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.