AUSTRALIAN HOME BEAUTIFUL
Published by the United Press of Melbourne, Australian Home Beautiful made its debut in October 1925 fully developed and with a buoyant market, having previously been entitled Real Property Annual (1912–22) and Australian Home Builder (1922–25). Each incarnation deftly caught its market and then, anticipating domestic residential trends, presciently recalibrated its focus from real estate, to residential development, and finally to home-making. In this way, architecture and town planning were soon joined—and ultimately dominated—by home building, interior decoration, gardening and other domestic pursuits.
The monthly magazine’s early promise was carried through the late 1920s and early 1930s with vibrantly coloured, domestic-themed covers, each painted by talented commercial artist F. Hedley Sanders. Regular contributions from Ruth Lane Poole (interiors), Alex Wilkinson (carpentry), Edna Walling (gardens) and ‘Sue Flay’ (cooking) captured a loyal national readership with projects for the home workshop sitting alongside cookery and sewing. Walling’s contributions set the pace, with their focus on design rather than the more conventional recitation of seasonal hints; this resulted in a celebrated career in garden design. By the 1930s, the magazine was also publishing handbooks on topics ranging from tatting to concreting.
There were few competitors. Sydney Ure Smith’s quality quarterly the Home (1920–42) covered similar territory at a more sophisticated level; Australian Homes and Gardens (1925–31) struggled to achieve national coverage and South Australian Homes and Gardens (1931–53) reverted to its primary constituency. Exclusively garden-based magazines lacked home building credentials. If subscribers to the Home also took its stablemate Art in Australia, purchasers of Home Beautiful were more likely to seek out Yates’ Garden Annual or New Idea.
The war saw a reduction in bulk and paper quality and a sharpened focus on the home front. Vegetable gardening received added prominence. European modernism swept through the pages and as post-war construction occupied Australian minds, a new North American design focus became apparent. Features were aided by the advent of coloured photographs during the 1950s.
Post-war competitors such as Australian House and Garden (1948– ) sharpened the focus of each title, with the newcomer breezily championing modernism and architectural design for public consumption as its older rival consolidated its focus on interior renovation and similar home-making projects—internal and external. Australian Home Beautiful remains the country’s longest running home journal, notching up its centenary in 2012.
REF: J. Oliver, The Australian Home Beautiful (1999).