Personal design aesthetics certainly evolve over time but Jerry and Lisa Zimmer of Northville Township may be unusual. The older these empty-nesters get, the more funky their style becomes. 

The couple, who have two children in their early 20s, used to live in a home with traditional decor but when they moved into their home, a new build, 10 years ago, they wanted something more contemporary -- more modern, fun and colorful. So they turned to interior designer Rachel Nelson of RL Concetti in Detroit to redo their master bedroom, TV room and lower level powder room.

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And that's what exactly Nelson delivered. Nelson's designs -- which the Zimmers collaborated in -- infuse their space with energy, saturated color and pattern, bringing it to life. Wallpaper, especially a bold Detroit Wallpaper print in the first floor powder room, adds texture and dimension to each room and the lush colors tie the rooms together. 

And the Zimmers, both attorneys, couldn't be happier with the results. Every time Jerry walks into one of those three rooms, more than a year after they were completed, it's like entering "a living work of art," he said.

"It’s inspirational," said Jerry, 58. "It always catches your eye."

Nelson says her firm has become known for being "bold and brave" but she and her team spend a lot of time learning their clients' motivations and helping them create spaces that reflect who they are. It's about designing rooms that look and feel like their clients and sometimes encouraging them to step outside the box, she said.

"Instead of doing what is popular or what is trending or what is safe, it's asking 'What are you?'" said Nelson. "In essence, we want to create residential environments where people come home to themselves at the end of the day."

For the Zimmers, that meant embracing color and pattern at home.The couple wanted each room to be fully finished at the end of the project. They'd worked with other designers in the past and that wasn't the case. 

"We needed to see the picture fully realized and that’s what RL Concetti does," said Jerry. "They really take time on the front end."


Nelson and her team presented the Zimmers with at least two options for each room. Nelson's firm regularly uses 3D renderings and digital floor plans to show clients exactly how a space will look.

With each proposed rendering, "we review the pros and cons," said Nelson.

For the Zimmers' TV room, powder room and master bedroom update, color was a key component. The wallpaper from Detroit Wallpaper Co. in the powder room was custom-designed so the colors tie in with other rooms. 

The master bedroom, meanwhile, ties in both Jerry's favorite color and Lisa's -- blue and purple. A navy grasscloth wallpaper covers the tray ceiling. Chairs upholstered in a gorgeous plum cherry blossom print from Duralee sit at the foot of the bed.

The fabric "pulled the whole thing together," said Nelson.


The cherry blossom chairs are just one way the Zimmers embraced pattern.

In the TV room, they also selected a Duralee wallpaper with a geometric pattern that really accents the slanted wall. A funky antler light fixture from CB2 adds even more fun to the room.

Nelson said rather than trying to hide the shape of the wall, they decided to go in the opposite direction.

"Instead of trying to hide (the shape), let’s enhance that bad boy,'" said Nelson. 

High and low

All three rooms also include a mix of higher end furnishings with more affordable ones.

The headboard in the master bedroom, which Lisa wanted to be more of an oasis, is from Bernhardt, purchased from the RJ Thomas showroom at the Michigan Design Center. 

The wall-mounted storage cabinets in the TV room, on the other hand, are from IKEA. And the fun teal sofa is from online retailer, Joybird.

Jerry and Lisa found the cabinets and with the tall wall in that room, they thought they would be a good design element to occupy the space. They asked Nelson's team to incorporate them into the TV room design.

"It's a small room and they came up with an interesting design," said Lisa, 57.

Nelson said the Zimmers didn't want to spend the same budget and invest in the TV room as they did in the master bedroom so they got creative.

 "I embraced IKEA," said Zimmer.  "I used pieces in ways they’re not intended to be. Their case pieces are so streamlined and clean and tend to last longer than they’re upholstery."

Going zen

Nelson is working with the Zimmers next on converting a bedroom into a meditation room. It'll feature the same Brazilian cherry wood floors that are in the master bedroom, a green hue and a mural of trees.

And even though it's a meditation space, Nelson said they still didn't hold back on color, though it required balance.

"We still inserted the personality that they desire," she said.

Nelson said she appreciates that the Zimmers continue to trust her and her firm to create spaces that reflect them. In a world that's so chaotic, that's everything, she said.

"They trusted that we were going to do them justice," she said. "...It really has been a beautiful journey."

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