Home Tour: Holiday Vibes at Home in Newcastle
This retreat-like sanctuary in the suburbs of Newcastle is turning heads, and all for the right reasons.
Who lives here
Luke and Justine Orton of Orton Building, and their two children.
Urban Coastal, where contemporary meets coastal
The outdoor entertaining area off the kitchen.
I love the artwork! We commissioned artwork from local artists Annie Everingham and Kiasmin.
Having spent the last decade flipping houses and custom-building residential homes, the husband and wife team, Luke and Justine Orton (of Orton Building), decided it was time to turn their attention to their family home. Using local tradies, designers and retailers that they love to work with, they set about building a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home in the beachside suburb of Merewether, just south of Newcastle City.
Having fallen in love with the suburb and its beachy location, the Orton's lived in a tired-looking weatherboard cottage for two years with the goal to one day tear it down and build their dream home. Instead of demolishing the old house, they sold it for free on Gumtree and had it relocated to an inner suburb of Newcastle. Now, left with a blank canvas, Luke and Justine got to work, creating what they call an urban coastal home, which sits harmoniously within its suburban setting.
A pitched roof with timber panelling and whitewashed exteriors sets the scene for what lies within. Flooded with natural light, the soft curves and muted coastal hues create a calming oasis within the long-elongated design. Through the front door, a curved timber feature wall runs the hallway's length and into the spacious open plan living area, passing the retreat-like master bedroom and kid zone alone the way.
"Having Luke as the builder meant we could have a lot of crafty and considered carpentry throughout – hidden doors, textured walls, a tiled ceiling, timber screening, curved walls, hardwood flooring and decking," explains Justine.
The home's hub – the open-plan lounge, kitchen and dining areas – plays on the relaxing holiday vibe; earthy, textured and calm. Looking out over the pool area, the kitchen's large concrete Caesarstone island bench doubles as a casual breakfast bar. A hidden door opens into the pantry, and the kitchen's cabinetry has the same white base that runs across all three living areas.
A stunning painting by local artist Annie Everingham hangs in the dining room. Its soft pinks and desert hues bring colour to a room with a timber dining table and pendant light above. Across from the dining, a stack bond brick fireplace defines the lounge room as light filters through the sheer curtains onto the soft, muted colour palette.
Back down the hall, the master bedroom and ensuite is the dreamy parent's retreat that the couple had longed for. Tall raked ceiling, wool carpet and sheer curtains sit harmoniously alongside the rattan and timber styling. A hall lined with joinery on one side and beautiful artwork by Kiasmin on the other leads to a spa-like ensuite complete with a deep-set bathtub.
The parent retreat may be off-limits to Luke and Justine's two young children, but the two bedrooms separated by the main bathroom and a rumpus room is anything but. Keeping the bedrooms simple, the rooms are designed to be a calming space to read and sleep. On the other hand, the rumpus room has pops of colour, a hanging swing and toys galore, making it a fun play space for when they're not playing in the backyard.
"The outdoor entertaining area off the kitchen is my favourite part of the home. The resort vibe, not only of the house but of this area, is so lovely to come home to," says Justine.
A spotted gum decking hugs the pool and connects the covered lounging area and outdoor kitchen to the pool room and grassy area. To top it off, the home's sculptural form at the back mimics the front - a pitched roof with timber batten features.
"Back when we created the initial mood board for the house, I took snippets of inspiration from Interior Designers Catherine Heraghty of The Stables, Aimee Tarulli of Archer Interiors and Alex Bennett. We got a lot of inspiration from Byron Bay's holiday houses that would pop up online and in magazines.
Justine continues, "The key is to bring all those snippets and ideas together and make it your own. I think that's what we did really well. We have interesting elements everywhere you look. We didn't 'invent' those design features, but we put our spin on them to create our signature look. And that's when the magic happens."
Once a quiet, working-class mining village, Merewether has quickly become one of the (if not the) most sought-after suburbs in the entire Hunter region, with young families, professionals and avid surfers flocking from near and far to get a slice of the sand-fuelled action. Famed for its pristine, surf-ready beaches, Merewether’s varied landscape boasts everything from serene green parklands and secluded beaches to lush rainforests with trickling waterfalls. And it’s all within 5km of Newcastle’s buzzing CBD.
JUSTINE ORTON’S FAVOURITE MEREWETHER HANGOUTS
Talulah for the best nourish bowl with egg and halloumi or the smoked salmon bowl!
Five minutes away in Honeysuckle is Nagisa – we love Japanese food.
We LOVE a good chilli margarita at The Basement.
Go-to local boutique
I find the Junction a great little one-stop shopping centre. I can find everything I need there, and it’s only a 10-minute walk. Groceries, homewares, surf shop, kid’s boutique store, apothecary, cafes, gift wrapping, you name it.
One thing you love
We love a good trail run through Glenrock, you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere, yet it’s so close by. You see the coastline, rainforest, waterfalls, and then you finish off with a coffee and beach swim at Merewether Baths/Beach.
I'd love to live near