Interiorssneak peeks

sneak peek: luke mortimer

by Amy Azzarito

Luke Mortimer spends most of his days working as a visual merchandiser in Melbourne, Australia. But his heart is in a little gold rush town just outside of Castlemaine in Victoria, Australia. It was there that he flexed his interior design muscles and built this little home finished just last year. Luke has dubbed the house Grey Gardens. The home is the perfect country escape from city life, and Luke rents it out to couples looking for a getaway. (He blogged about the challenge of building the home here.) Luke is a self-professed rubbish addict — he loves the challenge of finding something cool on the side of the road, taking it home and reinventing it. He wanted to create a country escape that was modern but had an eclectic, nostalgic twist. — Amy Azzarito

Image above: This is the guest bedroom. The cross-stitch on the wall was done by my Granny who actually had no plan or design for this but just used whatever thread she had on hand. It’s totally crazy, and I love how it pops against the gray wall in the white frame. I found the drum for $2 at the local tip. I spent hours scrubbing the rust off the chrome with vinegar and aluminum foil, and I love the sound it makes when you plonk your book down.

Image above: The main living space has huge ceilings and so much light. I made the ottoman myself and filled it with beanbag beans. It is the perfect spot to curl up in front of the fire on a cold day and enjoy the sunshine streaming through the windows.

See more of Luke’s Australian home after the jump . . .

Image above: The green cabinet is one of my favourite pieces in the house. I found it at a second-hand dealer in Castlemaine. The Kenwood Mix-Master was a birthday present from my parents, and it came with all the original components. Sadly I dropped the bowl on the unforgiving concrete floor and am still looking for a replacement. As there are no drawers in this ultra-compact country kitchen, all the kitchen utensils and silverware live in old Agee preserving jars next to the cooker. It turns out that it’s actually relatively convenient and looks pretty cool, too.

Image above: This is my favourite spot to sit and enjoy the garden from inside on a cold frosty day as I listen to some tunes on the “bargain basement hand-built in Melbourne record player.” The cabinet was also a find in Castlemaine from a second-hand dealer, and it conveniently stores a weighty collection of vinyl, CDs and DVDs. I found the Fleur Narvik ’60s Blackwood chairs on the side of the road — someone had turfed them out. I spotted them driving past and nearly caused an accident trying to turn around fast enough to go back and collect them. After hours of sanding, oiling, waxing and procuring new cushions, they’re finally comfy spots to sit.

Image above: Although it’s a compact kitchen, I love it, and it works. I love the social aspect of this kitchen, and the island is a prep/dining table. The lights that hang over the island are from a tennis court in Brisbane at Kangaroo Point. (In a sheer coincidence, they came from the tennis courts that backed onto my great grandparents’ home, which had burnt to the ground in the ’60s.)

Image above: The bathtub and matching basin were eBay scores and cost a total of $60. I love the color and the fact that I was able to use a recycled bathroom fixture in a new bathroom. Both fixtures are enameled cast iron, and the bath is perfect for soaking in after a long day in the garden. You can sit and enjoy a glass of wine while looking out over your handy work.

Image above: The main bedroom is painted in the same deep, dark grey (Dulux Malay Grey) and is set off by the artwork on the wall painted by my artist friend Steve Burley. The mic stand was found at a flea market and fashioned into a lamp the second it arrived home. I also love the 1960s “Teasmade” that sits beside the bed (I never use it but love the thought that it’s possible to make a cup of tea without leaving the bed).

Image above: My Mum salvaged this small desk from the hospital basement where she worked. The globe was found on the side of the road.

Image above: The bedroom slipper chair came from my friend’s farm house and has a partner that is awaiting a facelift, after which it will go to live in the guest bedroom.

Image above: The desk in the study nook is made from a slab of Cypress that I bought at the local farmers’ market. The shelves overhead are gifts from my neighbour, and I think they came from an old office building in Melbourne.

Image above: I have six plum trees on the property, and it’s such a pleasure to see all the blossoms in spring followed by buckets and buckets of fruit over summer.

Image above: Although the house was only built in 2010, it feels like it’s always been there. Many people ask what the house looked like before the renovation, which is nice to hear because the aim was always to have the house settle into the landscape and feel like it’s been there for a long time.

Suggested For You


  • I love the way he has connected modern ideas and lines with antiques, and then set it up surrounded by nature. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any bathroom where anyone has brought in what I had always written off as dated bathtubs and sinks. I was wrong! They’re beautiful in this new context. I also thought, ‘where is the before picture?’ until I went back and actually read the text. What a beautiful home.

  • LOVE your place. Love love love it. Did you have your kitchen table custom built? This is exactly what I want :) Any ideas on where I can find a great base like that? I happened to come across a large piece of butcher block.

  • I agree — those green bathroom fixtures were all the rage in the 40s, but they look so fresh with the modern gray. And I love the idea of having a small, compact kitchen — we get all caught up in wanting a “dream” kitchen but there really is something to be said for simplicity. Thanks for all this inspiration.

  • Absolutely stunning. I’m in constant awe of those who stumble upon amazing finds on the side of the road / at the tip / on ebay, what’s the secret?!

  • Wonderful all around–the salvage and creative re-use, the simplicity, the colors, the spareness that skirts minimalism, and yes, the garden. *sigh*

  • Wow you’ve done such a nice job with your home! I especially love the tennis court lights (cool story) and the green in the bathroom – not to mention the great windows!

  • Hello Luke – my grandfather lived in the country near Castlemaine when he was a boy in the early 1900´s – Monteith was his surname – lovely to see how beautiful it is. Love your home, congrats. Julie

  • As an Aussie I’ve seen this house in a few magazine and I still manage to drool every time!!! Love your style Luke, hope to stay there one day. Thanks D*S for showing off another Aussie beauty.

  • One of my favorite sneak peeks ever! Everything is so clean and welcoming, and I love that you’ve so embraced your natural surroundings inside the home. Gorgeous.

  • Gorgeous one of the best houses I have seen lately, the painted furniture, the simples yet stylist interiors, the colour scheme, grey, green, white, etc…the vintage furniture, lighting and objects, I woudn’t not change a thing, even the green bathroom is great!!

  • Yay for Australian homes!! The green & greys of this house reflect the surrounding Victorian countryside beautifully. Love the original green enamel wash stand.

  • Just bought an old house in Iowa and have been fumbling toward a color scheme to rework it – your house embodies my scattered thoughts perfectly! The measured restraint is perfectly executed.

  • Beautiful home with very creative solutions and design ideas! And the garden….just lovely! Thanks for posting!

  • Luke must have inherited his great design sense from Granny. Her cross-stitch is priceless! PS. That bathroom suite is exactly what I have been looking for, I will try to be patient and wait for mine to come up.

  • Love everything…just everything. All of the found pieces make it so unique. And the color scheme, and…everything.

  • Oh my, I love that place! I really like the creative second hand feel to the home…and I love the lights in the kitchen. Beautiful, beautiful home. Got lots of inspiration from it.

  • I wish I knew your grandmother.

    In love with the tub and sink.

    A++++ on an efficient, practical workspace-cum-friend-perch in the kitchen.

  • Absolutely love this home! I am wanting to design a home similar, smaller than I have currently, and one that opens more to the outdoors. I also want all continuous concrete floors throughout the house. I don’t suppose you would share the floor plan and possibly more photos?

  • What I love the most in this bathroom ist the light green bathtub and this universal, lovely cottage-style. Makes me feel like home!

  • this is really great! very cool peek! i love the whole of it – decor, nature, architecture, vibe…

  • Absolutely stunning. I love the way you think…this feels so fresh and clean and ORIGINAL! The home really *does* feel like it’s been there for awhile when you look at it from the outside. Thank you for showing me how to admire sea foam green.

  • Beautiful,sophisticated and fun,with lots of love and talent thrown in. Perfect!I shall save this one for inspiration. Thank you for sharing.

  • This is the first time I’ve actually wanted to move into one of the houses lock, stock, and barrel. Wonderful!

  • i love the thoughtfulness of the design. looking over the garden from your bathtub sounds so wonderful! and that slab-wood desk! oh, that slab-wood desk! it’s clear that you love your home. beautiful.

  • What a beautiful home. Inside and outside seem to flow over. I think it’s great you found such treasures on the streets and off ebay. Well done!

  • Just perfect. What an idyllic retreat you have created. I would love to know who did your casement windows and French doors with fly screens!!? Looks like you solved the problem of how to do this well. Thanks

  • This home is lovely, but my favorite is granny’s cross-stitch. That’s one awesome piece!!

  • Such a beautifully furnished and finished project. Thanks, Luke and D*S, for giving us a “sneak peek” look at it.

    I have one question: In saying the drum was found at “the local tip” — that’s a local landfill site?

  • This is just the best! I love how original but completely unpretentious everything is. The idea of the drum thunk as you place things on it is so sweet.

  • Beautiful, I love the colour scheme, inside/out very calming. The moose head/painted wall feature works. Love the garden as well.

  • so so lovely. A relaxed, comfortable but stylish home. Thanks for letting us take a peek.

  • It is really essential that a house becomes part of the landscape just as this one, i think it influences how people live in it too, and it shows that the inhabitants love it, i also love the idea of salvaging old things which have a soul… It adds quality to the decor. SIMPLY BEAUTIFUL

  • Amazing green tub and sink. I’m so happy to see more warm old shades of green in houses. Did you buy those from a friend, or on an online auction, or Craigslist, or what? Jealous in a good way.

  • as a designer and contractor of smaller homes i often try and steer people away from large kitchens. i think that this is probably one of the most beautiful kitchens i have seen in a while. what i try and do is to make the kitchen dissapear instead of making it a prominent feature. when buyers walk in they have been known to say that they did not realize that this is the kitchen. it must blend rather than stand out, stunning home.love love love

  • Love everything and like Scott would love to see the floor plan as my dream is to build something similar in NZ -this house makes my heart sing -so beautiful.