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Publication Date: 2011-12-12

Design Insights

​Well-Advised: 10 Tips from Brooke Giannetti on How to Create Casual but Well-Designed Home

The decorator half of the husband-and-wife team of Brentwood design firm Giannetti Home shares her favorite elements for creating relaxed, casual interiors and their signature high-meets-low aesthetic.

1. Old Architectural Elements

Antique shutters and doors add architectural interest and age to a space that lacks unique details on its own. Old French shutters on a wall can be a focal point in a room or use them for windows to correct the proportions of existing windows. You can also use old shutters as paneling to hang pictures, which adds more depth to a room. I like the juxtaposition between something contemporary and more rustic in age, and actually prefer the nice tension between those two kinds of looks. These antique French shutters are from Rue de Lillie Antiques in Summerland, CA.

2. Leather Books

I love using leather books on shelves both alone and mixed with accessories. When used alone, leather books create the feeling of a great paneled room or leather room so it reads as one big architectural element rather than a series of little things, and can provide a warm backdrop for artwork. It works well if all the books are slightly different or worn so it adds an aged patina or texture to a room. Once you add personal items, pictures or collections to the shelves, the books will provide a grounding piece to unify the whole.

3. Natural Fiber Rugs

We've used Merida rugs for many of our projects. They're great for dining rooms, living rooms, and family rooms. Not only do they have a casual feeling to them, but they are reasonably priced and tend not to show a lot of dirt. The jute "Bora Bora" rug by Merida is one of our favorites because of its thick texture and golden color. We've even used their jute in bedrooms because it's softer, chunkier, and not hard on bare feet like sisal or seagrass.

4. Garden Elements

Indoors I often bring garden elements inside a home to create a connection to the outside. Here, I used a marble planter as a sink in our powder room to make the transition from the indoors into the garden. We couldn't find the perfect spout either so I literally pulled it from the fountain outside of my house. I've also placed planters on pedestals in the dining room on either side of a big window so it's almost as if the garden you are looking at starts to seep in.

5. Giannetti Home Upholstered Pieces

We had a hard time finding less fussy upholstered pieces so we started designing them ourselves. Their slimmer silhouettes work well in any style of home. Most of them are Belgian-inspired and slipcovered in natural linen for a casual spirit but we have a couple of wingback chairs upholstered in leather or dropcloth, which has the imperfect grey color of hung spun linen for an antique look. The tighter, more tailored slipcovers still have structure to them without looking messy. The "Courtney" sofa, pictured here, has a feminine curve while pieces like our "Nick" sofa is more contemporary with straight lines.

6. Farrow & Ball Paint

It's the paint that we always start with because it comes in great chalky colors that have a sense of history to them. Their full spectrum paints react beautifully to the light so they have a glow that allows the rooms to take on a different mood during day or night. We like all of their neutrals such as "Lamp Room Gray" shown in this picture or "White Tie" for a creamier white. For more paint colors visit

8. Industrial Elements

We like adding a bit of an edge to our designs. When Steve and I started working together, we combined our aesthetic so I was more feminine while he brought in the more masculine, industrial elements. I love mixing it with softer pieces like antique or slipcovered chairs. A zinc topped industrial dining table is a perfect option for clients with young children because zinc only gets better with use and age and you never have to worry about leaving a glass on it.

9. Matteo "Vintage Linen" Bedding and "Tat" Euro Shams

I recommend both patterns for clients who desire a look that it both relaxed and luxurious. The Vintage Linen bedding gets softer over time and doesn't look too "perfect". Instead, they are slightly rumpled as if someone slept there. Tat has a simple tattered edge for a little bit of ruffle without being overly sweet. It's romantic with an edge. For more information on Matteo visit

10. Freestanding Tubs

Freestanding tubs are a thing of beauty. I am not big on decorative tile and prefer the simplicity of using beautiful natural materials so I often pick bath fixtures that work as sculptures. If you have a great tub in the middle of the room, that's where your eye wants to go. Bathworks is a company out of England that refurbishes old tubs, and the pewter tub, pictured here, is really stunning with a great finish.

This article originally appeared in Veranda. Article by Catherine Lee Davis.


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