"I absolutely love hot pink," says Nisi Berryman, in what is obviously a significant understatement. Her front door is hot pink. Her front hall is hot pink. And though most of the rest of the house is painted in other vibrant colors, pink appears (in many shades) on a sofa and a coffee table, in pillows and tablecloths, even in the art.
Berryman bought this house -- where she lives with her 16-year-old artist son, Keith Richard Clougherty (a junior at Design & Architecture Senior High School) -- in 1993. Back then, she was a pioneer in what is now a highly desirable single-family enclave within Miami Beach's Palm View Historic District. The neighborhood is just north of the bustle of the city's famed Lincoln Road and boasts its share of Mediterranean and art deco houses, along with midcentury bungalows such as Berryman's, which was built in 1950.
For lovers of great design finds, the location is a handy one when the Lincoln Road Flea Market sets up on alternate winter Sundays. And Berryman's house bears witness to her keen eye. She purchased many of her tables, chairs and accent pieces at resale venues and reinvented them for her idiosyncratic brand of festive Florida design. The Mississippi-born Berryman (who happens to be Metropolitan Home's Miami city editor) is the owner of NIBA Home in the Miami Design District, so of course her own showroom is well represented here, with sophisticated rugs, an inventive dining table and the kind of unique accessories that make her emporium so popular with designers and the general public alike.
Before opening NIBA Home four years ago, Berryman had worked in New York City with Dakota Jackson, and in Miami with Richard Plumer and Tui Pranich. Then, in 2000, she had a chance to open Miami's Holly Hunt showroom. "But I'd never been able to afford the stuff I was selling," she laughs. For years, her house was "more restrained" in design, says Berryman, but her recent two-year renovation changed all that. Working with a contractor, she moved walls and added floorboards and valances. She opted to create a series of small, well-defined and self-contained spaces in order to provide -- in an 1,100-square-foot house -- rooms to meet her small family's needs. Thus there are two bedrooms, a tiny "media room," living and dining rooms, and of course a kitchen and two baths. (If they need more room, Nisi, Keith and Buddy repair to the deck out back.)
And then she painted, and painted -- and painted. In the final, finished version, the walls are covered in an array of hues from "a very deep chartreuse" in the living room to violet in the dining room and red in her bedroom. The rooms are tied together by the ebonized wood floors, which all have a seductively dark sheen. With paint, Berryman let her unorthodox way with a color chart lead the way to wilder choices. The dining room, which is open to the living room, started out orange but wound up Ralph Lauren's Nairobi Dusk.
"I love the play of violet against the brown. It just seems to work," she says. And the media room, separated from the dining room by chunky-striped curtains, adds shots of Florida's favorite orange and her own cherished pink.
Each room of the house offers new fodder for the imagination and the eye. In the master bedroom, a Moorish-inspired custom headboard sits against a mottled hibiscus-red wall. "The wall started out with me testing colors for the bedroom," says Berryman. "It went from there. The whole wall is hand-done, and it took me forever." The room's other three walls got the more usual roller treatment, but in the deep-pink hue. Indeed, Berryman's enthusiasms -- for color, furniture, rugs, lighting, objects -- all show through. Tucked on the Eero Saarinen Tulip table that serves as a nightstand is a big glass apothecary jar filled with bangle bracelets of all ages, colors, backgrounds and materials; it's one of her personal style trademarks that she was able to turn into an ornamental object for the house. She finished off the bedroom with bed linens from Archipelago in New York City. In the bedroom, as in every other room of the house, bold strokes coexist happily with subtle gestures, and just when you think you've had enough color, there's a cleansing "eye pop" of white -- and then more color. Berryman likes to keep your attention roving around the room instead of fi on any single object. Her eye for the unusual, both personally and professionally, has allowed her to cultivate unknown artists and bring them into the mix with more- established designers. "I like it to be a little mysterious where everything comes from," she says.
What the Pros Know
"It's a challenge to live with color and not feel like you're in a cartoon," says Nisi Berryman, whose role as owner of NIBA Home has made her one of Miami's most influential design voices. "When you have strong, saturated color, it's important to tone it down with some whites, neutrals and metallic touches." Using color requires a bit of trial and error, she points out. For example, she began by painting her dining room orange -- more than once. "First, it was too sweet," she says. "Then it was too bright -- really coming at you." So she changed it altogether and painted the walls bright purple, which she found to be just right. "With paint, if it doesn't work, it's so easy to do it over," she says, noting that it is the value of the color that most needs to work: "When it gets too deep, the color just starts to recede," she says.
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