Carla Coulson | A Greek Island Dream House
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A Greek Island Dream House

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 Claire Lloyd and  rescue dog Mavrula copyright Carla Coulson

Any of you who have been following along for a while know that I am nuts about the Mediterranean in particular Greece and Italy. Well this summer I travelled to beautiful Lesvos and stayed in a very special guesthouse owned by the fabulous designer Claire Lloyd and partner artist Matthew Usmar Lauder.

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Felix passes the Iron bed made with antique linen copyright Carla Coulson

I knew I was going to love this place as I know Claire has a beautiful eye from all those years working as an art director in London and I adore her  beautiful book My Greek Island Island Home. Throw into the mix Matthew’s divine art and his knack for creating individual pieces of furniture and objects from found and recycled products and it was sure to ignite something big inside of me.

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Loungeroom from the front door copyright Carla Coulson

But as a photographer I have learnt that the photos never do something really beautiful its true justice. It’s all those other dimensions that bring on the love rush, like the scent of jasmine, the exquisite view to the sea, the textures of floorboards under your bare feet, the sound of a home-made wind chime tinkling in the breeze.

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A corner of the lounge room copyright Carla Coulson

You all know since the day I left Italy a piece of my heart has been hankering to go back to a simpler, slower  way of living with a little vege garden out the back and to belong to a community. To belong to a community has been my life long ambition!  I feel very fortunate to belong to a cyber community of wonderful people scattered around the world and for this I will be forever grateful.

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 Beautiful bedlinen and Matthew Lauders.. Copyright Carla Coulson

So here in this exquisite house not only did Francesco and I have a chance to relax and enjoy the fabulous scented candles, the fridge stocked with Greek Yoguhurt, local fruit and delicious local wine but we had the chance to taste what it would be like if we left our lives and went to live on a Greek Island.

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 Loungeroom copyright Carla Coulson

There was nothing touristy about this experience. We were in a small hill village about 4kms from the sea in a part of Lesvos that has no tourist shops or noisy bars just the local tavernas and a rich daily life.

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Matthew’s art, a found table and vintage Turkish runner copyright Carla Coulson

I loved heading down to the Platia which is in the centre of the village, a wonderful tavern sits under a 100 year old tree (they just had the party to celebrates it’s birthday) which is akin to the village outdoor lounge room. Everything happens here, you can drink coffee, play cards for the entire day if your desire, eat lunch or dinner, check your Instagram or wile away the hours swapping stories with the locals.

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Detail Loungeroom Copyright Carla Coulson

And right next door was the vege garden of my dreams. I adored watching the man tending it dressed in white collecting the biggest zucchini flowers I had ever seen.

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 Corridor Downstairs Copyright Carla Coulson

And going on long walks with Claire and the dogs and dropping into’s Matthews heavenly studio (blog post coming soon) to see what he was up to.

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Traditional Wooden box to display treasured icons Copyright Carla Coulson

I have long been in love with Greece, Francesco and I have spent the past 6 years trying to find the most out of the way Islands, to get as faraway as possible from our busy lives in Paris to recharge with long days swimming and resting.

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Kitchen Copyright Carla Coulson

But this was the first time I felt like I actually was living there, when I dared to ask myself ‘what if..?”

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 Beautiful ceramic plates in the kitchen copyright Carla Coulson

What if we had the courage to walk away from the security? What if we could live a simpler life like the one like we had all those years ago in Florence? What would we do and how would we do it?

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Francesco’s Hat on the kitchen chair and local woven rug Copyright Carla Coulson

What if we could give our cat a better life?? LOL!

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Bedroom with antique French Linen sheets Copyright Carla Coulson

Together we explored the island, had long lunches down at Kalo Limani and long dinners where there were just the four of us, a setting sun and simple Greek fare of grilled calamari, fresh fish and local veges.

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 Corner of the bedroom – Copyright Carla Coulson

Matthew and Claire’s generosity has no limits, they took us to their favourite beaches, we ate in their favourite restaurants all over the island and showed us the wonderful co-operatives where local ladies make traditional products.

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Corner of the Bedroom Copyright Carla Coulson

I adored popping down the road to see them, like we had all lived their forever, swapping ideas and advice on all things creative and practical and talking about our hopes and dreams.

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Bedside table detail Copyright Carla Coulson

Matthew’s studio in the centre of town is filled with his beautiful artwork and found treasures. It’s also filled with curious locals who can’t help sticking their heads in to see what was going on.

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Bathroom Copyright Carla Coulson

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 Collection of local plates in the hallway Copyright Carla Coulson

Lesvos is so close to Turkey we even jumped on the ferry for the day and went to Avyalik on bazaar day. It was a frenzy of photos and shopping before we took the evening ferry back.

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View from the terrace to the sea copyright Carla Coulson

I wanted My Greek Island Home experience to go on forever!

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 Felix and Fluffy Boy catching up on a little sleep Copyright Carla Coulson

Oh and for a cat lover missing her baby, not a problem there were a couple of stand-ins to help out..

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 Claire in the courtyard Copyright Carla Coulson

So to dearest Claire and Matthew the stay at your house was not only the loveliest experience yet to happen for us in Greece it was something bigger, it was a catalyst just like that Thai Takeway all those years ago in Darlinghurst that set me on a life of adventure and going after the things that really mattered to me in life.

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 Courtyard Copyright Carla Coulson

Even though I have left my life once before it was beautiful reminder of what I hold dear. Thank-you for allowing me to see that again and experience your beautiful island and lives through your eyes.

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Front door Copyright Carla Coulson

The beautiful My Greek Island Home Guesthouse has it’s own lovely website and if you would like to rent the guesthouse you can get in touch with Claire and Matthew here

Claire Lloyd is the author and photographer of My Greek Island Home and Sensual Living and you can check out Matthew Usmar Lauder’s work here.

If you would like more Greek Island Inspiration please click here.

“True generosity is an offering; given freely and out of pure love. No strings attached. No expectations. Time and love are the most valuable possession you can share.” Suze Orman


Please share if you dream of another life or love beautiful homes

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  • Tricky

    Beautiful photos Carla and you’ve captured one of the best places on this planet. Claire and Matty are so generous in sharing what they love. X

    September 3, 2014 at 11:40 am
  • Aunty Margie

    That place looks like something out of a dream Carla…so beautiful. I’d love to go there some time. Don’t you have a wonderful life? xx

    September 3, 2014 at 12:39 pm
  • Carolyn

    Carla, What an amazing experience you have both had. You certainly deserved such a beautiful place to unwind and relax after a somewhat stressful year!! Your photos and words created a mesmerising snapshot of life on Lesvos. Have never been to Greece, so it’s on my bucket list. Keep well and happy, gorgeous one! C xx

    September 3, 2014 at 1:24 pm
  • This made me drift off completely, so much beauty and peacefulness. What a divine time you must have had and what gorgeous memories and photos Carla. Love to rent it out one day, who knows! Love from me xx

    September 3, 2014 at 1:29 pm
  • I have never been to GREECE either, but I have HER book thanks to YOU!I too sat here this morning and was transported far away……….HOW GORGEOUS WAS THAT STAY!I have a feeling YOU will figure it out……..GREECE is in your future.DO IT!!

    September 3, 2014 at 4:23 pm
  • Do it Carla! Love to read this article, you’re an inspiration. I hope you realise your dream really soon. Currently have left rainy Sydney, spent the last week in Positano and San Gimignano and writing this from Corsica! Love to connect with like minded people around the globe. I hope we figure out how to spend all summers in Europe also.. Nothing like 2 summers in one year! Xxx

    September 3, 2014 at 5:46 pm
  • go for it! + just don’t forget to drop a note from Greece + must run out and get her book now!

    September 3, 2014 at 6:25 pm
  • Simply gorgeous!
    I’d like to escape there this minute!!

    September 3, 2014 at 7:24 pm
  • Truly one of your most beautiful posts, Carla! Sumptuous, simple, divine and so inspiring! Wishing you great things in whatever your next adventure might be. xo

    September 3, 2014 at 9:26 pm
    • Carolyn

      Perfectly expressed, Georgianna. I agree!

      September 3, 2014 at 11:55 pm
  • Sophie Zogragidou

    Quintessentially Greek!
    What an impressive job they’ve done in creating this very welcoming home – I adore its simplicity and rustic charm. I felt a sense of tranquility just looking at these photos – I can imagine what it would be like staying there!
    Thanks, Carla x

    September 3, 2014 at 11:17 pm
  • I can’t tell you what this post did for me Carla! Your images were my first thoughts as I woke up this morning having rekindled a dream I have held for 47 years. Some day I will go to Lesvos and walk up those stone steps but with children ( and now tiny grandsons) all living in the Southern Hemisphere my long held dream of living in a stone cottage overlooking the sea in Greece is on hold……. for now!
    Thank you to you and Claire – big hugs and love xx

    September 3, 2014 at 11:24 pm
  • Thank you Carla for the beautiful photos and heartfelt expression! I continually wish for just a drop of your courage to take a step like you did all those years ago. This post makes me want to run away! X

    September 3, 2014 at 11:28 pm
  • Jacqueline

    Oh to dream…absolutely heavenly, your photos are exquisite and your words so inspiring, I will love to run away to Greece one day x

    September 3, 2014 at 11:46 pm
  • I bought Claire’s book upon your recommendation last fall and it made me love Greece more than before. I too with Hubby in tow would love to just throw caution to the wind and live a simpler life. Alas grown children, grandbabies etc… family keeps me connected to Cape Cod. However I can appreciate the beauty in the simplicity of the surroundings Claire has created.

    As a side note hubby and I are headed to France this Thursday. Four days in Paris and then touring around the country. It will be our first visit and we are so very excited!

    September 4, 2014 at 1:19 am
  • Dearest Carla – you too have captured village life on a Greek island to perfection. And isn’t it infectious? All I can say is trust your gut instinct – and just do it! It’s like jumping off a cliff with only a coathanger to hang onto – but my goodness what a way to go! You’ll just love it. F xx

    September 4, 2014 at 1:21 am
  • Stunning, stunning, stunning!!!! Stuff of dreams, indeed.

    September 5, 2014 at 3:32 pm
  • Thanks for your lovely post Matt and I loved sharing our Greek Island Home with you and Francesco and hope to see you nest year.
    Love Claire xxxx

    September 9, 2014 at 10:19 am

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