Interior designer Brooke Giannetti and her partner architect Steve Giannetti have created a true haven in Ojai, California.
Being a fan of the duo's work and pouring over the three books devoted to their design aesthetic and farm life, I had to put pen to paper and write an article about their home Patina Farm. Not only is the attention to architectural details breathtaking, but I find their ever-changing curated collection of European antique and vintage furniture and building materials inspirational as well. A number of recurring themes at Patina Farm tie the whole property together: Mediterranean accents, bringing the natural outside world inside, earthy tones and a muted color palette, mixing together rustic and refined furnishings, using modern and antique items, creating an emotional experience in spaces, and promoting a sense of calm and romance.
1. The grounds and gardens
Starting with the outside, a weathered-grey cedar front gate festooned with peach polka roses welcomes you to the farm, which is on two levels. The lower level comprises terraces of fruit trees; nourishing pastureland for the Giannettis' two beloved cows; practical and elegant animal quarters for the goats, chickens, geese, pigs, and sheep, as well as a vegetable garden. Cypress pines planted up the terrace link the lower grounds to the upper gardens and homestead.
A meandering driveway made to look like a country lane leads to the house with off-shoots of smaller pathways leading to the front door. The road is in fact made of asphalt but has been covered with Handley Gold gravel so that it's stable. The Giannettis planted sycamore trees and some Californian pepper trees on either side of the road to make it shady.
Beautifully designed Provençale-style gardens surround the homestead evoking a feeling of comfort and ease. Photographed above is the peaceful front garden, planted with white roses, lavender, rosemary, and ivy. One subtle motif: like the front gate, all of the outdoor thresholds are marked by peach roses, every where else the roses are white. Some finishing touches that set this garden apart are thoughtfully selected planters, French water features, garden finials, and Anduze urns. There are also two well placed outdoor tables, one next to the fountain and a smaller faux bois round table nestled close to a farmhouse window.
2. The kitchen
The kitchen is an open-floor plan and has the same color scheme and flow as the living room to which it is connected. The Giannettis intended the oven area to be the focal point of the room, and the stone which surrounds it is the same as they used for the fireplace. Charming old copper pots and pans hang decoratively on the stone wall above the recessed oven giving a nice contrast of colors and texture while also being easily accessible to the cook. The rustic vintage lanterns balance out the modern finishings. This is a kitchen that makes entertaining look effortless! Notice how the very large urn outside is framed by the back doorway.
Facing the oven and kitchen island is a small breakfast area. It provides a more intimate space for sitting and reading the morning newspaper than the dining room table. A thick stone wall which holds the fireplace and beautiful mantelpiece provide comfort and warmth. Note the beautiful decorative (and functional!) items that the Giannetti's chose to display: a mortar and pestle, lovely old oil painting, and an interesting variety of French cutting boards. Two tasteful fruit bowls rest on the small circular rustic farmhouse table.
3. The dining areaThe above photograph shows the simple color scheme of Patina Farm and the thoughtfully decorated interior with its strong link to the garden. A beautiful and classic antique giltwood mirror leans on the mantelpiece, a charming lustre hangs above the table, and the outdoors are brought in with boxwood topiaries in pots, and finials artistically arranged at the threshold.
4. The studySteve Giannetti’s office is a tranquil retreat where he can settle in and get creative, both in drafting architectural plans and painting seascapes and skyscapes. It is stylishly furnished with European antique and vintage pieces with an emphasis on balancing textures and a muted palette. For example, the Giannettis have contrasted the cold stone fireplace with woolen floor coverings and balanced the soft, shiny leather with raw timber. Note the 1950s leather club chair with a moustache back.
5. Beautiful storage
The Giannettis selected magnificent secretaires and armoires over built joinery. This makes everyday rituals special - like needing to turn an antique key to fetch a cup and saucer! Better still, if you move house you can take these precious pieces with you. They can be enjoyed by the generations to come. Brooke Giannetti adores woven baskets for their beautiful appearance as well as practicality and uses a number of them for storage, particularly in the laundry, which is located directly behind the armoire pictured above.
Beautiful antique cupboards enliven spaces with their worn character, textures, and colors. They also offer storage solutions!
6. The circulation spaces
Crisp white vaulted plaster ceilings and a sensitively curated set of antiques, including, potted trees and a charming old French chair, make these in-between spaces as beautiful as the rooms to which they lead.
Beautiful planted pots with topiary and citrus grace the interior of the threshold, while just outside lovely large urns planted with lavender and fruit trees link the house to the gardens. The Giannettis have chosen an elegant rustic table on which to group more planted pots. Assembling groups of objects together is a good way to develop an overall effect. Here the Giannettis concentrate on the color green and display weathered terracotta to its full advantage, bringing a restorative feeling to the beholder.
7. The bedrooms
Decorative gilded mirrors, lustres and bronze chandeliers along with generous nightstands have been selected carefully to create tranquil spaces and the two large windows maintain a strong link to the outside world.
8. The dressing roomThis space is a dream, and considering how long it can take to choose an outfit sometimes, this would be a serene place to have one of those “I hate everything in my wardrobe” moments!
9. The collections
The soft and large furniture make the guesthouse pictured above cosy and relaxing as does the kitchen niche – how convenient for guests to whip up their own meals if they want some independence. The chocolate brown of the charming old suitcase under the coffee table links well to that of the club chair.
One can never have too many watering cans! – they look delightful on a high shelf above the garden sink.
10. Re-purposed building material
Salvaged doors, shutters and roof tiles have been imported from Europe and make stunning joinery features throughout the home, inside and out.
The rooster garden not only provides a stylish green space for the avian residents, but lovely stone sculptures for them to admire as well.
Explore our full collection of one-of-a-kind antique and vintage décor.
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Rural French scenes, landscapes, and seascapes are interspersed throughout the Patina Farm interiors. Re-create this effect by exploring Chez Pluie's large and ever-changing range of oil paintings.
Useful and decorative, cutting boards are also fun to collect. Their interesting textures formed by use and the grain of the wood can help accentuate other wooden finishings in a room. Try displaying a bunch of them together on a mantelpiece. They also work fabulously as cheese platters!
One-of-a-kind mortar and pestles are always available for purchase online at Chez Pluie and will give some aesthetic respite while hammering away at the coriander pods!
Discover our sparkling collection of antique French lustres and chandeliers.
Steve Giannetti's office has a number of wonderful items that merge so well with the meditative atmosphere and don't vie for one's attention. No one item stands out from the others – the décor get along together. This is an admirable skill that takes practice to achieve!
Where does all the clutter go? Brooke Giannetti's interiors contain some brilliant solutions to maintaining order while living with multiple species and working with a light color palette – i.e. no dirt! Baskets have great texture, color, are natural and, bless them, are meant for storage. Take a leaf out of Brooke's book and try using them in the laundry to separate whites from darks, dry-cleaning from hand-washing, and a spot for the odd socks.
As demonstrated in the Giannettis' farmhouse, Armoires, commodes and secretaires can serve as focal points in a room as well as be a beautiful alternative to built-in storage.
Chez Pluie has a fabulous collection of antique French chairs that match the Patina Farm aesthetic.garden table and a gathering of planted pots, similar in size and patina to the Biot jar pictured above, gives a calming green feeling and beckons the outside. furniture for the dressing room. The above Napoleon III marquetry vanity table would make a splendid addition to such a space.
Chez Pluie has a range of lovely-tinted preserving jars that can function as vases. Re-create the French farmhouse look by placing it on a ladder!
Embrace the summer season with a traditional fruit-picking ladder. The above ladder currently is available and was used for picking olives in October. Available online at Chez Pluie as well is a fantastic range of step ladders.
Discover all the varieties of watering cans on our website and test out the Patina Farm look with Chez Pluie!
Whether or not you are custodians of animals or birds, your garden does not have to be bereft of them. Discover our range of non-human stone sculptures that will animate any outdoor space.
Et voilà. Thank you for reading about Patina Farm – I hope you have found it informative and inspiring, and experienced some of the restorative vibes this beautiful farmhouse has to offer.
Photos and information about Patina Farm has been sourced from the Giannettis' website and videos.
Frequently asked questions
1) How do I re-create a French style house and garden in the United States?
Introducing antiques and vintage pieces that are usually found in French homes and gardens is a simple way to create a French aesthetic in your abode.
Old French cutting boards, copper pots and pans, mortar & pestles, and rustic vintage lanterns will instantly give a French feel to the kitchen area. In the dining room, consider investing in vintage crockery, including ironstone and beautiful yellow ware and rustic farmhouse tables. Install throughout the rooms of the house antique giltwood mirrors, lustres, outdoor pots and finials, as well as secretaires and armoires, woven baskets, nightstands, and club chairs. For old world French charm add a preloved suitcase or a small chest, and salvaged pieces such as doors or shutters.
Don't forget to spruce up your French garden and gardening shed with character-filled watering cans, stone sculptures, French planters, French water features, garden finials, and Anduze urns. French outdoor tables, including in the modern faux bois style also will bring a French farmhouse tone to your garden.
There are some great examples of French style homes in the States, including Patina Farm in Ojai, California.
For more help and advice on making your garden à la française, read “8 ways to create a French garden", which can be found at the online French boutique for antique and vintage décor, Chez Pluie.
2) How do I make my house comfortable and relaxing?
Following a similar overall aesthetic to Patina Farm will make a home comfortable and relaxing – bringing plants into the home for you to nurture and be nurtured by, muted and pale color palettes, and using natural fibers over synthetic, are some easy ways to achieve this.
3) What kinds of décor look good in neutral colors and whites?
Ceramics, bed and bathroom linen, drapes, fabric for sofas and chairs all look fabulous in whites and mushroom colors.
4) I like living with animals and nature, but I also like an immaculate house. Is it possible to have both?
Yes, it is possible to maintain a clean and ordered house while sharing your abode with animals and plants! Brooke and Steve Giannetti and their home Patina Farm are a testament to this. Routines and hard work naturally are key. Making sure all beings are healthy and keeping both the human and non-human enclosures clean, tidy, and fresh will promote a virtuous circle of harmonious, happy living.