Byron and Denise Doane have each done renovations before, so it should not come as a surprise that their house on the Riviera Canal looks so professional and well put-together. The original house was within a row of U.S. Navy houses built in 1958 and started life as a two-bedroom, two-bathroom home. Now it's a three-bedroom, three-and-a-half bathroom residence. Some walls were removed and others moved for an overall effect of openness, and though there's lots of art, furnishings allow for a feeling of spaciousness. Neither Byron nor Denise are accumulators of “stuff.”

Throughout, there's light-toned, varying-width tile flooring that looks like wood, though a darker tile was used along with the light tile to create a chevron design at the entrance foyer (Denise wanted this) and the chevron design is duplicated in a different backsplash tile on the wall behind the range. The kitchen island (located close to the front) has a waterfall edge. A hand-painted sculpture came from Columbia and was originally created for their sailboat, which they lived on for 6 1/2 years while traveling in the Caribbean and Chesapeake; now it rests against the back wall of their kitchen counter, colors popping in an otherwise white kitchen with neutral quartzite counters and marble backsplash.

The pair have a lovely 11-year old dog/daughter, Mollie, rescued in Miami when she was 2 years old. Byron is from Ohio, where he had a master's electrician license, and Denise is from Atlanta. Now, he works two days a week for a job he loves with Schooner America, at a booth behind Schooner Wharf. She is a knowledgeable nurse practitioner, currently employed by Advanced Urgent Care, splitting her time between the Key West office on North Roosevelt Boulevard and another office they have in Key Largo, at least a two-hour commute each way. Married for 15 years, the couple has three grown sons, one from her previous marriage and two from his. Between them, they also have three grandsons, two granddaughters and a great-grandson.

While living on Cudjoe Key, in Byron's small previous place, the couple renovated another foreclosure, then before it was finished in 2014 they decided to buy the Riviera house, which was a short sale. Byron says it took 41/2 months to complete with them doing a lot of the work; he put in seven days a week with two others.

The single-floor house sits on a 7,670-square-foot canal lot, with 2,255 square feet finished and 2,874 square feet including porches. Byron and Denise paid $620,000 for it in September 2014. Now they pay about $10,000 annually for wind and homeowner's insurances together, plus $2,300 for flood insurance.

They added a permanent covered porch at the rear, after someone fell through a canvas awning. The kitchen island was smaller, but in using cabinets slated for the bathroom, they were able to increase its size, then they just waited for more bath cabinets to be delivered. A post turned out to not be load-bearing, so was removed along with a knee wall into the kitchen. Increasing the kitchen size meant decreasing the size of an adjacent office but that office still works and holds plenty of file cabinets. There's also a second-office niche just outside the master bedroom. And a second refrigerator exists in an alcove off a bath that has a second door to the outdoors. Anyone who's waited for parts to be ordered understands having a second working refrigerator, though theirs is currently used to supply pool beverages.

All the windows, doors and trim were replaced throughout the house with modern versions and glass panels. With the original front doors full of termites and knowing the two were looking for deals, a previous Manley DeBoer salesman contacted them about doors that had been returned; after Byron purchased and sanded them down, they now look just right for the front entry.

Originally, there were two glass panels that formed a space of about 5 inches in a long vertical exterior window that's located in the large master bath shower. Byron and Denise removed a panel, cleaned the glass of the other, and applied an ocean scene that's partially an opaque white decal, resembling sandblasting. Leading from the living room to the outdoors and pool area are three sets of double French doors, which allow a lot of light plus great views of the pool and canal.

There's only one thing more they may do with the house and that's to add concrete or bricks to the outdoor carport side for motorcycle parking. Otherwise, the house is finished. One has to ask: How long will they be happy with that arrangement?

Katie Truax Alexander is a graphic artist, metal sculptor and former commercial interior designer living in Key West.

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