The home among the mahogany trees

COUNTRY HOMES: The Smith family's dream home


Life & Style
The Smith family's home just out of Emerald, which showcases extensive gardens, a circular driveway, and "his and hers" yard - with hedges separating the large sheds from the outdoor tea room, pool, and train carriage. Photos - Kelly Butterworth.

The Smith family's home just out of Emerald, which showcases extensive gardens, a circular driveway, and "his and hers" yard - with hedges separating the large sheds from the outdoor tea room, pool, and train carriage. Photos - Kelly Butterworth.

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A converted train carriage tying together an Emerald homestead with ease and country charm.

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APPROACHING Netty and Peter Smith’s home in Emerald, the welcoming gardens are circular driveway immediately show off the casual elegancy of the homestead.

The driveway, however, is for guests only – Netty and Peter said anyone who knows them heads straight down the back, knowing they’ll likely find the family on the deck which opens straight out from the kitchen, or around the pool in summer. 

Peter, a local builder who owns his own business built the house, but the designs were all Netty’s – no surprise, coming from one of Taylor Byrne Valuation and Property Consultants’ directors. 

Netty Smith at home in the kitchen, which boasts a large butlers pantry.

Netty Smith at home in the kitchen, which boasts a large butlers pantry.

In December the home is merrily decked out for Christmas, with a large tree taking attention in the living room, and Christmas stockings hung in anticipation for the holidays. 

Netty said when designing the home, she took her inspiration from California bungalow styles, with a H design offering two separate living areas at each end, and a joint one in the middle with the kitchen.

With two children, Copelan and Isabelle, she said being able to shut off one end of the house was ideal for obvious reasons – and gave her and Peter a wing essentially to themselves. 

Starring in that wing is Peter’s hunting trophies, much to Netty’s disdain.

Peter Smith sits in the trophy room with his hunting successes.

Peter Smith sits in the trophy room with his hunting successes.

“What did I never think was going to be in my house?  A collection of heads,” Netty laughed.

But Peter’s collection, which he called his “friends”, includes a scrub bull and buffalo from the Northern Territory, and six trophies from Africa including a warthog and a zebra. 

“I was the first person, and still the only person that's gone and got six animals with six shots there,” he said. 

“I was pretty chuffed with that.”

Netty said she’s waiting for the day the trophies leave the house, and Peter said that day is not too far off.

He has plans to build a room into one of the sheds to house the prizes, and of course a beer fridge. 

A carriage fit for a king, queen, or guests

The train carriage Peter and Netty Smith relocated to their home and have renovated.

The train carriage Peter and Netty Smith relocated to their home and have renovated.

TWO years ago Netty Smith was gifted a train carriage for her 40th birthday. 

Now the carriage stands metres from the home, renovated and beautifully decorated ready for guests to move in. 

Netty and Peter Smith sit on the steps of their newly-renovated guest house.

Netty and Peter Smith sit on the steps of their newly-renovated guest house.

Painted white to give the carriage the illusion of roominess, the long windows and expert craftsmanship from Netty’s builder husband Peter Smith presents a beautiful and unique guest home. 

With a decked out kitchenette and small but comfortable bathroom, Netty said Nanny has the honour of being the first guest in the much-anticipated, and longly awaited, addition to the beautiful homestead.

The interior of the train carriage before it was furnished. It also boasts a kitchenette and bathroom.

The interior of the train carriage before it was furnished. It also boasts a kitchenette and bathroom.

With an adjoining covered deck opening out to overlook the sprawling lawn, gardens, pool and tea house, the carriage looks truly as if it belongs at the Emerald property. The carriage came from the local property of a friend of the family, and was in original condition.

It is a camp wagon, a CW384, and when it arrived at the property Peter gutted it and re-did it with pressed metal outside, and timber on the inside. 

The kitchenette in the carriage.

The kitchenette in the carriage.

Decking out the home for comfort

WHEN Emerald was in the grips of the 2010/2011 floods, Netty and Peter Smith were attempting to finish the outside of their dream house. 

Amongst the flooding family friends, Geoff and Marnie Wills and their two children were evacuated from their house – and what was initially a few nights became six months living with the Smith family until Peter could renovate the Wills’ home.

Looking out over the carriage and pool.

Looking out over the carriage and pool.

After purchasing the 2 hectares (5 acres) block the year before, the family were living in the shed for eight months before the heat became unbearable – so they moved into the house which was air-conditioned, but was yet to boast any lights. 

Laughing, Netty recounted the earlier days of the homestead and said they had definitely come a long way.

Now the home which Peter built boasts high ceilings, timber floors, three separate living areas, four bedrooms, and office, a storeroom, butlers’ pantry and a very large laundry. 

Looking down into the laundry.

Looking down into the laundry.

The size of the impressive laundry was Netty’s stipulation.

“You have to have a big laundry - never skimp on the laundry,” she said.

The other area clearly given priority was outside – with a large entertaining deck, tea house, pool, and now the train carriage. 

Netty said it was important for the family to have the entertaining area and to be able to enjoy the outdoors as well as the interior of the home. 

“In 2009 when we purchased the block I fell in love with a magnificent Kurrajong tree on it,” she said. “Sadly I killed it with too much love – much too much water.” 

The items may not match, but they fit seamlessly in the home.

The items may not match, but they fit seamlessly in the home.

Inside the style can only be described as mismatched class. 

“It’s all mixed, there’s no set pattern,” Netty said. “It’s all comfortable, but it’s quality as well. 

“If you like something, just buy it – it really doesn’t all have to match.”

Laughing, Peter added new pieces were simply placed where they fitted on the floor, and simply became part of the home. 

The communal living area decked out for Christmas.

The communal living area decked out for Christmas.

The centrepiece of the impeccably-maintained gardens is an old rusted Chevy Maple Leaf, which Peter fell in love with at a friend’s property when he was just 17. The house and garage together sit on 440m sq.

The story The home among the mahogany trees first appeared on Queensland Country Life.

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