A 400-Square-Foot Miami Apartment Proves You Can Be a Maximalist Even in a Small Space

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Name: Jessica Marrazzo
Location: Miami, Florida in Historic Coral Gables
Type of home: 1920s Carriage House
Size: 400 square feet
Years lived in: 2 years, renting

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: I am a flight attendant based out of Miami, Florida, with a degree in Theatre Design and a passion for historic architecture. I’ve found my little piece of history and original character in a city that has become ultra modern and void of much of its original buildings. This 1920s carriage house sits on a private tropical sanctuary nestled behind the estate that is also in original condition and quite charming. It’s the perfect little oasis in the middle of the wild and bustling city of Miami.

As a single young woman constantly on the “fly,” the 400 square feet this carriage house provides is more than enough space, plus the additional private terrace. The home would have most likely originally housed the groundskeeper, as it is settled above the detached garage, and it’s absolutely amazing to think of the history that has passed through here throughout the past (almost) century this place has been standing. It has truly been my refuge when I have come home from my long and tiring work trips. I love nothing more than walking into my little carriage house after working a nine-hour flight home from Paris, or after a three-leg day across the Caribbean Islands. No matter where I am in the world, my home is always my favorite place to be.

Old Florida creates a very special picture in my head of pastel colors, tropical brush juxtaposed with Victorian ornamentation, blue ocean and cotton candy colored skies, and the occasional seagull flock. I was moved by the romance of what old Florida would have looked like, and was inspired by those subtle classic colors. I feel like my apartment has the palette of the Miami sunset just before twilight, with pale blue/grey walls, and more playful colors like lilac, fuchsia, periwinkle, amber, and coral, speckled with brass and gold flecks

The rattan and bamboo elements, vintage textiles, and the array of plants all mix so beautifully with the more modern and sleek features like the kidney bean mid-century table, the Scandinavian faux canopy bed, and the glass globe desk lamp. Everything in my home is layered with multiple textures and dimensions, whether it be the African mud cloth pillow nestled on top of the Anthropologie silver and lilac throw, all resting on top of an extra cushion for the living room accent chair, or even simply the stack of old design magazines on the coffee table, which serve as the perfect placemat for my breakfast and coffee in the morning. This subtle use of layering adds dimensions that I believe add to the idea that the home is well lived in and deeply loved.

My South Florida carriage house was greatly inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s Key West home, which dons a very similar pale blue paint color, and is filled with a collection of his most precious pieces, which he had collected all over the world during his travels in the first half of the 21st century. As an international flight attendant, I travel a lot, and I fell in love with this global eclectic aesthetic. In fact, one of my favorite parts about this design process was picking up pieces for the carriage house on my travels all over the world. The rice sifter basket is actually from Thailand brought back by me, not just ordered online. The mid-century Russian folk guitar is from my favorite little thrift store in Pike’s Place Market in downtown Seattle. Everything was curated with a very special meaning and sentiment, and all of it truly represents me. Ultimately I was just happy to be able to create a space with an aesthetic that was totally and utterly mine, from the scent of the drying eucalyptus leaves and burning sage and locally made cinnamon citrus incense, to the sight of the soft amber glow of the Edison bulb radiating out of the vintage Moroccan pendant light, this place just is me.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Playful Old Florida Global Hemingway

What is your favorite room and why? My favorite “room” would have to be the meditation space, which I enclosed with a five dollar gold tension rod and two sheer beige curtains. This room in particular is very sacred for me. When I enter through those curtains, I feel a calm over me. I try to keep that calm and peace in that room at all times no matter what chaos is going on elsewhere. The Hollywood Regency dresser doubles as what feels almost like an alter, with a zen garden that I brush for meditation. I can sit in that room with a book and just relax while the incense burn for hours. My favorite memory in that room was on one of the few Florida days it actually got cold enough to keep the windows open. I remember sitting on the floor bed, feet on the Moroccan pouf, reading a book, and just gazing out the window. The curtains rustled in the wind and the ceramic wind chime began to jingle. I took a sip of my Yogi tea and a joy just came over me. For the first time in my life, I was living on my own, in a space that was totally mine. It was an ethereal feeling of bliss and satisfaction that I will never forget.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? My last purchase for the carriage house, which I think was really the crowning jewel, were the vintage oars that cross over top of the painting above the desk in the living room. They really kind of completed the look for me and were such an important addition. I couldn’t imagine the space without them now.

Any advice for creating a home you love? Go thrifting! You don’t need to spend a lot of money to make a space beautiful. Some of the most beautiful things in my home were also some of the cheapest. Something with character and a personal touch is going to look better than a cookie-cutter look any day.

This submission’s responses have been edited for length and clarity.

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