Brooke and Steve Giannetti of 'Patina Style' and 'Velvet and Linen' | Home Front

Steve and Brooke Giannetti
Apr 14, 2016

Steve Giannetti is a renowned architect, and Brooke Giannetti is an interior decorator and writer of the design blog “Velvet and Linen.” They co-authored bestseller “Patina Style” and their follow up “Patina Farm” releases this spring. The new book provides an account of the couple’s collaboration building Patina Farm in Ojai, Calif.

Every week, Jura Koncius helps you in your quest to achieve domestic bliss. She and weekly guests, whether Martha Stewart, the Property Brothers or Nate Berkus, answer your decorating and design questions. Jura is always happy to whip out her paint chips, track down a hard-to-find piece of furniture or offer her seasoned advice on practical living and decluttering. For more than ten years, Home Front has been an online conversation about the best way to make your home comfortable, stylish and fun. We invite you to submit questions and share you own great tips, ideas and gripes. No problem is too big or too small, send them over.

We are happy to have two design experts with us today. Architect Steve Giannetti and his wife Brooke Giannetti, an interior decorator and writer of the popular design blog “Velvet and Linen”are joining us today from Ojai, Ca.  They co-authored bestseller “Patina Style.” Their follow up book “Patina Farm” (Gibbs Smith; $40) chronicles their beautiful European-inspired farm built with terra-cotta roof tiles, stone sinks and white plaster walls. The neutral color palette and creamy pastels in the interiors showcase the Swedish antiques, rustic chandeliers and soft linen fabrics. Let's chat with them about their distinctive style and how they tend to all those lush gardens and mini goats and mini donkeys.

Hi Everyone!

Steve and I are looking forward to spending this hour with you, answering any questions you might have! 

Thank you Jura, for hosting us!

Hello! I am incredibly interested in design--I am particularly interested in architecture but I am passionate about the whole process. How do you start out in a field like design or architecture? I just graduated from law school, which is practical but not my passion. I would love to go to school for architecture but cannot fathom taking on more student debt at this point in my life. Is there a way to start in the world of design without having to spend more in student loans?

Good question. I actually had planned to be a lawyer as well, but then I married an architect...

You might try contacting local designers and offering to work for minimal compensation (I don't believe unpaid internships are legal anymore) in order to gain experience. You can also develop your own personal style through pinterest, etc... 

I would suggest taking some drawing courses and learn sketch-up. These classes can be taken at a local community college. 

Wishing you all the best as you follow your passion!

Your farm is gorgeous. But how can we on the east coast achieve such a beautiful indoor/outdoor lifestyle that you guys can have because you live in California?

We are actually helping a client in Connecticut right now. We are bringing the outdoors inside by using garden elements as well as potted boxwoods inside. We are also using a color palette that is inspired by the beautiful greenery in their garden. 

If you have a lot of glass, you just want to use dual glazed windows to keep the heat inside. Expanses of glass are best kept on the South of a house where they will let the most light in.

What are your favorite warm white paint colors?

We tend to use Farrow and Ball paints. We use Wimborne White and Pointing quite often. 

We always recommend putting up large samples in the actual space that you are painting so that you can see how the color interacts with the light in the space.

What kind of finish do you use on your wood floors?

We prefer a flat wax finish. Stay away from varnish or polyurethane, as they tend to make the floor yellow over time. 

How did you come up with the name Velvet and Linen?

When I started my blog, I wanted to find two elements that would explain my design philosophy. I loved the juxtaposition of the more rustic natural linen with the elegance of velvet. 

How do you keep all those lush topiaries alive inside your home? Mine always dry up.

It's important to keep the soil moist and give them some time outside every few weeks. I have potted topiaries inside and outside of my house, so I switch them around when the ones indoors start looking a little sad..

I see in the book that you have some bookshelves with only cream colored books - some are old and some aren't - do you think color coordinating books is a good idea? And are you okay with ripping covers off old books to get the look you want?

If the books are going to be on display on shelves, we always color coordinate them to create a more calm, consistency. Books always look better with the dust jackets removed

We also design hidden storage for items that are less attractive. 

 

Do you think velvet is a practical fabric? It's beautiful but is it durable?

 Like all of the materials we use, we prefer how velvet looks over time. I have no problem with it getting crushed.  There are also many eco friendly products that can be used to protect fabrics from staining. 

Do you use a lot of indoor/outdoor fabrics? What brands do you like?

We use indoor/outdoor fabrics quite a bit. They have really come a long way! We tend to use Delany & Long as well as Perennials. 

We have a ton of books, but we also use our bookshelves for office stuff like extra printer paper, notebooks, binders, etc. Do you have any suggestions for making that kind of stuff prettier? We have a wall of maybe 6 or 7 tall (basically ceiling height) bookcases.

I use natural colored cardboard notebooks and folders by guidedproducts.com  Cardboard colored banker's boxes are also great.

I use a stencil to label them. 

You can see an example on page 68 of Patina Farm. It's a picture of my shelves in my office

Baskets can be used to store stacks of printer paper. 

Why do you think your look is popular with your readers?

Patina style is a very comfortable,  forgiving style. We use natural materials that wear beautifully . Our neutral color palette creates a calm environment, which is wonderful for all of us with very hectic lives!

My 1950s home has the original bi-fold doors on some of the closets. I'd love to replace them with regular doors, but not sure who to get to do this. (Yes, we looked at Home Depot, but our doors don't appear to be standard-sized.) Who does this? A carpenter? A general contractor? Anyone done anything like this and have a recommendations? Thanks!

We actually used linen draperies instead of closet doors. They still hide our clothes, but are much less expensive than doors. See page 97 in our Patina Farm book.

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I don't have any outdoor space (5th-floor apt), but I do have a sunny windowsill in the kitchen. Any recommendations for a happy little plant? I don't mind watering daily.

Try herbs in small terra cotta pots. You can use them when you are cooking, and they smell wonderful. They are also inexpensive, so you can replace them if they die. 

What is it like working with your spouse? Can you explain some of the advantages and disadvantages you've experienced?

Steve and I really enjoy working together. There are so many advantages... we love what we do, so it's wonderful to be able to share that passion with each other. 

We also have a division of labor. Steve makes the big decisions (layout, etc...), and I focus on the smaller decisions (fabrics, furniture selections, palette...). It's also always important to respect each other. I have enormous respect for Steve's talent and am always open to his suggestions (even if I don't always take them :) )

I love old lighting fixtures but they are so much trouble to get rewired and put up safely. Is there a source for chandeliers that look old but actually are made in the 21st century?

I like Aidan Gray chandeliers. We have one in our dressing room. 

We also used many fixtures by Schoolhouse electric that have an old school vibe.

What are your favorite perennial combinations?

We use floribunda roses mixed with different varieties of lavender as well as little ollies (a shrub version of olive). Boxwoods are fantastic and can be mixed with all of the above or used by themselves. 

Hydrangeas as a colorful focal point are also a favorite. 

How do you feel about blankets with top sheets vs. duvet and no top sheet?

This is a bit of a regional preference. We live in a very temperate climate, so we tend to use natural linen bedding and duvet covers. I usually just add a cotton blanket  (or cashmere in cooler locations) at the foot of the bed, incase someone has a chill in the middle of the night. 

Just bought a small, 100-year-old farmhouse in Maryland where everything has settled, and nothing seems level or plumb. The goal is something cozy-enough for overnights between days focused on sailing - not perfection - but I don't want ugly. Do I just use vinyl flooring in the bathroom, or should I install a sub-floor to return that to level and use tile, or a very hard hardwood? And is there a rule of thumb for the main floor layout? Would putting an eat-in kitchen in the center (between a living room and a family/guest room) violate that rule? It's a partially open floor plan and remaining walls can be removed - but just 500 square feet on each of two floors. Thanks!

We just worked on a house where everything settled... and we left it that way as part of its charm. We only use natural materials, so we wouldn't recommend any type of vinyl. We would suggest a wood floor in the bathroom (with a bath mat).

We always keep in mind the integrity of a house when making design decisions, but we don't have a problem opening up the floor plan, since the house is so small. Our own home has a completely open plan, and we find it to be much more livable. 

 

 

We live by the ocean and have been told that cedar quality for roofing has deteriorated and are being encourage not to use it- Have you heard this?

We haven't heard this. We did a house in Maine with White Cedar shingles for roof and siding, and we haven't had any issues.

Just completed a master bath re-do in a light gray. I have a small bedroom and would like to continue the gray there but need a nice color with just a hint of purple. What colors do you suggest? Thanks!

Could you continue the same color that is in the bathroom and use a gray/purple color as an accent? Farrow and Ball "Calluna" would look great.

Love your colored plaster walls - Any tips when working with someone to try to achieve that look. Colored plaster not popular in our area.

Our walls are actually not colored plaster. We used a product called California One Kote. It is applied directly on top of dry wall. It can be tinted, but we used the untinted white color right out of the bucket at Patina Farm.

I have knotty pine cabinets in my cottage kitchen. They have the clunky black wrought iron hardware from the 1950s. Do you think it's worth updating it? We aren't in the position to change the cabinets right now. Should I just leave what's there?

You can paint the cabinets white or pale gray (we like Farrow and Ball "Pavilion Grey"), including the hardware. You could also paint the cabinets and replace the hardware with something simple from Restoration Hardware. If you paint the cabinets, you don't need to worry about finding hardware that has the same hole spread, since you can patch the original holes.

Thanks for the California One Kote recommendation. Is it washable - how does it wear?

It is washable and wears very well. It is also easy to patch with a small spackle knife. Even I can do it! 

How do you deal with all the dirt and mess that comes from pets being in your beautiful house?

We designed our home to be pet friendly. All of our furniture is slipcovered in washable natural linen. The wood floors are washable with just water. We also don't mind a little wear... that's the key to Patina Style!

We just bought a place with old parquet floors. They're not in bad shape, and I think they're kind of cool and funky, but I recognize that it might be better for resale (5 to 10 years from now?) to have nice plank wood flooring put in. And now, before we move our stuff in, seems like the most logical time. But is it silly to change something you actually like?

We don't really design for resale... If you like your floors, we'd leave them... If you love them, we are sure someone else will too.

This seems to be a very old material - the grey color and tiny fossils embedded in it are interesting. . . but is it durable for a kitchen floor? All I've seen is that it's very heavy, but this is a ground-floor application. Thanks for the jolt of gorgeous in your book and approach!

Limestone will make a beautiful floor for a kitchen. The French have been using it for centuries. We have limestone all over our house, including in Brooke's office, where the dogs hang out.

It was fun hearing about you and your gorgeous property in California. Thanks for sharing some of your design solutions. Next week: Paul Lafrance and Kate Campbell of HGTV’s “Decked Out” series will be here to talk decks as the outdoor entertaining season begins. Have a great week everyone. 

We'd like to thank Jura for hosting us,  and everyone for your wonderful questions! If you want more answers to your questions, please visit us on our blog Velvet and Linen. Don't forget to pick up a copy of our latest book, "Patina Farm", where we provide an in-depth look into our design process, including drawings by Steve and gorgeous images by Lisa Romerein. xo 

In This Chat
Jura Koncius
Jura Koncius is a Washington Post staff writer who specializes in home and design. Read her daily twitter feed @jurakoncius for the latest in decorating trends, shopping, decluttering, organizing and DC retail.

Home Q&A archiveFind Jura on Pinterest
Brooke Giannetti
Brooke Giannetti is an interior decorator and writer of the design blog “Velvet and Linen.”
Steve Giannetti
Steve Giannetti is a renowned architect and co-author of “Patina Style.”
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