Dictionaries may define the word “patina” as a “green or brown film on the surface of bronze or similar metals, produced by oxidation over a long period.”
Brooke and Steve Giannetti, however, have their own take on the word, which they write about in their newly published book, “Patina Living” (Gibbs Smith, $40). The 176-page hardcover coffee-table book with 200 lush photos by Victoria Pearson captures their satisfying bucolic existence on the farm they have created on five acres in Ojai.
It’s an intimate look at life on Patina Farm with its European farmhouse, which is a combination of rustic and modern charm, their vegetable and flower gardens, and a menagerie of goats, sheep, donkeys, chickens, ducks, dogs and cats.
“Patina living is embracing imperfection as being beautiful. When you have family, friends and animals, you can’t worry about keeping things pristine. It’s a way of slowing down and appreciating simple moments in life,” said Mrs. Giannetti in a phone interview from Patina Farm. “Our lives are now centered around our home and animals, but we can still make a living.”
Mrs. Giannetti is an interior designer, and her husband is an architect. They frequently collaborate on home design projects as well as their store, Giannetti Home in downtown Santa Barbara. They are also co-authors of “Patina Style” (2011) and “Patina Farm” (2016).
“We left life in the fast lane of Santa Monica and the Los Angeles area for Ojai in 2011. There was too much traffic, too many people and too much negativity. We made a conscious decision to have a better balance in our daily lives between work and home,” said Mrs. Giannetti.
The couple, who have three children, Charlie, 25, Nick, 22, and Leila, 18, decided to write the book “to share why we decided to create this life and what we have learned along the way. We share how we decided where to live, how to design and lay out our property and how to think about the individual spaces.
“One of the main nuggets of wisdom that we have learned is that there is not only one way to live this life. The idea of this book is to give readers some options.”
The lovely book with its charming scene of pink roses and baby goats on the cover begins on an ominous note as the Giannettis recall how their idyllic life almost ended after the Thomas Fire erupted Dec. 4, 2017, and soon engulfed the mountains around their farm, forcing them to evacuate.
“It came really close but fortunately no damage was done. We took the donkeys to the Humane Society down the road, put the goats in the back of a station wagon and the sheep in a neighbor’s SUV, and set the chickens free, leaving food and water. Steve and I stayed at a friend’s house in Montecito,” said Mrs. Giannetti.
When asked how the city-slicker couple were able to transition to a more rustic way of life, she said, “It’s all in your outlook. There are certain issues we deal with. We are constantly problem-solving. Living with animals is like living with children. One of our sheep died suddenly. The goats get in the roses. But the amount of joy they give us outweighs any damage to the lavender patch.”
All the animals have names — Buttercup, Daisy, Blossom and Huckleberry are the donkeys, and Linen, Paisley and Cashmere are the sheep, while the goats are named Thelma, Louise and Dot — and distinct personalities.
“The goats are my favorites because they are very interactive and easier to love. The sheep are, well, a little sheepish, but they are coming around. I have a new routine where I give them sheep rubs in the evening, sort of like reading to children at night before they go to sleep. The funny thing is I can feel the stress leaving my body as I am rubbing them. They give me more than they take,” said Mrs. Giannetti.
One day a week, she and her husband continue their careers by commuting to Los Angeles.
“We have projects in Nashville, Calistoga, and quite a few in Los Angeles,” said Mrs. Giannetti. “Somebody has to pay for all that hay.”
“Patina Living” (Gibbs Smith, $40) by Brooke Giannetti and Steve Giannetti is available in Santa Barbara at Giannetti Home, 1309 State St., Chaucer’s Books, 3321 State St., and The Shopkeepers, 137 Anacapa St.; in Santa Ynez at Sage of Santa Ynez, 1095 Edison St., Suite A; and in Ojai at deKor & Co., 105 S. Montgomery St.