Smart use of colour and space make a small, open-plan apartment in central Athens seem more expansive than it really is.
Home of the Week: Light, comfort and serenity in 900 square feet
The Greek interior designer Katia Margaritoglou's smart use of a simple white and neutral colour scheme, with touches of dramatic styling, has transformed her simple 900-square-foot apartment in the centre of Athens.
Early and mid-20th century Scandinavian design has strongly influenced the interior scheme - a suitable look since Katia was born and raised in Sweden.
In her interior design work, she says that most of her clients asked for strong colours, but for her own home, Katia stuck to a simple classic monochromatic scheme. "Since my goal was to make a relaxing space," she says, "I chose white because it is very calming."
This wasn't just a case of slapping matt emulsion on the walls. Careful consideration was given in applying tone and texture to the paint, as Katia explains. "I tried to keep a balance between the glossy and matt textures so that I could use a single colour," she says. "The result means that far from having a drab effect, it creates a rather a lively one.
Apart from the bedroom and bathroom, the property is open-plan with all the rooms on the same floor. This and the apartment's small size presented Katia with a creative challenge in terms of the use, division and maximisation of space.
To separate the living and dining areas within the open space, Katia used Vitra's Algue to act as a dramatic, stunning room divider. Inspired by the design of plants and made up of individual pieces of plastic that are linked together, Algue can be assembled in varying thicknesses and can also be used as a window dressing, wall art or even a balcony screen. Here it forms a whispery, weblike veil that not only provides a beautiful decorative focal point but lends the space a rather ethereal look.
Removing the wall between the living area and bedroom and replacing it with a window maximises the natural light in the apartment and maintains the open-plan effect. (It also means that the magical effect of the Algue can be viewed from the sleeping area.)
Katia has achieved the best of both worlds here: when privacy is required, narrow vertical blinds can be drawn across the window (anything heavier would have resulted in that area of the space feeling "closed off"). The main window into the lounge area has been dressed with light, sheer panels. This gives the natural light a diffused softness, again contributing to that sense of the ethereal.
Katia kept the walls largely free of art in the living room - a trick used to create a greater sense of space. Any artwork that is on display is hung below eye level. Similarly, the sleek white suspended shelving and storage unit is low level. Soft furnishings and decorative touches such as the living room rugs and cushions soften the painted walls, and polished concrete floors are kept black, white or neutral. Splashes of green, courtesy of plants and fresh flowers, add flashes of interest around the room; introducing any further colour would interrupt the sense of calmness and order.
The furniture, all white, is compact and unobtrusive, a mix of vintage, bespoke and high street finds. In among the designer pieces, the chairs in the living room are from Ikea - old purchases that Katia renovated by covering in white leather. The stools in the dining area are also from Ikea, while the dining table, a warm oak wood that enhances rather than overpowers this area, is from YDF Italia. The Bestlite floor lamp, a design classic from the 1930s is, Katia says, one of her favourite pieces.
In the bedroom, the Rococo-style mirror - a second hand purchase made in Sweden - lends an ornate touch to the otherwise simple, pared-down scheme. Adding the string of fairy lights enhances to the decorative effect and warms the room with a pleasant yellow glow.
With her restricted palette and intelligent use of space, Katia has brought light, space and serenity into this small home without compromising on comfort, proving that yet again, less really is more.