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Joyful Colorful Miami Budget House


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Name: Sarah Coleman, Maxwell Miller, Betty Miller
Location: Miami, Florida
Size: 1300 square feet
Type of Home: House
Years lived in: 2.5 years, renting

Sarah Coleman, who is the Associate Director of Inclusion at Miami Children’s Museum, says she and her partner, Maxwell Miller, were lucky to buy this house pre-Covid, before she says prices in her area skyrocketed. “At the time it was still like scraping together the money but as soon as we saw it, we knew it was our home,” Sarah writes. “I loved that it was updated but had kept its charm. I loved that it was a blank slate and I loved the sense of magic I felt when we went into the backyard and realized we had a mango tree, avocado tree, and so many butterflies. It was like we had stepped into a secret garden.”

Sarah describes her style as bright, happy, and comfortable, and her home’s design achieves these adjectives easily. “As far as the interior, I feel like our home is smiling,” Sarah writes. “Like she was a retired old lady when we met her and now that she’s got some new clothes and some highlights, she’s brand new. It’s special to make a home built in 1929 look and feel so joyful. Our first year in the home we welcomed a baby girl. Betty was born in our home and one of the reasons we chose a home birth was because after visiting the hospital and our local birthing center we both agreed that our home was probably the happiest place she could be born into. I didn’t realize it until she was born but I know all the colors of our home have an impact on her as well. And as difficult as having a newborn during COVID was, I am endlessly thankful to have had such a joyful and comfortable shelter.”

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Bright, Happy, Comfortable⁠ — I used to call it Elmo Chic lol

Favorite Element: My favorite room is probably my daughter’s. Before she came it was a guest room and had a very Key West vibe. I think most people expecting their first child decorate their nursery in a way that’s an extension of their own style, which is true for us too, but I also wanted it to grow with her. Matisse shapes happen to be timeless and match the joy of a newborn.

We also used my partner’s dresser from his childhood as well as mine. The rocking chair is my partner’s grandma’s. There are so many pieces from our family in her room that even though we don’t live close, she’s surrounded by them.

Biggest Challenge: Very small budget⁠ — everything we did was stencils and paint because it was the most affordable option. I wanted the gorgeous wallpapers and new shiny fixtures, but we had to do everything little by little and do it creatively, so we weren’t broke all of the time!

Proudest DIY: The mural on our living room wall. We used a projector to draw the image then carefully painted each part. It was the first thing we did when we moved in. And it set the tone immediately for the rest of the home.

Biggest Indulgence: Honestly, I wouldn’t call anything in our home super expensive, but I’m a bit of a maximalist so every detail feels indulgent. Life’s too short to not indulge.

Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? Not especially. Most homes these days are open concept. Ours is very room to room, which fits with us because we’re native Midwesterners and that’s the style we grew up with. During COVID we appreciated the separate spaces.

What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? I live for a Jonathon Adler sale, and truly there are some beautiful shops around the country that I’ve come to rely on for finding home items that make my heart explode like Ponnopozz in Chicago, and Prelude and Dawn in LA. Before these shops popped up I shopped almost exclusively in kids’ sections because they had the brightest most fun home decor.

Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: Oof I don’t have any! Even in 450-square-foot spaces I’ve been a maximalist. But I try to be the kind of person where everything has a place ⁠— not necessarily organized but placed so that it doesn’t look cluttered. I also use a lot of acrylic or floating pieces. In the Midwest we always had such heavy dark wood furniture. I wanted everything here to be light.

Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? Follow your gut but make sure in five years it won’t look dated. Also prisms. I’m obsessed with prisms ⁠— it’s an instant rainbow in every room if you add them in your window.

This house tour’s responses were edited for length and clarity.

Adrienne Breaux

House Tour Editor

Adrienne loves architecture, design, cats, science fiction and watching Star Trek. In the past 10 years she’s called home: a van, a former downtown store in small town Texas and a studio apartment rumored to have once been owned by Willie Nelson.


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