Miami Vice Meets Mid-Century Italian in a Coastal-Cool Florida Home
Forget blue and white—this place is like walking into a seashell.
Updated Sep 29, 2021 6:11 AM
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Agent Nateur founder Jena Covello’s North Star is what makes her feel good. Years of health struggles led her to start her holistically minded beauty company, and when the pandemic and the loss of a beloved pet left her sleepless and stressed in Los Angeles, the New Jersey native decided to return to her East Coast roots, this time following the sun (and waves) to Miami.
“A place can be beautiful, but it doesn’t mean that the energy is right,” says Covello, who relocated to the buzzy Florida metropolis in July 2020. “When you walk into a home, it doesn’t matter if that place is 500 square feet or 10,000 square feet—it really has to do with how it makes you feel individually.”
Going after those feel-good vibes led her to an apartment in a sculptural high-rise, designed by famed Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron, with east-to-west views of the ocean that span several rooms. Determined to create what she describes as the “’80s Miami sex den” of her dreams, Covello tapped California-based designer Tiffany Howell of Night Palm Interiors to bring her vision to life.
With a background in the film and music industries, Howell took her cinematic eye (and love of a good jam sesh) to Covello’s blank slate. “Obviously I’m going to give you a good-looking project, but I also want you to feel a certain way,” says Howell, echoing Covello’s sentiment. “With my work, everyone gets a personal soundtrack inspired by their space—Jena’s had a lot of Madonna, Lana Del Rey, and Sade.”
The duo instantly clicked, quickly bonding over “trips” to vintage stores over video calls (their entire design process—up until this shoot—was done virtually) and rarely—if ever—vetoing each other’s picks for the space. For her part, Covello brought her love for modern Italian design (she fell for the plush sculptural furniture of Pierre Paulin while spending time in Paris) and a recent purchase—an Insta-ready Ettore Sottass Ultrafragola mirror that became the scene-stealer of the living room. The piece’s curvy frame is echoed in the lines throughout the rest of the apartment, including on a ’70s Italian chair and sofa set (reupholstered in a nubby cream fabric), a pair of vintage ottomans (transformed with a textural bouclé), and an iconic ’80s Terje Ekstrom chair (covered in a creamy cotton weave).
Though Howell always prefers to work with vintage and antiques, her knack for treasure hunting became even more necessary during the pandemic, when major supply chain delays forced her to rely heavily on her network of dealers in New York, Chicago, and Italy, as well as sites like Chairish and 1stdibs. Her trick? Reimagining finds in modern colorways and unexpected fabrics, like the luxe all-weather velvet on the main veranda’s oversize lounge chairs that promote an indoor-outdoor continuity (and a lot of “How’d you do that?” questions from her Instagram community). “I love sculptural furniture, but I’m also very big on function. I never want a room that people don’t utilize,” she says.
Howell leaned into a neutrals-but-better color scheme throughout, focusing on sandy creams, bright whites, and pops of dusty pink—a combo that, when brought together, evokes the feeling of living within a seashell. “I think a lot of people do coastal design in a rather literal sense, but I wanted the palette to be a bit more subdued inside so that the outside, looking at the ocean, was like a framed art piece,” she explains.
That’s not to say she left the art to just Mother Nature. To build what she calls a living gallery, Howell brought in pieces that played into the home’s hues, including a pair of Gia Coppola photographs in the hallway; a textural work from multimedia artist Sara Marlowe Hall in the dining room; and an original painting with a decidedly Memphis spin in the living room, commissioned from her close friend Jessalyn Brooks.
In the primary bedroom, Howell wanted to create a sanctuary for Covello, who had visions of taking her morning tea on the balcony outside her room to the tune of crashing waves (“Just the thought of it makes my anxiety melt,” she says). To evoke a sense of calm, the designer paired a tonal hand-painted grasscloth wallpaper with sleek marble nightstands, stonewashed linen sheets, and minimal accessories. A leggy lacquered lilac vanity completes the space and serves as the perfect sunlit spot for Covello to film content for her beauty brand.
“I wanted it to feel inviting, and I wanted it to be fun, sexy, and feminine,” says Covello of her early hopes for the space. “The end result is magical. I’ve always felt like my places in the past were just a bit unfinished. To have Tiffany step in and help with all those finishing touches really took it from a house to a home.”
Tiffany Howell shares her sourcebook.
Go-to vintage resources: I love my buddy’s showroom in Los Angeles, @ShopNFS—he finds crazy-unique things. Jen from @monte.vision also sources cool pieces for me, but she’s online only. I always shop the Rose Bowl Flea Market and the Pasadena City College Flea Market, too, which is my biggest secret—I’ve found some of my best chairs there!
Favorite spots for plants and gardening supplies: The Tropics in Hollywood has the most amazing rare indoor trees. You feel like you’re entering a movie set when you walk through the doors.
Bookmarked decor site: I definitely use 1stdibs the most, as I can always unearth rare pieces on the site. And Instagram really is just the best for finding inspiration and discovering unknown artists.