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Little Texas

There are certain things in this world that money can’t buy. One of them is the ability to turn a vision into reality. Sophie and Mitch Friend have done exactly that, by turning their little slice of post-industrial Carrington into a Texan wonderland and all for next to nothing.

When you walk into Sophie and Mitch’s house, the first thing you notice, despite it being walled in on every side by warehouses, is that there are succulents and cacti in every nook and cranny of their property. They’ve created their own little piece of the Texan desert in Carrington.

The couple sit on Acapulco Chairs amongst pastel forty gallon drums (complete with original branding) that have been appropriated as planters and filled with the kind of flora you’d find on the set of No Country for Old Men. The scorched, corrugated facade of the warehouse next door acts as the perfect backdrop as they relax in the afternoon sun with their two cats, Raphael and Texas.

“That’s actually my favourite wall,” Mitch says, pointing at the wall behind him while Australian punk bands like The Smith Street Band, Skeggs or his sister’s band, The Gooch Palms blast from the sound system in the adjacent studio. “It has so much character. I’d be so upset if they ever knock it down.”

The studio itself was rundown when they moved in and had been home to less than desirable renters. Now that they’ve cleaned, painted and re-carpeted, the couple plan to rent it out on Airbnb, complete with complementary bicycles to easily explore the city.

Sophie is adamant that you don’t need to be rich to have nice things; just enthusiasm and a keen eye for design.

“We saw a row of those drums being used as planters when we were on holidays in Perth, and as soon as we got back I started sourcing them,” she says. “That blue one was sitting at the car wash and I asked if I could have it and just put it straight in the car.”

“Because we didn’t have much money, we’ve done everything on the crazy cheap,” Mitch adds. “The majority of the plants started off as cuttings from my parents’ house.”

Mitch and Sophie lovingly bicker over who has contributed the most when it comes to the landscaping. Sophie explains that she painted all the pots and chose most of the plants. Mitch concedes defeat and agrees.

“We drove twelve hours to buy plants from Victoria one weekend. It was a twenty four hour round trip. That’s where we got all the rare ones,” Sophie explains.

Three years ago, when the couple moved in, the yard was bare except for a Hills Hoist. With only four months between moving in and their backyard wedding, they got stuck into the renovations with no time to spare.

“It was gross. Everything was lime green and a huge concrete ramp took up most of the space where the deck is now,” Mitch says. “I had to cut it up with a concrete saw and then attack it with a sledgehammer. It was a nightmare.”

They painted before moving in, and started interior decorating straight away. The deck was only just finished in time for the wedding. The kitchen still wasn’t finished, not that anyone would’ve noticed.

A better venue for a backyard wedding, or any kind of party for that matter, would be hard to find. The walls of the surrounding warehouses mean no noise complaints and provide an element of privacy almost impossible to find in the suburbs.

“The walls were something my family didn’t like about the property when we told them we were buying it,” Sophie says. “But now I couldn’t imagine going back to a normal fence line. We can make as much noise as we like.”

Despite it being the perfect retreat from their busy lives, (Sophie a school teacher and Mitch a construction manager) they insist that their house is still far from finished.

They have plans to install a pool in the future; a hillybilly hot tub as they put it. Mitch is going to clad the studio in corrugated iron to match its raw finish.

When asked about their plans for the future, the couple say they’d like to turn what they did with their own house into a business, buying and renovating houses up the coast. That’s their two year goal.

“We’re never selling this place though,” Mitch says.

“We got married here. There’s too much love in this one,” Sophie adds, finishing Mitch’s sentence.

House Profile

Age of house:

We’ve researched it, but can’t find the exact answer. At a guess we’d say 1930s.

Who lives here?

Mitch, Sophie and our two cats –Raphael and Texas.

Favourite thing about living in Carringon:

Mitch: I love living by the harbour.

Sophie: The convenience of getting everywhere, yet still having your own quiet place away from the city.

Mitch: Yeah, no one comes over here unless it’s for a purpose. So the streets are super chill.

The renovations so far, and what’s Next:

So far we have renovated the back deck and kitchen. We have completed landscaping and cosmetics inside like painting and decorating.

This year we want to install a pool plus renovate the studio into an Airbnb.

Favourite room and why:

Sophie: The backyard is my favourite place in the whole world. It’s the happiest place on Earth.

Favourite piece in your home and why:

Sophie: All of our cacti, I can’t pick just one! There’s one in particular that my friends gave me for my thirtieth birthday that is pretty special. Meanwhile Mitch got me a compost bin…

As seen in Swell Issue 2. Grab your copy here

Words: James Turvey | Photography: Zoe Lonergan

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