In The Spotlight – Brooke Giannetti

Time to put the spotlight on yet another talented designer who I find very interesting. LA based designer Brooke Giannetti is hardly a stranger to the blog community. Her wonderful blog Velvet & Linen is a high priority read and she has built a successful business, Giannetti Home, around her blog but she might be a new face to my many loyal readers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I have  wanted to do this interview with Brooke for a while because I have so enjoyed watching her personal design style change somewhat, literally, right in front of our eyes, since I started to read her blog about 18 months ago. It has been a fascinating process to follow. It is ok to change your style and taste people! Listen to your heart. (And of course our mutual love for Swedish antiques is also a factor).

Brooke has been going from a more feminine shabby style to embracing a more simple new classic style and still being true to herself. I also find it very interesting how Brooke and her well known architect husband Steve, who has a completely different style, have managed to find common and lovely design ground. Let’s listen to what she has to say. You will walk away with a lot of good information!

Which design trends do you see yourself happily adopting in 2011?
Steve and I don’t pay attention to design trends. We design spaces that move us emotionally and reflect the way we live
It has been very interesting to watch your design style in the last 18 months. Describe your journey. 
It has been an amazing time in my life! I think the blog has helped me to develop my design style more fully by forcing me to write about it. It has also opened up so many opportunities. Our design online services has become a wonderful addition to our work, which never would have happened without the blog. Steve and I are also excited to have the opportunity to write a book about our design philosophy — “Patina Style”will be published in September! We are also starting the design process for our new home in Ojai. I think the blog and the book have made this process so much easier because they have helped us to refine our design style and helped us clearly understand what we love
 What furnishings have you liked in the past but are no longer attracted to? 

I like slimmer upholstered pieces these days. They compliment the Swedish and French antiques that I’ve always loved and continue to be drawn to. Big overstuffed sofas and chairs have not held up as design elements!

The Nick sofa below is from Giannetti Home and was used in the Gilt Home Showcase House.

What objects for the home are you surprised to find yourself liking now?
I’m always looking for new home accessories to bring into our store. My eye is always drawn to pieces that have a wonderful patina and some connection to the artist that made them. I don’t like things that are too perfect.

During a recent flea market visit, I discovered a vendor who specializes in antique wood carved Loatian Buddhas. The vendor explained how each one was carved by a different villager as an offering to bring to the temple. You could see the care that went into making them. I bought them all!

Do you feel that you have found your “own” design voice? 
I do feel that my design voice has gotten stronger. Although I still flip through the pages of all of the design magazines, I find that my style is less influenced by them. I’m becoming much more confident in my own instincts. 
(Brooke’s powder room went through a makeover. Isn’t the sink gorgeous!)
How would you describe your design style vs. your husband’s?
Steve’s design style is much more modern and masculine than my style! (The gorgeous kitchen below is designed by Steve).
Merging two peoples different styles can be challenging. Any good advice?
I actually love how our two styles compliment each other. One of the things I’ve learned is to be open to his suggestions. I listen to what is important to him. I want him to feel comfortable in his own home and the homes we design together. I really feel that our designs are better when we combine the things we both love.

This is what their sun room looks like after they worked on the style together.


 After: (A personal makeover favorite of mine!/Splendid Willow).
And let’s hear it from Steve himself! What would your advice be to couples trying to find a common design ground?
Steve’s advice: “Select images and items that you each individually love. Put them together on the table and find the common ground between them. You might be surprised at what is created! Usually one partner vetoes an idea too early. Be open to the mix of your styles.”

Their living room before:

Their living room after: (More streamlined, more of a mix. Do you see the galvanized steel table?)
Any interior design project that has a special place in your heart, Brooke?
Recently we’ve had several clients who love what we love. Those are the easiest and most satisfying projects to work on.

We just finished helping a client fill their French inspired beach home in Malibu. We only had to visit their home once in order to know the pieces that would work. Our clients met us back at the store, we picked out the furniture and had it delivered to their home a few days later. There is nothing like immediate design gratification!

(An example of an interior design project for a client. Not quite finished — but oh so lovely).

 What would you like to do more of?
Steve and I enjoy going on buying trips for the store. I’d love to have more design jobs that allow us to use the pieces we find on our travels. I also have discovered a love for creating gardens. I hope to design more of them in the future.
You incorporate quite a bit of “Swedish”  into your and your clients homes. What is it about Swedish design and interiors that draws you in?

Swedish pieces have classic proportions and style, but they aren’t as heavy and formal as many European antiques. There is a rustic refinement to Swedish design that is so easy incorporated into any room.

Describe a room or home furnishings that make you, shall we say, nervous?
A space with too much color or pattern without any place for the eye to rest makes me jittery!
What 3-5 things can anybody do to immediately beautify a room?
1) Get rid of unnecessary clutter, 2) Simplify your color palette, 3) If you can’t afford an expensive rug, use a natural fiber one from Crate and Barrel or Restoration Hardware. 4) Baskets for storage are inexpensive and add so much beautiful texture to a room. They also hide the clutter.
In Brook’e office she cleaverly hides her printer in a wicker basket!
Do yo have a specific wall color that you come back to over and over again?

I actually prefer no wall color. We’ve used California One Kote, a drywall topping compound, on the walls in many of the homes that we design. It has a wonderful luster, similar to plaster but at a fraction of the price.

When we do use paint, we prefer Farrow & Ball products. Their full spectrum paint reacts beautifully with the sunlight in a room. Some of our favorite FB colors are: Pointing, Lamp Room Gray, and Pink Ground.

Any favorite place for great fabrics?
 I love incorporating vintage fabrics into my rooms. I often recover chairs or ottomans in homespun linen or vintage French linen sheets. For special accents I think Claremont Fabrics & Furnishings sell some of the most gorgeous fabrics. Most of their fabrics are made on old looms in Europe. Their silk velvet is dreamy!
Ssshhhh… And what about great design bargains? Do you have a secret place?
I still think that flea markets are the best places to find unique, one of kind pieces at great prices. 
What’s your favorite design piece at home? The one you’d take with you before all others.

The Italian piece that hangs over our bed in our Oxnard home. It has the perfect aged gilded patina. Because it was a gift from Steve, it also has a great deal of sentimental value.

Finally, what is your design motto?
“Thank you so much for including me in your “In the Spotlight” series, Monika! This was so much fun! xo Brooke.”

Thank you so much Brooke & Steve! I am so looking forward to your upcoming book. I’d better put myself on the pre-order list! For more on Brooke and her design services, go here. And don’t forget to visit their on-line store here where you will find many wonderful Swedish antiques here.

Images: No. 1 (spotlight) via Splendid Willow, no. 13 via Flickr. All other images via Velvet & Linen.

Written by Splendid Willow in: Designers, Illustrators, Photographers, Stylists,In The Spotlight | Tags:


I Would Like To Move In With Tommy Smythe!

Hope that you all are well rested and happy in the new year. I am personally really excited about 2011. I have a feeling this is going to be a great year! 

I spent this past weekend, the first days of the year, fixing and organizing and fixing some more. Out with all clutter and disfunction and headaches. I wanted to start the year fresh and in control! (Tons of bags are being sent to goodwill and other places. I am so done with stuff).

Mr. Tommy Smythe’s (one of HGTV’s great designers) home has been making the rounds in blog land. But when I was thinking about which home or room to kick-off the new year with — I kept coming back to his lovely Toronto apartment. I have a serious design crush on this guy and wish I could move in with him — permanently. I would be so happy here! I find his home beautiful, playful, relaxed, interesting and yes, pleasantly organized!

I like every single thing in this area. But the striped area rug really makes the room.

How fun with the yellow table as an unexpected splash of color.

Matches, pencils, monochrome collectibles — all have their place. (I wish that had been my home when I was frantically running around the house for a box of matches, I don’t now how many times, during the holiday!)

Every room needs at least one black item, for a little bit of glamour and drama. That chair in the background calls my name. What a beauty.

A bright and happy eating area, with a red table lamp for cozy factor. Love it!

Old and new. Splashes of color. Personal touches. Harmony. And a lot of white.

This is how I am marching into 2011. With fresh eyes, a lot of curiosity and a strong desire to try many new things. To live a little!

Warm hugs to you all. It is good to be back and I look forward to seeing what all of my blog friends are up to.

Image of Tommy Smythe via Reynolds Still. Images interiors via Apartment Therapy.

Written by Splendid Willow in: Designers, Illustrators, Photographers, Stylists,Lovely Rooms | Tags:


The Best DIY Design Minds – Via Sweden

It is time for another smart & creative person to be added to my portfolio of the best DIY minds. (You will find others in the collection behind the button in the right side column).

This time I am putting the spotlight on my friend Anna-Malin behind the gorgeous Swedish blogHelt Enkelt“.


I have known Anna-Malinfor a good while in blog land but have also gotten to know her outside the cyber world. This lovely lady is unbelievably creative, her house is like a dream and she comes up with projects around her house that are all magazine worthy. (She is also a great photographer). I find her home and DYI ideas incredibly inspirational.

Her design motto:

“Mix old with new. Let high-end design meet flea market finds. Trust your own style. Be brave and decorate from the heart.”

Anna-Malin has introduced her readers to so many lovely projects that it is rather difficult to pick just one. I decided to show you a collection of images perfect for the holiday season. And here is the thing, Anna-Malin is a busy mother, wife and teacher and yet she takes the time to do what she is passionate about and puts her heart into and takes on big things and small that really add beauty to daily life.

For instance this natural arrangement that she literally put together in a few minutes, when she realized she had no advent holder for December. Easy (once you come up with the idea) and stunning.

Or these linen and paper ornaments she worked one day “just because she felt like it”. I need to carve out time for projects like this. But my brain does not seem to be wired that way.

One day she decided to paint some milk glass bottles and use them as Christmas candle holders (jul = Christmas). First she painted them black, then soon after, she decided to paint them white. I can feel the love and creativity all the way to me in Seattle!

And when Anna-Malin wants some added, extra fun, she makes it, rather than buys it. Like this fleet of flags. She made them out of linen fabric and stencils. This inspires me to make my own! (Oh, and she painted the cabinet as well. A weekend project).

There is something so peaceful about Anna-Malin’s projects. She takes the time to sit down and work with her hands (and camera) with the family all around her. I applaud her for that.

When asking Anna-Malin about her own favorite project she picks her dining room table.

It is special to me because I put it together with little effort and with little money and yet got the simple, lovely look I wanted. I am very pleased with it and its personality.”

And here it is in its full glory. With a friend’s help she put together the planks. She sanded the top lightly and put a Swedish “drift wood” varnish on it. The base is simple Ikea table legs. Just screw them on and there you have it! It took her 2 hours to put the table together!

Some more amazing projects to add to the DIY portfolio. And projects to be inspired by and hopefully tackled by yourselves. (I know that I am and will try).

Anna-Malin, thank you so much for taking part in this series. It has been an honor to feature you.

I Salute You And Your Incredible Design Mind.

Happy new week to all of my readers.

 Don’t forget to read more about my new store here.

And to enter my worldwide giveaway.

Warm hugs to you all!

 All images via Helt Enkelt. (DIY button via Splendid Willow).

Written by Splendid Willow in: Designers, Illustrators, Photographers, Stylists | Tags:


Design Interview With Lars Bolander

I am so pleased to put the spotlight on an interior designer I am such a huge fan of, Lars Bolander. I can hardly think of anyone who has more genius when it comes to mixing old styles with contemporary design — and often with a Swedish twist.
I spoke with him by phone last week when he was cooking away in the kitchen of his Palm Beach home.

I had no idea what to expect before my interview. But Lars is one if the friendliest and most charming people you could ever meet. We chatted for quite a while in “Swenglish” and he said things I would never expect coming from a person with so many influential and wealthy followers and clients. His approach to design is liberating.

Enjoy the conversation. I sure did!

How would you describe your interior design style for my readers?
‘Cozy, grand, gutsy, simple. A good mix.’
Do you have a special place you go to to really unleash your design creativity?
‘Monika, it is either in the kitchen, where I love to cook! (Lars was making a fantastic sounding pasta dish during the conversation). There I can totally let my thoughts wander. Or it’s early in the morning. Like at 5 am. When the day is just about to begin and the head is all clear. That is when fun ideas pop up.’
‘One morning I woke up early and decided to paint the wall in my pool house green!’
He later used the pool house as the cover photo for his book Lars Bolander’s Scandinavian Design’.
‘I wanted some color for the shoot. Nothing predictable. I dragged out some pieces from my house to use as styling props and the whole photo shoot came together in 10 minutes.’
What is it about Swedish (or Scandinavian) design and interiors that you are so drawn to?
‘The simplicity. The simple lines. It is very easy to mix Swedish furniture with other styles. Swedish design is not complicated.’
‘I often see many people from Asia buying old Swedish antiques and I sometimes wonder how these two cultures cultures with such different traditions and styles are going to be able to mix. But again, because of the simple, less ornate lines — it might just work. It is always interesting to watch how different styles marry.’
How important are antiques to you?

‘I always have to be surrounded by some. I love the beauty of the pieces and the history. You wonder who could have been sitting in that old chair. You sometimes wish old pieces could talk. Painted furniture (when not over-done) I find very attractive.’

”But I don’t like fancy, very expensive antiques [Monika here – I was shocked but pleased to hear that, having seen many images from his fantastic homes]. I find them stuffy and they don’t go with my lifestyle. I like a relaxed style.’
‘I also love art and books. Those I can’t be without. But not only old. I love contemporary art and since the 60′ Sweden has seen the rise with some amazing new, contemporary artists.’
[He goes on to tell me about cook books. “Monika, I love cook books! I must have 500 in my kitchen. And they all have pictures in them. They need to have pictures. The cook books today are amazing!”]
Any particular kind of antiques you are drawn to? 
‘Nope. I like everything — from all different cultures and eras.
I always say — if you see something you really like with your heart (and you can afford it) — buy it. Figure out where to place it later. You will make room for it.
A few years ago, I found these amazing early 18th c, paintings of musical instruments while visiting Paris with my son. I could not stop thinking of them. Finally, I called my insurance guy and asked him how much my life pension was worth. He gave me a number and I said “sell it!”. And I used that money to buy the paintings!
(The art pieces are featured on the wall in the image below, which by the way is family Bolander’s residence in West Palm Beach).
It was meant to be. I later found out that these paintings were found in an attic on this tiny, tiny street in Paris, where my wife Nadine’s mother used to live! ‘
 What is a beautiful home (or room) to you?
‘Cozy. As soon as you open that front door you should get a feeling of the atmosphere. The personality should greet you right in that door step.
I also like large rooms. And rooms with tons of light.’
When you visit friends’ homes can you leave your design persona at the door step?
‘Only sometimes (Lars says with a laugh). It depends on the friends. But more than once I have started to move furniture around in rooms where I hardly knew the owners.’
 Is there a particular design item/s that you still kick yourself for not getting? 
‘Yes. Two sensational chandeliers I found in Paris. They were out of this world but very pricey. I left the store to think it through — and when I came back, they were gone!’
Are there any particular design objects for the home that you think are not only beautiful but also could be good investments down the road?
‘It all depends on what you like and are interested in. But whatever that may be, always make sure to work with people who are knowledgeable about them.
Swedish period antiques will always be good investments. And mid-century Danish modern chairs. They are very expensive. But they made so few of them, so the prices will only continue to go up.
I am also a fan of David Linley’s furniture (the son of Prinsess Margarete in England). His pieces are  top quality. Expensive, yes. But they are good.’
Is there anything within the area of interior design (in general) that makes you extra excited today?
‘Eclectic. Mixing.
I also tend to get over-excited when I travel. There are so many wonderful objects in different parts of the world.
Architecture always has a place in my heart. I can go nuts for architecture.
Once we happened to drive by this gorgeous Chateau north of Toulouse in France. The architecture, the  location and the sun opening up behind thick clouds right when we approached it – just made me want to buy it. And we did.  

The architect of the house was from Turkey but he spoke Swedish fluently after many years in Sweden.That sealed the deal!’ (They never lived in the house and sold it four years later).

 ‘I am convinced that I used to live in France in the 18th century. I can feel it!’
‘Our vacation home in Sweden (on the island Oland) is a place where I get to experiment with old Swedish architecture. I need a good dose of Sweden every year. My two sisters also have homes close to us. We talk on the phone every week. My Swedish roots are very important to me.’
Anything that gives you the hibee jibees?
‘Yes, lights high up in the middle of a ceiling – with no other purpose but to light a room. It gives the wrong kind of light!
Lighting is without a question the single most important thing in a room. Light has to be exciting. And there are many ways to light a room to make the room cozy.’
Other than that, I can get over most things. Except the word gorgeous!’
What things (2-5) could everyone do to easily bring beauty and comfort to a room?
1) Lighting, 2) Books, 3) Art, 4) Comfortable seating, 5) Flowers & plants
Art does not need to be expensive. I very often put a few art pieces together on one wall (much like an art wall) and leave the other walls empty. Makes more of an impact.’
What are your favorite places to shop for furnishings for the home?
‘Milan, Paris, Stockholm (primarily the neighborhood Ostermalmstorg).
Auctions all over the world and flea markets (but only in Paris). 
I also buy things on-line.’
Lars is now in the process of designing his first furniture line. Initially the line will consist of fifteen pieces. Everything from chairs and tables to beds. The line will be launched in his NY store, fall of 2011.
Do you ever do your own DIY (Do It Yourself) projects? If so, any in particular you are extra proud of?
‘Monika, I am too lazy for that! I have too much to do! After a long day at work, I come home to cook and spend time with family and then I need to make room for biking and swimming and reading and all those things!
But I have painted a few paintings. And I like to paint my own own walls. I recently painted a pair of columns. I find that relaxing. I only bring in some help, when I need to paint the ceilings!
Today there are so many good paints on the market. Even the mainstream brands make great paint.’
Using the “Desert Island” metaphor…If you could only take one design item with you from your home, what would it be?
‘Most likely a painting. But don’t ask me which one! Or an antique bust.’ 
Finally, what is your design motto?
‘Don’t be afraid! I find that people are so afraid of what others are going to say. Forget about those others! Your home should be a refection of you! Be brave. Just do it!’
I hope you enjoyed this conversation as much as I did. Brilliant he is, Mr. Bolander!
For more information on Lars go here. And visit his NY store here.
For another great interview with Lars, visit my friends at Eleish & Van Breems, here.
Images: No. 1 (Spotlight) via Splendid Willow, no. 2, 3, 5-10, 15, 17, 19 + 20 via Lars Bolander Design, no. 4 unknown, no. 11 via Flickr, no. 12 via Modernity, no. 13+ 14 via David Linley, no. 16 unknown, no. 18 via Flickr, no. 21 via Cote De Texas

Written by Splendid Willow in: Designers, Illustrators, Photographers, Stylists,In The Spotlight | Tags:


This week I Am Extra Consumed By Swedish Style

Hello friends. Happy new week!

On Thursday I am guest speaking at the Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle.

I feel so honored (thank you Stina!). The stage is mine for 2 hours and and I am looking forward to sharing all I know about Swedish design, how to bring Swedish style into your home and what to  invest in when it comes to Swedish design. (I will also share a couple of DIY projects in time for the holidays). Appetizers & Drinks will also be served at this evening event — so I am looking forward to some happy hours! (:

I feel I know the subject fairly well. Interior design has been a life long passion of mine, I have decorated many homes, I have had my own Swedish antiques business for a few years and now with my blog I feel I am even more up to date. One book about Swedish design that I have just picked up, is the newly released book Scandinavian Design by Lars Bolander.  I’m so glad I did.

What a treasure trove of great information and wonderful pictures about Swedish style from a successful US based Swede with impeccable taste! Bolander has such an amazing  eye for mixing old style with new. I find Lars Bolander so brave with his design contrasts and he is definitely someone I admire. I read in The New York Times that: “Wherever Bolander goes, “Bronfmans and Vanderbilts follow.” I believe that.

Preparing for my presentation I have also spent some time browsing through two books that I already own by the very talented design duo behind Eleish Van Breems Antiques Edie Van Breems and Rhonda Eleish. I have known them on a more personal level for a a few years (when we still lived in LA). I adore them and have a lot of respect for their way of decorating beautiful rooms. I am hoping that yet another beautiful coffee table book about Swedish design will come out of their camp before too long.

The more about Swedish style and design — the merrier.

Hope your week is off to a good start. I know mine will be full, busy and exciting!

(Note to bloggers: I will be a little slow with my blog comments this week. Just give me a few days).

Written by Splendid Willow in: Designers, Illustrators, Photographers, Stylists | Tags: ,

Pages: Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Next
  • The Skirted Roundtable

Powered by WordPress. Created By: Ewa Sack. Template:
All writing on Splendid Willow is Copyright by Monika © 2009 unless indicated otherwise. All rights reserved.
Web Analytics


Pages: Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Next