The glory that was ancient Greece – the civilization that gave Western society many of its political and philosophical concepts – may be seen today only in ancient ruins. However, the warmth and friendliness of contemporary Greek culture can bring a wonderful Mediterranean style to casual living.
Anyone who has ever visited modern Greece recalls its abundant sunshine, casting sparkles on its deep blue seas. That sun-washed, relaxed joy of life is easy to achieve in home decorating. Remember that Greek interiors are quite simple and minimalist, even, (dare we say it?) Spartan in their lack of embellishments. However, while these interiors may be simple, they are by no means boring.
Start by painting the walls white, either smooth or “gravelly” in texture, a look achieved by adding builder’s sand to the paint. For accent colors, such as trim in a kitchen, select turquoise, bright yellow or classic Mediterranean blue. Greek homes have few, if any, architectural details, so avoid moldings, chair rails and the like. Keep fireplaces simple, little more than an wall alcove with a chimney or a fireplace with a tile border.
Flooring features hardwood or terracotta tiles, both intended to reflect the warmth of the Greek climate. A stone floor is also an option, but be sure to cover these hard floors with plenty of vibrant area rugs. Modern rugs in geometric patterns such as the classic “Greek key” are a good option, as are natural Flokati rugs, contemporary examples of the rug-making technique that Greek shepherds invented in the fifth century.
Furniture in a Greek decorating scheme doesn’t need to be elaborate. Quality wood, simple, solid and slightly rustic, works best. Benches and coffee tables all should be low-level, with plenty of plump floor cushions in wool or linen fabrics. Handmade throws and patterned pillows provide comfort and friendliness.
For accessories, what could be more classic than a few Grecian urns? Add plenty of unusual pottery in rustic designs, either in natural clay or in brightly colored painted glazes. Look for examples of painted plates, pitchers and urns with classic Greek motifs on them. Greek textiles, such as vividly colored wall hangings in geometric patterns, and more area rugs for entryways and halls, also complement the atmosphere. Window treatments in Greek design are either bare or simple, such as painted wooden shutters, white voiles or thin curtains of muslin for privacy.
Lighting in Greek style reflects the handmade craftsmanship of its rustic cultures. Wrought iron chandeliers, candlesticks and wall sconces all evoke this art, and are very much in keeping with the current trend toward handmade decor items. Strings of white “fairy lights” also are draped from ceilings, around windows and in plants to bring a magical sense of relaxation.
Greek interior design has one drawback: it can look out of place in colder climates where the sun is often absent. After all, Greece is a land long blessed by sunshine and mild weather. To achieve an authentic Greek look that won’t look misplaced, warm up the overall look with lots more texture, such as added area rugs, wall hangings, pillows, throws and curtains on the windows. Warm up the color scheme with more terracotta and deep yellow rather than Mediterranean blue and Greek design can bring some much-needed sunshine into a gloomy environment.
Head writer Sarah really enjoys writing about home decorating with a Greek flair. To instantly transform the look of your room she loves to use flokati rugs and other natural area rugs.
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