Friday, February 15, 2013

Chinoiserie Chic in Coral Gables, Florida: Part 1

As much as I miss Dallas, Coral Gables, FL (aka the “City Beautiful”) is truly an amazing place to live. Located just six miles west of downtown Miami, when you’re driving along the Gables’ banyan-canopied streets past bubbling fountains and Mediterranean piazzas, chances are you'll forget you're in the center of Florida's largest metropolis… and that’s just how developer George Merrick envisioned it almost a century ago.

George Merrick is the founding father of the City Beautiful. In addition to the Mediterranean Revival style that is synonymous with Coral Gables, there are a few architectural gems that remain thanks to a lesser known project of Merrick’s – The Village Project. The Village Project was designed to create over 1,000 residences based on architecture from around the world. The idea was to provide a variety of architectural styles beyond the Mediterranean that had become the gold standard in Coral Gables.

Unfortunately the hurricane of 1926 and the depression which followed destroyed Merrick’s hopes of completing the project.  Yet, today 80 homes from The Village Project remain in the Chinese Village, the Italian Village, the Dutch South African Village, the French Provincial Village, the French Country Village, the French City Village, and the Florida Pioneer/Colonial Village.
Today I’m taking you to the Chinese Village. We will step inside 5125 Riviera Drive – an historic home and a Coral Gables icon that just hit the market for the first time in 32 years.
5125 Riviera Drive, Coral Gables, Florida - artwork by Laura Mullaney

Designed by Henry Killam Murphy, who was a scholar of Oriental architecture, the Chinese Village is one of the most exotic examples of 1920s residential architecture in the United States.
Here are the stats on 5125 Riviera:
·         5 bedrooms, 3.5 baths
·         3,375 square feet
·         Year built: 1925
·         Style: Chinese Pagoda
·         Location: Coral Gables, Florida
·         Price: $949,000
The house definitely needs some cosmetics, which is causing my mind to run wild with possibilities.  Therefore, I have called in Beth Connolly from Chinoiserie Chic. Beth is the queen bee of all things Chinoiserie, chic, and fabulous… and this Chinese casa has her name all over it.
STAY TUNED!!! On Monday, Beth will provide some incredible design inspiration, created to glam up this fabulous Chinese masterpiece. In the meantime, let’s take a look at its current state. All images from
The cluster of eight homes in the Chinese Village is linked by a common wall and ornamental gates and details suggesting a "compound" arrangement. The homes feature bright yellow, blue, red or green glazed ceramic roof tiles, circular “moon” windows and gates, Chinese fretwork , and traditional statues of good luck animals (such as foo dogs).

These elaborately detailed houses with their brilliant primary colors accurately reflect the temple or palace architecture of the imperial "Forbidden City" of ancient China.

Every detail is imbued with Asian symbolism usually lost on Westerners and based on concepts of Chinese cosmology such as feng shui (geomancy) and Taoism.
The use of screen walls to face the main entrance of the house stems from the belief that evil things travel in straight lines.
Colors are chosen for their symbolism as well. Red is the most auspicious color and signifies luck, happiness, health and prosperity.
Formal dining room
Chinese brides wear something red on their wedding day and red lanterns are hung on New Year's Day and weddings. Also, talismans and imagery of good fortune such as "door gods" are displayed on doorways to ward off evil and encourage the flow of good fortune.


Family Room

Family Room
Main hall, downstairs
Upstairs landing/hall
Upstairs landing


Downstairs bath
For additional information on this fabulous home, please click here.  And don’t forget to check back Monday for design inspiration provided by Beth Connolly at Chinoiserie Chic


  1. This was a great idea. Thanks for inviting me. The new owners will have a house plan all done for them if they have some $$$ and some style!

    1. Thank you again, Beth! I’m stocking up on my Florida Lottery tickets, and if we win I’m definitely buying this house. I’ll fly you in to redecorate, and it can serve as “headquarters” for The Glam Pad. A girl can dream, right? ;)

      The Glam Pad

  2. How fun this is going to be!! I can't wait to see what Beth comes up with. I really hope you win the lottery :) - Brandy

  3. Personally I wouldn't do much redecoration, except the kitchen which needs a complete overhaul, and perhaps the bathrooms. Instead I would spend my money on soft furnishings.

    Thanks for featuring this amazing home!

  4. What a crib! Absolutely can't wait to see what Beth does!

  5. This is so interesting! My head is spinning from all the potential. Can't wait to see what Beth Does here!

  6. My friend Alicia bought this house & completely renovated it! Go to my IG page and look for an amazing Chinese ship-turned- chandelier that now hangs in the now Chinese red dining room! The house turned out ah-MAZING!!!

  7. The house looks great, wooden furniture adds beauty to the house. This is an ideal house for any human being. Nowadays South Florida home builders have given new direction to the real estate and construction business. Due to its diverse scenic beauty calmness people tend to live in Florida.


Thank you for your lovely comments. They absolutely make my day!

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