Harking back to ancient Greek tradition, where grand temples and opulent dwellings ruled the world of building design, Hellenistic architecture is characterised by an intricate blend of symmetry, proportion, and grandeur. It was inspired by the Hellenic and Roman empires, originating during the archaic and classical periods.
Given its ancient history and aesthetic allure, perhaps it's unsurprising that Greek architecture continues to reinvigorate spaces with its arresting interior design principles and is forecast for timely revival this year.
We explore the attributes of Greek-style architecture and the various unique ways you can adopt this timeless aesthetic into your interior design.
Harnessing a Hellenistic Home Environment
It may appear too grandiose to adopt this traditional and highly decorative ancient Greek architecture into a contemporary home setting. However, it is more about introducing a subtle reflection of these principles into your interior design style — think white-washed (often curved) walls and ceilings, concrete floors, cascading stairs, cave-inspired alfresco areas and courtyards.
Implementing Greek architecture into contemporary interior design is about achieving a delicate balance between the old and the new — creating confident character that won’t overwhelm the scheme.
Using white as a foundational colour makes sense, says Jessica Ryall, creative director of Architecture Republic, who has family ties to the Greek Islands.
“White, as a foundational colour, will always be in style. It brightens and opens up interiors and works so well as a base for accent colours,” she says.
“Fira and Oia, the villages on the cliffs of Santorini, were originally painted white limestone in the 1930s [and] it’s amazing to see them still looking fresh and contemporary today.”
When it comes to accent colours in a Greek-inspired home setting, Jessica believes that you don’t need to default to the traditional cerulean blue either. She suggests experimenting with various accent colours to create a more balanced palette that isn’t too cold and sterile.
“Try instead for a cool sage or darker olive green, a deep navy or even a soft sand,” she says. “Teamed with some natural sun-bleached timber, marble and smooth white walls, this will subtly invoke the Mediterranean landscape and traditional Greek design.”
Choosing Complementary Tapware
Equally integral to accomplishing the interior design for your Greek-inspired house is your choice of tapware. Recently, for instance, Thessy and Georgio Batsinilas of fashion brand SABO SKIRT and Brisbane-based gym FitazFK, respectively, chose brushed brass for their dream Hellenistic architectural home, Grèce in Holland Park West.
“In Greece, traditional tapware is warm. Think metallic tones like copper and brass. This contrasts with the white colour scheme and creates depth,” continues Jessica.
“These finishes will add a touch of luxury and also stop the space feeling too flat. Using copper or brass tapware will create traditional charm and warmth with texture and balance.”
Jessica says that white or even almond-coloured tapware can offer a modern and minimalist alternative with its bold yet clean and cohesive attributes complementing the matching white colour palette.
“Using a slightly almond or eggshell tone will also work as a warmer and softer alternative. This still references the timeless appeal of Greek design aesthetics without going all-out with white.”
Greek-Inspired Home Decor
After perfecting your Greek architecture and selecting the right primary and accent colours for your space and corresponding tapware, it’s time to consider your decor. By adding a layer of cultural significance to your interior design scheme, Greek house decor often embraces the incorporation of well-chosen sculptural pieces.
These should include a selection of artefacts with distinct ornate details, rich textural elements, and more minimalist pieces that subtly enhance the intrigue in these spaces — it’s all about the fusion of the old with the new. Include, for example, a unique piece of artwork, an ornate chair, and other decorative trinkets with intricate detailing that contribute to the talking point of your Greek-inspired rooms.
Also, remember that Greek interior design draws inspiration from nature, with the country’s distinctive light influencing how colours appear. Therefore, pick decor pieces with a timeless quality constructed from natural materials like wood and marble. But be careful not to clutter — minimalism is key to capturing an authentic Hellenistic environment that uses clean lines and open spaces for a welcoming ambience.