sneak peek: luke mortimer


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.


  1. Susan says:

    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.

  2. marcus says:

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

  3. heidit says:

    @MOLLY BLOCK, yes- it’s called a ‘tip” here in Oz.
    Great home.

  4. msmrts says:

    Luke, your home and garden are truly beautiful and inspiring. I’m curious about your flooring…what is made of?

  5. kristina says:

    my dream space. i would move here in a heartbeat. if i found a piece of land i would build this in a heartbeat.

  6. Charlotte says:

    Favorite peek ever.

  7. Graziella Price says:

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

  8. This is my dream home! Please can I pick it up and put it in Cape Town!

  9. Girlie says:

    I could/would move right in.

  10. Ha says:

    PERFECT!

  11. anna says:

    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

  12. Titia says:

    does anyone know the exterior paint colour????

  13. Elizabeth says:

    I really love the gray. Any chance you could share the name of the paint?

  14. rose Platt says:

    interior paint colors – PLEASE

  15. Anna says:

    When do I move in?

  16. Eileen 2 says:

    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.

  17. deon marais says:

    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

  18. Clare Dowell says:

    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.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Design*Sponge reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, contain profanity, personal attacks, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Our goal is to create a safe space where everyone (commenters, subjects of posts and moderators) feels comfortable to speak. Please treat others the way you would like to be treated and be willing to take responsibility for the impact your words may have on others. Disagreement, differences of opinion and heated discussion are welcome, but comments that do not seek to have a mature and constructive dialogue will not be published. We moderate all comments with great care and do not delete any lightly. Please note that our team (writers, moderators and guests) deserve the same right to speak and respond as you do, and your comments may be responded to or disagreed with. These guidelines help us maintain a safe space and work toward our goal of connecting with and learning from each other.