Life in the city or life on the farm? L.A.-based interior designer, Nicole Facciuto is part of a growing population of people who are making room in life for both and redefining what it looks like to ‘live well’.
While in the city Nicole runs her namesake, green design business for clients across the globe. While on her family’s small-town organic walnut farm she fights rattlesnakes, lives in boots and brings the Corky’s Nuts brand to life.
Take a moment and live vicariously through a glimpse of Nicole’s farm life below and, if you’re walnut obsessed like we are (get all our recipes here!), do not miss her simple, but drool-inducing recipe for a burrata ‘sundae’…
Nicole Facciuto Design and Corky’s Nuts
DESIGN INSPO ON THE FARM:
I like extremes. Living on a farm is quiet; living in a city isn’t; having access to anything and having access to almost nothing. I am always fascinated with nature. How a leaf is shaped, the serpent pattern of silt under the creek surface. Growing up on a farm jumpstarted my creativity and imagination. It was pure freedom and exploration, coupled with a lot of common sense. I’ve never been afraid of hard work and getting dirty.
HOW GROWING UP ON A FARM INFORMED YOUR DESIGN AESTHETIC:
I grew up where I could run outside barefoot at any time of the year. I would spend hours either swimming in the creek, climbing trees or haystacks, hiking in the hills or floating down irrigation ditches from sunup until sundown. Nature dictated everything I did. I was super aware of the cycle of seasons and how they impacted our farm. Droughts, floods, fires and frosts could be devastating to any one of the farmers living in our small valley.
That awareness carries with me today in everything I do. Being sensitive to where something is sourced from; who is making it and how it’s being made. I love to be inspired by an artisan’s story and journey. I’m also very tactile and have a very visceral design instinct. My body will literally react when I see something that works visually or doesn’t. I’m not quite sure where that instinct came from and I’m betting nature had a hand.
WALNUT HEALTH BENEFITs:
Omega-3s! I eat a handful a day. They’re a perfect snack. Especially when they’re fresh, creamy and just off the tree. Packed with powerful antioxidants and great for your brain and heart.
UNIFORM ON THE FARM:
One word: barefoot. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work all the time. I live in my Frye boots. They are so beautifully trashed and when I’m not on the farm, people always tell me they love them. I also wore them with my wedding dress after the ceremony. They’re that good. When you’re always going in and out of the house from being outside, you need a pair of shoes that can easily slip on and off. It’s all about function on a farm. Jeans, t-shirts and down vests are my go-tos.
UNIFORM IN THE CITY:
Heels I can walk a mile in – my true litmus test from years of living in NYC and being bicoastal. Now that I spend a lot of time in LA, I love anything flowy and always have on a fun pair of sandals or shoes. I wear basics. Jeans, white t-shirts, and gold graphic jewelry. I love gold. Anything gold, really. I enjoy playing with unexpected shapes and textures layered on neutral palettes.
People assume we raised animals when I say I grew up on a farm. I’ll clarify that it’s an organic walnut farm and we have orchards. More often than not I’ll hear this, “I didn’t even know walnuts grew on trees.” I enjoy connecting people to their food. Oh, and I also didn’t wake up to roosters, but I did wake up to howling coyotes in the middle of the night and had a deer attack me once.
Oh, where do I start? I’ve always known there was something special about growing up on a farm. My husband and I were married on our family farm and it was so simple and beautiful. I know… it’s our wedding, how could I not say that? However, I planned our wedding in two and a half weeks. I let go of all the “musts” or “shoulds” surrounding what a wedding is. I refused to Google or search wedding ideas. I let nature dictate and be the backdrop, just as it was for me as a child. We wanted everyone to feel at ease, have fun and most importantly, feel relaxed.
I bought vintage china and mismatched stemware from thrift stores for our table. My dad and I made the benches so they could be repurposed for our monthly town hall potlucks. I gathered rocks from our creek and added a simple gold brush-stroke detail for all our guest to take home. Our long dinner table was lined with oak and olive branches gathered from the property. We had 35 mile-per-hour wind gusts that day, so I had to keep all arrangements very close to the table or those oak branches would have ended up as our salad. Our family and friends could not stop talking about how it was the best wedding they’d ever been too. Even today, they still tell us it was a “magical” experience.
DETAIL FROM THE FARM WEDDING:
Every year in June, we make a walnut liqueur out of our green walnuts called, Nocino. At the end of the night after our wedding, we all gathered around a faux fire pit (my dad didn’t want to light any fires for fear of starting a bigger one) and took sips of this sweet caramel digestif as we laughed, shared memories and told stories under the stars.
We rented gorgeous canvas bell tents for our guest to sleep in. Those alone were magical and such a treat for everyone as they glowed so beautifully in the dark.
LITTLE KNOWN WALNUT FACT:
When a walnut tree begins to flower, the blooms are called “katkins.” Named for the resemblance of a kitten’s tail. These katkins are pollinated by air currents. No bees are needed to pollinate for walnuts to grow.
FAVE WAY TO ENJOY WALNUTS:
I throw them in pretty much everything. When you have access to incredible-tasting walnuts, you don’t shy away from using them. I crumble them over steel-cut oats and curries. I also love making walnut pesto, and most simply, straight out of the bag!
FAVE WALNUT RECIPE:
This is probably the easiest recipe ever and one I happened upon by complete accident this past summer…
Burrata mozzarella, sliced nectarines, Corky’s Nuts raw organic walnuts, balsamic vinegar and a little Himalayan sea salt. I liken it to a pie – the walnuts give the same creamy nutty texture as a crust, the burrata like the ice cream, the nectarines provide the sweetness. It’s the most divine treat and a cinch to make!
I would love to see a time-lapse video on how walnuts are harvested and prepared for sale. It would give me a good sense of what goes into it and why walnuts cost so much at my local health food store.