Welcome back to my blog series, “Country Homes Around The World,” where I spotlight an inspirational country home and homemaker from around the world. Today, I’m inviting you into the beautiful residence and life of designer Brooke and architect Steve Giannetti of Giannetti Home. They live (along with quite a few animals!) on their impossibly idyllic “Patina Farm” and have worked together to co-author three gorgeous books – Patina Style, Patina Farm and Patina Living. They also have their own line of cozy, chic apparel – Giannetti.
What part of the world are you in, and how would you describe this part of the country?
I live in Ojai, California. Ojai is a small town filled with an interesting mix of creative people. It’s located in a beautiful valley about an hour and a half north of Los Angeles.
Tell us a little bit about the character of your home. How did it come to you?
My husband, Steve Giannetti, is an architect, and we designed our home together. Our home is inspired by the architecture of Ojai as well as the European architecture that we love. Ojai architecture is a combination of Mediterranean and agrarian. Our main house is more Mediterranean-inspired, with white stucco walls and a French antique terracotta roof. Some other parts of our home are cedar siding with a metal standing seam roof, which reflects the more rural local architecture. When we were designing our home 9 years ago, we visited Belgium, and we admired the way they used antique building materials in a more modern way. We applied this to our own home, using antique French wood doors and limestone mantels juxtaposed with sheets of glass. The combination of ancient and modern gives our home a timeless quality.
How old is your home, and how long have you lived here?
Our home is 7 years old. It took a year to build. We moved in as soon as it was built.
How did you “meet” your house?
Steve and I lived in Santa Monica, where we were raising our children in a home on a small suburban lot. We had a dream of living on a larger piece of land and having a life that was more centered around nature: gardens and animals. Steve was designing a home for a client in Ojai, and we fell in love with the area, so we decided to look for land here. The first day that we toured Ojai, we found a 5-acre piece of land with gorgeous, mature Valley Oak trees on it. We bought it and started to dream…
Who do you share your home with?
I live with my husband, Steve, and our daughter, Leila, who is working with us this year. Our two sons, Charlie and Nick, live in Los Angeles, but they visit frequently. We also live with two Shihtzus (Sophie and Sera), Hector, our house bunny, four miniature Sicilian donkeys (Buttercup, Daisy, Blossom and Huckleberry), four African pygmy goats (Dot, Thelma, Ida and Sam), three Babydoll sheep (Linen, Paisley and Cashmere), three potbelly pigs (Hank, Alice and Prudence), four Scottish Highland Heifers (Beatrice, Clementine, Adelaide, and Annabel), four rescue cats (Bonnie, Clyde, Sherlock and Watson), three duck (Skipper, Mary Ann and Ginger) and 19 chickens.
What is your favourite room or space in the home, and why?
I love my office. I designed the space so there is beauty wherever I look. The shelves across from my desk are filled with the antique books I collect and a few of my favorite pieces of Steve’s artwork. The two side walls are almost all glass, and I have a view of our front garden and one of our enclosed gardens, where our ducks, bantam chickens and rescue doves live. Two of our cats also spend time in this garden. Beyond the garden, I can see our goats, sheep and pigs when they come into the barn to rest in between grazing. I love feeling connected to all of the animals during the day. It brings me a sense of calm. Behind my desk is a set of beautiful paneled doors from the Paris flea market that provide me with some hidden storage for all of the unattractive (but necessary) office equipment. Being surrounded by the things I love is the ideal way to create and dream.
How did you create spaces for family life?
Steve and I designed our home to be comfortable for the two of us, but it can also expand when our grown children visit. The main space in our home is very open and works as a dining room and family room; it’s the perfect place to hang out with our family or friends. The furniture in the family room is a mix of vintage leather pieces paired with one of our cozy, tall-backed, linen-covered Alix sofas and a deep-seated Swedish settee. It was important that this room was both pretty and comfortable. The dining table is in the center of our main living space. It’s a wonderful place to have family dinners and feel connected to the gardens through the large glass doors. We can also use the dining table as a big design area, with ample room to lay out fabrics, materials and drawings.
We created a separate wing of the house with two bedrooms that our children can use when they visit. A glassed-in hallway separates these rooms from the main part of the house, providing our children with some privacy.
We also designed outdoor “rooms” for family activities. Outside our living room, we created an outdoor family room with comfortable, built-in seating surrounding a fire pit. We also placed a farm table and chairs under our ancient Oak tree for casual outdoor dining.
How would you describe your style of decorating?
In 2011, Steve and I wrote a book about our design philosophy. We called it “Patina Style” because we love using natural materials in our designs and embrace the imperfections that occur as they age and are used. Because we have many animals and children, we want our home to be comfortable, inviting and also beautiful. Using natural materials allows us to achieve all of these goals.
What is your favourite season at home, and how do you celebrate?
It’s a close tie between Spring and Autumn. In Spring, my gardens are in full bloom. I love cutting my assorted David Austin roses and bringing them into the house. They fill my home with an amazing, sweet aroma, as well as bursts of color in assorted pinks, peaches and yellows. Spring is also the time when we get to start harvesting a variety of fruit and vegetables from our garden.
In Autumn, I enjoy the changing colors of the leaves of our Sycamore trees. The leaves of the Boston Ivy on our home also turn to deep orange and red, changing the emotional tone of our home. As the foliage mellows, and the shadows get long, our home feels more subdued.
Any special tips for creating the feeling of “home?”
To me, the definition of “home” is a place that is designed to support the life you dream of living. The first step is figuring out what that life looks and feels like. If you want to create calm spaces, keep your palette natural and neutral. We find that a color scheme inspired by the nature that surrounds the home is conducive to a serene environment.
What does “country home” mean to you?
A “country home” is a beautiful but more informal home that allows you to live a more relaxed life that is connected to nature. For me, it is this connection that fosters a sense of well-being and peace.
Thank you so much for sharing your gorgeous home with me, Brooke!
Photography by Lisa Romerein.