At Home with Marni: There's beauty in dings, wrinkles, fading

2011-09-04T00:00:00Z At Home with Marni: There's beauty in dings, wrinkles, fadingMarni Jameson Arizona Daily Star
September 04, 2011 12:00 am  • 

So what if the kids have made a few too many trips across the wood floor on Rollerblades? Who cares if the drapes look as if someone used them to wash the car?

It's all good. Actually, it's even better, say husband and wife design team Brooke and Steve Giannetti, who pay tribute to the beauty and wear that come with age and use in their new coffee table tome "Patina Style" (Gibbs Smith, $35).

I'm on the phone with the Giannettis, who are speaking to me from their Santa Monica, Calif., home, where they gracefully but imperfectly live with their three children, ages 11, 15 and 18.

After years of trying to beat back time to preserve myself and my home, I've realized the universe is winning. I might as well go along. Surrender is sweeter, however, when you learn to love patina - the dings, sags, fading, weathering, tarnish and general wearing out - as the Giannettis have.

"It all started when I wanted to figure out how to have a family and still have a beautiful home," said Brooke, who, with her architect husband, also has a store, Giannetti Home, in West Los Angeles. "A lot of that had to do with creating an environment that wasn't so precious."

So the soft pine floors in their home are riddled with dents from the kids' tricycle days and her high heels.

And get this: They not only embrace the aging process, but also accelerate it. "We sometimes get impatient with how long things take to look old," Steve says. So they put rugs in the sun, use fabrics wrong side out, and sand down fresh paint on walls and painted furniture. "You can get 15 years of age in 15 minutes," he says.

Age. It's a beautiful thing. Or so they say.

Try 'Patina Syle' at home

An appreciation of patina gives you permission not to worry about perfection. Here are some ways to add age to your home.

• Start with a table. If you have mostly newer furnishings, introduce touches of patina starting with weathered baskets, or a distressed side or coffee table. Try bringing in something that's been sitting outdoors.

• Lose the carpet. If you can't afford wood floors, put in wall-to-wall jute or sea grass. It gives rooms the warmth of wood for a lot less money. Put area rugs on top.

• Turn an old door into art. Instead of hanging art on a blank wall, attach an old door or some wood shutters to it. You will instantly add architectural interest, character and texture.

• Slipcover the furniture. The drop cloths from Home Depot make great slipcovers. (Wash them first.) They're cheap, come in a variety of sizes, and have lots of flaws. "The fabric has the nubby look of home-spun linen," Brooke says. If it gets soiled, toss it in the wash. It gets softer and better with washing.

• Replace sliding mirrored doors. "They're awful," Steve says. Hang fabric in their place. (The drop cloths work here, too.) "It softens and quiets the room."

• Know what gets better with age. Natural materials, such as leather, iron, wood, plaster, linen, velvet and most natural fabrics, generally age well.

• And what doesn't. Formica, lacquered furniture, wall-to-wall carpet (especially white), fiberglass showers and tubs, vinyl siding and fake wood flooring don't. "They're just bad looks," Steve says. "Simple and real are always better than fake trying to look fancy."

• Avoid the overstuffed. Steer clear of anything too firm, tight or plump. "We like wrinkles and a few sags," Brooke says. Actually, I find that refreshing.

• For more tips on aging well, visit the Giannettis' blog www.velvetandlinen.com

Syndicated columnist and speaker Marni Jameson is the author of "House of Havoc" and "The House Always Wins" (Da Capo Press). Contact her through www.marnijameson.com

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