“Springing into it”
Words and images by Pete Wilcock
(click on any image to enlarge)
Firstly thanks for all of your support with the Luxury Design blogs so far – the reach of them has been incredible, some very interesting people reading them and the feedback has been really appreciated.
For many reasons it has been a crazy 2017 – and we are only really entering April! It feels more like August already! One big project back home in the UK was a complete redecoration of our cottage there…
Floor to ceiling, every room was given a lick of paint and a revamp. I think devoting so much spare time to the villa over the past few years really has seen us neglect the cottage – so although when we told friends and family we were revamping they were puzzled and would all ask why and tell us it looked amazing – trust me it was bad! Over the past year or so it reminded me of a theatre set – it looked great but it was all smoke, mirrors and sticky tape that held it all together. Look closely and it was a facade hanging by a thread…
One big motivation for suddenly focusing on the cottage was our friends from Rhodes, Roya and George, were coming to stay with us in Cheshire for a few days – and as delighted as we were they were coming Roya is an interior designer (owner of the stunning interiors shop Style Company in Rhodes town) and she would have been shocked how we had let things slip at the cottage – so we pulled our socks up just in time to welcome them. They absolutely loved the cottage – and they loved visiting Cheshire, Liverpool, Manchester, Chester and even a trip into North Wales at Llandudno! To hear George pronounce with glee the very Welsh sounding Llandudno was in itself worth the work to prepare for their stay! It was a great few days with them that included Phil`s 50th birthday celebration held at Gotham Hotel in Manchester http://www.hotelgotham.co.uk – a place, if ever it were needed, for a masterclass on great design and amazing customer service. The staff are incredible – and a bit flirty! Love a flirt!
So although it was fraught to pull it all together in time the cottage looks incredible again – fresh with new ideas, some bold lighting (at odds with its 16th century heritage – but it works!), new furniture, new carpets etc…we even (24 hours before the carpets were due to go down!!) decided to rip away part of the staircase on the landing to open it out. There are so many changes and good ideas it is worthy of a small blog itself to share a few design tips and ideas – and how to get through it all under insane pressure with the clock ticking like a UXB!
VLK was put on the back burner over January, February and March partly because latterly last year we had already spent extra time (Christmas and New Year) on Rhodes. This, I diverse again, is recommended, as it was a far more magical Christmas than I expected. Having been told the Greeks don’t bother with Christmas much – in truth they do but it is not the mass commercialised, bordering on grotesque, ones we have become accustomed to in the UK! I loved Christmas on Rhodes and we will do it again for certain. So our extended time into the winter allowed us to do some advance work (such as the addition of an entrance porch http://www.rhodesluxuryvilla.com/make-an-entrance/) and making some more terrific new purchases from Style Company visit them on Facebook We also created a nice new planting scheme for the garden in readiness for the Spring. I would say this year we were more prepared than ever – and that was good as in the end we only had one week at the villa to pull everything together before our first guests arrived late March…
Our cases were laden with much less than normal this time – mainly new towels and bedding (emblazoned with the VLK logo of course!). I added some lovely new coffee table books including “Eat Drink Nap” and “Morning Noon Night” – that cover the inspirational work done by the private club Soho House https://www.sohohouse.com – the books mixing together their love for good design, customer service and food (three big passions of ours).
On route however we had two nights visiting (for the first time) the beautiful mainland coastal city of Thessaloniki – and that did conjure up some excess baggage when flying on to Rhodes. Thessaloniki is an amazingly vibrant and historic city – we were used to winter stop-offs in Athens so it was a refreshing change and for so many reasons we recommend it. It has one or two nice interior shops that took us €100 over permissible baggage weight – luckily the check in lady loved a cheeky smile and we got away with it!
Arriving back to Rhodes we immediately put ourselves into start the clock mode once again, counting down to our guests arriving. This included painting the house colour from a dated (and never impressive) bridesmaid peach to a cool and striking two tone light grey. We weren’t the first house in the area to remove themselves from the uniform peach colour but that didn’t stop an ex-pat mischief maker type covertly commenting…
I was sat, out of sight, planting a tree in memory of my dad – a nice moment forever tarnished when I heard the classic gobby comment “It looks like Cell Block H”. Knowing that what we have done is smart, not offensive and very sympathetic to the other tones (although granted no longer peach!) I do get exasperated when some people just don’t know when to put a sock in it! Most, but sadly not all, ex-pats here on Rhodes are great people – but I have finally had enough of the nonsense from the truly awful ones! I have never commented on such peoples choices – or their own “abilities” in even maintaining some basic house tidiness – so I find it tiresome in the extreme when people just cant help themselves. At that age I hope to be concerning myself with important things – and not triviality, nor other peoples business and certainly not thriving (surviving?) on uncalled for and sly nastiness. Above all it is cowardly and (not surprisingly) never ever to my face – and I truly hate that spineless type of behaviour. Knock on my door by all means…otherwise a sealed mouth is far more sensible.
In keeping with the very on trend prison block theme (!) we also added three concrete lanterns that hang from within the porch. Larger than anticipated it was a huge undertaking for the electrician to install, stressful even, but the finished result is impressive – looking very urban and contemporary for a luxury villa – or indeed equally at home in a prison block canteen I am sure! 🙂
New bedding includes (for occasional use – as we still prefer plain) a lime green and coral set for the master bedroom. It actually makes a nice change for us, very zesty. So if you are staying at VLK this year, you may get the coral or maybe not…It Is always nice to keep people guessing…
New sun-beds arrived at the eleventh hour – and we have gone back to basics after the successful, but not personally satisfying, bean bag beds were sold on. Working well with the subdued tones of the grey decking the white framed and sea blue covers jump out at you and look amazing on the precipice of those incredible sea views across the bay.
The sun-beds were from the excellent Roufas furniture https://www.facebook.com/Roufas.Furniture/?fref=ts based locally at Archangels – and the owner Tsambikos also rustled up four new box tables, simply made from old crates and painted in grey to match the deck. We had rope added to the sides for easy carrying as you follow the sun around the deck!
The (very popular) bean bagged double bed is remaining however and is just undergoing a few tiny tweaks. Last years additional seating on the deck remains unchanged – there is so much space to play around with to maximise guests enjoyment of that area, making the most of those views.
The decorative rendered walls and banquette seating (front and rear gardens) have been toned down from bright white (a little too intense in the sunshine) to a very gentle grey – matching in well with the house colour, the adjacent stone walls and indeed the two tiered sun deck. Everything just seems to flow better together and, bizarrely, seem to show the planting off around the garden to greater effect.
Talking of planting we have really tried to increase the manicured look of the garden for the season – as things mature we are able to shape and style things more effectively. Some things are growing faster than we dreamed and the other things (often the things we were assured would grow quickly) have not. But more than ever the gardens are looking fabulous and so far removed from the English country garden we have at home. If I was to choose a garden I would still opt for the one back in England but it is only fair to say the gardens at VLK give us a lot of pleasure and it is fascinating to see them develop.
This spring has seen a number of additions, notably a new Pomegranate tree and a Mango tree. Both of those fruit trees we chose to pot in large terracotta containers as our success with fruit trees tends to be limited to them being in pots and not in the ground. Importantly what they are doing is adding real depth and lushness to the front garden. We have also added a splattering of extra colour with miniature roses, flowering succulents, potted herbs and several geraniums.
Now…regarding the photograph just above…a strange thing happened last night walking through Lindos…as lovely and as manicured as our gardens are I was reminded of the very Greek, very simple and very charming method of just planting up in old metal containers and knackered old pots! It looks so nice – so unconcerned with spectacle but arguably showing the plants off just as good. So now my little mind is in overdrive thinking can we recreate that? The way our garden is set up the answer is probably not – but if I suddenly start throwing out expensive pots in favour of a ripped open olive oil can then get over here – there will be a lot of nice pots up for grabs!!
But that stripped back to basics look really reminded me that it isn’t always about needing luxury to make design interesting and appealing. We could get carried away with almost too many beautiful things. From the start we have been keen to maintain what I call a “reassuringly Greek essence”. I feel we still have that with so many nice traditional touches scattered around inside and outside – but that tatty collection of pots was a timely reminder not to get too carried away with all that is “luxurious”. Stay grounded. Keep it simple. Always be happy. Be nice!
VLK Rhodes is a luxury villa at Vlicha Bay, near Lindos on Rhodes – booking now for 2018 dates www.rhodesluxuryvilla.com
More about the Designers, Pete Wilcock and Philip Williams at http://www.rhodesluxuryvilla.com/at-your-service/the-designers/
Previous blogs from Pete at: