Nina Johnson-Milewski and Daniel Milewski were looking for an old house in Miami with its character still intact. “We didn’t mind putting in the work,” says Nina, owner of Nina Johnson Gallery in Little Haiti. After a year’s search and a tip from her mother (Nina grew up 40 minutes away), they found this five-bedroom 1928 Craftsman-style cottage in Shorecrest that sat on a full acre of land (rare in Miami) and was originally built by a man who had 13 children. The couple didn’t touch the house structurally, but they did a number on it inside and out. They painted the exterior lush shades of guacamole and ripe avocado. Nina explains, “We tested out some darker colors, but they were too heat-absorbent. And plus, once the foliage grows, the house will sort of just disappear into the land.”
The house is equally colorful inside, where the focal point is the living room, anchored by a large Chesterfield sofa that’s covered with cushions from Guatemala and a side table designed by Katie Stout, one of the artists Johnson represents. (She works with young furniture designers like Stout and Emmett Moore, in addition to more established artists like Jonas Mekas and Betty Woodman). “Our lives are filled with artists and their wildest projects and ambitions,” Nina says. “There is no separation between what is art and what is life for me.” As for Daniel, an artist, musician, and songwriter who also works as a professional cabinetmaker, his handiwork is everywhere: from the cabinet-bed he designed for the laundry room (which doubles as the nanny’s room) to the record credenza in the living room. The one part of the property the couple significantly reworked was the pool area. “It was so overdone,” Nina says. “When we moved in, there were mosaics inspired by the movie Titanic.”
*This article appears in the April 17, 2017, issue of New York Magazine.
The Living Room
Gallerist Nina Johnson-Milewski says the ceiling mural was uncovered by her husband, artist Daniel Milewski. The Design Within Reach chaise was re-covered in blue-heron fabric, the side table is by Katie Stout, and the record credenza was designed by Daniel.
The curvy, custom shelving was designed by Emmett Moore. The desk lamp is by Ettore Sottsass, and the desk is an old kitchen table that belonged to Daniel’s grandparents.
The Dining Room
The couple entertains frequently, and the diagonal dining table, from Design Within Reach, works for seated dinners and informal buffets.
The ceiling was designed by Nina and Daniel and executed by Fine Line Contracting. The blue artwork is by Christy Gast, and the lights are from B4 It Was Cool.
The Screened-In Porch
The Paul Frankl–inspired sofa was found on Etsy, the coffee table is from Déjà vu Décor, and the standing wicker lamp is from an estate sale.
The Exterior Porch
Nina and Daniel with their sons, Lee, 3, and, Cy, 1.
The Pool Area
The couple worked with Maurice Del Valle to redesign and landscape the pool area. The one-acre property abuts a canal and features a variety of old trees, including a 140-year-old mangrove.
The Upstairs Kids’ Bathroom
They designed the green Heritage tiles themselves. The light and mirror are from Schoolhouse Electric.
The Entry Foyer
Nina and Dan rescued a rolled-up, neglected portrait of Nina’s grandmother, Nina Safie, painted by Luis Vergara Ahumada, the artist who illustrated Chilean currency. The sculpture is by Ohad Meromi.
An Abelardo Morell photograph of Alice in Wonderland presides over the playroom, which is set up with a teepee and bunk beds and shelving by Dan. The curtains are by Katie Stout, and the chandelier is by Emmett Moore.