A Private Paradise

Last Sunday I had the pleasure of visiting the villa of Maria De Rosario, ‘the’ Interior Designer on the island of Kefalonia. Maria works on a diverse range of residential, commercial and hospitality projects in Kefalonia.

Maria’s villa was hidden in the picturesque hills of Fiscardo. Fiscardo being a quaint, rather up-market coastal village in the north of Kefalonia. Finding Maria’s villa was a challenge as most Kefalonian’s don’t see the need for addresses. On an island of only 40,000 people someone will inevitably know where another lives and they can give you directions.

Maria’s directions were along the lines of ‘when you come into the main car park of Fiscardo, head towards Folkie beach, keep going for a few kilometers until you come to the church, the turn left and look out for the container on the hill. I am at the end of that street.’ Ok, then. It turns out the church was one of the many ‘mini’ churches dotted around the island, which stand in lieu of an original church that was destroyed in the 1953 earthquake that devastated most of Kefalonia. That bit of info was omitted!

However this visit was worth the round and round the mulberry bush. Maria explained that her villa took about four years to build as she lives in the capital, Argostoli, and could only make the journey to Fiskardo (about 1.5 hours away) each weekend to progress building. That seems to be a common story here, as things take a long, long time.

Maria communicated that the house is simply built with the intention of slotting in seamlessly into it surrounds. Its surrounds being luscious olive trees, a turquoise ocean view and an endless blue sky. And a hickldy-pickledy collection of beautiful stone cottages.

Inside the floor is the concrete slab which is also its foundation, with the walls being the unfinished side of the exterior stone and mortar structure. The result is an imperfect, textured and earthy feel. It is perfect.

The house is not sparsely fitted out, but it is not mindlessly overcrowded either. Maria’s unique collection of artwork, chairs, Kefalonian stones, and light fittings have all been placed with considered intent. To the untrained eye, the villa just works but you probably couldn’t explain why. As a rookie Interior Designer, I have a recently-developed appreciation for the time and thought taken with the placement of light fittings, artwork and furniture, and how elements such as light, texture, composition, rhythm and colour all must work in harmony.

Outside, the natural, simple aesthetic is continued with small pebbles sprinkled into cement instead of conventional paving. This creates a textured look and feel underfoot. The pool reflects the sky and the focal piece is a bronze sculpture of a woman laying seductively.

Despite the occasional language barrier, there was no misunderstanding the fact that this villa was a labour of love, of which Maria was very proud. And I, very envious.

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