FAM­ILY THREADS

A YOUNG FAM­ILY FOL­LOWED THEIR DREAM TO LIVE DUCK­LING ON ON THE LAND AND TURNED AN‘ UGLY DUCK­LING’ FARM­HOUSE INTO A WARM AND VI­BRANT HOME.

Country Style - - CONTENTS - WORDS CLAIRE MACTAGGART PHO­TOG­RA­PHY MARNIE HAWSON PHO­TOG­RA­PHY AS­SIS­TANT NI­COLA SEVITT

Matthew Playsted and his quilt-mak­ing wife, Su­san, turned the ne­glected Hope­wood farm­house into a colour­ful home for their fam­ily of six.

EARLY MORN­ING, AS SUN­LIGHT floods through the dou­ble hung win­dows of this Hope­wood farm­house, Su­san and Matthew Playsted have break­fast at the large silky oak din­ing ta­ble with their sons Clancy, 16, Will, 14, Sam, 11, and eight-year-old Archer. The ta­ble once be­longed to Su­san’s grand­par­ents. Out­side the win­dow, a lone kook­aburra sits qui­etly on the her­itage gate in the rose garden, framed by the tow­er­ing gums and briga­low trees that line Canaga Creek. “I love how still and calm it is in the morn­ing — it’s the best time of day and makes me ap­pre­ci­ate where we live,” Su­san says of the 330-hectare prop­erty north-east of Chin­chilla in the Canaga district on the Western Downs. Be­fore long, the day gath­ers mo­men­tum. The boys di­vide be­tween the shed and the creek, where Sam and Archer set yabby pots, while Matthew is off to plant chick­pea down the pad­dock. Su­san works on a patch­work quilt, skil­fully join­ing jewel-coloured strips of Lib­erty fab­ric with linen and stripes. Like Su­san’s quilts, the farm­house in­te­rior is a har­mo­nious med­ley of colours and pat­terns. “I’ve al­ways been drawn to colour but I try not to make it over­whelm­ing. I’ll put it against blue or neu­tral and the white walls tone it down. I have al­ways loved mix­ing vin­tage pieces with tex­tiles to make some­thing that’s fresh and lived in,” Su­san says. The vi­brant house is a far cry from what it was just a few years ago. In 2014, when Matthew and Su­san first in­spected Hope­wood (be­lieved to have been named by the orig­i­nal set­tler in 1908 be­cause of the heav­ily tim­bered sur­rounds), both the house and farm were ex­tremely run-down. “It was

a very ugly duck­ling. I re­mem­ber driv­ing up to the front gate, look­ing in and an­nounc­ing that it gave me bad vibes ne­glect e and andi­wasn’ t sure ifi could live there. it was a ne­glected yel­low painted house sur­rounded by long grass and a few over­grown bushes,” re­calls Su­san. De­spite their ini­tial doubts, the cou­ple were drawn to the fer­tile farm­ing coun­try and the view from the tiny front ve­ran­dah to­wards Canaga Creek. Both Matthew and Su­san were raised on farms and had hoped to move on from acreage on the edge of Chin­chilla, where Matthew works in the gas in­dus­try. “The goal was al­ways to buy a farm — we both value the free­dom of grow­ing up on a prop­erty and wanted that for the kids.” Su­san ex­plains. Af­ter pur­chas­ing the prop­erty in July 2014, the Playst­eds rented a house on a nearby farm while the ren­o­va­tions and ex­ten­sions were un­der­way. “We stuck within the ex­ist­ing foot­print but re-jigged rooms — a bed­room was turned into an en­suite and walk-in robe, we added an ex­ten­sion to the north-east for the deck, kitchen, din­ing and liv­ing ar­eas and an ex­ten­sion at the back of the house for a bath­room, laun­dry and of­fif­fice,” says Su­san. Su­san spent weeks sand­ing back the old yel­low paint from the ex­te­rior cham­fer­boards, be­fore she and Matthew painted them Du­lux Vivid White. They con­tin­ued this colour through­out the in­te­rior, which pro­vides a crisp back­drop for their col­lected an­tiques and art­works. The liv­ing area, which ad­joins the kitchen, is a favourite spot in the house and Su­san has cre­ated a gallery wall as a fo­cal point. “I started with the Rachel Cas­tle em­broi­dery and that an­chors the rest. It has mor­phed over the past 18 months as I’ve added more pieces of art — mainly still life mixed with land­scapes.” Last year, Su­san or­gan­ised a lamp­shade-mak­ing work­shop at Hope­wood and she en­joys us­ing preloved lamp bases and colour­ful pat­terned fab­rics to cre­ate some­thing unique. “I some­times change my bases and shades to freshen the look,” she says. Mean­while, Matthew has made im­prove­ments on the farm, lev­el­ling melon hole coun­try and adding in­fra­struc­ture and they now grow bar­ley, wheat, oats, sorghum and mung beans. “I like the con­trast from my day job. Go­ing for a walk up the lane that runs through the cen­tre of our prop­erty when I get offff shift is a chance to re­set and think about what needs to hap­pen on the farm. It’s a great place to raise our fam­ily and I feel proud of the fact that I’m im­prov­ing the prop­erty. I get a lot of sat­is­fac­tion from see­ing the change over time,” Matthew says. Not far down the road, the Canaga hall and cricket nets are a gath­er­ing point for lo­cals. “There are lots of peo­ple our age and it’s a lovely com­mu­nity,” says Su­san. “Our neigh­bours have been a bless­ing and taken our boys un­der their wing. “We had hoped to fifind an old Queens­lan­der on a farm but that didn’t hap­pen. You don’t buy a farm for a house and, in the end, we made this house our own. This has been the best thing for our boys. We’ve hit the jack­pot re­ally.” For more in­for­ma­tion, visit hope­wood­home.big­car­tel.com

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