Designer and Writer Jason Mowen Bought His First Home in Murrurundi at 45 | Islander

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Jason Mowen waited until he was 45 to buy his first home. But this interior designer’s choice of a wooden plank chalet in the countryside four-and-a-half hours north of Sydney came as a surprise to many.

“My friends thought I was crazy, but the more people told me not to do it, the more determined I became,” says Jason today, sitting in his elegant book-lined living room in Murrurundi, a famous NSW town. for thoroughbred stallions. dotted throughout the region.

The connection with the horse is important in this story. Based in Sydney city center, Darlinghurst for a decade, Jason is the first to admit that on the surface his decision to opt for rural life was surprising, until you learn he grew up in a property in the green hills around Maleny in Queensland.

It’s a lovely place to sit and reflect on my design work, Jason says of the living room.

“My mother and grandfather raised racehorses and I remember her talking about Murrurundi when I was a child.

Then I went to college in Armidale in the early 90s and always remembered this quaint little town with a long name that I drove through on my way to Sydney, ”he explains.

“I got back on the road at the end of 2015 and fell in love with the place. It was intact: it was neither gentrified nor ruined by poor development. It was also very affordable and I loved that no one in Sydney hadn’t heard of it.

At the top of Jason’s requirement lists was a place where his mom Jicky would also be happy to hang out.

The house was named Dovecot in honor of the man who built it in 1905, George Dove.

The house was named Dovecot in honor of the man who built it in 1905, George Dove.

This meant that any potential new home had to be in an area where the beloved horses of this accomplished rider could be nearby – four of them are now active in a nearby paddock – and the search for a home has so started.

Fortunately, Jason was willing to be patient as it was almost a year before the right one arrived.

“I was looking for both houses and land and after inquiring about another house, the local agent, Dave Bettington, said to me, ‘Forget that one – have I got the house for you. still on the market, but it’s perfect. ‘

“It took a while, but 10 months later I was the proud owner of a large chalet on an acre and a half on the northern edge of town.”

Walking around the garden in the late afternoon, it’s easy to see why, even though he hadn’t initially planned to live on the property full-time, Jason quickly began to have more and more hard to leave this quiet sanctuary with its abandoned tennis court and majestic pines towering into the sky.

The bedrooms overlook the central corridor.  All I really did on the spot was pull it inside and paint it with layers of wallpaper and rugs in each room, but the bones below were perfect.

The bedrooms overlook the central corridor. All I really did on the spot was pull it inside and paint it with layers of wallpaper and rugs in each room, but the bones below were perfect.

“At the end of 2019 I decided to abandon the apartment I had rented for 10 years in Darlinghurst and move to the house I loved and owned in Murrurundi, as I felt I could do a lot of my remote work, ”he said. Explain.

Built in 1905, the house is called Dovecot – a name Jason was originally intrigued by until he learned more about his past.

“There is no real dovecote [a structure for housing doves or pigeons]so I couldn’t understand why it was named that way until I found out that it was built by a man named George Dove – hence, the house of the dove – whom I absolutely adore.

“I bought the house for her granddaughter, Judy, who was born and lived here all her life. She has very good energy. Judy was a lovely person, highly esteemed in Murrurundi, and there was obviously a lot love in this house over the years. “

Pigeonnier was my first home and then a few years later I decided to buy a vacation spot in Europe

Jason gradually learns more and more about the history of Dovecot – just like he does with his vacation home in Italy.

“Dovecot was my first home, and then a few years later I decided to buy a vacation spot in Europe,” says Jason. After finding out how well he can work remotely from Murrurundi, he hopes to spend three months a year in his second the casa – half of a rustic palace dating from 1580 – in Matino in Puglia.

Looking across the living room to the enclosed section of the lanai.  The works of art hanging over the door are, from left to right: a painting by American artist Seann Brackin;  work on paper by the Spanish artist Ramon Canet;  painting by Brazilian artist Eduardo Santos.  The lower left artwork is by photographer Simon Strong and painter Robert Doble.

Looking across the living room to the enclosed section of the lanai. The works of art hanging over the door are, from left to right: a painting by American artist Seann Brackin; work on paper by the Spanish artist Ramon Canet; painting by Brazilian artist Eduardo Santos. The lower left artwork is by photographer Simon Strong and painter Robert Doble.

“I see my life in the future, once things get back to normal, like living between Matino and Murrurundi. I’ve always been a bit of a Gypsy and usually spend five to seven years in one place before moving to something else, but I love Murrurundi.

“It allows you to be calmer, which is ideal for inspiring both creativity and contentment. And being surrounded by such great beauty – the beauty of this wonderful old house and garden and the surrounding natural beauty of the mountains and scenery – I’ve lived all over the world and it doesn’t get any better than this. “

Stacks of The World of Interiors and Cabana magazines in front of the fireplace in the living room hint at the other occupation of Jason, a regular contributor to Vogue Living, Wish and Reflektor, a Melbourne independent publication.  I like Murrurundi's composure for writing, he says.  The mixed media work on board suspended above the fireplace is by James Drinkwater.

Stacks of The World of Interiors and Cabana magazines in front of the fireplace in the living room hint at the other occupation of Jason, a regular contributor to Vogue Living, Wish and Reflektor, a Melbourne independent publication. I like Murrurundi’s composure for writing, he says. The mixed media work on board suspended above the fireplace is by James Drinkwater.

Jason Mowen’s Address Book

Five things I like to do in Murrurundi – not in any particular order – are:

1. Lunch in the garden of Michael Reid’s gallery. “I love taking people there for lunch. The buildings, the atmosphere and the people – I love being there. Your favorite dish on the menu? The pies are excellent.” Corner Boyd and Mayne, Murrurundi NSW. Phone: (02) 6546 6767. michaelreidmurrurundi.com.au

2. A walk to Paradise Park. “If you go up the hill and through those huge granite boulders and a crack in the cliff, you’ll have a great view of the city. It’s called the eye of the needle.”

3. Walk around the city and admire the old colonial houses and buildings that dot the streets. “I still imagine what I would do to them if they were mine!”

4. The suspended pedestrian bridge over Murulla Street, just before the intersection with Mayne Street. “When the river is high, I like to cross this old bridge.”

5. “Sit on my veranda at the end of the day with a Magpie gin and tonic, listen to the cacophony of the birds living in my garden and lose myself in the view of the mountains beyond.”

To learn more about Jason Mowen’s work, visit jasonmowen.com and @jasonmowen on Instagram. For more information on stays at his Italian vacation home, La Dimora di Jason, see ladimoradijason.com and @ladimoradijason

This article first appeared in the Murrurundi Argus, published by Michael Reid. Argus was born out of a desire to share the expansive tales and fables of those who live in the Upper Hunter region of New South Wales and beyond. www.michaelreidmurrurundi.com.au

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