Pacific Dunes Project

After 20 years living overseas in far-flung places; when the Charltons decided to come home to Australia, they wanted above all else to create a lifestyle.

The first stage of that journey for the ex-Paddington couple, John and Jane, was about as far removed from Medowie, where they now live, as you could get. But it was all part of the journey. “When we came back from New York, which was our last overseas venue, we loved the season changes in London and Europe so we decided to go down to the Southern Highlands, to Exeter, and bought a lovely property with a wonderful garden and spent eight years there.

“All of sudden we decided to try golf and then it became a bit of a battle between golf and garden… and golf won,” John says. “So we decided to change our life completely and focus it around golf; and that became a journey to find a house,” he says.

They chose Pacific Dunes Golf Course Estate because they liked the land, which backs on to the course itself, and also the Cox Richardson designed house.

“We liked the high ceilings, the very modern square-set windows frames and that there was a lovely backdrop to showcase our things. We also liked the design of the house because the architect has cleverly used the narrow space and created a very private courtyard in front, because we have views both front and back.”

Jane, a food and recipe writer, wanted to build everything around the kitchen and the house catered to that very well. The Charltons, who came to golf late in life, also particularly liked the Pacific Dunes course itself.

“We wanted a course that was visually stimulating and challenging to play and that made you a better player,” John says. “The third reason why we selected here was because of the location, it is only 25 minutes from Newcastle so we have the facilities of the city and then there is the Hunter.”

The house was completed about 12 months ago by McDowell Homes in Salamander Bay. “He did a beautiful job and we loved that we were able to select our own finishes,” Jane says. “It was a bit daunting because we had an open palette and we could choose what we liked and all of a sudden the builder looked at us and said, ‘well, what do you want’?”

They chose well, with a neutral colour palette that sets off their furnishings beautifully. The neutral colours also serve to bring the lush greens of the golf course inside. Despite being open plan, the living area with the kitchen as its centrepiece is a very elegant room accented by treasures the couple have collected from their travels around the world.

The couple say that despite the contrasts in their decor, they always agree on taste. A golden tapestry from Eze in Provence hangs on one wall, while candelabras found in New York are suspended from the ceilings. Their collection is an eclectic mix of Asian and European classic pieces accented by pieces of pure whimsy such as a wild set of dragon door handles in Jane’s office.

The house is a reflection of their life and everything has a story. A painting from Provence, urns from Paris and a table from London give each room a different mood.

“We haven’t ever disagreed on anything, our style is eclectic as you can see because we decided very early on when we started collecting pieces that when we bought something, we had to love it,” John says. “Surprisingly the more you love them, the more they tend to work together.”