Ancient greek interior design

Written by gail cohen
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Ancient greek interior design
Some ancient residences are still occupied by Greek families to this day. (Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

If you think you're facing a decorating challenge, imagine what Greek homeowners must have experienced when they moved into new digs fashioned of stone, mud and other natural building materials centuries ago. Of course, they didn't have to worry about installing electrical power, but it was no easy feat building then decorating these residences with so few resources. One thing's for sure: ancient Greek residences are still occupied today, so if you've seen one, you know the meaning of the words "built to last."

Ancient Greek Interior Structure

Both marble palaces and whitewashed stone houses are considered "ancient architecture" styles in Greek history. Whether it's a palace or a whitewashed cliff dwelling, both styles of architecture are made from stone building materials. Even the most modest Greek home was designed with an open-air terrace and/or patio. The most highly sought real estate included parcels that allowed a homeowner to build his residence with multiple facades facing south to capture maximum amounts of sunlight. Regardless of a home's size, ancient Greek interior design was centred around the family's hearth, usually the first feature added to the interior after the shell was built.

Walls, Floors and Other Features

Elaborate stone cuttings and mortar were used to create stone areas and paths on the ground floors of Greek homes, patios and terraces. Dwellings with a second story were fitted with wood floors, both for ease of installation and to counter the weight issue. Interior walls may feature beautiful murals if a homeowner had a creative bent or knew of an artisan willing to undertake the job. Openings leading from room to room in the typical ancient Greek home were frequently curved; it was unusual for a house to have interior doors. Curved roofs, typical of architecture in the Mediterranean region, are commonplace. Not every home had a solid front door.

Interior Rooms

In ancient Greece, it wasn't unusual for men and women to sleep apart in dormitory-like wings, particularly if a family was large. Washing areas were as important in a floor plan as the hearth. If a homeowner was wealthy enough to afford clay pipes to bring water from aqueducts, the family could bathe with fresh running water. Otherwise, women collected water from wells, brought it to the washroom and carried the dirty water back out. Hand-loomed textile rugs hung from walls and covered floors, adding touches of colour to individual rooms. Handcrafted curtains, usually embroidered with all sorts of colourful designs by the household's women, hung over windows as well.

Ancient Greek Furnishings

Greek furniture makers followed Egyptian design lines when crafting furnishings, and materials didn't differ much, either. Oak, cedar, olive, boxwood, maple and ebony woods in the hands of skilful Greek carpenters became chairs, tables, couches, stools and beds. Natural grasses, vegetation and leather were used to weave thick chair and bed mats. Greek carpenters added distinct ornamentation to furniture, including copper, bronze and iron embellishments. Wood veneer trim also provided a popular way to decorate furniture in ancient Greece.

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