Talk about hate at first sight. When 35-year-old interior designer Kate Stamps first saw the two-story apartment her architect husband, Odom, had selected as their new home in Los Angeles, she cried. "I thought it looked like a housing project," Stamps says of the Park La Brea complex near Farmer's Market. Yes, it had nice parquet floors, but the townhouse, built in the mid-'30s, was nothing more than a white-walled box with eight-foot-high ceilings, a far cry from the Victorian house with wide-plank pine floors and 12-foot-high ceilings the couple left behind in New Orleans.
To infuse the residence with character, the Stampses--who run Stamps & Stamps, an architecture and design firm specializing in traditional architecture, interior and garden design--washed the downstairs walls in a pale apricot and painted trompe l'oeil ionic columns beside new built-in bookcases that lead to the dining room. Supplying texture and warmth are a 19th-Century Soumac carpet draped over the dining room table and a soft Roman shade of 18th-Century hand-woven silk in the blue-green master bedroom upstairs. Antique textiles, Stamps says, "take the new edge off."
The Stampses completed the transformation of their home with their "high-low" collection of 18th- and 19th-Century watercolors, European and American furnishings and objets d'art : An 18th-Century French sequined fan and small ivory boxes lie on the 19th-Century Dutch demi-lune table in the living room, an 18th-Century English secretary in the entrance hall stands next to an English-gothic muffin stand. The sense of personal history is everywhere. As Kate Stamps puts it: "Our living spaces are more like a set of collector's rooms filled with things we love, without regard to period or quality. Hardly anything was expensive."