Let me take you on one of my favourite walks in London. Ready? It’s best if we wait until dusk, and if we can arrange to have just enough of a fine mist falling that we need to put up our hoods.... ooh, perfect. We are leaving Harrods from the side door of the food hall. Wait, don’t turn right towards Brompton! Come this way...we’re turning left, back through the neighbourhood of secret squares and elegant row houses. Don’t worry, I know the way. We can make it back to our hotel really easy from here. See, the lights are just beginning to turn on. Walk slowly now, so we can gaze in the windows as we pass. Oh look, that sitting room is painted scarlet... and, is that a George Smith sofa by the fireplace, covered in Bennison roses? I wonder who might live there?......and look in this one... ah, William Morris paper on the dining room walls. Look how the candlelight makes the chrysanthemums dance.....
Yes, I admit it. I adore rooms. Even as a little girl I loved to ride through neighbourhoods at night, my nose pressed against the window of the car, catching glimpses of other people’s rooms, other people’s lives. I still find that I tend to create narratives from special rooms that catch my eye and, even though their number has diminished over the last several years, and they have serious competition from many inspiring blogs, I still look forward to the shelter magazines that visit my mailbox monthly. Nothing much I like better than to curl up in a comfortable spot, with a cool drink in my hand and, by way of the glossy page, enter into lovely rooms in other worlds. Much like my nighttime strolls through Chelsea, I like to imagine the lives lived in the dwellings I see on the page. In fact, one of my odd little rituals is to pick out the one photograph in the magazine that I find especially intriguing and create a back story for the ones who might live there. Sadly, not all magazines contain a photograph that prompts such imaginative exploration, for too often I find the rooms today either far too formulaic, too outlandishly glamorous, or just too cold somehow to welcome my mental wanderings.
But there are exceptions, and several years back, I found a grand one when interior designer, Brooke Giannetti, began showcasing her work with her husband, Steve, through her blog, Velvet and Linen. It seemed as if every photograph Brooke chose to feature took me on another wonderful flight of fancy. With Steve as architect and Brooke as interior designer these two create places that are beautifully magnetic and each one seemed to have the power to draw me in like a sweet fragrance. Their rooms were lovely, to be sure. But they also possessed a certain intangible personality, a certain warmth, that completely set them apart. Giannetti rooms tell stories. What Brooke and Steve do together could never be taught - it is an intuitive talent that obviously springs from who they are as people - their love of beauty, of family, of a contented life well-lived.
I can happily state this empirically, for I was fortunate to spend some time with both of them when I was in LA in May. Brooke and I talked that afternoon about the upcoming release of their new book, Patina Style, and just this week she graciously sent me my very own copy. I am happy to say it is just as wonderful as I knew it would be. Now everyone can have a collection of gorgeous Giannetti rooms to step inside anytime that they wish. In addition to all the luscious photographs of their work, Brooke and Steve also speak eloquently about their design philosophy which I think can be summed up by this opening sentence...”Life isn’t about the things you own but the experiences you have with them”.
Go order your copy HERE, grab a cool drink, curl up in your favourite chair and open this glorious book.
I wonder what stories you’ll find there?
To get you started.... below is a room that the Giannetti’s created for the LA Gilt Showhouse in February. When Brooke posted this photograph, I simply couldn’t resist sharing with her, via a comment, exactly who popped into my head the moment I spied this fabulous room.
See if you can see him there as well.
“The gentleman who lives here has just stepped out to the kitchen to pour himself a San Pellegrino with lime. He is a man of French descent who grew up in Charleston, SC, where his childhood was ruled by the tides. Following extensive studies at the University of Gothenburg, where he met his wife of 22 years, he became a Physical Oceanographer, an occupation that opened up the entire world to him and one that led him to the National Science Foundation where he now works in the field of Antarctic Sciences. They moved into this house 5 years ago, and this room quickly became his favourite. It is here that he enjoys reading Conan Doyle on a Sunday afternoon. It is here that he listens to Coltrane and Puccini as they compete with the crashing of the ocean that pitches and pounds on the rocks just outside. His wife runs a small art gallery in town and likes to experiment with Greek cuisine on occasion, and he has a Clumber Spaniel named Bobby who can often be found asleep on the rug when his owners are home, and asleep on the sofa when they are out. He has recently been considering a sailboat trip around the Canary Islands, just the three of them. But then again, he might just stay home."