In some ways, Raymond and Eilyn Jimenez are like most married couples. They wake up beside one another, sip coffee together, and vent their frustrations to each other. In their spare time, they try new Miami restaurants, book far-flung vacations, and grapple with the thirtysomething conundrum of figuring out the right time to start a family (with some added pressure from their Dominican- and Cuban-American relatives).
But since Raymond and Eilyn are both sought-after, Miami-based interior designers, they’re also professional rivals—and they’re often competing for the same high-end residential and commercial projects across the Magic City and beyond.
“We’re very competitive and go at it hard,” Raymond, founder and creative director of Raymond Nicholas, says with a sly smile. “We’ll give each other just enough detail of what we’re thinking when it comes to proposals and input from the client just to be nice and cordial. Besides that, we’re off to the races. But, at the end of the day, we want one of us to win at least.”
“We draw a lot of inspiration from one another, but we flourish independently,” says Eilyn, who is the founder and creative director of Sire Design studio. “We’re still growing as designers and people. There’s also the fear that working together will tarnish our relationship, which we place at a higher value.”
The Jimenezes’ marriage is curious and chaotic—so much so that Netflix executives gave them a reality show chronicling their relationship, their creative differences, and their respective interior design firms. The eight-episode season of Designing Miami aired in September 2022 and shared the couple’s professional struggles as Raymond launched his firm and Eilyn managed an all-female team of designers. Personal struggles were fair game, too—from discussions about having children to the process of remodeling their own home in Miami Shores. Now, more than a year since the show debuted, the couple says that both of their businesses are thriving.
“We both got a lot of projects as a result of the show,” Eilyn says. “We’ve been very blessed [that] people are resonating with the work we do and what we bring to the table. It brings a sense of comfort because these clients already know our personalities and our work and want to work with us for those reasons.”
Though Raymond and Eilyn’s aesthetics lie at somewhat opposite ends of the minimalist-maximalist design spectrum, the pair both got their start in the same neighborhood in Hialeah. They lived on the same street, attended the same elementary school, and even had some of the same teachers. Since Raymond is a few years older than Eilyn, the pair didn’t meet back then (though they are certain their paths must have crossed multiple times). Instead, a mutual friend introduced them at an Art Basel event in 2016. Three years later, they were married.
“It’s serendipitous because I used to do ballet and Ray used to work in the store underneath that studio,” Eilyn says. “We only found out years later that we were definitely at the same place at the same time. It was almost like the universe was like, ‘Let’s gather you, fix you, and then make you find each other.’”
Raymond and Eilyn took their own roundabout routes to design, too. Growing up, Raymond knew he wanted to pursue either fashion or architecture. For fun, he’d distress friends’ jeans and paint Hawaiian flowers on school backpacks. (“I should’ve been charging back at that age,” he jokes.) After graduating with a bachelor of fine arts in interior design from the Miami International University of Art & Design in 2010, he co-founded RS3, an interior design and architecture studio.
“Imagine two 23-year-olds starting their own business completely clueless,” Raymond recalls. “When you have to put food on the table, you learn quickly.”
As a kid, Eilyn had always wanted to study law, with the hopes of one day becoming a judge. But during her second year at Universidad Latina de Costa Rica, she switched her major to architecture. Her professors couldn’t help but comment on the attention Eilyn put into the interiors of her projects. It led to another pivot in her career trajectory.
“At first, I took offense, as if my professors were saying I was a bad architect,” Eilyn says. “But the advice led me toward interior design and I pretty much immediately fell in love with it.”
Starting out, both Raymond and Eilyn say they worked long hours and often compromised their creative visions to appease their clients. “At first, we had to design and cater to the masses so: nice neutrals and tone-on-tone,” Raymond says. “There’s nothing wrong with that, but that’s a more conservative approach.”
“I first started out with Groupon, offering $99 consultations,” Eilyn recalls. “I was driving miles and miles to help somebody pick out a paint color. But if the client wants purple walls with pink polka dots, you’re going to make that purple wall with pink polka dots work. You’re trying to build a portfolio and gather experience.”
As Miami grew in reputation as a global art destination, both designers found themselves poised to experiment creatively. “Miami was very, very white—glossy white floors, some red lacquer—and it was a little bit tacky,” Eilyn says. “When you think about what
Miami design was 10 years ago and what it is today, it’s much more elegant and sophisticated. It’s exciting that we’re at the forefront and participating in making that change.”
It was in the midst of the pandemic that a producer friend of Eilyn’s suggested a TV show. After the pair filmed a reel and pitched the idea, Netflix signed on and began filming in June 2021.
None of the couple’s experiences in interior design could’ve prepared them for eight months of filming. Whereas Raymond never quite felt at ease in front of the cameras, Eilyn was a natural and would sometimes even forget they were there at all.
“I didn’t really get comfortable until the last couple of weeks,” Raymond says. “I’d always be thinking in the back of my head, ‘Don’t do this or don’t do that.’ Still, to this day, I have a hard time watching the show—the sound of my voice, the way I act. I have really only seen the show once.”
“For me, it was really easy because the cameras just became an extension of myself and the crew became my family,” Eilyn says. “We have enough drama going on in construction and in life that was easily seen on TV, so we were able to be really transparent about who and how we really are.”
Fast-forward to 2023 and Raymond’s firm has a wealth of new clients in the pipeline, including luxury construction projects at the Aria Reserve and Missoni Baia in Edgewater. Eilyn is currently juggling 20-or-so projects, some with budgets upwards of $60 million.
The Jimenezes’ Miami Shores home, however, remains one of the plotlines from the show that has yet to be resolved. Most of the construction is complete; windows, electrical, and plumbing are installed, and vintage 1940s beds for the guest room are sitting in Eilyn’s Ironside office. But if Raymond and Eilyn expect to move into their home by the end of the year, they’ll have to marry their distinct design aesthetics into a single creative vision. They’re not worried.
“This is the fun part,” Raymond says. “I’m more on the heavier side and she’s more on the minimalist side, but I think we complement each other and can find a happy medium. We do it with our clients so we should be able to do it ourselves.”
Whether their collaboration hints that the couple may one day join design forces, the pair remains vague. “We’re working on a lot of things that we can’t disclose yet,” Eilyn says. “There’s so much coming and we’re excited for the future.”
“Let’s just say,” Raymond adds, “you’re going to see us on television again.”
Honing Your Home
Raymond and Eilyn Jimenez share four tips for finding your design groove
“If you’re not sure what direction design is going, look to fashion,” suggests Eilyn.
“Natural stone, travertine, wood, metal, and glass are timeless,” Raymond says. “These materials … will continue to stand the test of time.”
“Revisit design books from the ’30s, ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s,” Eilyn says. “If you want to see where design is going, look back to architects and designers from the past.”
Incorporate Vintage Vibes
“Spaces should have elements that are conversation starters, whether that’s vintage or antique pieces,” Eilyn says. “A good ratio for interiors is 50 percent new, 30 percent vintage, and 20 percent privately owned—investment pieces that can or have been handed down generationally.”