How Wealthy People Who Moved to Miami Are Transforming Their Homes
- More than 100,000 New Yorkers moved to Florida during the pandemic.
- As they remodel their homes, newcomers eschew Florida’s all-white aesthetic for color and texture.
- Eilyn and Ray Jimenez of Netflix’s “Designing Miami” spoke with Insider about the change.
Gone are the days of simple white-on-white decor in Miami homes.
Wealthy residents of New York and California have moved to South Florida in droves during the pandemic — and changed the aesthetic of Magic City, according to Ray and Eilyn Jimenez, some of Miami’s top interior designers.
The Jimenezes, who are married but run rival businesses, star in Netflix’s new series, “Designing Miami.” The show follows the high-flying duo as they go about their business, their art, and their partnership, providing a window into a time of city transformation that the ordinary person doesn’t often see.
When Ray and Eilyn sat down with Insider at 11 Howard, a boutique hotel in Manhattan’s trendy Soho neighborhood in September, the couple reflected on how newcomers — especially New Yorkers, who make up 30 to 40% of Eilyn’s clientele – transforming the way Miami looks and feels.
For one thing, newcomers are “more open-minded,” Ray Jimenez told Insider. “They’re ready to bring their New York aesthetic to Miami, or their LA or Beverly Hills aesthetic to Miami.”
The result: the love child design of major American cities. “You’ve got this baby,” Eilyn said, describing the hodgepodge of influences from different geographies.
“For so long, the design was a very minimalist white-on-white aesthetic with a turquoise pillow, a white aesthetic with a red or orange pillow,” Ray said. “Now, because of this influx of this different demographic, we’re in candy land.”
Miami Newcomers Aren’t Afraid to Break Aesthetic Norms
Eilyn, who said her design style was more pleasant and poised, was born and raised in Miami. Ray, who described his approach as bold and refined, was born in Puerto Rico and later moved to Miami.
Their life and love affair revolved around design – they met through a mutual friend at a design event, then bumped into each other throughout the evening. Eventually, they fell in love and got married.
Both said the influx of new residents from different places has given them the opportunity to try new things.
From vibrant artwork to rich patterns and fabrics, Ray said his overseas customers are more open to a variety of design elements. Each room, he added, is less minimalist and more personalized.
Take a client Ray recently met. The New Yorker already had homes in Mykonos Greece, the Berkshires and the Hamptons – and wanted items from each in his Miami Beach home.
“I was like: Yo, let’s go!” Ray said he told his client as soon as he heard the vision.
Using an array of fabrics and raw materials – soft linen curtains, herringbone oak floors, moldings inspired by Upper East Side Manhattan homes, natural stone, bouclé textiles, mid-century furniture and decorative seashells – Ray has transformed the space. The result is a modern beach house that includes elements of classic Miami design “mixed with the tranquility of Mykonos” that combines a simple color palette with pops of visual interest.
“The props were over the top, so it was just really cool,” he said. “They had a lot of volume.”
Eilyn worked on nine projects for an Atlanta, Georgia-born client who likes to make each of his properties look and feel wildly different.
“You can incorporate details that you might not see so much in Miami design,” she said.
In a more recent project for him, she combines a typical Miami selection of monochromatic furniture with wallpapers and woven fabrics.
Eilyn described it as “just adding a layer of light on what modern Miami style is, with more of that coastal vibe.”
New Yorkers, Californians and billionaires are moving to Florida and shaping its future
The changing design landscape is just another indication of the major changes in Florida real estate over the past two years. Florida was the top state to move to in 2021, and Miami was particularly popular.
The influx of new residents to Miami continues to come primarily from New York, according to data from Realtor.com. Many wealthy New Yorkers, especially financial giants, have flocked to the area for its low taxes, year-round outdoor spaces and more laid-back pandemic policies.
In the first nine months of this year, more than 41,000 New Yorkers changed their driver’s license to make the Sunshine State their primary residence, according to Department of Motor Vehicles data. This is in addition to the more than 61,000 former New Yorkers who have done so in 2021.
The Jimenezes also said Californians, especially those from the Bay Area, are part of their clientele now that Miami’s tech and venture capital scenes are blossoming. More than 3,000 Californians changed their licensing address in Florida in August alone, according to the DMV.
All of these people have driven up home prices in Florida dramatically. In August, the median sale price for single-family homes was $407,000, up more than 15% year over year, according to data from Florida Realtors.
Some of the richest people in the world, such as Oracle’s Larry Ellison and Citadel’s Ken Griffin, are joining the fray in South Florida’s residential real estate market. Earlier this year, Ellison made the biggest single-family home purchase in state history when he paid $173 million for a Palm Beach mansion. And Griffin, who is moving his $30 billion hedge fund to Miami, bought a $107 million home in Miami’s Coconut Grove neighborhood.
The influx of deep-pocketed buyers is good news for the Jimenezes. This means they have a constant workflow, with the ability to be creative and stretch their imaginations while shaping the future of Miami design.