A resortlike residence marries modernism with classic Mediterranean design.
By Catherine Warmerdam
Photography by Kat Alves
Architect: Mark Dziewulski
Carpentry: Takis Kakkavas Construction
Window systems: Pro Glass
Whole-house automation: Liberty Bell Smart Home
It all goes back to Greece.
So begins the story of how Dean and Chrisa Sioukas came to build a stunning, 6,700-square-foot ultramodern home with unexpectedly old-world touches in Sacramento’s Wilhaggin neighborhood.
The couple, who share a Greek heritage and have visited the country on many occasions over the years, have long been inspired by its rugged beauty and laid-back lifestyle. At the same time, they also share an affinity for sleek, modern architecture that is devoid of any fussy ornamentation. Their dream: a home that creatively melded the rustic and the refined, the old and the new.
By the time the couple approached San Francisco-based architect Mark Dziewulski with their vision for a “Mediterranean modern” home, Chrisa had amassed three binders’ worth of images of private residences, hotels and landscapes that served as a visual reference guide for their project. She recounts how Dziewulski, an unabashed modernist, wasn’t convinced at first that he was the right person for the project.
“He was like, ‘I only do modern,’” recalls Chrisa. “But once we gave him the images and he got a feeling for what we wanted, he said yes, this is something I can do.”
It turned out to be a great match. “We worked really closely with him on every single detail of the house. Mark really listened, and he really acted on what he heard,” says Chrisa. “For our family home, it’s so personal. I already knew all the details that I wanted, and I wanted someone who was able to go along with that.”
The first clue that Greece serves as the home’s architectural muse is the pool. The narrow body of water anchors a centralized patio and is completely one with the dwelling, which is perched atop a sloping 3-acre lot. “Practically everywhere you go in Greece, you’re on the water,” says Dean. “Of course, in Sacramento we’re nowhere near the water, but we wanted to try to capture that feeling.”
Throughout the first floor, expansive glass doors open to the patio, erasing any distinction between indoors and outdoors. Using the same large-format tile outside the home as inside unifies the two realms. And it’s no accident that the flooring is kid friendly. It’s not unusual to find the couple’s children, Kyriakos, 11, or Lilliana, 8, coasting through the house on a skateboard or scooter. “We wanted the kids to be able to feel comfortable,” says Chrisa. “They can come inside dripping wet from the pool and it’s not a problem.”
When it came to accomplishing the warmth of the Mediterranean-modern look, “the material selection was the biggest thing,” says Chrisa. The tile floors that mimic limestone, the rough stone walls, the perfect not-quite-white stucco, even an antique urn from Crete—those elements all harken back to the Grecian coastline. Meanwhile, “a lot of the modern aspect is achieved through the glass,” she explains. White lacquered cabinetry in several rooms also serves as a glossy contrast to the muted natural materials.
As Dean puts it, “Everybody has been in a modern house that’s super stark. People are surprised when they come in here because Chrisa [who handled the interior design herself] has found that balance between a really cushy couch and a lot of glass.”
Where most homeowners would outsource nettlesome problem-solving tasks to someone else, Dean and Chrisa weren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves and tackle even the minutest of details. For virtually every room in the house, there’s a story of Chrisa searching high and low for just the right material, like the bonded bronze sheeting used to fabricate the front door, or of Dean engineering a solution to a design quandary, like where to stack 5 feet of curtains without blocking the magnificent view of the pool and yard.
“The really cool thing about building the house is that I knew what design I wanted, and Dean was the one who figured out how to build it,” says Chrisa of their unique partnership. In the end, what they created together is a distinctive home that aptly reflects who they are: a thoroughly modern couple still very much in touch with their family roots.