A Holiday Retreat on Greece’s Tinos Island Celebrates the Homeowners’ Love of the Cyclades
Furniture store owner Leon Messinezis and his wife Ophelia Dikeakou love to bolt out of the noisy hustle and bustle of Athens and sail off to the Greek island
of Tinos. Situated between the islands of Andros and
Mykonos, Tinos is famous for its unspoiled architecture and beautiful scenery lined with extensively long stone walls. Hundreds of churches are dotted on slopes and hilltops, while masterpieces of local architecture and dozens of derelict windmills are found in its gullies and valleys. The island is dramatic in its rugged and mountainous beauty with many villages clinging to the marble cliffs. Strong winds sweep across the island bringing refreshing breezes and the resounding waves of the bracing sea.
Messinezis, the owner of the long-standing, quality furniture and decor import company Ivy Home Collection, and his wife fell in love with a particular plot of land on the edge of the seventeenth-century village of Berdemiaros. The atmospheric views of the landscape and the solid blue Aegean Sea beyond this sacred spot left them speechless. In 2004, Messinezis and Dikeakou acquired the 3,660-square-foot plot and commissioned local architect Nikos Balis to build their home. Deeply inspired by their travels to the Cycladic islands, the homeowners achieved a 1,290-square-foot gem that Messinezis describes as “warm and traditional, yet with a modern twist.”
The traditional Tinos house the owners called Elia, is one of two entirely independent houses standing side by side on the property. “Tinos Island has its own unique architectural style standing out for its simplicity and functionality,” says Dikeakou. “We wanted a modern house with traditional elements, which coincide with the rules and balance of the typical residential forms.” The major priority was to maintain the character and local Tinian architecture, but with a twist and modern, fresh take. In fact, small with a few windows and storage rooms, Elia house is painted completely white and consists of curved forms and exposed stone formations according to the Cycladic layout. It was also important for them to achieve a comfortable environment on the terrace. “It was imperative for us to protect our privacy, [and] create shaded and sun-exposed areas as well as corners for resting and dining,” explains Dikeakou.
Perhaps the most characteristic architectural Tinian elements are the handmade arched ornamental fanlights (yperthyro) above the doors and windows. “In the past, the fanlights made of marble allowed more light and fresh air to enter the house,” says Dikeakou. “They are genuine creations of the folk stone builders of Tinos, showing important examples of the artistic singularity of Tinos. They are of great aesthetic value.” The homeowners have a natural eye for streamlined forms. “We wanted to combine style with functionality, balancing traditional elements and materials with contemporary spare lines,” says Dikeakou. In terms of the layout, the couple opted for a thoughtful separation of public and private realms. The ground floor is home to the living room and open-concept kitchen whereas all three bedrooms and two bathrooms are situated on the upstairs levels. The interior finish is beautifully crafted with floors made from natural Tinos stones. The central and most characteristic feature forming the gate to the living area is the Volto—the arch that derives from the period of the Venetian occupation of the island.
It took the homeowners four months to furnish their home. The credo was to create a simple yet jovial mood, and the decor was intentionally void of lush visuals and clashing hues. With Messinezis’s decor company at his disposal, it’s no surprise that the majority of pieces, including the sofa and the coffee table in the living room, the dining table by the kitchen, and all the outdoor furniture, were sourced from Ivy Home Collection. According to Dikeakou, however, the most pleasant aspect of the interior project was exchanging design ideas with her husband and tracking down furniture and accessories in Tinos. The couple visited local antique shops and slowly put together an array of furnishings that would complement the existing pieces. In the course of a couple of months, they acquired little treasures such as the bright blue wall-mounted kitchen cabinet, the bathroom mirror, and the mini sculpture on the bedside table in the guest bedroom.
Whether enjoying a breakfast on the sun-dappled terrace with locally sourced products, a relaxing afternoon nap in the cooled-down bedroom, or a sunset dinner party with friends, it is evident that the couple has a great appreciation for the exotic beauty of their holiday home.
As featured in
Home By Design
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