Have you heard the buzz about the brand new Miami Showhouse?
Some of the most talented interior designers in the industry are all coming together to completely transform the historic Kampong property in Coconut Grove in April. And the best news? It’s all to benefit a great cause — which is to help support the charities of the Junior League of Miami.
I’ve been a member of the Junior League for a few years now and I can tell you from firsthand experience that this impressive group of women do so much for our local community. Before I quit practicing law and jumped into the publishing world, I was a domestic violence prosecutor here in the Miami criminal justice system. I handled cases where victims were served by the providers that the Junior League directly supports. It is imperative that we continue to aid women and children in need in Miami. And that’s why I’d like to personally invite you to come visit the Miami Showhouse!
Junior League of Miami Showhouse: April 7-24
Who: Presented by Mercedes-Benz of Coral Gables & Mercedes-Benz of Cutler Bay, the 2016 Junior League of Miami Showhouse will raise funds for the women and children who benefit from the Junior League’s programming and scholarships.
What: The event will showcase the work of celebrated interior designers, architects, and artists who will transform The Kampong, including rooms in the Fairchild‐Sweeney House, the Barbour Cottage, the Sausage Tree Cottage and the surrounding grounds.
When: April 7 – 24, 2016, Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily.
Where: The Kampong, located at 4013 Douglas Road in Coconut Grove. Parking is limited and located immediately north of the main entrance on Douglas Road.
Tickets: $35 per person available on Eventbrite.
Here’s a sneak peek of the brand new dining room, designed by Mabley Handler Interior Design, an interior design and decoration firm based in the Hamptons and founded by Jennifer Mabley and Austin Handler.
About the Junior League: Since Junior League of Miami founded Inn Transition North in 1990, our members have provided over $650,000 in financial support and more than 3,700 volunteer hours. Over this period, over 400 families have directly benefited from the safe, secure, and supportive environment offered at Inn Transition North. Operated in partnership with Miami Dade County, Inn Transition North and Inn Transition South are integral components of the continuum of care necessary to break the cycle of domestic violence. Community partnerships are essential to this work.
The Kampong, Miami’s Secret Garden
Explore the home of the Junior League of Miami Show House, also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
“Not all those who wander are lost.” You’ll recognize this often-recited quote by fantasy fiction author J.R.R. Tolkien. Those words, etched onto a red bench overlooking Biscayne Bay, take on a distinct tone, considering the context and the surroundings. Everything about The Kampong in Coconut Grove is imaginative—it’s like you’ve been transported inside the pages of a living storybook. A tale of unexpected tranquility hidden inside a thriving metropolis.
At the entrance to The Kampong, a red iron gate and white coral rock wall are guarded by a thick layer of banyan trees that tower toward the sky and interlace to create a shaded canopy. I’ve passed the entrance on Douglas Road dozens of times by car and bicycle, and even on foot, but I had never stopped to explore beyond the gate. Until now.
The narrow pathway isn’t traversed as often by locals or tourists, at least not as much as other attractions in Miami. Why? Well, I think it’s because it’s not a place you stumble upon; you have to be determined to go inside. And there’s nothing touristy about this destination. As I push a button on the intercom to ask for entry, I feel almost like I’m intruding on someone’s private residence. And I’m not invited. “Welcome, to The Kampong,” says a friendly voice. A little startled that someone actually responded, I ask if they’re open to the public. “Of course!” she says. And voila. The gate begins to slowly roll away.
A Storied Past Inside The Kampong
I’m immediately enchanted by the layers upon layers of subtropical flora. There are hundreds of rare and exotic plants in this hidden garden nestled on the bay. Sprawling over 11 lush acres, there are varieties of tropical fruits like mango, avocado, guava and lychee. Towering palms provide an umbrella from the sun and birds fill the air with a winsome melody. I feel like I’ve taken a step back into time.
However, I’m not surprised to discover that such a tropical oasis exists here. I had read that The Kampong was the former home of Dr. David Fairchild (1869-1954), one of the most famous horticulturists in history. He visited almost every continent in the world, except Antarctica, and brought back hundreds of plant species to study. His former homestead is like a green living museum. The doctor and his wife, Marian Fairchild, built the house that still exists today in 1928, and named it The Kampong, after the Malay, the Japanese word for “village.”
Aesthetically, it’s all about competing textures. The contrast between the stark red doors and trim don’t blend seamlessly with Miami’s neon lights and tropical landscape. The Asian influences call out a completely opposite ambiance compared to the white-sand beaches and azure waters that we’re used to in South Florida. And it’s those distinct differences in the architecture and the details (like the stoic stone sculptures scattered throughout the property) that give it an alluring, almost outer-worldly appeal.
But there are moments of synergy, too. A faction of iguanas guard the property like the ornate onigawaras, a gargoyle-style of ornamentation found in Japanese architecture—which often depict fearsome beasts with floral and plant designs. An outdoor terrace with a bubbling fountain leads to a spacious open-air sun room that offers views of a mature, moss-draped tree and a tranquil swimming hole with large submerged coral rocks at the bottom.
Revitalization in the Name of Community Service
It’s a different story inside the main house and surrounding buildings, which are in dire need of enhancement. But I see a blank canvas. And so do my friends at the Junior League of Miami. So over the next few months, we’ll be working with a talented team of interior designers to transform the inside of these historic structures. Each and every room will be a testament to the designer’s own sense of inspiration and art, drawing from the property’s storied past and stunning architecture.
At the end of the project, which is no small feat, we will be rolling back that red gate to invite the community to reacquaint themselves with a piece of Miami history. The Junior League of Miami Show House and it’s scheduled to take place April 7-24, 2016. All proceeds we raise through sponsorship and ticket sales will directly fund programs that help women and children at risk in our community.
“Inn Transition South operates at its optimum due to the ongoing support of the Junior League of Miami. The support is provided to complement the social services and self-sufficiency goals associated with transitional housing, says Joyce Henry Victim of Crime Act Supervisor, INN Transition South. “I look forward to working with the Junior League of Miami and the beautiful spirits displayed by members as master volunteers! We could not exist without you!”
The Junior League of Miami Show House will be open daily and during select evenings for public and private tours as well as special events, on April 7-24. Sponsors include Mercedes-Benz of Coral Gables and Cutler Bay, as well as EWM Realty International, a Berkshire Hathaway Affiliate. Tickets are available for $35 per person on Eventbrite.