text by Kelly Desipri for Yatzer.com
There was a time when gentlemen would have to pursue a lady for days, or even months on end, when the art of flirting (or in those times wooing the fairer sex) was a complex game of furtive, stolen glances and secret love letters. This was a time when ladies would congregate in their parlours to discuss their admirers’ success and failures over afternoon tea. While most of us look back at eras such as these with a sense of nostalgia of times gone by, three designers/architects in Athens, Greece decided that the time had come to revive them.
It all began when Panagiotis Fountas (NineDesign), Konstantina Panagiotou (INK Architecture) and Marilena Spanoudaki-Bakopoulou were drawn to the eerie beauty of a neoclassical building in the affluent northern suburb of Kifisia. Located far away from the centre of Athens, wealthy Athenians flocked to the cool, leafy area from their houses in the centre to escape the oppressive heat in the summer months during the late 19th and early 20th century, and many luxurious villas still exist. Built around the 1890s to house a bourgeois family, the house, now known as The Dalliance House, later become a commercial space, even housing a strawberry drying operation for a while. The building has now returned to its proud original roots and intended use, once again, it is a House housing an all day restaurant, café/bar for all to enjoy.
If there is one thing that defines The Dalliance House, it would be the passing of time. Located on the same spot for almost 120 years, everything around it however, has evolved and changed. The house too has suffered major changes as its use shifted from one function to another leaving a multitude of scars behind. Instead of erasing these scars, the creative team’s approach was to preserve them – in an attempt to remember as well as revive every form of life and function that existed within its walls.
On the outside, the building has been brought back to its intended magnificent splendor. From the color palette and special lighting design through to the perennial trees that occupy its outside spaces, the glory of another era reigns supreme. Upon entering, a full 180 degree view opens up making the visitor feel right at home - leading to the bar space on the left hand side, a stairway leading to the 1st floor in the middle and the teal room on the right. Here, neoclassical elements, such as the rosettes on the ceiling and the elaborate decorations on the walls, have been used to excess. In the bar area, the Brazilian wood bar blends in perfectly with several vintage decorative metal plates. Other late 19th century design elements include the lanterns that bathe the bar in a soft light and the cabinet behind it custom designed by Panagiotis Foundas, inspired by the delicate woodwork of the era.
Konstantina Panagiotou was in charge of restoring the house's walls and murals from which the actual idea for the teal room then emerged. Here, several aging techniques were used to give the new paint an old, worn out look which together with the contemporary mural of an old school geisha tattoo reigning over the entire space, bring the present and the past very much together.
As they climb the staircase up to the 1st floor, visitors are drawn to the comic-covered wall and ceiling and the Ingo Maurer lights. Comforting and homely with its yellow, red and brown hues, huge Baxter sofa and long, monastery type dining table, the overall design on the 1st floor brings together everything that The Dalliance House stands for: in reviving the old, a contemporary meeting point has been created. Merging antique elements, clashing materials and an all day lounge attitude, the design team has created a whimsical space that heightens the senses and absolutely begs for some old fashioned flirting.