Home of the Week: Inside a Funky, Technicolor Home on the Greek Island of Ios

When Vassiliki Petridou and her husband, Angelos Michalopoulos, purchased a third of the under-the-radar Cycladic Greek island of Ios in the early 2000s, it wasn’t for major development purposes. Instead, the couple, passionate about sustainability and preservation, hoped to protect the island from overdevelopment.

The couple eventually opened Calilo, the only five-star hotel on Ios, under one condition: it must not harm the local land or threaten the island’s natural beauty. The hotel, located on Papas Beach, opened in 2019 with purposeful design (the marble and stone granite was extracted on site), eco-friendly practices, and sustainable luxury. It was their personal home—just 20 minutes away from the hotel—that inspired the 27-room hotel’s whimsical, polychromatic design.

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Called Enthousiasmos (meaning ‘enthusiasm’ in Greek), the sprawling, idiosyncratic home took seven years to build. It was designed and built for the couple and their five children from 2008 to 2015, four years ahead of their hotel’s opening. The four-acre estate is perched atop a rocky hillside with unobstructed, 360-degree views of the Aegean Sea. To one side there’s a 100-foot vertical drop, and on the other, stone steps carved into the hill that lead to the sparkling turquoise waters. There are perfect views of both the sunrise and the sunset, and there are meditation caves throughout the property that allow you to escape the wind and take in a moment of quiet isolation.

Ios Calilo Greece
The main living area.

In addition to it dramatic siting, this Enthousiasmos is far from a typical house; it’s a one-of-a-kind labor of love. The eccentric home has a warm and funky vibe and is filled with an eye-popping array of multicolored artwork, much of it created by the couple themselves. Along with an elephant statue covered in shimmering metallic paint, they’ve also incorporated some impressive pieces from their personal art collection, including a Picasso painting. In a sense, and given their penchant for hospitality maybe not too much of a surprise, the home resembles a private, boutique hotel.

“Everything in the house is there to create positive emotions,” Vassiliki Petridou tells Robb Report. “We try to be as true as possible to who we are. It’s like living in a fairytale. Sometimes people find it overbearing, but we are very happy with the design.”

The open-plan home, which has several impressive large living spaces and a communal kitchen, has a view of the ocean from every room. The 20,000-square-foot residence has 11 bedrooms and several living spaces, along with a gym with a steam room and a sauna, a games room, and a children’s playroom. Across the property is a swimming pool, a massive deck, and a chapel. There’s also a donkey sanctuary with 15 donkeys and an amphitheater with stone steps overlooking the ocean. The family loves to entertain. They sometimes host weddings in the chapel and among the island-wide events held on their impressive compound are a 500-person music festival each summer.

Ios Calilo Greece
The owners created much of the artwork that fills the home.

The 40-acre island of Ios is basically a giant chunk of marble and, like Calilo, Enthousiasmos was built using marble excavated directly on site. Nearly 100 stonemasons helped to excavate the stone from around the property. Every wall and structural element was then manually cut and shaped with no industrial machinery, which is why it took eight years to build.

“The architecture of the home serves as a purpose beyond housing,” Angelos Michalopoulos says. “It’s very important that architecture ignites positive emotions for us and visitors, like truth of the actual materials. We didn’t use any exterior materials that are foreign to the environment or materials heavily used in other houses or hotels. It’s very important that we maintain an original sense of design, one that isn’t copied and pasted from somewhere else. For us, it’s very important that we maintain, support, and defend originality.”

Ios Calilo Greece
The kitchen overlooking the pool and island.

One of the main design principles of the home is the use of water to symbolize fluidity and freedom. The pool, which measures a staggering 221 feet by 77 feet, was carefully positioned to catch the wind. Michalopoulos says as the wind hits the water throughout the day, it creates a beautiful ripple effect that generates positive emotions. The water also interacts with the sun and clouds, creating a mirror-like effect, while the moon adds a beautiful reflection from the water at night.

Michalopoulos creates much of the art within the home, from the delicate butterflies to the massive, human-sized word ‘”LOVE” sculptures. He even painted upon a pair of old army boots with bright colors to bring innocence and love back into an item he said symbolized war and death. There is an edition of the piece at Calilo.

Ios Calilo Greece
A covered outdoor cave-like lounging area, built to protect from the wind.

Greece, and especially its thousands of islands, are arid places so, in an effort to create a sustainable home, the created an extensive water harvesting system.  Every inch of the home’s outdoor space is funnels rainwater into seven underground cement reservoirs. The underside of the house is, in fact, a giant reservoir with a filtration system. Rainwater collects during the winter, and by summer they have stored millions of gallons of water. Though excavating and building the reservoir was expensive, it provides water through the year and eliminates the need for an costly desalination plant.  The roof of the home is also covered with solar panels.

“In small islands like Ios, where the infrastructure is quite not very much developed, the fact that we are designing and sustaining and maintaining a house of this size in a very eco-friendly fashion is part of the foundation of our sustainability practices as a hospitality group,” she says. “Many businesses and people have abused beauty and its authenticity, so it’s important for us, whether we are developing a property or a hotel, to be as self-sufficient as possible in a way we aren’t capitalizing on the resources of the island. We want the ecosystem to be as efficient as possible.”

Click here for more photos Enthousiasmos.

Ios Greece Calilo
Ios Greece Calilo

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