additionally, homes in the Florida Keys are protected from heat and variable weather conditions. One will find wooden shutters on nearly every home to let in the sea breeze, while porches provide necessary breaks from the hot sun.
Ready to find your own architectural masterpiece in the Florida Keys?
If you’re interested to learn more about architectural styles in the Florida Keys or about Florida Keys luxury homes for sale, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Ocean SIR
. The team would love to guide every step of your home search.