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A House With A Heart Of Gold

Homes

The phrase ‘sitting on a goldmine’ is bandied about in real-estate frequently, but it isn’t that often that homes are literally sitting on old goldfields!

Today’s home (lovingly named ‘Grey Gardens‘) of creative director Luke Mortimer and artist Steve Burley in Chewton, Victoria draws upon this rich history to create a contemporary country sanctuary. Designed by Steve, with garden transformation by Luke – we have struck gold with this home tour!

12th December, 2018

Creative director Luke Mortimer and artist Steve Burley’s spectacular property, located in the Goldfields region of Chewton. Looking into the kitchen, featuring vintage school chairs from a local high school. Vintage tennis court lights from eBay hang above. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The couple wanted the house to feel familiar, and opted for an eclectic selection of second-hand furniture and country op shop finds to create the comfortable look. The old drum used as a side table was a local vintage find. Vintage ceramics collection. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

A kitchen corner. Vintage tennis court lights from eBay. Vintage chairs from a local high school. The kitchen benches were made by Luke’s dad from strawberry packing bench tops! Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The main living space. The couple painted the interior in dark colours (Dulux Malay Grey and Dulux Grey Ember) to draw attention to the incredible garden. Artwork by Steve. Vintage Fler Narvik chairs found on the side of the road (these two must have the best finders-luck ever!).Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Sculpture by Melissa Peacock. Vintage lamp from The Salvage Yard. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The master bedroom featuring a gorgeous feature artwork by Steve. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Luke and Steve built the glasshouse and sheds in their garden from fully recycled materials from The Salvage Yard. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Not a bad view from the bath! Vintage bath from eBay. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The main deck on the north side of the house. Luke and Steve built this house in 2011 and have since spent many hours in reworking the soil in the garden to create the magnificent greenery there today! Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The incredible glasshouse built by Luke and Steve with doors salvaged from hard rubbish. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Glasshouse and garden shed made from fully recycled materials from The Salvage Yard. The veggie plot a new addition to the garden. All were built by Luke and Steve. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Luke (right) and Steve in front of ‘Little Edie’, an original 1950s original Bondwood caravan who ‘joined the Grey Gardens family a few years back’. The couple heads out for adventures on the road with her every year! Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

‘The garden is a bit of an experiment’, says Luke. ‘It’s been a very steep learning curve gardening here, but when it works it’s über rewarding’. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Little Edie in the shed. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

A fruitful garden (literally)! Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Inside the glasshouse, with pots and galvanised items collected from markets over the years. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Back garden gate leading to the back paddock. Wash troughs collected over the years. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Grey Gardens living up to its name!Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 12th December 2018

‘We embraced the humble and made things really basic, but with good material choice that fit the budget.’ – Luke Mortimer.

In 2010, creative director Luke Mortimer and artist Steve Burley purchased land in the goldfields region of Chewton, outside of Castlemaine. Luke explains, ‘Chewton wasn’t even on the radar and it was last on the list to visit, I fell in love with the block of land and called Steve to tell him I had just bought it and he should start designing a house for me ASAP.’

One year later, and the couple had moved in! Under a tight budget, Steve designed a home that could be adorned with vintage fixtures (like the second hand bathtub and sinks!), ‘we embraced the humble, and made things really basic, but with good material choice that fitted the budget.’ Luke explains ‘we wanted the house to feel familiar, nostalgic and comfortable’.

The resulting design is a home of modern architectural clean lines, balanced with eclectic vintage interiors. The pair deliberately eschewed the ‘oppressiveness’ of symmetry, by introducing a variety of op-shop and vintage furniture that cycles through the home. The kitchen is a particularly favourite spot, fit-out with old strawberry packing furniture, cleverly transformed by Luke’s dad into a kitchen bench. The interiors are also adorned with Steve’s own artwork, much of which is inspired by the local landscape and places the couple have travelled together.

In addition to what Luke cheerfully describes as the ‘Nordic barn with goldfields twist’ – the pair have spent considerable time and energy on transforming the garden. Luke explains that as an old gold mining area, there is no topsoil, and gardening has required a steep learning curve! After much work adding raised veggie beds, a glasshouse, and developing a water management strategy – the garden in now thriving. Luke highlights ‘the garden is a mash of natives, succulents, fruit trees and whatever else will grow.’ The pair have also employed an unconventional strategy to the plantings on their property, as Luke acknowledges ‘it’s a little bit OCD, but we have a strictly white flowers rule in the garden!’.

The windows in the home invite the garden in, and Luke explains ‘it really makes you feel a part of the outdoors, but still cocooned, especially in winter when all you want to do is curl up by the fire and read a book or magazine.’ Luke and Steve opted to use dark colours in the main living spaces (Dulux’s Malay Grey and Grey Ember) to create atmosphere, and further highlight the surrounding botanical splendour – but we’re pretty sure this home glows golden, all year round.

Inspired to take a country escape? Grey Gardens is available to book for short stay accommodation! Click here for more information. 

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The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

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