Combining her passion for drawing with her architectural background, Joanna Burtenshaw brings spaces to life with her breathtaking atmospheric chalk murals — with her apartment in Athens, Greece, as proof. A trained architect in London, Joanne decided to move to the Greek capital in order to follow her long time interest in art. Now, she is graciously opening up the doors of her beautiful 645 square-feet pad —which she shares with her architect boyfriend Dimitris and their cat— and invites us to take a peek at their exquisite retreat. The place is a perfect marriage of styles, so let's get the scoop on how they did it.
“We do things quite slowly, taking our time over each addition and decision partly due to limited space, but also believing that it takes time for the character of a space to develop and reveal itself. Light and atmosphere change through the year and we like to allow their affects to transform the feel of the space. We have many style preferences in common but I tend towards vintage and second hand while Dimitri is into contemporary design and more cutting edge forms and materials. I think we manage to balance this with a mutual love of classic shape and good quality materials and craftsmanship. We love to carefully contrast new and old,” explains Joanna. Her favorite find: the Ercol-style cabinet they got for 20 Euros at a charity furniture place outside Athens. It has the 50's look they like and they use it as a drinks cabinet.
When I asked her what her favorite room in the apartment was, the sitting room was the winner as it's more than just a sitting room for them. “With a 16 feet x 16 feet area it manages to provide us with a sitting room, dining room, study area and yoga room. But multi-purpose, functional furniture allows all this without it seeming too crowded. The light from the balcony is lovely during the afternoon and the yellow of the dining table (found on the street) gives the room a warm glow,” she shares.
I love when people are able to display their beloved collections in style. Joanna's collection of rocks gathered from different Greek islands create a wonderful art piece above her couch. They're displayed inside the compartments of letter-press drawers that her sister bought at the flea market in central Athens. “They still had ink and little steel letters in the corners when she found them,” she points out.
Living in small spaces has its chanllenges, so Joanne proudly shares the solutions they found worked best for them. “We chose a warm color scheme and lots of smaller, warm lamps rather than bright overhead lighting to keep the atmosphere cozy and intimate. I think sensitive lighting and color schemes help make the most of a space. People often assume that painting everything white will make it seem bigger, but we have found darker walls actually extend the rooms. Also, task lighting highlights separate areas rather than the whole space, breaking it up a bit. Our black bedroom wall really lengthens the room, as dark colours push backwards to the eye. It is now illustrated with one of my early chalk murals.”
I'm so very glad Joanna and Dimitri let us in their charming love nest. It's truly a seemingly effortless result of their passion for great style and design. Thank you for a wonderful house tour.
Images by Christina Georgiadou