Traditional Greek House Design

Written by walter johnson
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Traditional Greek House Design
Typical whitewashed village of southern Greece. (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

The civilisation of Greece is millennia old. Discussing what is "traditional" among the Greeks is a never-ending debate. While there are important differences in the homes of different periods of Greek history, there are many things these have in common. Many of the commonalities in the traditional Greek home come from the classical period as well as the geography and topography of Greece itself.

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Geographic Constraints

Greece, many centuries ago, was far more lush that it is today. Especially in its southern and island communities, it is rocky, dry and possesses few flat spaces on which to build. Therefore, narrow, multistoried homes that reflect the island atmosphere have become dominant. As the wood resources of southern Greece have slowly decreased, stones have increasingly been the dominant aspect of home construction. Utility and functionality are the results of the sparseness of materials and space in southern Greece and the islands. The more stereotypical Greek house is normally a southern one.


The ancient Greeks were the founders of geometry. Almost all Greek homes, regardless of the time period or location, are built on 90-degree angles with flat or domed roofs. Even the more modern Greek homes are totally geometric, with the only curves acting as coverings for the porches. Even these are very simple and in proportion to the rest of the house. Many Greek homes look like rectangular boxes stood on their narrow ends. This reflects the geographic constraints of Greek life.


Always think white. This is the dominant colour of the stones in southern Greece, and it also reflects the salt of the omnipresent sea. Greece is mostly islands, and the nautical theme is always present. Unsurprisingly, the other important colour is the accent blue, reflecting the legendary blue colour of the Aegean. All is stone, whitewash and geometrical. If you stay close to this design, you can rarely go wrong. Vegetation is important, but it is simple and sparse. Furniture is largely wood, and pottery is the main form of storage. If you use accent colours, use different shades of blue or, on occasion, yellow. Keep them warm and subdued. Colours such as bright red are completely out of place on the Greek islands.

An icon is important in a central part of the interior. If the home is in Salonika, the icon is usually St. Demetrius. St. Nicholas is important in all Greek regions. Patmos was home to St. John the Theologian. St. Basil is important in the South, as is St. John Chrysostom. Korfu is home to St. Spyridon. These should be represented in the authentic Greek home.


The width of the home is a central variation. Farther north, the land becomes flatter, so the homes take on a more traditional Balkan appearance. They are still made of stone, but he colour scheme can become more varied and the basic floor plan is larger and wider. Terraces with curved roofs are very important throughout Greece, but become more central as you move farther south. Terracotta is used both for floors and roofs, but less so as you get to the islands. There, blue domes and flat whitewashed stone roofs are more common.

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