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Cromer house

Key to the design is 'usable' space and an open plan

Daniel and Christine Smith’s award-winning Cromer home is inspired by the architecture of NZ’s South Island, with a light, airy feel, pitched ceilings and sleek, modern lines.
But scattered throughout the 2022-built home are rustic features that reflect the couple’s personal style and Christine’s links with the Birdwood farming community.
A structural steel beam is clad with wood from the old Birdwood railway, which is now the route of the popular Amy Gillett Pathway, and a rustic chandelier, built by Daniel using an old wagon wheel and beams of the same wood, is the focal point of the home’s great room.


“My grandfather would have had (the wood) given to him and they were just lying on the property … so we thought we’d repurpose that and make a feature of it,” Christine says.
A stone feature wall behind the fireplace was built using rocks hand-picked from a neighbour’s paddock, while an old claw-foot bath – which Daniel brought halfway across the country – is the centrepiece of the couple’s ensuite bathroom.
“It was imported in 1880 from England and it has very rare feet – most bathtubs have what they call eagle claw and this has a lion paw,” Daniel says.
“It’s my $50 marketplace bargain.
“I got that when I was back in Western Victoria and I didn’t know what to do with it and I thought I’ll just take it with me and one day I might restore it and we did.”
Christine and Daniel, who both have farming backgrounds – Christine grew up on a dairy farm in the Adelaide Hills, while Daniel’s family has a station in NSW – met while they were both living in Victoria.
They stumbled across the 6.9ha Cromer property after moving to SA in early 2020 and designed the home themselves, working with Millwood Homes’ Bruce Millican to realise their vision.
Key to their design was “usable” space and an open plan that would suit their love for hosting guests.
“It’s an entertaining house,” Christine says.
“We love cooking and we love to entertain,” Daniel adds.
“So one of the things that we did do is put the cooktop on the island bench so we can cook and interact with our guests at the same time.
“So the main emphasis was on the kitchen and entertaining and hospitality for people to come around and enjoy it.”
“And that’s exactly how we use it,” Christine says.
“Dan loves making pizzas and stuff – he used to own a cafe providor and pizza shop, so he does all these gourmet pizzas, so he’s always in the kitchen and we’re all just sitting here chatting and I love that how we designed it is exactly how we use it as well.”


The house is fully off-grid and incorporates several “passive” features that help keep it cool in summer and warm in winter.
Last year it won the GreenSmart Sustainable Home award at the Housing Industry Association SA Housing and Kitchen and Bathroom Awards and will go on to compete in the national awards later this year.
Its an accolade that Bruce, Daniel and Christine are proud of and one that ties in with the couple’s day to day philosophy of self-sustainability.
“We breed goats, we have some cows – all to do with self-sustainability,” Christine says.
“This time of year we don’t really buy fruit and veg – we just pick what’s in the garden and that’s what we have that night.”
Christine also preserves a lot of her own fruits and vegetables and they make their own beer, cheese and salami and breed chickens.
“Now that the vision of the home has become reality we are working on the lifestyle that we want to accompany it,” Christine says.
“One that is self sustainable, productive and makes for an enjoyable and balanced life.”

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