A Foundation of Trust

From a leap of faith to the heights of high design, Aimee Klaus Miller knows how to transform a house into a home.

Aimee Klaus Miller began cultivating her eye for interior design at a very young age. The daughter of a prominent developer in Southern California, she was often inspired by the stunning properties her father frequently built for himself, clients and their family.

In each new project, what struck Miller were the details included by the high-end designers who transformed those luxury homes.

“My parents loved custom building and were fortunate enough to own a number of homes over the years,” Miller says. “It gave me a voluminous background and eventually that turned into a passion.”

Today, Miller is one of the most sought-after residential interior designers in the country. To reach those heights, she had to overcome life-changing adversity.

In the late-1980s, in between getting an MBA at Pepperdine and a law degree from Pepperdine School of Law, she met her first husband. A few years later, she became pregnant with twins. Tragically, her husband passed away before her children’s birth. Newly widowed and needing to reinvent herself and support her children, she rekindled her passion for design and started an antique brokering business. She worked with City National Bank, whom she and her husband had entrusted with their estate planning, to get the business off the ground. Soon after, she noticed one of her Bel Air neighbors was trying to sell an unfurnished property in a down market.

“I approached him and suggested I could assist him by furnishing this estate home with curated antiques and designer inventory to attract a buyer," Miller recalls. “That's how my staging and design business immediately took off.”

Her entrepreneurial drive led her to the UCLA Interiors and Architecture Program, and she eventually transformed her business into Designed To Move, a company dedicated to home staging and design. By the mid-2000s, she took the next logical step and opened a residential design branch, DTM Interiors, applying her talent to transforming homes throughout California and in high-end markets like Aspen, Colorado and Jackson, Wyoming.

She eventually opened a retail location in 2013 in Beverly Hills, showing fully formed spaces where clients could be inspired and shop. In May 2022, she replaced that initial retail concept with Home Crush, an interactive design experience center in Summerland, California in Santa Barbara. Housed in a converted 1930s bungalow complex, the location gives designers and homeowners an even more intimate look at Miller’s design aesthetic with an impeccably curated collection of both indoor and outdoor furnishings on a 1/4 acre with panoramic Pacific Ocean views.

“We have a deconstructed store,” Miller says. “You can walk through gardens and terraces to experience the outdoor lifestyle and furnishings in situ, as it would be in your home. We have fire pits and fountains and thoughtfully tailored vignettes. You don’t need to have an eye for design to envision your dream design here.”

An ally through it all

When Miller first worked with City National more than three decades ago, she never could have imagined the emotional ride to come, and she’s never forgotten the support the bank provided during the darkest of times. Through adversity and opportunity, the relationship has been a constant. It spans personal and business services, with City National adapting to meet the ebb and flow of her life and her business: from treasury management to secure lines of credit and broker services.

As with all small businesses, Miller has had to navigate financial decisions to fuel growth. She’s relied on the financial expertise of City National through each step—scaling up, hiring staff and expanding into retail.

“It's a very strong bond and I think that’s why she sticks with us,” says Ahmed Mayet, who has been her Preferred banker since 2017. “Her business has changed over time. She’s had to be agile and we’ve been agile along with her. She trusts that we’re always giving her the right recommendation.”

“I think this is the first time I've ever had a banker’s cell phone number,” adds Miller. “We'll text over the weekends or after hours. I really appreciate that because there's a lot going on in my life. Whenever something comes up where it’s important for me to take the next step, they are always there, putting another stone in the river so I can get to where I need to go. It’s an old way of doing business that’s nonexistent elsewhere.”

Miller’s laser focus on meeting her clients’ needs is something she shares with City National. As a business owner, the peace of mind that comes from knowing that someone has your back is invaluable. That’s especially true as she ponders her company’s future alongside her own legacy.

“They’ve helped me build and navigate a number of things over the years,” Miller says. “We’ve had a great relationship where if I drop a ball, they’re always there to pick it up. No matter what happens next, City National is my bank.”

Produced by CNBC for City National Bank.