An existing house has been transformed by Maria Kardami Design Studio into an elegant and luxurious holiday villa with guest quarters and a separate spa, set into a series of stone-walled terraces on the shore of Ornos Bay, Mykonos.
Maria Kardami Design Studio renovated and modified the original building’s interior and designed the additional structures, fusing contemporary minimalist architectural elements with the clean white surfaces and cubist forms of traditional Cycladic building styles to create a fresh, new complex of structures harmoniously integrated into the stone and natural vegetation of the local landscape.
The buildings are aligned to make the most of the site’s orientation and topography, with a series of terraces that descend to the waterfront. The main residence is situated on the property’s highest level. Its flat roofs, white sculptural shapes and wooden doors echo Mykonos’ famous Cycladic vernacular style.
The attached terrace, with a traditional slatted wood pergola supported by massive wooden beams, overlooks a large swimming pool which has been built over the new guest quarters, set into the hillside one level down.
A separate building on the other side of the main residence houses the new spa, which has its own terrace, small pool, and gently curved seating area. Wide, shallow steps flanked by low stone walls lead from the main house down to the lower guest level with its terrace and seating area, and then descend further to the broad terrace on the waterfront.
This provides an ideal space for relaxing and entertaining, with generously proportioned dining and seating areas sheltered under wooden pergolas on either side of a free-form swimming pool sunk between palm trees. Further steps go down to the jetty where the client’s boat is moored.
The buildings’ flat roofs are planted with cacti and drought tolerant vegetation which also insulates the spaces below from the heat of the sun.
The terraces between the natural stone retaining walls are xeriscaped with plantings of grasses, large cacti and low palms interspersed with large boulders.
The design language of the exterior flows through to the interiors, which combine the straight lines and gentle curves of local design with a contemporary, minimalist aesthetic. Smooth, creamy white walls and floor throughout are made of a traditional mixture of lime, stone, marble dust and pigments, applied in multiple layers then waxed and polished. The material has a depth of colour and luminescent quality which creates a sense of cool, elegant spaciousness. Blonde wood ceiling beams in the living and the spa areas, and areas of native stone which have been left exposed, provide a textural and colour contrast.
Throughout all the rooms the deceptively simple yet sophisticated colour scheme is accented by wood, dark leather, bronze and gold fixtures, and stone in shades of buff and grey. The individual fixtures and furnishing elements are few and minimalist, adapted to the architectural aesthetic, and exquisitely designed. Generously proportioned sofas in the living room, upholstered in white, were created by Meridiani.
The simple, elegant contemporary furniture throughout the rest of the house, upholstered in the soft, natural colour of unbleached linen, was custom designed by Maria Kardami Studio. The residence’s technological infrastructure is discreetly integrated. All lighting is by Apparatus Studio.
In the spa areas, a rustic note is introduced by floors of large exposed pebbles, interspersed in the spa’s bathroom with large, oval stepping stones. The sink and countertop consist of one long, veined slab of marble, shelves are set into the wall, and a large floor to ceiling window looks into a small walled garden. In the spa’s massage room, instead of shelves, rectangular niches are set into one wall. The sink is created of a single block of grey stone, left rough except for the polished upper surface. Bronze taps and hanging wall lights add notes of contrasting luxury.
High glass sliding doors opening to a view of the sea admit a flood of light and air to the exercise and weight studio, which is furnished with dark brown leather and wood equipment and a few curving, sculptural tables, also in dark wood.
The spa’s Hammam is informed by the Cycladic tradition of carving rooms into hills and caves. An organically shaped, softly undulating shelf forms the seating around the semi-circular enclosed room, and the walls rise to a dome in an irregularly shaped waves, whose rippling quality is accentuated by muted pin lights.
The guest quarters are furnished with elegant simplicity. Dark wood platform beds and chaises longue are upholstered in creamy white, as are curving chairs — reminiscent of Cycladic sculpture — in front of dressing table mirrors accentuated by a thin, dark bronze frame. Bronze lighting fixtures and sculptural tables in silver and gold metal complete the furnishings. Niches behind the beds are a witty architectural reference to the interiors of Mykonos’ famous dovecotes.
The guest bathrooms are equally refined. Freestanding stone bathtubs and pedestal sinks are served by bronze taps, faucets and rainfall shower heads, and the shapes of both mirrors and adjacent wall niches echo those in the bedrooms.
The child’s bedroom is decorated in a softer, more muted version of the rest of the house. The wooden door and rafters are of blond wood, matched by wicker and light wood furniture and a simple braided rug. The light, airy space is adjoined by a playroom.
Villa Sebastian is an example of what can be achieved when an enlightened architect and sympathetic client work together. Bridging the past and the present — incorporating the local architectural vernacular and the contemporary aesthetic — it also respects Mykonos ‘spirit of place’, its landscape and climate.