Colourful And Calm On Ithaca
In a dramatic lifestyle change, Ingrid Gottschalk left London for the beauty and calm of Greece. Finding her dream location on Ithaca overlooking the Ionian Sea, Ingrid built a seven-bedroom contemporary Greek villa, complete with mountain backdrop and stunning sea views
The sound of goats’ bells, bird song and crickets enhance the soporific atmosphere surrounding the home and yoga retreat, built by Ingrid Gottschalk on Ithaca. Surrounded by olive groves, overlooking the azure blue sea and the mountains of Kefalonia, her contemporary style Greek home is set high above hidden beaches nestling far below.
“It has been an eventful one and a half year project,” she says with a smile, explaining how even just finding the right location was a mission. Having been born and bred in Basel, Ingrid poured over the map of Europe and researched options in Asia and Italy, but finally decided to make her home in Greece. “Ithaca has a lot in its favour. It is still comparatively unspoilt and only accessible by ferry or boat taxi.”
Finding a site with building permission is not for the faint hearted, but Ingrid is clearly a woman with determination. Her exacting brief to the local agent was to find her “a site by the sea, not in a village but in an isolated spot with a breathtaking view. I had no desire to renovate an old building,” she explains, “so when the agent rang to say he had found me the right site with planning permission miles from anywhere, it was my best day ever.”
Slightly concerned about a huge rock sitting in the middle of the site, she sought out the advice of a local engineer. “Happily he assured me we could break up the rock and use the stones to build the house, which to me sounded like a great ecological solution.”
Pooling ideas, Ingrid and her engineer designed the house as two separate entities, both angled to enjoy the dazzling sea view. One part houses Ingrid’s bedroom and the indoor kitchen cum dining room and the other is a guest wing with a yoga room on the ground floor and a colourful sitting room on the floor above, which opens onto a spacious terrace. The two are linked by paved terraces at different levels shaded by a bamboo awning, which also provides shade for the alfresco kitchen and sitting room. “In summer the Greeks live outside,” Ingrid says, “and this is where I do most of my entertaining.”
Ingrid fell in love with Greece, and yoga, after attending a spa weekend there –a birthday present from a friend. “After unpacking, I sauntered into the gym and joined a stretch class, which was surprisingly peaceful and invigorating. Only after leaving the class did I realise I had just attended a Hatha Yoga class.” Ingrid smiles a peaceful smile, which has become the hallmark of the atmosphere surrounding her new home.
“Building a house in Greece, I decided to adhere to the local style which is fairly rustic and always includes lots of courtyards, balconies and terraces. Beamed wooden ceilings in dark cedar are a typical feature of the old Greek vernacular, which I used outside, but for a lighter more contemporary look inside, I chose to lime wash all the interior wood with a light chalky grey.”
“Greeks also like to use free flowing sculptured concrete shapes, painted white, so for some features, like the staircase balustrade and the outdoor kitchen we copied them,” says Ingrid. “Some floors were left as natural cement, polished to look like stone, another Greek tradition.”
The interiors are a refreshing blend of monochrome colour schemes brought to life with pops of bright colour. Several rooms are filled with modern art collected by Ingrid and some favourite furniture pieces including the sofas, came from her London home. Other rooms positively dazzle with colour, like the upstairs sitting room which is full of opulent Oriental colours in textiles and saris collected by Ingrid on her travels to India.
Often visited by her family, including her three daughters, Rebecca, Helen and Maximiliane, Ingrid loves hosting guests in her home at all times of the year. Far from looking weary, she clearly enjoys her abundant change of lifestyle. It is a far cry from her stressful days in the city. “We often party and play card games in the evening,” Ingrid’s sun bronzed face shines with health and wholesomeness. “The food here is organic, which is one reason we all feel so energetic,” she suggests. “Many of my guests say it is not possible to stay here and not leave feeling refreshed. That gives me a sense of real satisfaction.”
- New build stone seaside villa
- Ithaca, Greece. “Living in Greek sunlight, you can get away with dazzling colours, which I love, especially the Indian silks I brought back from my travels.”
- Hall, sitting room, two kitchen/ dining rooms, one alfresco, outdoor sitting room, seven bedrooms with en suite bathrooms, study and two large terraces. Ingrid’s favourite room? “I really like to watch passing boats from the upstairs sitting room and it is a peaceful room in which to read, cool in summer and cosy in winter.”
- “We lived in a terrace house in West London,” says Ingrid.
Photos: Robert Sanderson / Narratives Styling & Writing: Maggie Colvin/Narratives © narratives.co.uk