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February 20, 2015

Garage days

Tucked away on a quiet side street in the CBD is a house that wasn’t always a house, but which now gives Please Say Please owner, Daniel Freer, the perfect retreat at the end of a long day.

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  • Words: Johnny Von Einem
  • Pictures: Josie Withers

As CityMag approaches the opened roller door that functions as entrance to coffee connoisseur Daniel Freer’s home, we’re greeted with a wave from a room that is kitchen, living room, workspace, dining room and garage all at once.

Utility and comfort don’t always go hand-in-hand, but as we walk past the ’76 mustard-yellow Mini in the doorway and set up for our chat three feet away at the dining table, there’s evidence of both.

“It’s pretty much one big room with a mezzanine bedroom,” Daniel explains. “It’d been converted a few years ago.” He’s not sure from what exactly, but our leading theory is a mechanic’s workshop. 

“I loved this place so much that I came and looked and signed the lease and paid the bond that day, three months before my old lease was up,” he laughs. “It was a bit silly, but I really wanted it.”

Daniel Freer on his upstairs balcony

Daniel Freer on his upstairs balcony

The room is lined with the essentials: a hi-fi unit made of reclaimed cinder blocks and floorboards, a bookshelf, a meat cabinet (sourced from Littlest Vintage and stocked full of liquor), a desk, and not much else.

The pared back approach suits the space, and is either testament to Daniel’s preference for keeping things simple, or to the fact he’s still settling in, five months after moving from Unley.

Considering his work schedule at Please Say Please (ten hours a day, five days a week) it’s not that surprising. Even during the two weeks he had off over Christmas, Daniel was putting in the hours.

“I did a lot of relaxing, but I tried to be productive as well. I redid the big blackboard in my shop because I’d actually done a few other cafés’ blackboards and they all ended up looking better than my own, so I thought I needed to do that,” he laughs.

“Working ten hours a day talking to people, it’s nice to come home.”

A well-stocked liquor cabinet is an essential

A well-stocked liquor cabinet is an essential

Signwriting’s becoming a fruitful hobby for Daniel, but for a guy whose day job is coffee, the house has a noticeable lack of beans. 

“Over Christmas I was having coffee at home, but that’s pretty much the only time. I like to visit friends’ cafés on weekends and I’m also at the shop 50 hours a week.”

The one piece of brewing paraphernalia in view is the very intriguing syphon coffee pot sitting on the kitchen bench, looking very much like stolen lab equipment.

“It’s cool to make coffee in when friends come over. You can make a decent coffee with it.”

Alas, with no beans to grind it sits empty for our visit, more of a conversation piece. Which leads CityMag to ask about the car that’s practically parked in the living room.

Even industrial-style spiral staircases have a certain whimsy to them

Even industrial-style spiral staircases have a certain whimsy to them

“Being able to see it from the kitchen is pretty wicked. I’d always wanted to buy one and it was quite a good price compared to others. I took it for a bit of a test drive and offered [the owner] a bit less again and he took it, so I took it,” he says with a sly smile.

“It does break down a lot. And when I got it I’m like ‘I’m totally going to learn how to fix it up myself’, but it’s one of those things you have to make time for.”

With plans to expand Please Say Please’s cold brew, and a friend trying to convince him to exhibit some of his signwriting work later in the year, the amateur mechanics might be sitting on the backburner for a little while.


As Dan had not yet finished furnishing his home, we brought in some pieces from a few local designers to help out. See if you can spot the pieces from Lex Stobie, Franco Crea and Agostino & Brown.

But for the few household items listed on the fridge door waiting to be bought, Daniel is very much at home in his CBD loft, and with James Blake emanating from the speakers in the corner, warming the entire room, it’s hard not to feel at home too.

There’s a feeling of being able to escape from the chaotic streets of the city, into a much more calm and serene environment here, despite only being a block away from West Terrace.

“Working ten hours a day talking to people, it’s nice to come home.”

We know exactly what he means.

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