Renovating our house on Karpathos

When we bought our house on Karpathos in 2017, we didn’t actually change anything. However, now that we live there for much of the year and it really is our home instead of a holiday home, it was time for the big renovation.

The house was built in 2007 as a holiday home with wooden window frames, single glazing, no insulation and two small bathrooms. After buying it (6 years ago), we replaced some of the window frames upstairs, put new coating on the roof, removed the Greek bed for more space and painted the kitchen. For the holidays, this was fine, but now that we are here most of the year, we wanted this to really become our place. So we opted for a major renovation! In this blog, we’ll tell you how we arranged it. But first, a quick impression of what it looked like:

Arranging an architect & contractor

Together with the house next door (Athina’s parents), we chose to combine the renovation.

Together we carried out this project with an architect from Athens who lives on Karpathos during the summer (Sophia). A major renovation with a number of changes requires an architect to be involved for arranging permits and other paperwork.With the house next door (Athina’s parents), we chose to combine the renovation.

Right from the start we had a good feeling with Sofia, we were given a number of floor plans with possible practical changes to the house to make the best use of it. These included options to large bathroom, the kitchen needed a different place and extra storage space.

Part of the upstairs terrace has been closed off with sliding walls, making the upstairs bedroom a lot bigger. We made an ensuite bathroom upstairs, which still feels separated by wooden beams, and we are so happy with that change. That too was an idea from Sofia

Sophia, besides being the architect, was also directly the main contractor who hired all self-employed to carry out the work. So everyone came flying in/by boat from Athens except for the insulation/plaster work. Materials mainly came from Athens as it is a lot cheaper. However, literally the building materials like bricks and cement we bought on the island.

Huis verbouwen op Karpathos Griekenland 1


In March, 2 men came from Athens to remove all the walls, fireplace, kitchen and bathrooms and empty everything inside. Everything was thrown down in big piles and then carried down the old-fashioned way to the big-bags. Tip to make sure you have enough big-bags during the renovation, at least 30 full ones were disposed of with us.

After clearing the house, they immediately started building the new walls. So we enlarged the bathroom and they lowered part of the ceiling to put in spotlights. The bathroom furniture and bookcase in the living room will be made of concrete slabs.

Meanwhile, the plumbers came and replaced and relocated all pipes for the extension of shower on the top floor and made preparations for the solar panel boiler to be installed on the roof. Immediately, the shower and toilet were also prepared in terms of construction and drain pan in concrete, so the tiling can start immediately.

After the plumbers left, the electrician came to replace and move all the wiring. So we all have different locations for sockets and lamps and some light switches have been changed to dimmable. You don’t expect it (or do ;)) but the houses were not earthed, 3 pins were driven into the ground at the meter box to serve as the earthing of the two houses.

Renovating our house on Karpathos Greece
Isolation Greece Karpathos house renovation


The only work we outsourced locally was insulating the house. This work took more than 4 weeks. It could have been faster but work methodology on Karpathos is that they work for several days and then work on another job (without you knowing). We chose to insulate the outside of the house with Styrofoam over which stucco will eventually be applied to finish it neatly. The wall has increased in thickness by 7cm from the outside.

Insulation helps enormously, in summer it’s nice and cool and in winter you often don’t have to heat during the day. We also chose a wood-burning stove instead of a fireplace to use the heat effectively. The difference is very big, even lighting the fire has now become a breeze.

The remodeling

After that, the building of the house could begin so to speak! The tiler tiled both houses in a few days. Instead of skirting boards, we had a strip of tiles fitted against the bottom of the wall. Later, one tiler returned to fit a strip of tiles around the house (which helps protect against insects and water) and fitted wall tiles in the kitchen.

The walls of the bathroom and the bathroom furniture were not tiled but were treated with a concrete look. Something like five layers were applied to make it waterproof and to create the beautiful look we envisioned.Special someone on the island had come to add the dark colour tones in it.

The kitchens were literally tailor-made in the house, we thought it was already so strange that 3 weeks before delivery the colour could still be passed on. We chose a U-shaped kitchen to create extra workspace and clear separation from the seating area. Because everything could be custom-made, the wall units run all the way to the ceiling for as much space as possible.

The longest delivery time was for the aluminium window frames and doors that really complete the houses. Wood deteriorates quickly here due to the sun and sea air and wanted a durable solution with low maintenance. In addition, the house is now even better insulated and you really don’t hear anything when the windows are closed. Insect nets have been fitted everywhere, so we can always open the windows without going crazy with insects.

Finally, both the plumber and the electrician came by to finish the last things, such as the kitchen taps, shower, sockets and lights. For instance, the architect came up with the idea of mounting LEDs on the underside of the kitchen, and the result is quite something!

We removed the water tank that was on the roof. Sometimes the pressure of supply water drops from the municipality, so the tank on the roof was not filled. Besides, the only pressure was the water from the tank (1000L). To create constant pressure, we opted for a 2500L shared water tank behind the house with a water pump to create constant pressure. You notice this difference immediately!

Finally, of course, change the furniture and inventory to be practical with the house. Here we have already written an interesting blog on where we got all this from. Read how we shop online here.

Apart from some minor finishing things, we are very happy with how the renovation went. Rebuilding took a total of 3.5 months which was only 2 weeks longer than planned. We only had to replace a water tap because it rusted due to poor water quality. Tip not to skimp on this and buy a really good GROHE, it has real protection on the inside.

We are extremely happy with how everything turned out and with the end result. Now we can really have a place to unwind and enjoy what this beautiful island has to offer.

The result (video)


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