The Sun, Sea and the Earth: Foundations of Greek Style

The civilization that ushered Western civilization from the stone age is now mostly remembered as historical ruins. But the characteristic warmth and friendliness of contemporary Greek culture lives on in the Mediterranean style so popular today. See how you too can bring this look to your home.

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.

White walls will serve as the basis of your Greek style home. Either smooth or textured, white will do nicely given the consideration for the minimalist approach. You can introduce texture by adding ordinary builder’s sand to the paint. This will add a little bit extra without going overboard. Complementary colors would be bright yellow, turquoise, or classic Mediterranean blue. White goes with any color but if you are going for an authentic look, better stick with those mentioned. Speaking of being authentic, Greek houses are mostly devoid of architectural details. Keep moldings and other accents to a minimum or avoid them altogether. A simple mantelpiece would be fine but the usual practice of putting ornaments on it would be excessive already.

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.

The rustic nature of ancient Greece also influences your choice of lighting. Handmade wrought iron chandeliers, candelabras, and wall sconces all stick to the grand scheme of things which is handcrafted ornaments. Strings of white “fairy lights” can also be used. Draped around windows, plants and from the ceiling, these simple touches give a feeling of relaxation to guests and residents alike.

One drawback to using the Greek style is that it could look out of place in colder climates. Without the sun shining in, the look simply appears incomplete – something will be amiss. However, you can still be true to the style by adding lots of area rugs, wall ornaments, pillows, and throws. You can also tone down the use of turquoise and blue. Let yellows and oranges dominate. These colors can simulate the sun and still make your overall look genuine.

Seraphina enjoys decorating starting from the floor up when using Greek inspiration. She loves to start with flokati rugs and other natural area rugs.

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