Kim Zimmer ruled the marketing world for 20 years before launching her own design firm. As a businesswoman in advertising and catalogue marketing, she worked with clients that ranged from Sony and Sears to AT&T in her former career. When she decided to pursue her true passion, she left her position as vice president of marketing and account services for the Haggin Group in San Francisco and enrolled at O’More College of Design in 2002.
Now, she’s busy putting the final touches on the Family Room she’s creating in the O’More Designer Show House, presented by Traditional Home.
“I’ve always loved design and old houses. I had bought several, and renovated them by either adding on or gutting them. Throughout the process I was fascinated by the construction of homes,” she says. “When I moved to Franklin I thought, ‘Why not take this opportunity and do something I love?’ I realized it was something I had always wanted to do.”
Though the leap between marketing to running a full-service design firm seems like a long one, Kim says she’s always been able to draw a parallel between the two professions.
“I felt like the skills I had already developed were applicable to this field,” she says. “Like in marketing, design is figuring out what the client is really saying: What do they really want and what is really important to them? Listening to them and then boiling it down to create a custom design that exceeds their vision for the space.”
While helping develop brands like Godiva and Amazon, Kim worked on both the client and the agency teams, sharpening experience into a well-rounded skill set that she says helped better prepare her for the interior design profession.
“Really, I’ve been in design for a long time. I worked in buying, advertising and marketing, and all of that is very similar to interior design in the way that you are working ahead of trends,” she says. “You are designing products in advance, particularly in the catalogue market, that you think will be popular in the coming year. With interiors, you are designing with the idea that your design will stand the test of time.”
“Designing residential space is very personal, and often times you’re in your client’s life for a long time–three to four years if you start in the early phase–and you get to know them well. I enjoy that because that was my focus toward the end of my marketing career, and that’s where I find myself now: conceiving design that meets the clients’ needs and wishes, as well as acting as a project manager throughout the design and construction process.”
In addition to running Kim Zimmer Interior Design, the O’More instructor now mentors the kind of students she was not so many years ago.
“I had such a good experience at O’More. I was a non-traditional student, but probably not an atypical one. I learned a lot, but also had the opportunity to mentor a lot of the younger students and realized I really liked that aspect,” she says. “When I had the opportunity to teach, I jumped at it. I like being around good energy, youthful enthusiasm, technological skills and students with a curiosity to learn.”
As an adjunct professor, Kim says she tailors her classes and assignments to real-life scenarios. In the past, her students have worked with Bristol Development to design units at the ICON in the Gulch and selected all the interior finishes for 200-plus apartments in Bell Historic Franklin in downtown Franklin.
“I would have killed for an experience like that,” Kim says. “These projects are more than the typical theoretical challenges students normally tackle while in school. They are actually conceiving and executing their designs, while developing an understanding of construction and budgeting. For a student to have that experience while still in school–plus real, built-out projects in their portfolio–is a pretty incredible opportunity.”
Now it’s Kim’s turn to shine with her gorgeous and colorful design in the Family Room at the O’More Designer Show House.
Inspired by the large trees and songbirds in the mature Franklin neighborhood where the home is being built, and by the room’s steeply pitched roof, Kim developed the concept for the space as a spot for the family to gather and “nest.”
The design incorporates wallpaper with stylized branches and brightly colored birds in the bar area, large scale floral patterned draperies and cozy furniture covered in richly textured fabrics. She also used a dimensional tile for the bar’s backsplash that is reminiscent of a woven nest. The room opens up into the hallway, so she placed a bench and small table at the top of the stairs, where you can “perch” and enjoy the art-filled staircase gallery.
A gifted designer, business woman, teacher and artist, Kim’s Family Room design is already making waves on social networking sites. She wishes to express her gratitude to the amazing staff at Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams (especially to store manager Tango…great name, fab dimples!), for their extremely generous support. There aren’t enough superlatives to describe them, nor enough ways to say thank you for their involvement in this project.
Full disclosure: Ms. Zimmer and I had many classes together, and I’m quite fond of her and her work. Last January, I submitted one of Kim’s residential projects to Traditional Home for their annual New Trad’s feature on up and coming designers. My article didn’t make the cut then, but it appears they were destined to meet one way or another. I have no doubt her room will be beautifully represented in their pages!
The Show House opens with a Preview Party on April 4 and tickets to the event are limited, so check out all the pertinent info and reserve your spot today. If you can’t join us for the party, advance tickets for the tour are available online until March 27, or at the door.
Hours: Monday – Friday 10:00AM – 4:00PM
Sunday 12:00PM – 4:00PM