Monday, September 28, 2009

Inspiring Architect: Steve Giannetti

Last year, a new blogger burst onto the scene, and from the moment her blog started I was a fan. The blogger is Brooke Giannetti from Velvet & Linen, and one of the things that immediately endeared me to her blog was its unique focus on both design and architecture - two of my passions. In fact, in Brooke's very first month of blogging, she created a post called 'A Wonderful Collaboration' - and I learned that Brooke's husband Steve Giannetti is an architect. Could it get any better - a blog written by a designer whose husband is an architect? Brooke recently celebrated her one year blogging anniversary, and her blog continues to amaze me with every post. My favorite posts, though, are the ones where she shows the houses that Steve designed, and I particularly love the ones where Brooke did the interiors.

Steve Giannetti graciously agreed to answer a few questions for me as part of my 'Inspiring Architects' series. I loved learning more about Steve's background and the inspiration for his work.

Steve Giannetti

Q: How did you decide to pursue a career in architecture?

Steve: When I was a child, I really enjoyed drawing and building. As I got older, I found that I also really liked solving problems.

Growing up I worked for my father doing ornamental plaster work. I would come in contact with a lot of architects. So, when I was in high school I started hanging out at the Architecture department at the University of Maryland. In my free time I would do the projects that were assigned to the architecture students. I enjoyed it so much that I applied to the architecture program and got accepted.


Steve grew up surrounded by the beauty of an ornamental plaster studio, which developed a love for attention to detail that makes Steve such an exceptional architect.

Q: From where do you draw your inspiration? Particular architects, things, places?

Steve: I like Classical architects like Thomas Jefferson and John Soane. They always came up with clever solutions to problems. Soane's house in London, now a museum, is amazing with all sorts of ornaments that remind me of my dad's shop.


Sir John Soane's house is considered one of the most magnificent house museums in the world. Here is a picture from the museum.


The breakfast room from Sir John Soane's house - no wonder Steve cites this as an inspirational place for him.


The ceiling of the breakfast room - amazing architectural and design detail.

Steve: Pierre Chareau did a great house in Paris in 1930 called Maison de Verre. It looks like it could have been done last week.


The exterior of Maison de Verre (House of Glass). Chareau's patron purchased the first three floors of the building, but the person who owned the top level would not sell. Undeterred, Chareau simply worked with the space his patron owned, without disturbing the the original top floor, in order to create this masterpiece of architecture (source: Wikipedia).


The wall of books in Maison de Verre.


Another view - I love the concert grand piano in front of the wall of glass.

Q: Do you have a particular style of architecture that you favor?

Steve: I work in all kinds of styles. Classical architecture is always fun, but I tend to open it up more with glass when I can.


A home that Steve designed.


The light filled interior of the home pictured above; note the architectural details in the transom of the doors. Special details like this are what make homes unique and exceptional.

Steve: I am working on combining the open space and flow of Modernism with the proportions and humanity of Classicism. I try to simply things a bit more these days. This is the style I favor right now, unfortunately I don't know what to call it yet. We are doing a couple of projects right now with this in mind.

I am also just finishing work on another home in Malibu that combines some traditional Mediterranean details with a modern feeling.



A home (designed by Steve) that is in the finishing stages.



A house and barn in Maine is nearly complete and is a design that blends traditional shingle style with a more modern interior.

Q: What is your favorite exposure for quality of light (North, South, East, or West), and why?

Steve: South. This exposure allows a quality of light into the room in a way that energizes the space. North light is very static and doesn't move around, so the room always feels the same. I'll work pretty hard to get south light into a room with dormers or sidelights.


A recent project of Steve's, in collaboration with Brooke, was a pool house/artist studio that had a beautiful quality of light.

Q: What types of projects do you work on (i.e., size of home, renovation vs. new contruction)?

Steve: There is no real average size. They range from 4000 sf to 10,000 sf. I do both new construction and renovation, although I prefer new construction.

A charming French style home designed by Steve.

Q: What is something you should not skimp on what building a home?

Steve: A detailed set of plans. Nothing is more expensive than indecision when you are building a house. It holds up the building process. The more detailed the drawings, the less questions a builder will have and the quicker it will all go.


One of my favorite pictures from Steve's portfolio - there is something so beautiful about this little arch under the stairs, and every time I look at the photo I notice another architectural detail.

Q: What trends are you seeing in your projects? Smaller, larger, green? Classical, modern, a blending of the two?

Steve: I see people asking for smaller houses with cleaner, minimal details that still have warmth of traditional architecture. Also, my clients really prefer an open floor plan, so the rooms feel bigger. Living rooms are also going away and being replaced by bigger libraries that also act like intimate living rooms.


A beautiful library in a home recently designed by Steve.

Q: What is a fad you hope to never see again?

Steve: Lava rock. We had a huge wall of it in our place in Oxnard that we just had to plaster over.


The lava rock wall: before.


The wall after Steve plastered over it. This space continues to evolve - Brooke has been documenting the renovation of the house on her blog.

I hope you enjoyed this interview with Steve Giannetti. Although I have admired his work many times over the past year, I really did not know much about Steve other than the small tidbits I read on Brooke's blog. As you can see in this post, Steve's inspirations are from the Classical tradition in architecture, yet he is putting an exciting new modern framework on these Classical designs, which makes them so suitable for life in the 21st Century. Steve truly said it best when he wrote of wanting to retain the proportion and humanity of the Classical tradition, with the space and flow of modernism. For more information about Steve, Giannetti Architects, Giannetti Home (Brooke and Steve's store that sells Steve's original furniture designs), and Brooke's blog, please visit the Giannetti website.

Come see what everyone is posting about on BNOTP Metamorphosis Monday!


  1. I am really enjoying this series - thank you for doing a post on Steve!

  2. I like Mr. Giannetti's attitude on southern light. Every one of his clients will appreciate his sneaking in some southern light everywhere he could. They won't necessarily even know why.

    I agree on the detailed plans but that doesn't mean the plans aren't reconsidered and/or changed while the work in in process. Architects have to "be there" at critical stages of projects to prevent mistakes but also to take advantage of opportunities.

  3. Great post! I also follow Velvet & Linen and have been greatly impressed by Steve's work. Like you, I am completely enamored with that arched-under-the-stairs passageway. I don't think Steve provided any big "aha"s, but it is still great to know his thoughts and see more pictures of his work.

  4. He is a true talent, isn't he? I adore Brooke's blog. They both are amazing lights in the world of design!

  5. Enjoyed this interview. They are a fabulously talented couple.

  6. A superb architect, thank you so much for sharing the wonderful images.

  7. So nice to read about Steve!
    It was a very good idea of you to do this interview! I enjoyed it! Thank you!


  8. I've noticed thru Velvet & Linen Steve's Vanishing Threshold. He considers his building AND its landscape.

    Enjoyed your pics/words.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  9. Great post! Anyone not familiar with Steve Giannetti you must head to his website. I have learned more about design from studying Steve's amazing work. His attention to detail is incredible. His Detailio website is a wonderful resource for anyone interested in architecture or design. I feel fortunate to have gotten to know he and Brooke and so fortunate to be able to call them friends. The two of them are some of the most down to earth individuals who are so generous in passing along what they've learned through their professional experiences! Often times, architects come with an attitude. Not the case with Steve Giannetti. Truly a great talent.

  10. i've always loved his work - thanks for the interview -fascinating!

  11. Thanks so much for putting together such I nice post about my work. It was truly an honor to be included with on your blog many other designers and architects who I really admire.

  12. I too am a Velvet & Linen follower. They are such a talented couple. The homes they have designed are some of my all time favorites.

  13. All I could think of when scrolling through and viewing those incredible photos was Yum - Yum - Yum - Yum. As an individual who adores couples working together, I adored this post. Thanks!

  14. They are such a talented couple! I love Steve's work, Brook's blog is totally unique with all the amazing work they both so generously share with it!

    Great post!!

  15. What a great interview...such wonderful work and it is so refreshing to hear from an architect who is not only creative but practical as well. xv

  16. What a talent! I was wondering if he does project management as part of every project, or can he hand of his contract documents, and be confident they will be followed.

    I agree, a great set of plans is a must, and the act of doing them, you see what you have omitted, and what isn't working.

    As an Interior Designer, we don't always get hired for project management, and I can't tell you how many times contractors haven't even looked at drawings. It's frustrating.

    So, I guess I was wondering how he handled projects during the build.

    What a great post! Brooke and Steve are a power couple!


  17. I am a fan of Velvet & Linen too! I love their work!! Great post!

  18. His work is fabulous and he is so talented. He has all around great taste to be married to Brooke!

  19. Michelle: So right. When the architect isn't "there" contractors aren't always perfectly respectful of the plans or the architect.

  20. I think you already know how much I love your blog. Seeing Steve's interview here is unbelievable. I see how hard he works at his art, the attention to even the smallest details. I've lived with him for 22 years and am still amazed at what he does. I can't thank you enough for seeing and appreciating his talent.

    xo xo


  21. * More info on MY FAVVVVVORITE Architect (notice I capitalized the "A"... that just shows how truly "influential n' important" he REEEALLY is in the design world~ Smiles!)~~~

    I honestly believe he has THE MIDAS TOUCH, as he NEVER misses a beat! He continues to thrill & mesmorize us laymen w/ his personal style/touches and KEEEEN INSIGHT~~~ Then, enter Brooke... WOW! Tt doesn't/can't get any BETTER than that!

    One more note: Shhhh.... but Lordy, he's SOOOO "EASY on the EYES"!!!... ("Hunka, hunka...!!!", and he alll yours, Brooke!!!)~~~

    THANK YOU for this interesting piece on this uber talented man~~~

    Linda in AZ *

  22. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Great to get insight into Mr Gianetti's design process. Brooke has a fabulous blog, and i think the 2 are a match made in heaven!!

  23. I hadn't seen Brooke's blog before but it's wonderful! And her husband's work is equally fabulous. Thanks for the great interview, TTI!

  24. What a talented Architect! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this interview.

  25. he is such an amazing talent, and one that shares his knowledge! AND Brooke is so delightful!! and sweet!

    great post! loved the questions you ask.

  26. Great interview!!! I follow Brooke's blog too.


  27. I am amazed at the talent the oozes from this man. His talent is incredible, and his eye for detail is amazing. He and Brook make such a good team!
    Thanks for the interview!

  28. Your blog is absolutely inspiring to me!!! I live in Athens, Greece and in my spare time I read a lot of architectural magazins. Thank you for sharing with us the work and the mind of all these talented people!

  29. Thank you, thank you, thank you for creating this wonderful blog. I love everything Steve does as well as Brooke (I would so be a stalker (in the good sense) if I was closer:). Their talents truly amaze me, for everything they touch seems to create an air of magic. Without question, I lust, crave after all they do. It was nice to see and understand his thoughts/inspirations
    and process of his designs. Thank you again.

  30. Thanks...inspirational blogging from a male perspective is refreshing. I am a huge Ralph Lauren fan and sometimes have trouble controlling my feminine compulsions...especially when shopping with my sister (augh) but I am going to get better even on my pathetic budget. I am not even suppose to be blogging right now... I am off to buy canvas... this is so addicting. I am putting you on my blog roll for my readers.

  31. Great post....

    I just love Brooke & Steve's style....

    I too adore that arch under the stairs...I had it as my wallpaper on my computer, I loved it so !!!

    All the best,
    Kathy :)

  32. This may only matter to me... my iritation came through on my wording in my previous comment.

    How about in stead of pathetic budget I say modest... I am grateful for having a budget of any size.

    Times are tough... sorry, just wanted to set that straight.

    Your blog is delightful and I am glad I came back to look again.
    Lee @ Inspired Comblogulations

  33. Great interview! Well done!! I agree with you - his image with the staircase and the arch is stunning. Also fun to read his take on formal living rooms. Yes, more libraries please! (:

  34. great post - he is one of the bright lights on the blog circuit. i am so impressed with his style and always admired his work through brooke's blog. he is genuis, with the classical bent but the fresh light-filled approach.

    i have a lot of catching up to do on your blog and will be back to read more soon. thanks for the great email too on jim howard. you are awesome! will write asap!

    i blogged (belatedly) about the DC blogger party i attended which i know you read about. i kept it a surprise - it was such a coup to attend. the only one missing was you. :)

    and imagine if joni were there?! oh my, we really need to organize a big blogger party in 2010. i will come!

    xo terri

  35. What a great interview!!! I've never seen an architect's work who I can identify with more than Steve. His aesthetic is just amazingly beautiful but SO livable! He & Brooke are just 2 of the most talented people on this planet!!!

  36. great interview with a talented architect, and i love that brooke and steve's talents are complimentary to one another- if i was married to an architect, he'd divorce me in 5 seconds flat for telling him how to do his job!

  37. TTI...I had to read this again and study and drool over Steve's work. God gifted him greatly.
    Amazing talent and eye for details I never knew existed!

  38. Of course you would post such a thoughtful and interesting comment on my current post, thank you! I think what you said is certainly something to evolve to in design and truly distinguishes the great ones from the rest of us!! Thanks so much!

  39. I am from Taiwan! Si vous voulez visiter Taiwan, bienvenue sur mon site et des visites Zhijiao, je vais proposer divers types de visites guidées et visites guidées ...

    I am from Taiwan! If you want to visit Taiwan, welcome to my site visits and Zhijiao, I will provide various guided tours and guided tours .

    Ich komme aus Taiwan! Wenn Sie nach Taiwan besuchen möchten, herzlich willkommen auf meiner Besuche vor Ort und Zhijiao, werde ich verschiedene geführte Touren bieten und Führungen ...


  40. What a great, informative post. I really enjoyed reading about Steve's inspiration, and the statement he made about combining the open space and flow of Modernism with the proportions and humanity of Classicism - love that! What a great series. Thank you!

  41. I am crazy about both of them! What a wonderful interview = I love Steve getting his "face" time too. You are the best!!!!!!


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