House & Garden’s Tanya Buchanan on choosing Australia’s Top 50 rooms

tanya buchanan

• Plus publishing through Covid-19 and what the future holds

Australian House & Garden magazine have announced the winners of their coveted Top 50 Rooms Awards, listing the best Australian residential architecture and designs of the year. In a year where we spent more time than usual with the interiors of our homes, editor of House & Garden, Tanya Buchanan, and her team had their work cut out for them.

Mediaweek spoke to Buchanan about the Top 50 Rooms awards, the impacts of Covid-19, and what’s next for titles in the homes space.

Top 50 Rooms Awards

The House and Garden team judge the award alongside the headline sponsor, Winning Appliances, and Buchanan says that when it comes to choosing the nominees for the Top 50 Rooms Awards each year, the way a room feels makes all the difference.

“It’s just a well-executed, striking interior. There are eight categories, so it has to fulfill the brief of that category – there’s best kitchen, best bathroom, best bedroom, best indoor/outdoor connection, best use of art, best use of colour, best storage and joinery, and then there’s room of the year. 

“I guess when you’re judging from images and you’re not visiting the spaces themselves it’s ultimately just a feeling, something that strikes you. A beautifully designed room just gives off an amazing warmth and appeal, I think.”

Tanya Buchanan, Room of the Year winner Greg Natale, and Winning Appliance’s Daniel Ryan

Publishing through Covid-19

Buchanan says that whilst the pandemic slowed a lot of sectors down, people working in the homes space had a very productive year – and the numbers prove it.

“We all spent a lot of time looking at the interiors of our homes last year, and a lot of people have excess travel budgets to spend. So it’s been pretty great, not that anybody wants to say that they’re profiting from what we had last year, but it’s been an amazingly productive time for the homes clients and for magazines. 

“The most exciting outing that you could have last year for a lot of people was to the supermarket, and fortunately all of the Are Media titles are there. Brilliantly, House & Garden continues to dominate the homes category. Our February issue was up 17% year on year, January was an incredible 28% up year on year, and the last six issues have been up year on year, so I’m really happy with that.”

Buchanan also edits Belle magazine, and says that because of the space that the two titles operate in, the pandemic didn’t affect their content too much.

“For content, our focus is on beautiful, original homes. In the case of House & Garden, Australian houses, and in the case of Belle, the majority are Australian houses but there’s international content as well. We didn’t really tailor anything about how to get your workspace from home or anything like that with House & Garden or Belle titles, because we’re more in an inspirational space than a do-it-yourself space.”

The latest covers of House & Garden and Belle

Looking ahead to 2021

Buchanan says that the productivity of the last year isn’t looking like slowing down any time soon, with 2021 set to be just as busy.

“It’s looking really, really great. We had our sponsors there [getting ready for the Top 50 Room Awards], so Winning Appliances the headline sponsor, Blum, Wynstan, Porter’s Paint, Dentons, Lumas, and Howard’s Storage World, and they’re all going really well.

“Winning Appliances, that business is incredible, and they offer a really elevated customer experience, they’re busier than ever.”

“We’re on a really great trajectory, and there’s a lot of great content to run too because I feel like the level, the aesthetic, is amazing and interior designers are really investing in shooting and styling their spaces. There’s just a lot of really beautiful, professional content that we can share with the market, and the audience seems very hungry for it.

“We’re really excited. We have a great team here and it is just a really exciting, lovely space to be in – and relatively uncontroversial. We just get to showcase beautiful work, and Australian design and style really is world-class. We miss going to Milan and the overseas design fairs, but what we’re able to produce here in Australia is pretty inspiring.”

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