x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Home of the Week: Less is more in a gorgeous Greek getaway

Natural materials and architecture that accentuates the landscape make this dazzling white summer cottage a comfortable second home.

Sprigs of plants indoors echo the nearby olive grove as well as the hillsides of oleander, rosemary, lavender and other indigenous herbs. Julia Klimi / Gap Interiors
Sprigs of plants indoors echo the nearby olive grove as well as the hillsides of oleander, rosemary, lavender and other indigenous herbs. Julia Klimi / Gap Interiors

It was 30 years ago when Marianne Manders and her husband Marc Jansen arrived in Patmos on holiday for the first time. She was an assistant director and he was a television producer. They returned year after year, eventually bringing their children with them, renting a little house on the beach.

In the summer of 2000, when their son Marcus got off the boat and cried out, "Home at last!", the Dutch couple decided that, since the whole family felt the same way, it was time they acquired their own place on the island. The following year they bought the plot directly above that little beach and in three years, their summer getaway was ready.

Working with a local Greek architect, they succeeded in building a home using only natural materials and the skills of area craftsmen.

Blending perfectly with the landscape, the cottage is beautifully appointed on the slope of Mt Kapsala, with a view of the mountain opposite and the beach at Kambos Bay stretching below. The whole house was also designed as a fortress against the raging northern winds that blow down the mountains.

The property's sheltered entrance leads straight into the all white open-plan living room / kitchen / dining room, all housed in an exposed stone structure that occupies the highest point on the sloping plot, affording the best view. It continues into the hospitable atrium, open on both sides and with a comfortable built-in seating area. This has become the meeting place for friends and family on warm summer nights and is true to the architect's belief that "the landscape should pass through the construction like a window on the world".

Stone walls were what the owners wanted, whitewashed to reflect the sunrays and fill the house with Aegean light.

In the dazzling white living area, with its simple stone fireplace and the marble slab flooring, colour comes courtesy of grey painted beams and woodwork, and a large canvas artwork.

From the comfortable kitchen and lounge the family has direct views of the blue sea and the games the sunlight plays as it bounces off the walls. "On a clear day, we can see all the way to the islets across the way. It's even better when there's a storm and the sea swells - pure magic," Marianne says.

Apart from local stone for the walls and flooring, the architect chose other simple materials such as wood for the door and window frames, and ceilings, exposed concrete for the lintels and the guest room ceiling, and white marble from the island of Thasos for the bathrooms.

A sparkling white bedroom with large windows allows light and shade to play on the floors and walls. A striped armchair and French dressing table provide muted points of interest.

Accents of blues and greys continue in the light-filled guest room, located below the veranda and perfectly positioned to receive the warm sea breeze.

Due to the inclination of the land, there was room for yet another space, reserved for younger members of the family, a place where they can enjoy privacy with friends. This large bedroom looks onto the leeward, covered veranda where they can lounge on the large built-in couch with oversized pillows propped up by the stone wall.

An integral part of the dwelling is the land surrounding it. The landscaping is all due to Marianne, who planted whole hillsides of oleander, rosemary, lavender and other herbs indigenous to the Aegean island countryside. In front of the master bedroom, she has created an entire olive grove through which she peeks at the sea. And as the aromas of the herbs waft over you, you get an overall sense of a home that floats between the mountain and the vast sea below.

* Gap Interiors