Couple’s new book details how to create inviting spaces

Khristi Zimmeth
Special to The Detroit News

Europeans have long known that integrating antiques and other found or vintage treasures into their homes results in a truly personal nest. Americans, in general, have been slower to embrace imperfection and the art of the mix, but interest in designers such as Belgian Axel Vervoordt and Rachel Ashwell of Shabby Chic fame, among others, has begun to turn the tide.

Among the style’s American devotees is popular California-based husband-and-wife design duo Brooke and Steve Giannetti.

Steve is a renowned architect, and Brooke is the voice behind the well-known blog Velvet & Linen. Together they run Giannetti Home, a Los Angeles home store. Their first book, “Patina Style” (Gibbs Smith; $35), sold 23,000 copies when it was released in 2011, in part because of their pretty yet practical philosophy that embraces age and imperfection.

Along the way, the pair attracted attention and a celebrity following, including Barbra Streisand, Anna Paquin and Jennifer Garner. “Patina Style embraces the life in things, the newel post worn smooth where hands always land, the leather trunk that bears the rubs and scratches of global travel, velvet that is faded, silver that is tarnished, or a flower pot embedded with moss,” they explain in their first book.

Working with laid-back, but not necessarily luxurious or expensive, antiques, subtle color palettes and natural elements, the pair espouses an achievable style that they claim is both relaxed and relaxing, equally at home in a new or old house and one filled with children and animals (they have both). “We challenge the conventional wisdom that it’s easier to play it safe,” they say. ”We want to create spaces with emotional impact that celebrate the beauty in the old, the imperfect, the slightly roughed up.”

Divided into sections such as “Embracing Imperfection,” “Architectural Elements,” “Antiques and Furniture,” and “Collect and Display” (including sections on organizing and navigating flea markets), their first book beautifully decodes their look. Their just-released second, “Patina Farm” (Gibbs Smith; $40) further documents the evolution of their style and home, including sections on building a home and planning a garden. We caught up with Brooke to talk about the newest book, their appealing style, and their plans for the future.

How would you describe your style/aesthetic?

We called our first book “Patina Style” because our design style embraces the beauty that the passage of time brings to the objects in our life. I think that still describes our style pretty well.

What about it do you think speaks to your clients and readers? It seems to resonate with so many.

I think people connect to our design aesthetic because it is livable. We use natural materials that wear beautifully. We also are drawn to a calm, neutral color palette, inspired by the natural surroundings of the homes we design. Although our designs have a bit of a modern twist, they are based on timeless classical proportions that we, as humans, are naturally drawn to. Throughout history, these proportions have been the standard of beauty. I believe these are the main reasons people are drawn to our designs.

How long have you had the blog, Velvet & Linen? What has changed in those years?

I started Velvet and Linen in September 2008.When I first began blogging I wrote almost a post a day. I continued to post quite often while we were building Patina Farm. We even have a separate link to those posts on the blog called “Building Patina Farm.” Lately it seems like life has gotten a bit fuller, and I tend to write a few posts a month at most, but I’m hoping to ramp up the posts as things settle down a bit. I still love writing posts for my blog, but I also enjoy connecting with people through other social media outlets. I’m a bit addicted to Instagram now. It’s a fun way to share what’s going on in our life. Pinterest is also a wonderful site to find and share design inspiration. I have all of my inspiration categorized on different boards.

Your style is influenced by nature and European architecture and interiors, but does it work here in the sun-challenged Midwest?

Absolutely! We have clients who live all over the country. We find that because our design philosophy focuses on natural materials and soothing color palette it really works everywhere. Of course we always take climate into consideration when it comes to architectural and interior design, but we still use the same design philosophy for the decisions we make.

How do antiques figure into the look? Where do you shop? Favorite flea markets and shops?

We love antiques for the history and warmth that they bring to the spaces we design. We are drawn more to Swedish antiques because of their slim lines and classic proportions. Most of the pieces we purchase are in the pale color palette, but we also like adding some black painted pieces as well. The darker, neutral pieces can add depth and contrast. I have a couple of dealers in Sweden that search for items for me. We also love Lief on Almont in West Hollywood, Tone on Tone in Bethesda, Maryland, and Dawn Hill in Connecticut. We also like including more masculine, industrial pieces into our interiors. Big Daddy’s antiques is one of our favorite shops for industrial, garden, as well as architectural elements.

Finding one-of-a-kind pieces at flea markets or antique shows is also a bit of an addiction. The Rose Bowl flea market in Pasadena is always fun. Whenever I’m in Atlanta, I love going to Scott’s. We also just found some wonderful pieces at the Nashville Antique and Garden Show.

Is the look achievable on a budget? How? Top tips for achievable style?

Yes, I think our look can be achieved on any budget. Slipcovers in natural linen come in every price range, and there are some amazing Swedish antique reproductions being made right now. Eloquence, for example, make some great Swedish and French reproductions. Chelsea Editions as well as Lief make some lovely Swedish reproductions as well. We also find some less expensive vintage pieces at flea markets and antique stores. The hunt for these pieces is half of the fun! Painting walls white and lightening up trim color is another inexpensive way to lighten up your interiors.

What changed from the first to the second book?

There is definitely a connection between our two books, but “Patina Farm” clearly shows how to apply our design philosophy to the creating of home that beautifully supports your dream lifestyle from the beginning to the end of the design process.

Does your style work better in old or new construction?

We love well-designed older homes. Some of these houses already have some wonderful older architectural elements that we often try to incorporate in newer homes, however we know that a lot of older homes have some design challenges.

Although “Patina Farm” describes the entire design process of a new home, readers can definitely use the information in our books to address less than favorable issues in older construction.

What's next? Any more books in the future?

Right now we are focusing on some wonderful “Patina Farm”-inspired projects for our clients as well as a complete remodel of our online and brick and mortar shop, Giannetti Home, and our line of Giannetti Home upholstered furniture. Our son Charlie is working with us now and is creating a clothing line that will reflect our design aesthetic… classic pieces made with natural materials in a palette inspired by nature. Yes, there will be another book too, but the content is still in the works.

Khristi Zimmeth writes the Trash or Treasure column for Homestyle. You can reach her at