This Santa Monica couple sold everything and moved to Ojai to build their dream home

It’s barely 7 a.m., but Brooke and Steve Giannetti, proprietors of Giannetti Home, the custom furniture and antiques story in Brentwood, have been up for quite awhile already, tending to their needy brood. No, not children (though they have three of those), but rather the animals they keep at Patina Farm, their dreamy 5-acre homestead in the Ojai Valley.

There are four miniature Sicilian donkeys, three African pygmy goats, twelve Silkie Bantam chickens, four dogs, and a lone rabbit named Hector Fuzzbottom.

“Waking up at the crack of dawn would be a luxury,” Brooke says with a laugh. “We’re up before dawn. Everybody needs to be fed and there’s cleaning up to be done.”

“It’s a fabulous way to start the day,” she says. “Interacting with the animals and their needs is very meditative. We love it.”

The interior decorator and writer of the Velvet & Linen blog and her architect husband lived in Santa Monica until making the move north a few years ago. Their inspiring collaboration on their new home is chronicled in their book, “Patina Farm,” which shows how the newly built compound balances modern design with old-world style.


It also serves as an excellent primer on how to give your own home that laid-back-but-luxe look that usually only exists in vintage European country homes.

Here are their 7 tips for getting that lustrous — well, there’s no better word for it — patina going.

1. In lieu of thick plaster walls — admittedly beautiful, but outta-this-world pricey — the Giannettis used California One-Kote from Western Blended. “It’s a topping compound, more economical than traditional lathe or Venetian plaster,” says Steve. “We put it right over the drywall. One coat, even 1/16th of an inch, right out of the bucket, and you’re done. It gives off a kind of luminosity and a ‘humps and bumps’ old-school texture. We didn’t tint or paint it, but you can.”

2. When it comes to storage, think … linen. “We did very little cabinetry in the house,” Brooke says. “Instead we used linen panels [to cover up simple open shelving] — under the kitchen sink, in the bedroom closet ... in the bathrooms. It adds a lovely kind of softness and it’s much less expensive than cabinetry.”

3. Can the canned lighting. “We’re not fans of the canned, overhead lighting that most people want,” Steve says. “The light that comes out of them is harsh and just goes straight down. Chandeliers, sconces and table lamps give the room a pretty glow and chandeliers, specifically, will light a whole room.” They also employed picture lights to spotlight not just traditional artwork, but also collections, like wood cutting boards on a mantle.

4. Switch out wood for steel. Inspired by designer John Saladino, the couple used 3/4-inch steel framed doors and windows throughout the house to allow as much light as possible inside and to add a touch of industrial charm. “We also used more traditional wood, but the steel doors and windows, which we painted a soft, pale gray, really connects the inside to the outside in an interesting way.”

5. Have a look around your own basement or attic. Old tables and chests have been repurposed throughout the house, serving as sink bases, dish storage and closet cabinets. “I found a lot of them in antique stores, but you can also buy them at yard sales, flea markets and [find them] in your own house,” says Brooke. “Old pieces allow you to bring some personality into the room. Also, if it’s for a bathroom sink, using a vessel sink on top eliminates the need for a pricey marble or stone top.”

6. Layer and flip those rugs. “Say you want a large, pretty rug for the living room, but it’s too expensive,” says Brooke. “Get a large natural woven rug — like sisal or jute — and then put a smaller, vintage rug on top of that. And if the colors of the small rug are too bright, try flipping it over — the underside is often more muted and looks beautiful.”

7. Pour some gravel and drape a vine. Inspired by travels in France and Belgium, the Giannettis’ liberal use of golden-hued gravel and climbing flora outdoors lend the farm a rustic, vintage feel. “Vines really soften architecture and limiting the palette of the plants makes it calming,” says Brooke. “We used purple wisteria and climbing roses in pale pinks and whites, and there’s lots of lavender along the paths.”


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