Born to Haitian tailor and dressmaker parents on The Bahamas’ sandy shores, interior designer Tohni Jean-Bellis is making a career out of elevating the coastal Caribbean aesthetics she grew up with. Her keen eye for quality has garnered her brand, HomeStyle Decorators, much success, and it is quickly establishing itself as a go-to for a resort island feel in South Florida and beyond.
After moving to the United States as a teen, Jean-Bellis’ first challenge was to learn English. Following that, she obtained a design degree from the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, which made for an easy transition into a career as a lifestyle blogger. But the entrepreneur wasn’t quite satisfied. She became a luxury real estate agent in 2017 and found herself naturally decorating the kitchens, living rooms and dining areas of her showings to personalize the client experience. The touch of style helped people envision the space as “home.” This became the catalyst for Jean-Bellis to add interior design to her catalog of offerings. And so, the HomeStyle Decorators brand was born.
Now five years in, Jean-Bellis and her team are experts at creating a luxurious, resort feel with their coastal designs, and they are making major headway to becoming a household name, including a partnership with paint brand Sherwin-Williams. While residential design will always be part of their portfolio, the brand is expanding their expertise to include luxury design for retreats and vacation homes, too.
Whether for an apartment, beachfront property or a mountain home, Jean-Bellis said HomeStyle Decorators can bring the resort aesthetic to you. For example, “When bringing the Caribbean to the mountains, I think about sustainability and the elements that come from nature, like cedar. Then you can add artwork, driftwoods and other things and you’ve merged both — the coast is not all blues and shells!”
Jean-Bellis said it’s especially important for Caribbean brands to enter the luxury marketplace. “Oftentimes [the Caribbean] is not celebrated in [that] light,” she said. “It’s where you eat food, put your feet in the sand. But the island culture is more than that.” And luxury is not always what people think it is. “The status quo of luxury is a price tag. But every person’s idea [of luxury] is one they solely possess.” She believes using quality in every detail, incorporating antiques and providing a space that clients feel represents them can bring luxury into a design.
Aside from professional affairs, HomeStyle Decorators is also heavily involved in propelling the Haitian community forward through advancement of real estate and work with organizations like Women in Distress, including home decor donations through the annual HomeStyle Decorators Charity Drives.
More is on the horizon for HomeStyle Decorators, but even as the brand grows, a luxurious, coastal and, of course, stylish aesthetic will follow.
For even more coast design inspiration, check out this next article!