A monthlong European cruise at age 16 sparked a lifelong love affair for designer Lee Stough. The beauty of these foreign lands compels her to return, again and again, in search of inspiration.
Tucked into the verdant hills of Louisville, Kentucky, Lee Stough’s classic Tudor home evokes thoughts of cozy European country houses with proper pedigrees. Inside each room, streams of light land on carefully culled collections from her various trips abroad.
Having grown up in Charlottesville, Virginia, where everyday life is influenced by the legacy of Thomas Jefferson, the noted statesman and a great European traveler in his own right, Lee’s childhood included exposure to the four corners of the globe. Touring with her grandparents throughout Iceland, Scandinavia, Russia, and England opened her eyes to the wondrous beauty possessed by these nations. College treks across France and Italy fully cemented this adoration and beckoned her back as often as possible—even for just a week’s vacation—to these lands she loved.
A fourth-grade term paper written on Jacqueline Kennedy’s renovation of the White House first piqued Lee’s interest in interior design. Impressed by all she had seen in the cities, homes, and museums she had explored around the world, studying art history in college was a natural progression. Later, after having moved to New York City in order to live close to the center of the design industry, and benefiting from the opportunity to wander through the endless art galleries there, Lee furthered her education by obtaining a degree from the New York School of Interior Design.
After a fifteen-year career as a designer, Lee established her own design business eight years ago that is centered around her personal philosophy that a home should be both a sanctuary and a haven. She assists her many clients in creating environments of comfort and contentment that reflect their own interests and experiences. Working out of a studio she shares with two other designers, Lee reserves her home as a space for inspiration and dreaming.
Her design concepts originate from her vast collection of memories and past journeys, as well as those she continues to make. According to Lee, “Experiencing another way of life and learning from it is one of the most invaluable ways I seek inspiration.”
Recollections of vibrant market days in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, the air filled with the scent of lavender and rosemary; wandering Magazine Street in New Orleans, the shops filled with treasures brought over from France, England, and Italy; the bustling Sunday market in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue—all have influenced the choices Lee makes for her clients’ residences. Borrowing from the palettes of the sun-bleached villages of Provence and the gently worn frescoes of an ancient Italian church, she uses these time-tested colors and textures to add an intangible richness to the bank of ideas from which she draws.
In Lee’s own words, “Whether it is an upholstered wall, a painted finish, or a piece of porcelain, there are always visual souvenirs that serve to energize me. I love my home—I love being at home—and my goal is for my clients to experience that same sort of bliss.”
Text Brittany Williams
Photography Kimberly Finkel Davis