Raw concrete floors, unpainted wallboard, plaster dust and garden debris aren't generally the ingredients for the best first impression.
But for commercial interior designer Rachael Lovelace they were just superficial irrelevance sprinkled over a wealth of creative opportunities.
"This house had a nice energy about it and it had such good bones that we could still enjoy a good lifestyle before we began adding the layers that would make it even greater," Rachael explains.
Five years on, Rachael and her husband David Brumby, who co-owns a family manufacturing business, have finished off this half-renovated home and embraced a happy family work/life balance that was also a work in progress when they arrived here.
Rachael had earlier swapped a career in the advertising industry for interior design and she completed her training after moving in here. Life here has become about neighbourly friendships and entertaining in their landscaped grounds.
For their girls, Tula and Noa, now aged 8 and 6, it is about being able to skip through their side fence gates to visit their friends next door on a whim.
Rachael has operated her business, Lovelace and Co, out of her office near her new kitchen that has doubled as a second lounge and was this home's original kitchen. Their 50sq m living area, which was the structural addition closed in by the previous owners, has been the ideal venue for many a client presentation, too.
"The house is the best expression of my style as well as being a great house for us as a family and for entertaining," says Rachael.
From the front, original part of the house to the open-plan living area, Rachael has given the house an injection of personality that is bold in places and understated in others.
She married the tones of the new kitchen timber floor and the original matai flooring elsewhere by applying clear polyurethane, with 1 per cent white paint added. "It knocks back the colour and gives it a look of European oak," she explains.
The modern tiled bathrooms had been fully renovated by the previous owners, who were known to Rachael and David, but the kitchen was another story. "The kitchen had been ordered but we had no idea what it looked like. We knew he [the previous owner] had good taste so we knew we would like it and we did."
For the rear kitchen wall that was once a black painted chalkboard, Rachael chose Elba marble laid butcher's block style. "I like its honesty. It's a natural material used in a non-traditional way."
On the adjacent wall, she has used traditional villa pressed-steel ceiling panels as the four doors of her built-in pantry/storage unit.
Down the steps into the living area, with its free-standing wood burner, Rachael designed a circular wall-mounted unit that discreetly accommodates the TV above and makes a textural feature of their fire wood below.
It's the cosy corner of a big space with a white-painted concrete floor. "It is not a complicated house," Rachael explains. "Open plan is amazing because it lets you create internal zones and quiet zones within a larger zone."
In the master bedroom that opens to the front veranda and private tropical garden, she sourced "Sardine" wallpaper for the feature wall, finishing the room with a basket-weave lightshade which, at night, throws a reflection on to the walls reminiscent of fishermen's lobster pots.
"It adds an urban element, a gutsy, strong graphic element," Rachael explains. It also caught the eye of local and overseas design magazine editors who featured it in the context of her whole-home style, something that she's highly likely to achieve again with her family's next home project.