Home Tour: Natasha Morgan's Idyllic Country House
Oak & Monkey Puzzle is the stunning country home of landscape architect, designer and creative Natasha Morgan. Discover the beautiful family home she restored and the garden she created on the outskirts of Daylesford.
Location: Spargo Creek, Daylesford Victoria
Who lives here: Natasha Morgan and her family
Interior style: An historic home that celebrates its history with a monochromatic palette
Favourite part: The dining room's earthen wall is such a wow feature.
Favourite room: The dining room because of the earthen wall. It feels like the middle of the home, and it's beautiful in winter and summer, and it connects the library and kitchen at each end.
In the garden: The lawn spine that leads your view from inside the home to the forest backdrop is incredibly special. Also, the three terraces; the kitchen garden is closest to the house so that I have easy access, then the middle terrace is all berries, and the top terrace is a picking garden where I can cut bunches of roses.
There's something magical about a space that's adapted over time – a homestead, a post office, a general store, and for a short period, the local pub. These past years, Landscape Architect and Creative Natasha Morgan took what had become a derelict home on the outskirts of Daylesford and transformed it into a property that's graced the pages of many magazines.
For eight years, Natasha searched for a weekender where she could pursue some of her passions—stumbling across what is now known as Oak & Monkey Puzzle, that all changed. With her young family, Natasha made a permanent move, where she created not only a family home but a business where she hosted workshops, events, and photoshoots while growing her ever-popular preserves business.
Set back from Ballan-Daylesford Road, the white weatherboard cottage sits beautifully against the aged oaks, exotic trees and lush forest. Wanting to retain as much of the original 1800s cottage, they kept the footprint of the building and uncovered elements that became features of the home's interiors.
"When we were working in the dining room, we uncovered this earth and timber wall. It still has the fingerprints of the original makers in it. For me, that was the gem in the crown," explains Natasha.
With ceilings that soar to 4-metres, exposed wooden beams and original floorboards, the three-bedroom home has a humble beauty that pays homage to times past while bringing it into the 20th century with subtle touches of modern living. Such as a food-lovers kitchen with European appliances and bathrooms with contemporary fixtures and finishings.
"I'm drawn to beautiful spaces that have history, charm and patina, that are juxtaposed with that crispness. There is something about white against original features that create a beautiful canvas," says Natasha about her home that's filled with antique and repurposed furniture, many of which she sourced from the markets, auction houses and antique stores that the Daylesford region is renowned for.
"I'm a big fan of exposed timbers and white walls, and I'm really drawn to proportion and a sense of space and architecture that is experiential," says Natasha. "Like our dining room that's charcoal, which is bookended with white library space and a white kitchen, but the kitchen also has a charcoal nook around the fire. It's about creating space, not just about creating features."
From the beginning, Natasha wanted to create a garden that's inhabited, not just a garden that you viewed. To be lived in and explored, that's beautiful yet humble and designed to enhance the internal spaces of the home and the other features of the five-acre property; chicken coup, an orchard, citrus grove, dam and a workshop based inside a converted shipping container.
"It was about creating a landscape that was designed to be flexible and allow for a diverse offering – a garden that you live in and that changes with the season," explains Natasha.
"When you open the front door of the house, there's a window directly opposite the front door, and the lawn spine that goes right up through the formal part of the garden lines up perfectly with that window. So, when you open the front door, you are instantly transported into that landscape with the forest backdrop. That was a specific design decision that was important for me."
Then there are the three terraces that Natasha designed; the bottom level, positioned closest to the house for easy access, is the kitchen garden. The middle terrace is for the berries, and the top terrace is a picking garden where Natasha can cut bunches of roses.
"Every window you look out of, you're so connected to nature, the incredible trees and backdrops - it's such a beautiful place," says Natasha. "I bring to it what interests me, but the property provides so much that anyone can bring to it what they want."
Perfectly positioned along the foothills of the Great Dividing Range and just over an hour out from Melbourne, Daylesford is a place where time slows down, and wholesome gardens shine bright. From fertile farms and rugged bushland to a picture-perfect town with a healthy dose of good old-fashioned country hospitality. A humble oasis of calm and natural goodness, Daylesford is renowned for its fields of lavender, mineral springs, boutique cottages and antique shopping, and with local produce in abundance, people travel from afar for a taste of what the chefs plate up.
NATASHA MORGAN'S GUIDE TO DAYLESFORD
For Coffee/breakfast: Cliffy's is an absolute must.
For Lunch: Passing Clouds Winery make incredible lunches, plus they have a cellar door that's a must.
For Drinks: Daylesford Brewery Tap Room.
To Shop: Manteau Noir is an absolute favourite.
Love to do: At the end of a really hot day, swim off the pier at Daylesford Lake. Tipperary Springs is pretty magical., so is a massage at EKO Day Spa. A wander through the Daylesford Mill Markets – it's an incredible rustic, bric-a-brac market.
I'd love to live near