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Kitchen of the Week: A Greek Architect’s Ode to Minimalism

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Kitchen of the Week: A Greek Architect’s Ode to Minimalism

June 29, 2017

From the Remodelista editors’ favorites archive: The all-concrete kitchen in architect Theodore Zoumboulakis‘s retreat on the Greek isle of Hydra is a celebration of simplicity without being at all ascetic—and looks entirely of the moment (though it’s actually 13 years old). When we think of modern Mediterranean design, it’s one of our exemplars.

Zoumboulakis designed the house for himself and his extended clan, and supplied the 10-square-meter (about 107-square-foot) kitchen with clean lines and homey curiosities—conveniently, he browsed the storerooms of his family’s longstanding business, Zoumboulakis Galleries of Athens, for all his propping needs. Zoumboulakis kindly invited us back to Hydra for a closeup look at the kitchen.

Photography by Studio Paterakis, courtesy of Zoumboulakis Architects, unless noted.

“I tried to make the entire kitchen in one finish: The poured concrete on the floor climbs and creates the worktops,” says Zoumboulakis, who also left the concrete exposed on the ceiling in the adjacent dining area. “This finish is very simple, the simplest it could get, and seemed appropriate for the arid rocky surroundings and beach.”
Above: “I tried to make the entire kitchen in one finish: The poured concrete on the floor climbs and creates the worktops,” says Zoumboulakis, who also left the concrete exposed on the ceiling in the adjacent dining area. “This finish is very simple, the simplest it could get, and seemed appropriate for the arid rocky surroundings and beach.”

The drawers are made of bleached pine with concealed groove openings, and the walls are painted plaster inset with shelves: “The perimeter house walls are 50 centimeters [about 20 inches] thick, which allowed for various niches.” Photograph by Costas Picadas, courtesy of Zoumboulakis Architects.

Zoumboulakis Architects Hydra Concrete Kitchen with Sink Above: An antique marble fountain basin serves as the kitchen sink. And the faucet? “I realized that no ‘branded’ faucet would ever match the style of the house,” says Zoumboulakis. “So after a lot of research, I decided to make all the faucets myself by buying and assembling industrial pieces of plumbing hardware.” The wooden storage shelf under the basin conceals its metal support brackets. 
Also from the family collections, a marble piece from an old well serves as the top of the pale blue concrete kitchen island. Photograph by Costas Picadas, courtesy of Zoumboulakis Architects.
Above: Also from the family collections, a marble piece from an old well serves as the top of the pale blue concrete kitchen island. Photograph by Costas Picadas, courtesy of Zoumboulakis Architects.

(The house’s water, Zoumboulakis tells us, comes from a cistern built under the kitchen. The kitchen well has a metal lid and a bucket can be lowered to retrieve water. “That was the idea,” he says, “but, in truth, we use it that way very rarely.”) The wooden piece in the right foreground is an antique butcher’s block.

The kitchen opens to a utility room with floor-to-ceiling slatted cupboards and a refrigerator—mere feet from the stove but out of sight. (There’s also a dishwasher concealed to the right of the sink.)
Above: The kitchen opens to a utility room with floor-to-ceiling slatted cupboards and a refrigerator—mere feet from the stove but out of sight. (There’s also a dishwasher concealed to the right of the sink.)
The concrete counter has heft: It’s approximately nine centimeters (about 3.5 inches) thick. Photograph by Costas Picadas, courtesy of Zoumboulakis Architects.
Above: The concrete counter has heft: It’s approximately nine centimeters (about 3.5 inches) thick. Photograph by Costas Picadas, courtesy of Zoumboulakis Architects.

The stove hood and utensil rail are galvanized steel. (“I made them to match our early-20th-century Tolix chairs,” says Zoumboulakis.) The stove and cooktop are by Miele. Do the utensils get grimy hanging so close to the cooking? “Sometimes, but we really don’t care.”

Note the metal food safe—it’s a traditional Greek kitchen staple we’d like to see make a comeback. Go to our post Humble Heroes: The Kiosk Collection from Greece to find a similar one.

The kitchen steps down to the dining area and living room. The floor is made of stone from Pelion, “a building material often used in Hydra.”
Above: The kitchen steps down to the dining area and living room. The floor is made of stone from Pelion, “a building material often used in Hydra.”
The dining table and chairs are early-19th-century French “monastery style,” and the sideboard is an old carpenter’s bench. Photograph by Costas Picadas, courtesy of Zoumboulakis Architects.
Above: The dining table and chairs are early-19th-century French “monastery style,” and the sideboard is an old carpenter’s bench. Photograph by Costas Picadas, courtesy of Zoumboulakis Architects.

The kitchen’s vintage sailboat painting is echoed by a Yiannis Kottis mural in the living room (prints of his work can be found at Zoumboulakis Galleries). Is the drafting table for getting work done on vacation? “That was the idea,” says Zoumboulakis, “but too often, the computer wins.”

See the rest of the villa in our post A Holiday House on Hydra.

N.B. This post is an update; the original story ran on April 14, 2016.

Love the Greek look? See more Aegean inspiration:

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