What's Old is New Again


A Junior League showhouse mixes antiques with contemporary design to great effect.

By Gabrielle O’Quinn

Designers will breathe new life into a historic estate.

The Junior League of Miami selected the historic Deering Estate, bordering the waters of Biscayne Bay for the 2018 Showhouse. Like many things in Miami, this event breaks the mold of the traditional Showhouse – an event typically held in a private home temporarily open to the public, then whitewashed and returned to the owner, with the beautiful designs never to be experienced again.

The Junior League of Miami, an organization with 91 years of history in the community, has a different approach. As in 2016 at the Kampong, former home of famed plant explorer David Fairchild of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens, the 2018 Showhouse will be in the former home of another important early Miami resident, Charles Deering. Deering was an industrialist but also an avid art collector and environmentalist.

Three of the 21 interior spaces are highlighted along with the designers’ approach to blending history and today, antique pieces with contemporary design elements.


The Stone House Grand Salon

Taking on the largest space within the Stone House, Elizabeth Ghia will turn this 1,500-square-foot ballroom into a sophisticated entertaining space. Originally designed specifically as an art gallery to display Charles and Marion Deering’s vast collection, Ghia will repurpose the room as it would be used today. Original hand-painted coffered ceilings and a limestone fireplace will be accented with chairs upholstered in a popular blush color velvet fabric. In lieu of traditional house plants, flamingo feathers will be used to add an air of whimsy to an otherwise formal space.

The Stone House Guest House

Even in trendy Miami, designer Robert Rionda finds more and more clients want classic, timeless interiors with historic elements that withstand an evolving flood of trends seen in catalogues and social media. Rionda, excited by the challenge of having to acknowledge historic preservation within this Showhouse, will design a guest room inspired by Villa Necchi Campiglio in Milan and The Peacock Room at the Freer Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., and will be all about the mix of high and low profiles, old and new, local and foreign. The room will be furnished with pieces from several centuries past combined with unexpected contemporary elements.

The Richmond Cottage Kitchen

A Florida Frame vernacular building that existed on the property when purchased by Charles Deering, The Richmond Cottage captures three design precepts of firmness, utility and delight. Peggy Roberts McMahon will bring her design and architectural expertise to reimagining the cottage’s kitchen and butler’s pantry. These have historic built-in features that are always welcome for modern homes: large glass doors on the upper cabinets for display and storage, and utilitarian base cabinets with drawers and doors. The centerpiece of the kitchen is an oversized hood, originally used to extract the smoke from a wood or coal-burning stove. The area underneath the eight-foot-by-four-foot hood will be re-purposed for a 48-inch range combining multiple cooking surfaces, an oven, a microwave oven and warming drawer for a dedicated cooking space. The original “icebox” in the butler’s pantry is similar to having a dedicated wine chiller or beverage refrigerator. Pottery Barn’s farmhouse tables and simple chairs will adorn a seating area. The accessories will be selected to mix with the Deering family collection of glassware and plates. Ideally, the kitchen will be the center of a Smart Home, with low-voltage LED lighting and a Sonos sound and TV system to make it the ultimate heart of the house. 

Gabrielle O’Quinn is a chair of the 2018 Miami Showhouse, presented by Junior League of Miami. Visit www.jlmiami.org for more information. 

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