A blogpost from Brooke at Velvet and Linen about me!

by Posted On

This was a post a few years ago by Brooke Giannetti at Velvet and linen!

an evening with penelope bianchi and lars bolander…

Having never attended school for interior design, I’ve always wished that I had a mentor. There have been a few times when I have met other eccentric, like minded designers, but they have never been receptive to sharing their knowledge.

Then in January 2009 I started receiving wonderful comments on V&L from Interior Designer Penelope Bianchi. I didn’t know anything about her, but I could tell from her comments we shared a similar design aesthetic. Her comments were always honest and straight to the point. She wasn’t afraid to share her opinions and offer advice. In a recent comment she explained that “drapes” are for coffins and “curtains” are for windows. Like I said, she is very straight forward!

A couple of months ago, I received my copy of House Beautiful and fell in love this Santa Barbara home.

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Image via House Beautiful

The interiors had a collected “undecorated” feel to them.
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Image via House Beautiful

The pink plaster made the rooms glow!

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Image via House Beautiful

This image actually inspired me to paint my bathroom pink.
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Image via House Beautiful

The rooms were perfect in their imperfection!
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Image via House Beautiful

That day I brought the magazine with me to carpool pick up so that I would have some time to read the article while waiting for Leila to get out of school. Thank goodness all of the windows were rolled up (and I was sitting down!), because I screamed when I read that this gorgeous home was actually the home of Penelope Bianchi! This was more proof (if I needed any) that Penelope and I were kindred spirits.

Then last week I received an e-mail from Penelope inviting Steve and me to Lars Bolander’s book signing at her home. Penelope and Lars Bolander! This was an event that I definitely could not miss. So yesterday Steve and I drove up the coast to Santa Barbara for a once in a lifetime evening…

This was my “love at first sight” moment. The gravel path…

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The gates made out of  thick twisted vines…
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The aged lanterns.
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As we walked into the gravel courtyard, we were greeted by Penelope’s charming, vine covered guest house.

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Mismatched terra cotta and stone pots, whimsical  garden statues, and a pair of lacy iron benches flanked the welcoming entrance.

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The shutters were weathered to gray perfection.

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I yearned to be a guest staying here! I could imagine waking up, sipping tea and warming myself by the fire.
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Walking out of the guest house doors, we faced the gorgeous garage with its wavy tiled roof (Penelope later explained that she asked her contractor to tell the roof installers to lay the roof as if they were drunk!) and magnificent gray doors.

The landscaping of the entire property had a lush overgrown quality that added to its old world charm. Penelope had to explain to her gardner that he needed to throw out his trimmers and blower. No pruning allowed.

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Potted boxwood ball topiaries, geraniums, and citrus were so authentically Mediterranean.

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Between the main house and the guest house was a small gated hidden pathway.

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The main home was divine. Covered in vines, moss, and patina!
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We walked through the Bianchi’s home to the back yard where we were greeted by the beautiful smile of the man of the evening: Lars Bolander!  Although we sell his book in the store, I couldn’t resist buying a copy for him to sign.

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Finally we meet! Yes, this is the amazingly talented (and beautiful too!) Penelope Bianchi, shimmering in silver.
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Penelope was kind enough to take time away from her hosting duties to give us a tour of her magnificent property.

We walked across the back patio….
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through a gravel covered space populated with three iron chaise and…
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a wonderful array of cement animals.
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The Bianchi’s  garden was a visual explosion!

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Everywhere we turned we viewed gorgeous vignettes.
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A sitting area was nestled between two trees behind the house.
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Walking down this lushly landscaped path, we had no idea what to expect.
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As the landscape opened wider, we found ourselves in front of the Bianchis’ duck pond. Penelope placed the duck house in the middle of the pond so the ducklings would be safe from predators.
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As Penelope explained to me, the entire back yard is dedicated as a natural bird habitat.

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Even a fallen tree provides housing for wild life.

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Penelope guided us back towards the house…

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We walked past the house in the other direction…
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only to discover another lushly landscaped path….

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That lead us to: The Chicken Coop!

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Penelope kindly allowed us to enter the coop after hours (the chickens have the “free range” of the property and walk themselves back to the coop at night).
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Most of the chickens were too fast and blurry for Steve to capture, but the rooster was cool and relatively still.

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Penelope built another house for the chicks and their moms.

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Walking around to the other side of the house, we stopped at another fabulous outdoor dining area.

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Penelope’s friend Richard joined us and described the parties that took place in this space so vividly that Steve and I felt as if we had attended those events.
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As we turned the corner we caught a glimpse of the Bianchi’s grandchildren’s play house.
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An Asian inspired bridge crossed the dry creek that creased the property.
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Penelope’s stories about each area were captivating.

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After touring the grounds we headed back towards the main house, where Penelope told us a story about the owl house she placed here.

She was very excited when she saw some rustling in the house, thinking she finally had an owl. Out popped one of her hens who had somehow found its way up on the roof and had babies in the owl house!
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This is the outside of one of the most magnificent rooms in the house.

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Inside we experienced the indoor/outdoor garden space where the vines were just as welcome as the guests.
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A small desk sat in the corner. A perfect place to work and connect with the gardens.
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This is where I would sit and read or just enjoy the landscape.
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We left the garden room to join the party in the main house. The central room of the Bianchi’s  home is large but very warm and inviting.
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Penelope created several cozy sitting areas in the space.

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Who wouldn’t feel comfortable sitting in one of Penelope’s chairs by the fire?

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The window seat was filled with a glorious abundance of vintage textile pillows.
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The walls were covered in faded paintings and antique mirrors…
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We left the main room and entered the master bedroom. Oh how wonderful is this bed nook!

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The large ottoman at the foot of the bed hides the television.
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A small desk sat on one side of the room.

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I think the bathroom was my favorite room. I loved the corner sink cabinets and the placement of the vanity in between. All of the colors are wonderfully muted.
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The tub is the Queen, sitting majestically at the end of the room.
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Steve pulled me out of the bathroom to continue the tour… Even the laundry room was inspiring. I need one of those drying racks. It’s so practical hanging from the ceiling.
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Only Penelope would light the back hallway with three of these tole ceiling fixtures from John Rosselli.

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Even the hallway was a place where I wanted to linger.

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Back in the main living room, I met some Velvet and Linen readers: Laura, her husband Cleveland (sorry Cleveland, you blinked!), and their daughter Brooke (visiting from her studies abroad).
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We spent a few more moments chatting with fellow Lars Bolander admirers, before we started on our drive back to Los Angeles.
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I took one last look at the Bianchi’s magical home, trying to remember all of the details  and the amazing evening we just experienced.
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Thank you to my friend and mentor, Penelope Bianchi. You’ve had more of an impact on my life than you will ever know.

xo

Brooke

If you would like help creating the home of your dreams, email me about our design services. You can also purchase many items found here on Velvet and Linen as well as “to the trade” furnishings through Giannetti Home. Email Kelly about the details.

5 thoughts on “A blogpost from Brooke at Velvet and Linen about me!

  1. THE VINTAGE CONTESSA
    Reply

    ME TOO………..SHE IS ONE OF A KIND!

  2. Karena
    Reply

    What a magical evening! I am so thrilled to see so much of your glorious home Penny!
    Brooke and Steve are an amazingly talented team and have accomplished so much.
    Thank you for posting this account of Brooke’s time with you and meeting Lars!

    xoxo
    Karena
    The Arts by Karena
    Gratitude

  3. Sandra Sallin
    Reply

    Absolutely drool worthy. Each vision is better than the next. Gorgeousness all over! Love it.

  4. Brenda Welch
    Reply

    OOOOH MY……..Absolutely stunning!!!! Thank YOU for sharing the pics………My creative senses are on overload!!!

  5. Lillian Plummer
    Reply

    A wonderful home and garden. Love everything about it! Thank you Brooke and Penny for the grand tour.

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