Marilena Rizou's Mykonos

WHAT BEGAN AS A SIMPLE HOLIDAY HOME RENOVATION IN MYKONOS SOON SPIRALED INTO A COMPLETE DO-OVER FOR THE ATHENS-BASED INTERIOR DESIGNER MARILENA RIZOU. THE AIM? TO HONOUR GREEK TRADITION – AND A SPECTACULAR VIEW – WITH ARTFUL, ECO-CONSCIOUS THINKING

Photographed by Yiorgos Kordakis | Interview by Natasha Inchley

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  2. Throughout the summer months, Marilena Rizou escapes to the sun-drenched island of Mykonos with her partner Alex Metaxas, owner of Greece’s Free Shop chain, and their son Giannis. The interior designer has created a carefree yet utterly chic retreat filled with local crafts and contemporary art. “It’s about modesty, elegance and respect,” she says. “I seek inspiration from two extreme opposites: I follow what is happening right now in design and architecture and at the same time I’m obsessed with researching traditional Greek island architecture. I want my work to be right for its time as well as for its place. I guess you could say my style is quiet and sophisticated.”
  1. I HAVE ALWAYS ADORED YOUR AESTHETIC, AND THE WAY YOU CREATE BALANCE BETWEEN OLD AND NEW – TELL US ABOUT YOUR HOME IN MYKONOS? The house was built as an extension to my family home so it had to have a visual coherence with the older building. My father’s house was built on old ruins with very small rooms and courtyards, so the new spaces are larger and the colours are lighter – it’s a contemporary version of the original using the same palette and materials.
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  3. HOW DO YOU ADVISE YOUNG FAMILIES WHEN IT COMES TO LIVING WITH HIGH DESIGN? IS IT EVEN POSSIBLE? Before I had children I didn’t know how to design a practical house for a young family – my approach has changed completely since having my first child, Giannis. I’m now conscious of getting rid of anything superfluous and I choose practicality above all else.
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  5. AND CAN YOU SHARE YOUR PHILOSOPHY FOR CREATING A WORK-LIFE-FAMILY BALANCE? HOW DO YOU REMAIN CREATIVE AND INSPIRED? â€¨Right now, I’m interested in creating an environment for my family that I wish I had grown up in. Equally important is being creative and constructive at work: I try to focus on the project when I am at work and then on my family when I’m with them – and, of course, it’s about enjoying every minute of both.

"At first I put it down to luck, but then I realised that the key is perseverence and consistency. I build relationships with the architects, and then try to make everyone’s life a little easier. Also, I am very conscious of creating an environment for my clients that they’ll enjoy."

– Marilena rizou on the secret to her success