The scorching effervescence of Athens, where refuge can be found in air-conditioned museums or contemporary and classic cafes whose floors are covered in cement tiles – the Cycladic homes with their soft, lime walls with rounded edges – the shaded and austere silence of the monasteries – the elegant neo-classic facades and ornate Peloponnese balconies – the omnipresent marble. When it comes to decoration (among other things), Greece knows how to take advantage of its assets.
A greek summer
Just like the famous prehistoric statuettes with their characteristic silhouettes, the Cycladic chic is defined by a soft minimalism. The houses have an ever-brilliant whiteness with angles rounded by the use of lime, featuring lines that are pure, restrained and have an undeniably soothing power. A designer’s dream! Very natural, the shutters and outdoor furniture integrate the nuanced colours of the landscape where the pinks and reds of the bougainvillea and the green of the olive trees compete with the blues of the sky and the sea.
You can have fun by picking up these codes with little touches – your old wooden chair is boring you? You can’t stand looking at the flaking white paint on that outdoor table? It’s clearly time to opt for a Greek blue, a dark green and an orange-red. Time to pick up your paint brushes!
In the same way, you can give a holiday feeling to a bathroom or a desperately immaculate kitchen by playing with colourful accessories, repainting a closet or a section of a wall, or if you’re planning more extensive changes, choose some typically Greek blue tiling.
Just like in the Cyclades, you can bring elements to life such as an exterior grey concrete floor by painting the large irregular “slabs” white along the borders. Big terracotta pots planted with basil and olive trees guarantee an Aegean effect!
Paros in the Cyclades is also the point of origin for the marble that can be found everywhere around the islands as well as throughout many Greek interiors. After having long been synonymous with a luxury that can be a little ostentatious, this tactile rock has now found its rightful place in contemporary design. Using a light hand, of course, the material instantly bring an undeniable chic to all interiors in the form of a coffee table, an object, or even a simple motif.
Perched at the summit of the Meteora or spectacularly clinging to cliffsides, the orthodox monasteries are small universes within themselves. They’re certainly a little austere but why not be inspired by their stripped-back functionality with a large refectory table in a kitchen, a long table or wooden banquettes fitted with a light cushion-top and fabric throw cushions?
What to bring back?
Forget the souvenir shops of dubious taste and turn your focus towards traditional design elements.
Not too bulky and very characteristic of Greek roofs, the acroterion (or antefix) are sculptures made from terracotta featuring faces or palm motifs that adorn the rooftops of houses. Perfect to liven up a bookcase, a cabinet of curiosities, or to be placed on a terrasse.
Want to bring back the warm atmosphere of the tavernas? Give yourself a copper jug for the miso kilos (1/2 litres) of retsina (or lemonade) that are accompanied by pistachios and olives. It’s a little kitsch but still lovely and it costs nothing!
Greek evil eyes, amber kombolois, blue glass beads, Greek owls – you can find little charms everywhere to place around a candle, for example, or in a beautiful glass or olive wood vessel with a few pebbles.
Photo credit ©Mélina Vernant
Forget me not Athens
At the centre of the most touristic and almost unavoidable area of Plaka, among the mass of souvenir stores with their dusty Komboloi and statuettes of dubious taste, our “design eye” was drawn to a boutique dedicated to contemporary Greek design that’s inspired by the most traditional motifs which are then played with and subverted (a special mention to the leather skateboard sandals!). A souvenir boutique that’s decidedly unusual. Perhaps, you’ll notice the passion of the owner of Forget Me Not Athens for Habitat!
100, Adriannou St.Athens, GR
Photo © Forget me not Athens