I fully encourage people to dance on the furniture in my home and have a good time,” says graphic artist and photographer Zoe Zimmer of her Victorian terrace ground-floor garden flat in Notting Hill, London.
“I really love cooking for friends and having parties,” she says, “and, although I want the place to be beautiful and well presented, it’s important to enjoy it, too, and not be precious about it.”
A chrome Tom Dixon mirror ball pendant glimmers on the ceiling of the dark, inky entrance hall, painted in Farrow & Ball’s Railings. It’s like walking into a glamorous night spot. It’s also the start of Zimmer’s interior homage to mirrored walls. Think more Studio 54 and less Stringfellows.
“I would say that about 70% of my flat is mirrored,” she says. In the main bedroom a showstopper mirrored wall acts as a backdrop for an Allen Jones screenprint from the 1973 film La Maîtresse. “It’s mounted there with cement-like adhesive in case it falls down,” she laughs.
Zimmer is an interiors illusionist. Her clever configuration of furniture and the placement and mix of objects in the open-plan kitchen, living and dining area both defines and connects the space, while mirror trickery gives the impression of infinite space. Behind two reupholstered luxe-velvet cream swivel chairs in the living area, opulent floor-to-ceiling mirrored shelving houses her collection of art prints, books and white 1960s sci-fi Foglio wall lights by Tobias Scarpa from vintage marketplace Pamono. In the narrow galley kitchen, to which Zimmer added panelled cabinetry painted in Farrow & Ball’s Minster Green, another mirrored wall adds depth. A dividing white marble counter regularly doubles as a bar (the cupboard underneath is fully stocked with spirits).
The flat was an unfinished renovation project when Zimmer bought it in 2015. All the structural work had been completed, but there were few fixtures or fittings in place. Original features, such as the ornate cornices, remained, as did the fireplace, which she transformed into an expression of decadence by simply adding a black marble base. She also installed black lacquered floorboards throughout, to set the mood at night. “The upkeep on them during the day is a little more than I bargained for,” she says. “So much dust!”
“I loved the place immediately, as it felt like a mini version of where I grew up – I’ve always lived in Notting Hill. I just had to decorate it from scratch, which was my dream.”
Having access to her own private garden via French doors from the small studio-cum-spare room at the back of the property also helped seal the deal, says Zoe, who is the daughter of the composer Hans Zimmer.
High ceilings also help to make the flat feel deceptively spacious and allow for statement lighting, including a bubble pendant by George Nelson. “I love looking at old interior magazines, like Architectural Digest from the 1980s, and I saw a photo of a light just like this in the Eames House,” she recalls. “It was suspended from a very long cable and I loved it, so I wanted to try and replicate the look in my own living space.”
An orange velvet Hendricks sofa from Habitat, and an emerald green Climbing Leopard rug by Diane von Furstenberg, bought in the US, are both rare nods to bright colour in the otherwise softened monochrome scheme. Cream walls in Farrow & Ball’s Tallow match the velvet curtains from Designers Guild that frame the large sash windows.
In the bathroom, the walls are covered in cream tiles (from Topps Tiles) outlined with black grout to give a stark grid effect – she was inspired by the exteriors of buildings in Tokyo. There is a surprising warmth to the look. There are more mirrors, of course, on the wall – this time illuminated by orb lights.
Her love of vintage furniture underpins Zimmer’s artful sense of design. The Marcel Breuer Cesca chairs and chrome and glass dining table were found on online, and a Mart Stam tubular chair is hidden in a neat little alcove-cum-office space to the side of the kitchen.
She’s a regular at west London’s Portobello Market, too. “I found the decorative Japanese wall panel in my kitchen and the ornamental leopard in my bedroom there.”
The overall ambience is seductive and glossy 1970s mixed with the old-school glamour of art deco accents, such as a 1960s black lacquered floral divider screen mounted on the wall in the living area, which Zimmer found online marketplace 1stDibs. “It was the first piece I bought for the flat. I loved the deco shape of the top and it inspired my floorboards, too.”
Clear acrylic chandelier shades from the White Company add more deco details, as do the acrylic and brass door handles by Charles Edwards on the built-in MDF wardrobes in her bedroom, which were given a lick of Farrow & Ball’s Fowler Pink, “to add more warmth”. Two 1930s vintage wooden nightstands either side of the bed look as if they’ve come straight from the set of an Agatha Christie film, each with a Tip of the Tongue lamp by Michael Anastassiades perched on top.
It’s a home that’s both lived in and looked at; the kind of place that speaks of timeless and modern style with a covetable design piece in every corner, and a welcoming cocktail on the table – sans coaster. “I don’t own a single one,” exclaims Zimmer. “Nobody’s ever had a good time using a coaster!”
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