Wealthy residents from New York and California moved to southern Florida in droves during the pandemic and changed the Magic City’s aesthetic, according to Ray and Eilyn Jimenez, some of the top interior designers in Miami.
The Jimenezes, who are married but head rival firms, star in Netflix’s new series, “Designing Miami.” The show follows the high-flying pair as they go about their business, art, and partnership, offering a window into a transformative period for the city that the everyday 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 account for 30% to 40% of Eilyn’s client base are transforming the way Miami looks and feels.
For one, newcomers are “more open-minded,” Ray Jimenez told Insider. “They’re willing to bring their New York aesthetic down into Miami, or their LA or Beverly Hills aesthetic down into Miami.”
The result: the design love child of great American cities. “You have this baby,” Eilyn said, describing the mishmash of influences from different geographies.
“For such a long time, design was a very minimalistic white-on-white aesthetic with a turquoise pillow, a white aesthetic with a red pillow or orange,” Ray said. “Now, because of this influx of this different demographic, we are in candyland.”
Miami newcomers aren’t afraid to break away from aesthetic norms
Eilyn, who said her design style is more personable and poised, was born and raised in Miami. Ray, who described his approach as bold and refined, was born in Puerto Rico and moved to Miami later.
Their lives and love story revolved around design they met through a mutual friend at a design event, then kept running 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 out new things.
From vibrant artwork to rich patterns and fabrics, Ray said his out-of-state clients are more open to a variety of design elements. Each room, he added, is less minimalistic and more personalized.
Take a client Ray recently met. The New Yorker already had houses on Mykonos in Greece, in the Berkshires, and in the Hamptons and wanted elements of each in his Miami Beach home.
“I was like: Yo, let’s go!” Ray recounted saying to his client as soon as he heard the vision.
Using a range of fabrics and raw materials soft-linen drapes, oak herringbone-wood floors, molding inspired by Upper East Side Manhattan homes, natural stone, boucle textiles, mid-century furniture and decorative seashells Ray transformed the space. The result is a modern beach home 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 accessories were over the top, so it was just very cool,” he said. “They had a lot of volume to it.”
Eilyn has 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 maybe you wouldn’t see so much in Miami design,” she said.
In a most recent project for him, she is combining a typical Miami selection of monochromatic furniture with busy wallpapers and woven fabrics.
Eilyn described it as “just adding a light layer onto 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 evolving landscape of design is just another indication of the major shifts in Florida real estate over the last 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 primarily come from New York, according to data from Realtor.com. Many wealthy New Yorkers, particularly finance giants, flocked to the area for its low taxes, all-year outdoor space, and more laid-back pandemic policies.
In the first nine months of this year, more than 41,000 New Yorkers changed their drivers’ licenses to make the Sunshine State their primary residence, according to data from the Department of Motor Vehicles. This is on top of the over 61,000 former New Yorkers who did so in 2021.
The Jimenezes also said Californians, especially those from the Bay Area, make up a chunk of their clientele now as the Miami tech and venture-capital scenes blossom. Over 3,000 Californians changed their license address to Florida in August alone, per the DMV.
All those people have dramatically pushed up Florida home prices. In August, the median sales price for single-family homes was $407,000, up over 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 largest single-family home purchase in the state’s 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 homebuyers is good news for the Jimenezes. It means they have a steady stream of work, with the possibility to be creative and stretch their imaginations as they shape the future of Miami design.