THE home looked like something out of a fairytale.
A gracious Queenslander with wide verandahs, romantic stained glass windows, charming fretwork and a dreamy location.
But the closer Jeanette Rutberg got to the house, the more she realised how desperately it was in need of a facelift.
“Everything was either missing, or broken, or came apart in my hand,” Ms Rutberg said.
“Before I even got to the hallway, I thought; ‘It would be crazy to take on a project like this on my own’.”
But she did.
“When I got to that hallway, it just drew me in — it basically spoke to me and said ‘this is you, Jeanette’,” Ms Rutberg said.
That was 2015 — a year after her husband had died, leaving her a single mother of two children, aged 10 and 13.
“It’s been a cathartic journey,” Mr Rutberg said.
“A chance to heal and divert the things that were going on in life at the time and to create something more beautiful,” she said.
The homestead known as ‘Hawstead’ was originally built in 1876 by Colonel Edward Drury on the banks of the Brisbane River and then relocated to its current resting place in Thornlands.
The huge house, and separate pool house, sit on a whopping 6,994 sqm block at 17-21 Ajinby Close.
At first, Ms Rutberg did not know where to start.
The rat-infested house was littered with droppings, a Band-Aid covered the electricity box and none of the plumbing worked.
“It was unliveable,” she said.
Ms Rutberg and her two children lived in the pool house while restoring the original residence.
“I did the basics first so we could move in,” she said.
That involved ripping up carpets and putting down new floors in the bedrooms and sanding and polishing the original floor boards in good condition in the rest of the house.
The kitchen was mostly gutted and replaced with a new one — still keeping in character with the house.
The entire home was repainted internally and externally.
Ms Rutberg added an ensuite to the master bedroom in the main residence and turned the dining room in the pool house into another bedroom.
Outside, Ms Rutberg had the inground swimming pool reconfigured and the whole yard area landscaped.
“It was all about making it liveable and safe,” she said.
“The house has got soul — a presence to it.”
She admitted she would “miss it madly”, but needed to downsize.
“I’d love to see the house used as an iconic building — maybe for weddings,” she said.
The property is being marketed by Ben Salm of Place – Coorparoo and is scheduled for auction on Wednesday, November 13, at 6pm.
RENO FACT CHECK
Time taken: Two years
Total spend: $100,000