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  • Date published: 01.12.23
  • Category: Home Tours
  • Author: Erin Elizabeth

The Makers

How Sabo Founder Thessy Batsinilas Designed a Luxurious Modern-Greek Maison in Brisbane

Step inside Grèce, the modern Mediterranean home where Thessy Batsinilas lives the Greek village lifestyle.

Editor's Note

For the second installment of our refreshed home tour series The Makers, we travelled to Queensland to visit the brand new family home of Sabo co-founder and designer, Thessy Batsinilas.

After watching the build unfold on Instagram for many months, we knew we wanted to tour the white-washed, terracotta-tiled space that feels transported straight from Santorini. This breathtaking house has been designed to balance family, embrace the Greek village lifestyle and, of course, showcase Thessy’s eye for aesthetics. Building her dream home after two rounds of design, you can see how her style, affinity for natural materials, and love of Mediterranean architecture have influenced the space. We hope you love it as much as we do.

Thank you for being here,

Genevieve Rosen-Biller, Co-Founder, Bed Threads.

Olive trees, rendered concrete, travertine tiles, and a sparkling infinity pool. You could be forgiven, when stepping inside Thessy Batsinilas’ ultra-luxurious family home, for thinking you’ve entered a Grecian resort. But no, this is the southside of Brisbane – where the co-founder of Australian fashion juggernaut Sabo lives with her husband, Georgio, and their two children, Zani and Jay.

Here, there are all the sensibilities of suburban Australia (freshly cut grass, an enormous trampoline) together with the hallmarks of a “Greek village lifestyle”, too. The couple’s heritage is front and centre in their home, with hints everywhere of Georgio’s upbringing on the island of Kythira. Though the couple make annual pilgrimages back to their homeland, they always dreamed of living the village lifestyle year-round. So in 2019, in lieu of moving to Greece, they decided to bring Greece to them.

“I think subconsciously I’m so brainwashed by Greece,” Thessy says. “I just think their architecture is elite, even if I am biased.”

The result is Grèce, the stunning modern Mediterranean masterpiece Thessy and Georgio designed—twice—and built from scratch in Brisbane. After four years in the making, the couple and their children finally moved in in September.

“We bought the land in 2019, and then we sat on it for a while so we could design the house. Then when it came time to build, Covid hit and we couldn’t,” Thessy says. “But it was actually a blessing, because we got to think about the space a bit more and we weren’t rushing to build, and we actually redesigned the whole house in that break. We started from scratch, and we are so happy that we did. For us and our family and how we live, it’s a really great redesign.”

How Thessy and her family live might seem unconventional to some—at least in Australia. Putting the age-old proverb “it takes a village to raise a family” into practice, her home sits between both her brother’s homes, with all three backyards linking up to create one big playground for the eight kids between them.

It’s a dream… The kids are beside themselves, they have the best day every single day.

“It’s a dream,” she says. “I’ve lived next to one of my brothers before and we loved it, so we knew it would work. The kids are beside themselves, they have the best day every single day. We try to keep the kids in the backyard and float between the three houses next to each other.”

The serendipitous nature of how her living situation came to be makes it all the more intriguing. “My brother on the left bought and built there six years ago, and then I had been hunting for property for about a year when I saw a ‘For Sale’ sign next to his house, and then a couple months after, the house next to mine went up and my other brother bought that. And then Georgio’s two brothers also bought opposite, so now there are five houses between us.” Plans for a big Greek street party this Christmas, perhaps? “Every day is a Christmas street party!” she laughs. It takes a village indeed.

As for the house itself, Grèce is an ode to its namesake in both design and interior aesthetic. “I wanted to bring in that Grecian curvature and those textures throughout the house because I look forward to seeing them every year when I go,” Thessy says. And certainly, curves are everywhere in this space, from the dramatic wooden front door, to the airy central courtyard, and the balcony beyond. The same goes for the evergreen olive trees that surround the property – “they’re everywhere in Greece, so looking out to see them all outside is nostalgic for us. We actually import our own olive oil from Georgio’s island. We import a lot of stuff from Greece, actually. Our salt, olive oil, tea, honey… and I think we’re going to start importing our flour soon to make our own bread.”

Which brings us to the kitchen, which Thessy dubs “the hub” of the house. “It’s somewhere we spend a lot of time. We actually chose a pretty loud stone considering the neutral palette of our house. It’s called Patagonia, and you can look down and see all the layers of crystals in it, it’s so beautiful. And it tied in the beige element throughout the house perfectly.”

This Patagonia stone is just one of the show-stopping textures throughout Grèce. Microcement floors, white render walls and lush sheer curtains add depth and drama to the home, creating breathtaking moments from every angle.

The neutral, muted palette and expert use of texture continues in the bedroom – Thessy’s favourite room in the house. A self-described “homebody”, it’s where she goes to relax and unwind after a busy day. “It’s so me, I love looking out at the view. I fall asleep to the twinkling lights of the city, or when there’s a storm, it’s so pretty.” Here, thoughtfully curated pops of colour bring the outside in. “We’re up on a hill, so the sky is the backdrop in most of the windows and the pool is also very blue, so I felt like tying that blue in through the Bed Threads Coast linens made sense”, she says.

That same thoughtful colour curation extends throughout the space, with shades of green paying homage to the Grecian countryside. “There’s a lot of ombre, creams and greys through the house, so I just thought bringing in earthy tones with that palette would work. My dining table is also a very light sage green, and obviously all the landscaping reflects that greenery as well.”

But perhaps the most striking celebration of colour comes courtesy of the large, richly textured artworks by Sunshine Coast painter, Emma Martin. “I gave her some of the tones I wanted for the space, and left it up to her,” Thessy says. “I just love that there are women in them with fashion pieces – it’s so me and reflects me perfectly, and the textures are incredible.”

When it came to styling the interior of her new dream home, Thessy worked closely with Sydney design company fform to create all new custom furniture for the space. “I think my favourite piece is the leather couch in my living room – it looks so mid-century and gives off a vintage vibe, but it’s brand new.” Elsewhere, old meets new again in the courtyard care of a vintage wrought iron setting (a Facebook marketplace score), which Thessy had reupholstered with new fabric.

Touring Grèce, everywhere you look, there’s a new design marvel to, well, marvel at. But while the finished product couldn’t be more perfect, it took work to get there. Or, as Thessy puts it, getting there reminded her of work.

Sitting at the helm of Sabo for over a decade, Thessy knows a thing or two about the design process. Since its launch in 2011, she’s been forecasting trends and curating collections, building a loyal and almost cult-like following along the way. But it wasn’t until Thessy began building her dream Greek-inspired home that she realised how similar the processes would be.

At work, I’m thinking of trends and forecasting, and I did that with the house, too.

“At work, I’m thinking of trends and forecasting, and I did that with the house, too. I tried to make something timeless which is what we try to do at Sabo, not jumping too much on a trend,” Thessy says. “Also, another unexpected crossover was the external factors you have no control of. At work, we have price rises with the factories and the American dollar, everything goes up. The same thing happened with the building industry – everything went up. And that definitely reminded me of work,” she laughs.

And yet, in true entrepreneurial style, Thessy found a way to blend work and life to her advantage – by making Grèce do some work for the business, too. A beautiful “photoshoot area” downstairs provides the perfect backdrop for Sabo’s campaigns, with playful architectural detailing combining both form and function. “We wanted to make sure the light was beautiful at every single hour in different parts of the house – we focussed on cutting shapes through the house that would let light in,” she says.

And waking up every morning in Greece without having to take the trip? Priceless.

Watch the full video by pressing play at the top of this article, or on YouTube here.

For more from Thessy Batsilinas, follow her at @thessy.k, her home at @grece_________ and her clothing brands at @saboskirt and @zaco.australia


Credits

Photography by Benito Martin

Styling by Audrey Won

Video by Cheer Squad

Outfit by Sabo Skirt

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