Meet Kimberlee Gorsline, a Seattle interior designer who transforms homes into cozy and inviting havens perfect for making cherished memories with family and friends. With her exceptional ability to blend various styles seamlessly, Kimberlee's work is nothing short of breathtaking. She combines traditional elements with a modern twist and creates spaces that stand the test of time. "I love playing with the contrast between old and new and finding ways to make them work together," she says.
Kimberlee's passion for design goes beyond creating beautiful spaces. She's driven by her love for connection and creating environments that promote togetherness. She takes the time to get to know her clients and understand their unique needs and desires. The result is a personalized design that reflects the client's personality and style.
What’s more, Kimberlee is a true leader who cares deeply about her team at her namesake Kimberlee Marie Interiors. She fosters a positive and supportive work environment where everyone is treated as an individual. As we delve into this interview, you'll discover Kimberlee's approach to design and her unwavering commitment to building meaningful connections. So please welcome, Kimberlee!
Q: You knew from a young age that you wanted to become an interior designer. How did that happen?
Kimberlee: I always enjoyed being creative as a child, coming up with my own arts and crafts projects and gifting them to all of my family. I even tried selling some of them! I suppose the entrepreneur has been in me from a young age too. One of my earliest design memories is when I found my mother’s childhood dollhouse in the garage. I brought it inside and cleaned off the cobwebs, and immediately started “designing” it. I found some old carpet samples that I cut down to size to fit the rooms and started looking for the right doll furniture to complete it. In retrospect, as a kid, I had a high value on well-put-together spaces. It was difficult to watch PG movies where the kids were tearing apart the house. I remember feeling anxious and stressed, thinking, “I am supposed to be cheering them on, but who is going to put that back together?”
Q: Wow, sounds like you knew where you wanted to go pretty early on! How did you take your passion for design forward?
Kimberlee: In junior high, I took an aptitude test to help determine some potential career paths I might enjoy. I scored highest in creativity, and some of the career suggestions were radio DJ, chef, fashion designer, and interior designer. I knew immediately that interior design was something I wanted to pursue.
The more I learned about the field, the more intrigued I became. As a sophomore in high school, I started researching Christian colleges with an Interior Design program. My faith is very important to me, and I wanted to see if I could find a place where I could grow spiritually as well as pursue a degree in Interior Design. I joined Seattle Pacific University and, after graduation, moved from Arizona to Washington to attend college. While most of my college friends were changing their majors, I fell more in love with interior design with every course I took, solidifying that this was the right path for me.
Q: What steps did you take to get into the design industry? How did you decide to start your own business?
Kimberlee: This was a bit more of a challenge. I graduated during the 2008 recession and housing crisis. Very few design firms were hiring, let alone entry-level positions. The best I could find was a part-time position in a showroom in the design center. I worked there for a little less than a year when they had to let me go because of the economic crisis. At that point, I decided to look for other jobs but wanted to stay in the housing industry, so I applied for an admin role in a real estate office. While there, I got introduced to a home stager and would occasionally do staging jobs with her on the side. Meanwhile, I was also getting friends and family requesting my services. So, I got my business license and started doing freelance interior design work on the side. I got busy enough between my three jobs that in 2012, I took the leap to go all in on interior design!
Q: Wonderful! So, now that you have designed many stunning homes, what is a “perfect home” to you?
Kimberlee: “Perfect” is such a tricky word. I think it’s somewhat elusive but also very relative. To me, a perfect home is in the eyes of its inhabitants. Perfect can look like exact opposites from one person to the next. In my own home, striving towards perfection means a home that allows us to spend quality time together as a family, make memories, and do the daily chores and tasks with ease. It is a home that balances form, function, and feel. And by “feel,” I mean that there is an evident warmth to the environment – one that communicates to all that enter that this is a safe place to be yourself and to be present to others.
Q: Can you walk us through your design process, from initial consultation to final installation?
Kimberlee: When clients reach out to us, we schedule an initial call to hear more about their project and determine if we’re a good fit. If we collectively agree, we schedule an on-site consultation and provide them with a pricing estimate. Once they sign on, we have a welcome call that outlines our process and sets expectations. Then, we have our conceptual plan meeting to decide on the design direction for the project. This meeting leads to the development of what we call “Hero Images,” a set of select images that portray the aesthetic direction of the project, along with any 2D floor plans for approval.
Then, we dive into the design development phase, which is the longest, following which we offer the designs to our client and go through 2-3 rounds of revisions before presenting them with a final design plan. Once designs are finalized, we develop the construction documents for the building team. We also begin procurement for any items we are ordering. Once the space is complete and the items have arrived, we will arrange delivery and installation. We are present on-site on delivery days to ensure everything turns out as planned.
Q: How do you deal with clients whose expectations exceed their budgets?
Kimberlee: We like to have conversations about scope and budget from the very beginning of the process. We discuss it on our very first call. If we feel their budget won’t allow for their ideal scope, we are very upfront and honest with them. Ultimately it saves both of us time and spares us both from any unnecessary frustration down the road.
Q: How do you help your clients find the right contractors?
Kimberlee: We have a few contractors that we work fairly consistently with and will often refer them. We encourage clients to hire someone we recommend since we know the quality of their work and because there is already an established working relationship that ultimately benefits the client.
Q: How do you maintain transparency in a project from beginning to end?
Kimberlee: Communication is key. We do our best to set expectations with our clients on our project kickoff call, and we do our best to communicate with them throughout the project if issues arise. At the end of the day, we feel communication is absolutely essential to keeping projects on track.
Q: Do you ever encounter clients who have unrealistic HGTV expectations?
Kimberlee: Sometimes. It rarely is ever called out that way, though. For example, I haven’t had a client say, “I want to do this, and I expect it to cost this much because I saw it on HGTV.” It shows up in more subtle ways where I think people’s price expectations are largely unrealistic, and I think that is because of HGTV shows.
Q: What makes your design approach unique? What is your studio’s USP?
Kimberlee: Something that we are just starting to incorporate more into our process is a focus on holistic design. We are feeling a growing desire to design homes that serve our clients in more dimensional ways. Traditionally, we have created beautiful designs that serve our clients’ functional needs. We want to take that one step further to think about how our designs can serve our clients’ spiritual needs, support their emotional and mental health, and allow them spaces for deep connection with their loved ones. We also want the homes we design to be healthier for our clients and the environment, leading to a serious focus on sustainability.
Q: How have social media and DIY trends changed the landscape of interior design? How do you stay ahead of the trends?
Kimberlee: In general, we get a lot of clients wanting the exact same things, which can be a bit deflating as a designer. We ask them questions about why they are drawn to something. Most often, they don’t know the reason other than they’ve seen it a million times and decided they like it. Trends will come and go. Besides, DIY’ers aren’t really our ideal clients, so we focus on discovering what our clients really like and then develop designs uniquely tailored to them without concerning too much about current trends.
Q: As a mom of three kids, how do you strike the right balance between work and home life?
Kimberlee: Great question! For me, I try to put firm boundaries on my working time and family time. When at the office, I am all in on work, and when I’m home with the kids and my husband, I am all in on family time. The biggest challenge is to put my phone away when it’s family time. It’s something I am constantly seeking to grow in. As a family, we have incorporated rhythms of rest into our weekly routine by dedicating a work-free 24 hours each week to be screen-free, prioritize connection, and focus on activities that recharge us. It has been a game changer for my family and me.
Q: How has your experience been running a design business in Seattle? Do you take projects outside of the Seattle metro area?
Kimberlee: Overall, really great! Seattle is a great city for interior design because there are so many people who appreciate it and can afford it. I enjoy the style of architecture here and the gorgeous nature, which serves as inspiration for our designs.
We also take projects outside of Seattle. We have worked on projects in the surrounding Pacific Northwest, Arizona, and Chicago.
AA: Thank you, Kimberlee, for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with me! I am thrilled that we got a chance to get a glimpse of your fabulous interior design universe!
For anyone who wants to start following Kimberlee on social media, I definitely recommend finding her on Instagram for some breathtaking design ideas and getting inspired by her latest projects featured on Facebook, Pinterest, and Houzz. ♥