Though she passed away nearly a decade ago, the lessons of Stephanie Gamble’s mother are reflected in nearly everything the designer does. “I got all my taste and appreciation of design from my mother,” says Gamble, who owns The House Downtown in Belvedere Square. “She was a single mom; it was just the two of us.”
Gamble, who had no formal training (“I say I have a 10-year degree,” she quips), describes her style as “classic first, with a little edge.” She points to a pair of tables in her design studio, a light-filled room at the front of the store. They’re simple, molded from shiny white resin, but, on second glance, you notice the legs are cast to resemble four horse legs, mid-prance.
Gamble also credits her mother with helping to remedy one of her clients’ biggest problems, “a sense of space.” Says Gamble: “On a Saturday, she’d say, ‘Let’s rearrange the furniture,’ and we’d spend the morning pushing things around. It helped me develop an eye for proportion and scale.”
Gamble studied biology in college and was teaching at Parkville Middle School when her mother, 55, succumbed to a brain tumor. Though she was devastated by her mother’s death, Gamble decided to pursue her dream as a designer. She soon opened a 1,700-square-foot shop in Havre de Grace, where she displayed home goods and consulted with design clients. Two years later, in 2006, the management team from Belvedere Square came knocking. “They liked what they saw,” she says.
Her Belvedere Square store, more than double the size of the Havre de Grace location, is a mix of home furnishings, accessories, and gifts. Gamble makes sure to stock price points for every customer—from the $5,000 sofa upholstered in smoky, blue-gray velvet by Cisco Home to more affordable lines like Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams and Lee Industries. In addition to Gamble’s design services, The House Downtown offers in-home consulting.
While Gamble loves working with clients on design, she says her favorite task is merchandising—arranging the many displays throughout the store. “I am so happy, I get to wear comfortable clothes, and I can do things I would never do in somebody’s house.” She gestures to a nearby tableau, a large table stacked with small woven-reed end tables, gilt mirrors, and oversized vases filled with branches. “You can’t put a table on top of a table in someone’s house.”
The house downtown look
Stephanie Gamble chooses items that inspire her.
Picture of my mother
The most inspiring thing I possess. The circa-1969 picture of my mother is all the things I strive to be in life and at home—classic, chic, and oh, so hip!
Vintage cocktail glasses
I feel swanky every time I drink out of them.
Slim Aarons’s Books
This collection transports me into an amazing world that showcases homes with impeccable pedigrees from the ’50s through the ’70s.
Brought from Ireland by my husband’s grandmother in the 1920s.