Thursday, 12 December 2013

Decorating Details

Decorating Details 

More about the decoration of the old house…

This time about the colours and those smaller details that I think add to the Greek shabby-chic-style finish.

I have already mentioned that there was a lot of very old furniture in the house that we had to get rid of, but also there were one or two pieces we restored. However most of the furniture we now have, and a lot of smaller items, came from a spree of buying at auctions in Melbourne. This furntiture was later sent to the island in a container.

A mix of styles is typically found in old Greek houses
From Australia:
Green rocking chair, round coffee table, pictures, standard light, books.
From the Island:
lace curtains, yellow chair, converted book case, large platter

So many of the items have stories attatched. These curtains for instance I bought from a Russian who was selling cloths and curtains from a roadside stall. I bought two for another room then realised that they looked better in this room where there were three windows. One day a neighbour who knew of my dillemma came rushing in to tell me ‘The Russian is back’.  Running down to the corner we found that indeed he had the same pattern, and only one left! I bought it.

A lot of the old furniture in the house had a dark wood finish and we did keep some of these items but as Takis loves a more simple wood finish (and the traditional ‘shabby-chic’ uses a lot of the lighter wood) the furniture we bought at auction tended to have a simple polished wood finish. One item we loved, and everyone who comes also appreciates is our oak kitchen table.

A simple wood finished kitchen table plus white painted chairs

Guardian magazine article

This ‘shabby-chic’ look has been around and copied by many decorators and  it still is used to update old houses. I just came upon this house featured in an article in the Guardian.

Our much used island kitchen

Note: Takis made the stove hood and I decorated it with the pattern found on some old plates

But back to the decorating. First, to achieve the look I wanted, I made sure we had light background. Before the house was dark. The paintwork, originally a light green or pale blue, had darkened with age. I chose a very light pallet for the whole house, cream for all the walls and a slightly darker cream for doors and skirtings. The windows however were painted white, inside and out. This contrasted well with the maroon shutters.

Cream paintwork and comfortable lounge chairs

Guardian magazine article

Our mid floor TV and sitting area

Note: The curtains were given to us, and the material for the cushions was another great find. 

Then after achieving this cream background colour I added a different colours to each room. This was done by painting the wooden ceilings in two tones of the same colour; in one bedroom the ceiling was painted peach with salmon struts and our computer room has a pale green ceiling with slightly darker struts. On the top floor there is another similar green room, but the bedroom next to it has the mose complicated of all patterns on the ceiling and so I painted it a pale mauve with two other mauve tones plus maroon florettes.

The floors on the ground floor are tiled or still have the old marble slabs. 0n the middle floor (the floor previously most used) the large wooded planks had either cracked, been eaten by mice, or sloped as one corner of the house had sunk a little. We were only able to keep the old boards in one room and in the other areas Takis had to try various things. In one room we took up all the floor boards and struts, as the wood stank of mice, and in the main family area half had to be raised and so it seemed sensible to rais the whole of that area. In these areas we have polished wood and on top various rugs, some with a Turkish look about them even though not authentic (also bought in acution in Australia).

Stone walls, tiled floor, plus a ‘Turkish’ rug, dining table and chairs from Australia

Note: how the stone relief highlights the structure of the house
(I also love the fact that the Greek Goddess head in the corner came from IKEA in Melbourne.)

In each room the furniture and furnishings compliment the ceiling colours. We include many items that we found in the house, all of which had to be restored to some degree. For instance there was a hall stand that Takis kept hitting his head on as he passed, so he cleverly converted it to a book case.

An old hall stand converted into a book case.

Note: The mix of dark and light woods. 
(Do not note the mess on the table in the foreground!)

The decorator in the Guardian article states that they added classic antiques old items such as second-hand mirrors. I’d often seen this style in magazines but I did not want to go as far as some, also adding plinths and urns to give a Greek atmosphere. We did put up a lot of old mirrors, again bought at aucion in Melbourne but I was lucky enough to find a lot of old family photos and some old dinner plates to add to the atmosphere. They held the history of the house, and they now give the house a look of continuity.

As mentioned we bought a lot of old mirrors at auctions, and also some old light fixtures. They all arrived unbroken but they all needed rewiring. However again Takis performed a miracle and got them working.

Mirrors and lights

The Guardian article                           

One of our mirrors and lights combinations

(the wall lights on each side of the mirror are fittings taken from the mirror of an old dressing table)

Note: Symmetry is often important, giving a room a sense of calm and balance

A book about the importance of details

Barbara and Rene Stoeltie, Living in Greece (Taschen Germany, 2002) These two photographers have taken pictures of twenty two different houses, illustrating the way in which detail supplies atmosphere.

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