Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Michael Pelkey-A Key West Christmas

The cover of this book features the home of interior designer Michael Pelkey. He is a BFF and we have known and loved each other for years and years. We knew each other in New York, and then he moved to Key West nearly 17 years ago. He renovated a conch house in the historic Old Town part of Key West. It once was the home to turn of the century cigar workers from Cuba. It's only 600 square feet, and every inch is beautifully done up. His home has been photographed for many decor books and shelter magazines, including the fabulous Key West A Tropical Lifestyle by Leslie Linsley (with photos by Terry Pommet).

Christmas is a extra special in Key West. People go all out to decorate, and give dozens and dozens of fabulous house parties. There is a Christmas House Tour, and Michael's home has been a part of that tour for many years. The life size Santa on the roof is a copy of a vintage one from the 1950's. There are three metal black crows perched on the roof year round, as the name of the house is Crow Cottage.
Most people in Key West use faux greens and trees, because it is so tropical that the real things simply die and rot very quickly. Michael uses faux sugared fruit and shells and star fish to trim the garlands on the white picket fence, and to to trim a tree that sits on the front porch. He has a collector's treasure trove of antique German glass ornaments, but has not had the time to use them on a tree he usually puts up inside the house. The outdoor tree serves as the one tree for him.
Michael loves to fill antique iron and stone urns with shells and drape strands of red coral. He has a lovely collection of silver smalls. I brought the red toile wrapped presents with me from New Orleans when Alberto, Cholo, and I spent Christmas and New Years with Michael two years ago.
Michael's signature decoration, is a beach bike, painted red and festooned with lights, and a mini Christmas tree in the bike basket on the handlebars. The little bird house looking thing on the fence is a built-in mail box, Michael sprinkles shells along the fence line, and the front yard is covered in small white shells. I helped him plant the tall palms in front of the house over 17 years ago!
The door knocker in the center of the sugar fruit wreath is an antique. Michael has been collecting antiques since he was 15 years old. His interior design incorporates the things he stockpiles in warehouses. His wonderful work is very French, very Cote de Texas. He is currently renovating a second home in Landrum, South Carolina. He has lots of work out that way, and needed a second home base.
I made the little wreath for this miniature house. I love the stockings, and the glass hurricanes filled with cranberries, and the large cranberry colored candle nestled into them. I spy a little bird house outside the window. Michael's carpenter brother Larry made it for Michael. It's an exact copy of the guest house in the back.
Get and enjoy the book, and check out all the fabulous photos of Michael's jewel box house (and the many other unique, well designed homes of other Key West folks). He fits many extraordinary collections into his house with the precision of a ship builder. This is a photo of several vintage alabaster lamps collected and waiting for clients. They are standing in front of one set of a pair of floor to ceiling shelves that house Michael's huge white ironstone pudding mold collection. Alberto rewired all the lamps while we were visiting.


vicki archer said...

LOVE it - the bike is sheer heaven, xv.

ALL THE BEST said...

That bike is the best! I love it all!

Linda at Lime in the Coconut! said...

Hey Vamp! I love any and all things Key West...especially at Christmas! They sure do it right! I have seen his home featured in some mag (recognized the wall of ironstone pudding molds). What a talent he is!

What a darling conch home...and in the historic still my heart!!

Thank you!

Visual Vamp said...

Miz Coconut,
You and Michael would be great friends if you ever meet.
The two of you really understand and interpret Florida lifestyle so beautifully.
xo xo

B said...

Oh! I absolutely love the bike! Brilliant!

Alex said...

Crow Cottage - name & I'll get the echo going again...the bike is a riot. love it!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

So fun and so festive. That door knocker inside the sugared wreath is just brilliant.

Callie Grayson said...

Beautiful post! I love his home, my heart skipped a beat!!!

Natalie said...


Found my way via Cote de Texas..your blog is beautiful.

We enjoyed a bit of Key West Christmas last year - loved it!

This year we're trying Sarasota.

Happy Holidays,


Visual Vamp said...

Hello Gorgeous Natalie!
Please visit often.
Sarasota is nice, but it isn't Key West ha ha
Merry Christmas...
xo xo

bambi said...

I have had the lovely opportunity to work with michael and he did some beautiful work in my apartment some time ago... when he was a mere mortal... I still have the stencil he made.. I picked up one of my many magazines from the store and was not surprised to see mr. pelkey inside..
He had shared great stories when he first landed in Key west.. That reminds me.. I still owe the painter... lol... Thanks for the article...