Greg Natale waves his wand in the Hunter Valley

by Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Sebel Kirkton Park – one word: magical! When walking into the reception area of this historic hotel, it’s nearly impossible not to say “wow”! A grand open entry hall with plenty of natural light, chic furnishings and bold patterns all combine to create an incredibly stylish sense of arrival.

The signature bold glam aesthetic and layered use of colour and pattern is what internationally renowned, award-winning interior designer Greg Natale is known and loved for. Greg is the brains behind the multi-million dollar refurbishment of the historic Sebel Kirkton Park – and what an amazing success!

From quaint country manor to 21st century modern elegance, this hotel is an absolute delight! The classic country heritage remains, but merges beautifully with contemporary class.

Throughout the property, Greg has waved his magic wand and created a hotel experience you won’t find elsewhere in the Hunter Valley – and what I love is that no two rooms are identical! All interior public spaces and 70 guest rooms have undergone an impressive rejuvenation – contributing to an undeniably sumptuous stay.

The guestrooms are warm and inviting and drenched with natural light. Gold and white wallpaper (from Greg’s Porter’s Paints range) is offset with rich blue drapes and black and white carpet, that are complimented with key pieces – like ceramic Ralph Lauren lamps and gorgeous artwork (I love the horse prints!). The textures are sensational.

Greg’s Hudson furniture range also shines throughout. Some favourites? The patterned lounge chairs and detailed bedside tables – fall in love with them in this photo…

lamp and chair

In addition to guestrooms and the lobby, The Sebel Kirkton Park also updated its lounge bar and restaurant. The lounge bar has a stunning open fireplace that lights up the room and is delicious in winter. The split-level space feels luxurious with dark carpets, timber, metals, stone and chic upholstery which combine to create a space where guests can relax, unwind or play a game of billiards. There’s also a new outdoor deck area (with wood pizza oven!), that overlooks Wyndham Estate.


Locavore Dining, the hotel’s new paddock to plate inspired restaurant, has the most beautiful and intricate features – blue and white china, herringbone patterned timber floors and ceiling to floor windows with white timber shutters – all combine to create a warm and classy dining experience.

Locavore 1

Q&A with Greg Natale

This was your first hotel makeover, a long awaited dream of yours, how did you go about tackling this makeover?

As soon as I walked into this space, I saw it had amazing bones, I was very lucky. My main inspiration came when I walked in and spotted the black and white checkered floor. It’s original, from 30 years ago, I knew it had to stay.

As soon as I saw the floor, I thought the hotel should be black and white – it was previously very brown and red. The hotel had amazing bones, but did need a bit of replanning. The original reception was in a little cut out, which felt outdated, so we reshuffled it to create a more warm, spacious and modern welcome to the hotel.

The bar and lounge (which were previously separate) and dining all had a huge reshuffle too. To add the billiards room in the lounge, we sacrificed one hotel room and it all now flows and looks great.

How involved in the process were Accor Hotels?

The makeover itself was a very collaborative process – I thought of the initial idea, then shared it with my team and the clients (who are always involved every step of the way), once we’ve presented an idea, there will be a back and forth until the design is ticked off.

What is the overall design concept of the guestrooms?

A carefully planned combination of patterns, with whites and blues that link back to the common areas of the hotel. The black carpets and rich blue drapes offset the pops of gold, the floor lamps and wallpaper. It’s very layered and very decadent and transports you to somewhere very much unlike your own bedroom and that’s part of the fun of a hotel stay.

Bed Greg Natale

Is there one room that’s your favourite?

The lounge – it brings people together. It’s warm , the bar works, the billiards room works – it has a really beautiful feel. My next favourite is the guestrooms, they feel really luxurious, how a hotel room should feel. The colours make it fresh and contemporary.

Is there one guestroom that’s your favourite?

That’s like asking who your favourite child is! I love them all. They’re all unique and different.

How detailed do you go?

I was lucky, as this hotel had great detail. Beautiful detailed cornices were already featured throughout, but in the guestrooms we added more decoration to the ceiling (the boarders and roses) to add dimension and to create a rich, layered hotel experience.

But the office laughs at me, because I go right down the finest fiddly details – like the light switches. In some projects, I go down to what books are in the bookshelves.

If we wanted to achieve a little Sebel Kirkton Park opulence at home, what are your top three tips?

  1. Have a starting point: e.g. the checkered tiles were my starting point and I planned everything around them, it just flows when you do that. So maybe it’s a sofa, or a rug that you love – if it’s timeless and dateless, pick it and plan around it.
  2. Soul: the room needs to have soul, don’t make it look manufactured, don’t make it something you’re not, make it personal. I’m all about trends, but if you make it personal, it won’t date.
  3. Mood board: create a mood board on Pinterest or cut out little bits of inspiration from magazines and pin it on a board. That way, you can show people what your style is if you need a helping hand.

china Locavore

Do you travel to gain inspiration and source product?

I travel to weird and wonderful places, like New Dehli, Singapore and Shanghai – also I travel to the USA a lot, and Italy.

Halcyon House is another hotel where you walk in and say “wow”, no two rooms are alike. Is the designer/boutique hotel something we’re set to see a lot more of?

There definitely is the market, and need, for boutique designer hotels in Australia. I don’t like staying at big, generic hotels – I find it really boring. I go to a hotel for the experience. So there is a big market and so many to do!

I’m not being biased, but this really is the best place to stay in the Hunter. When you get up in the morning, you see the beautiful scenery – the hills, the cows, the dams – its just stunning. I wanted to retain the country feel and keep it cozy, but bring modern elegance.

This was your first hotel makeover, is this going to be a regular feature for Greg Natale Designs?

I love doing hotels. For me, it was a natural progression from all the residential work that we do. We are currently renovating a hotel in Fremantle, WA – so watch this space!



To connect with Greg Natale, to see more projects and to discover more visit

Book Your Stay At The Sebel Kirkton Park

Set on 70 acres of farmland, The Sebel Kirkton Park is one of the Hunter Valley region’s most historic hotels, offering sensational views of the Brokenback Ranges and picture perfect manicured gardens.

The gorgeous retreat boasts tennis courts, a billiards room, onsite Grecian-style pool house with indoor heated pool, sauna, spa and gymnasium.

Room rates at The Sebel Kirkton Park start from $179 per room per night. To book, visit Accor Hotels online. Take advantage of Accor’s ‘WINTERVENTION’ deal – free breakfast and $25 off each night you stay, click here.

Pool and view