July 7, 2011

An Island Sanctuary | Greece

Terrace with fragrant Nerium Oleander

Greece holds a certain spot in my heart. So it's no wonder that An Island Sanctuary - A House in Greece by John Stefanidis is one of the most treasured books in my library. It's the story of a house that John and the late Teddy Millington-Drake discovered on the island of Patmos in 1963. It's in the town of Chora which John describes... "has the possessed beauty of a de Chirico painting... sweeps of olive groves, titan rocks plunging into the sea, bays of pristine beauty with gently lapping waves... and everywhere the sea: aquamarine, turquoise, emerald green, deep purple." The house had been abandoned for twenty-five years. By 1964, they spent their first summer in the house. Perhaps, I am enchanted by Stefanidis' textiles because I too, am drawn to the Mediterranean. "What might be called the Mediterranean style," says Stefanidis, is "romanticism, sensuality, and practicality. Mediterranean style is a triumph of common sense. Whitewashed walls reflect light and heat; thick walls render rooms cool; cotton furnishings are fresher to the touch; Lattice allows air to circulate; shutters exclude glare; tile and marble are soothing to the bare foot."

Gardens stone and succulents

Whitewashed terraces, blue and white striped canvas and bougainvillea

Millington-Drake watercolor view of outdoor terrace

A relaxed English fish basket filled with Japanese parasols

Upper-floor terrace

Perfect, simple kitchen

A shaded terrace for breakfast or lunch

Bougainvillea pruned in displays of flame red and Udaipur pink

The Parlor with sky-blue cottons and Anatolian pattern kilim

A dreamy white bedroom and small library at the heart of the first floor

A traditional island sofa with mattress-style cushions covered in JS fabric "Flowers"

My favorite JS "Flowers" fabric

Millington-Drake painting from outdoor dining terrace

An early summer montage of the arid hills

Cool, blue cotton on terrace

Needlework cushions from Patmos, Rhodes, and Anatolia

Cozy room was Millington-Drake's former studio room

Indian miniatures on the wall of this bedroom are perhaps, Company Paintings

Rampant plumbago tumbles over the terrace wall

Taro plant with fragrant gardenia under the dappled shade of a pergola

Truly a must for your design library.
An Island Sanctuary feeds the soul and arouses the senses.

Images: Principal photography by Fritz von der Schulenberg.
An Island Sanctuary, published by Rizzoli
Visit John Stefanidis here


  1. One of the most affecting and arresting publications I have ever seen in the palette of the Cyclades, and to me, his finest work.

  2. wow. that was a visual treat! thanks for sharing!!!! you do have some exquisite taste, my dear.

  3. So beautiful!! I've known about this book but somehow never owned it - clearly I need to remedy this situation - thank you for the reminder!!

  4. Barbara -- I flip through this one whenever I need a virtual escape. So uncontrived and soulful.

  5. Hi all! Thanks for visiting and of course, you all love this JS Patmos house and book. I agree with Courtney - it is so uncontrived - and that makes it SO great. oxo

  6. This house sounds like the most amazing place: whitewashed terraces, stone gardens, flame red Bougainvillea. We want to book a trip right now.
    xo E + J

    Visit our website to see our recent entertaining story in Lonny Magazine.


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