Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Patina Style

Patina Style

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.
Look closely.
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."


  1. This may be my favorite post of all! I love your "story" about the man who lives in the Gilt showhouse room! I hope,and wish that you publish your work! I am in love with your style and your imagination!

    I love Patina Style too! Have read the blog for a long, long time and enjoy their work tremendously!

    Have a wonderful weekend!

  2. Hello Pamela

    Your beautiful story transported me away this evening. You write with conviction and I love the story about the man. For a moment I thought I knew him, as I met many students and profs who studied at Cambridge in the field of Arctic and Antartica studies.
    Like you, I take walks in the evening and love to see drapes slightly ajar and see glowing lights and scenes of domesticity and create stories on who lives here.
    Like the previous writer said your writing is superb.
    I follow Brooke's blog and agree they are most talented. Will check out her book.
    My best

  3. Hello Pamela:
    like you, we love that moment in late afternoon when darkness begins to fall and the lamps are lit whilst the curtains remain unclosed. We too have peered into so many London drawing rooms at that time of day, and know so well all of those streets and squares immediately behind Harrods extending down towards Chelsea and, ultimately, the Thames.

    We do agree that too often style magazines feature impersonal interiors which have the appearance of being little more than showcases for a designer - certainly not homes. We shall certainly look out for 'Patina Style' when we are in the UK although we wonder if it is only available in the United States.

    For ourselves we always take in World of Interiors, a magazine which, if you do not already know it, we feel that you would enjoy.

  4. Pamela I recall when I first saw this room and the amazing talent of Brooke and Steve a a couple and team.

    Now the story you join with it is perfect!


    Art by Karena

  5. Wonderful post! This is such a fun and creative writing exercise. Wouldn't it be interesting to take one interior photograph and see what back story several different people would come up with?

  6. Oh, Pamela, you have such a fabulous imagination. I tell stories about the people whose rooms I see while walking at night but they're not half as wonderful as yours!

  7. I remember when you sent me your story about our Gilt room. I immediately had to show Steve... "Pamela really "gets" us!" Your story captured the mood of the room perfectly.
    Whenever Steve and I start a design project we always begin with a story. Even when we began designing our own home. I wrote the story of the life we would live and how our house design could support my dream... I wanted people to walk by our home and say "A happy family lives here."
    Thank you for you friendship and for sharing your stories with all of us.
    It is an honor to have you share "Patina Style" with your readers!


  8. Lovely thoughts, stories and photos! Oh, I will enjoy Patina Style from my library. Living here in a doghouse, one misses having treasures available; but then, the treasures here have four feet; you know how special they are with Edward. I do enjoy slowly driving by homes, peeking into rooms and dreaming. I know I want a reddish wall across from the morning sun drenched windows in my front room. Thank you.

  9. Pamela, would love to have walk that street with you. It's fun looking into gorgeous homes. Sounds like you had a great trip. Yes I saw the man in photo.
    I'll check out the book.


  10. lovely story. I used to love a magazine called Victoria. Had lovely old English cottage and farm type rooms. I don't think its around anymore.

  11. I subscribe to Victoria magazine as I write this, Marion. I hope you can find it.
    What I like about this room is the height of the ceilings and that the eyes gradually go from furniture to the windows, taking in everything.
    What an imagination you have,Pamela, as I thought the man was real.

  12. Good evening dear writer!

    WEll, that first picture is absolutely stunning! What a cozy corner. And I was fortunate enough to correspond with the author of this book! I don't know how we connected, but I think it was through Belgian Pearls...anyhooooo, she is a kind lady and what a style! YO EDWARD!!!!


  13. I ordered my copies last week~ can't wait to see the book! I too love Brooke & Steve's work....

  14. Good luck with Edward at the vets this morning .

  15. Patina Style, a term I had not heard in the UK, so googled just to confirm it was what I thought it was!

    I suppose we would call it Grungy!
    Have a wonderful week.

  16. This post is wonderful. I love the image of your walk in London at dusk peering into the windows of beautiful rooms. The Giannetti's store is just around the corner from where I live. Based on your post today I will go visit it and also buy the book which looks amazing.

  17. It looks like a wonderful book and I am looking forward to seeing it in person, thanks for a little glimpse!

  18. I enjoyed your walk round London, Pamela, and peeping in lighted rooms to look at the decor. I love doing that too. For some reason your post reminded me of the TS Eliot poem which starts "The winter evening settles down..." I always find the poem so evocative of London at twilight.

  19. You have captured my secret passion exquisitely of peering into the softly lit window-worlds of other lives. I too cannot wait to curl up with the newly ordered book and imagine my life in the rooms on the pages! Thank you!

  20. Pamela,

    Saw yor comment at Wilf the Pon, I hope that Edward is doing well. Sorry about his tooth!

    It is always difficult when our pets have issues, my dashchund has Cushings and tis past month has had some bladder stones so she has been feeling terrible and I think I might actually own a bench in the waiting room at the vet now as I have been there so many times this month.

    Take care of Edward and yourself!

  21. I want that first room up at the top. Wonder if I could fake it somehow with stuff already in the house? Must... collect... more... shells...
    Hadn't heard of patina style before but now I'm really tempted to buy the book, perhaps as a Christmas present for my mother or sister. I've got to share this link with them; those rooms are gorgeous!

  22. What a wonderful post about our friends Brooke and Steve!

    You are so correct and you "nailed it"! They are so true to themselves!

    We are so so lucky to know them...and have them as allies....and they are so supportive of those they like!

    We are all blessed! I especially loved Steve going back to his family business......(they came from Italy, like my husband's family! (my husband's grandfather went to SanFrancisco "around the horn"!!) No Panama Canal. Steve's family stayed where they got off the boat.....and created beauty and detail ever since. And then he married Brooke....and had those creative kids!

    wonderful! In my mind stories get no better!

    thank you! wonderful post!

  23. I wish I was turning the corner with you along Chelsea and many more in the passing light of London streets. Sad to say we could not do it today...but perhaps in the Autumn light. :) This book sounds wonderful and I think this room is perfect...it is full of life!

    Hope you are well Pamela...I am sneaking a few peeks with my morning coffee...thanks for your note. I agree!

    Jeanne xxx

  24. Lovely! Thank you.

    I used to draw hospitals as a child, all the time, and now med school:-D even after sort of a detour as a pianist for a few years.

  25. What a wonderful story!

    The book looks gorgeous. It's on my list. I adore the colours in the last room xx


I love to read your comments! Each and every one! Though I'm always reading your comments, I may not respond in the comment section. If you want to write me directly, you may do so at pamela@pamelaterry.net. Thank you for reading!