Posted on

Life at the Edge

Water features prominently in the collective memory and national identity of Australia. From long summers spent building sandcastles and learning to swim, to the sheer immensity and wild beauty of cliffs and dark oceans, our status as an island nation is inescapable. Life at the Edge is a photographic celebration of Australia’s crystalline waters – its coastlines, inlets, lakes and rivers. Hear the river rushing past, smell the salty ocean air, feel the slimy rocks, and exult in our collective yearning for bodies of water.

Bremer Bay, WA
Photography by Caro Telfer
Caloundra, Queensland
Photography by Andrew McInnes
Barwon Heads, VIC
Photography by Paidi Flynn
Watermans Bay, WA
Photography by Kellie Baldwin
Dungog, NSW
Photography by Clare Seibel-Barnes
Sydney, NSW
Photography by Arni Mangahas
Coalcliff, NSW
Photography by Leah-Anne Thompson
Hamilton Island, QLD
Rosalie Dibben

Life at the Edge is available now. Edited by Jo Turner.

AU$ 59.99

Posted on November 30, 2021
Posted on

Annie Smithers’ Christmas Duck and Fresh Vinaigrette

Annie Smithers, the inspired author of Recipe for a Kinder Life, knows how to cultivate a culinary experience that is the perfect marriage of exquisite fine dining and wholesome home cooking. Invite your loved ones round for this Du Fermier-inspired Christmas lunch, a mouth-watering Confit duck leg paired with salad dressed with fresh vinaigrette. It’s our chosen recipe for a kinder Christmas.

Illustration: Clare O’Flynn. Title: Daniel New.

Confit Duck Leg

I cook an enormous amount of duck at the restaurant. It delights me, in that I can use every skerrick of the gutted bird: rendering the fat, making sausages from the neck skin, using all the bones for stock, and treating the legs and the breasts to multiple cooking techniques. But my favourite is a good basic confit, where the leg has been salted and then cooked slowly in rendered fat – an age-old preservation technique from France. I love it served simply with sauteed potatoes, green beans and a sharply dressed salad.


  • 4 duck legs
  • 1 tbsp flaked salt
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 500 g rendered duck fat


Lay the duck legs flesh side up in a non-reactive baking tray, either glass or stainless steel, and sprinkle with the salt, thyme, bay leaf and garlic. Cover with cling wrap and leave to marinate in the fridge overnight. The next day, rinse off and pat dry with a cloth. Preheat the oven to 140°C . Melt the duck fat over low heat. Place legs skin side up in a baking dish that has them very snugly packed, and cover with the melted fat. Place in the oven and cook for about 2½ hours until the duck legs are very tender. Remove from the oven, leave them to cool in their fat and refrigerate.

When you are ready to use the legs, either reheat in a non-stick pan over low heat till the flesh is warmed through and the skin crisp, or in an oven preheated to 190°C in a pan or baking dish.

Illustration: Daniel New

Simple vinaigrette


  • 1 part sherry vinegar
  • 1 part extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 parts grape seed oil


This is a dressing I use all year round; I do fiddle with it at times, though. If I have a salad that incorporates walnuts, I swap out the olive oil for walnut oil; if I’m using hazelnuts, I’ll do the same substitution but with hazelnut. To make a creamier-style dressing that is lighter than mayonnaise, I whisk some of my sherry vinaigrette through sour cream or thickened cream. This is delicious on a salad made from a whole butter lettuce, sprinkled with snipped fine herbs. My salad leaves also get used in some substantial meat-based salads – I make a delicious warm sausage salad, for example. Leaves of the bigger variety get paired with pan-fried slices of Toulouse sausage, pan-fried potatoes and bacon, fresh tomatoes and sourdough croutes. For this salad, I use a lovely Dijon dressing, which I make by whisking in a slosh of vinegar to a big spoonful of mustard, and then whisking in grape seed oil until it thickens.

Salad leaves are for all year round, in my book. Dressings can come and go and change with the seasons, but one of the things many of the restaurant customers say is that they can’t believe how delicious our lettuces are. It always reminds me that a well-grown lettuce, picked freshly and dressed pleasantly, can be something worth remembering.

Recipe for a Kinder Life is available now. Text by Annie Smithers.

AU$ 32.99

Posted on November 23, 2021
Posted on

Life As A Circle

Architecture at the Heart of the Home by Jan Henderson and Dianna Snape, is the home of Australian residences at the cutting edge of design, comfort and aesthetics. Each of these architectural houses gravitates towards a centre, a special space that becomes the very heart of the home. This might be a room, a window that frames a panoramic view, or a pool that reflects the sky overhead. In this extract, dive into the crystalline beauty and circular motifs of Caroline House, designed by Kennedy Nolan.

Photography: Dianna Snape

Caroline House sits in a wide, tree-fringed street close to Melbourne’s CBD, in a suburb noted for showcasing Victorian and Edwardian houses.

This architectural project is a seamless merging of old with new. The addition of contemporary entertaining spaces and a main bedroom suite complement the alterations to the original worker’s cottage. Black steel-rimmed windows dominate the interior in both large and small sizes, and circles are a leading design motif throughout the home.

Although the footprint of the house is compact, there is an easy flow through the space that enhances family life. This home positively drinks in the light that filters through its windows. Shadows fill the rooms, dappling the floors, walls and ceilings with constantly changing patterns throughout the day and early evening.

Photography: Dianna Snape

The outside is always visible through the windows and sliding glass doors that frame the enclosed garden and landscaped entertaining areas and bring the outside in to create an expansive space.

At the back of the house, beside the open-plan family room and kitchen, is a circular pool that is almost as large as these rooms. This is the heart of this home. It reflects the exterior architecture and the ever-changing sky – on hot summer days, the cool and welcoming water transforms into a shimmering looking glass, and when winter arrives, it reflects the gathering clouds overhead. This is where the family gathers, where parties occur and solitary moments are spent. It can be a place of tranquillity after a busy day, or a loud and raucous part of the home that hosts a gaggle of children as they splash and swim.

Although the pool beckons on hot summer days, it is the interior of this home that provides protection and sustains everyday life. It has been designed with great care and with attention to every detail. Here, the ordinary is anything but.

Photography: Dianna Snape

The original front rooms of the house have been retained and renewed, but inside the new addition everything changes. Past a stairway and the small garden into the public areas, this is a destination worth the walk. This new open-plan space, comprising living, dining and kitchen, is defined by light and outside views. A black steel fireplace suspended from the ceiling and the placement of a curved sofa complete the look of sophisticated luxury. There is also a dining table and chairs, and an island bench in front of the integrated kitchen appliances.

The interior colours are warm. Cappuccino, cream and white enhance the blocks of bold colour, such as the muted forest green of the pleated steel staircase that rises majestically from the ground to the first floor.

Photography: Dianna Snape

While circles dominate the design and are almost everywhere, other geometric patterns have also been used. In the kitchen, small cream rectangular tiles line the splashback and cover the tall, round extractors above the stove and the base of the marble-topped island bench. The sliding doors to the garden feature square panes of glass outlined with black steel.

Upstairs, curved joinery wraps around the walls of the study – this area is an anteroom to the main bedroom. Off the bedroom is an ensuite and a small balcony, and when the balcony door is open, birds can be heard chirping in the trees below.

Photography: Dianna Snape

This is a home of great comfort coupled with infinite style. The interior decoration, at times whimsical, is beautifully formed. It is a home for grown-ups and children, an individual or a crowd, and there are circles everywhere to embellish the design.

While the architecture is a dichotomy of the monumental and the discreet, the pool is the visual focus. It is central to the life of the family who live here. As the water reflects the changing colours and forms of the sky above, it mirrors all that surrounds it. Caroline House is a magical place to live in and for a family to thrive in. It is, on all levels, unique and a home of stature.

Photography: Dianna Snape

Architecture at the Heart of the Home is available now. Text by Jan Henderson and photography by Dianna Snape.

AU$ 59.99

Posted on October 26, 2021
Posted on

A Redfern Oasis from The City Gardener

In The City Gardener, Richard Unsworth takes us on a journey through urban spaces that are lush and blooming with creative expression. As our concrete jungles continue to grow in both size and density, the cultivation of green sanctuaries inside city limits has never been more important. In this extract, Unsworth showcases the innovative design and immaculate execution of a garden in the inner-city suburb of Redfern.

Photography: Nicholas Watt

Redfern is an exciting and diverse suburb sitting at the southern end of Sydney’s CBD. Like other inner-city suburbs, it has a working-class history. However, over the years it has become gentrified as property prices have grown and young professionals flocked there, wanting to live within walking distance of the city. I bought my first house in this colourful suburb and, after leaving Darlinghurst, Garden Life had its second home here on busy Cleveland Street for more than eight years.

Its densely packed terrace houses have mostly been renovated to provide their owners with modern conveniences and better connections to their rear garden spaces, which, like those of Paddington and other inner-city areas, can be rather small and confined.

This project was no exception. The traditional cottage was originally a small single-level dwelling just 4 metres wide. Beyond the original frontage, the renovation by BKH architects added another level and a single large room at the rear of the house, which connects beautifully to the rear garden.

Photography: Nicholas Watt

The client is a prominent Sydney florist and he approached us to help him with his garden renovation. Working with flowers all day long is his life, so when we first started talking about the garden, the subject of blooms was way down the list. Overall, our brief was simple. He was keen to see greenery, lots of it, in all different forms, as well as grow some herbs, hang out his washing and keep a few fish. Apart from that, he left the direction to us. We discussed creating a ‘jungle madness’ of contrasting planting. I’ve always been drawn to a rainforest environment and love the stillness that comes with being surrounded by dense greenery, moisture, coolness and fresh, oxygenating leaves. 

When designing a garden in a confined space, we usually exercise restraint. We are careful not to overcrowd and work to avoid appearing cluttered. But the client wanted absolute abundance, so we had the opportunity to play with all kinds of textures and foliage forms without being concerned it would look too crammed. We put constraint to one side and started to think about what we could pack into a space measuring just 9 by 4 metres.

In terms of structure, we inherited minimalist polished concrete that flows seamlessly from inside the house out into the small rear yard. The same material continues up into wide steps connecting the upper level, which is only marginally larger than the lower. On the upper level, we needed to create a practical floor that you could stand or sit on, but wanted something soft and unobtrusive when viewed from the lower level. We went with large amoebic-shaped bluestone pavers, mass planted with kidney weed and native violets to grow over all the edges.

Photography: Nicholas Watt

The three boundary walls needed to disappear to create a feeling of more space, so these were painted in a deep charcoal colour. Dark boundary walls always help bring planting into the foreground and the plant colours are intensified as a result. The light conditions in the little garden are very mixed. Much of it is in shade for a lot of the time from surrounding trees and neighbouring foliage, although some parts are open to the hot western sun in summer. The planting we selected had to be shade tolerant and very adaptable to hot sun when necessary.

While the garden was to be densely planted, it was still important that the form of each individual plant could be seen. So we made sure that we didn’t put similar foliage types together, but rather created contrast. For example, we placed tall, ribbon-like leaves of iris behind small, round forms of silver plectranthus. A large stainless steel tray was submerged at the rear of the garden and filled with water plants and fish. We added a small fountain and submersible light.

Our client liked the idea of mirrors to visually expand the space. They can work well in small gardens to trick the eye, help bounce light around and reflect foliage, but it’s important to consider what they are reflecting. It needs to be something worthwhile rather than simply an opposing wall. We designed a large mirror that consisted of a grid of smaller panes and placed it at the back of the garden so that it would reflect the foliage and water surrounding it. Mirrors are most effective when the edges disappear into the planting. Climbers work well in softening the edges, whether they are loose and twining on wires or attaching themselves tightly to the surrounding walls. What’s important is to have a mirror bedded into greenery.

Photography: Nicholas Watt

When it came to planting, we wanted interesting foliage that worked well together, creating a cohesive feel and addressing practical concerns. Privacy was an issue from adjacent houses so we added a clumping bamboo sitting next to the mirror at the rear and subtropical foliage such as elephant ears, philodendron and dwarf cardamom. 

On the walls we planted creeping fig and star jasmine to green up the boundaries, as well as huge staghorn ferns. Cactus and succulent forms were included in the planting mix and they sit surprisingly well with the more subtropical plants, giving the garden a certain edge. Some of these sun-lovers work well in shady, dry gardens, including foxtail agave, orchid cactus and variegated snake plant. 

Over the years, when our store was around the corner, our client curated a collection of interesting vintage pots and vessels. It was a good opportunity to fill some of these with quirky specimens and place them around the perimeter. Their strong forms add personality and character, and softly define the spaces around the foliage.

Photography: Nicholas Watt

This garden works because there is a pleasing balance of both hard and soft landscape. The wonderful minimalism and clean lines of the raw concrete and the wide stairs stretch out the width of the yard and contrast with the abundance of greenery. The negative space of the built form is just as important as the foliage, as it provides the structure. When viewed from inside, the surround of the bifold doors acts like a frame for the artwork of the garden beyond. The finishing touch is a mirror ball hanging high above the dining table in a flowering gumtree, ensuring that every day is a disco, come rain, hail or shine.

Photography: Nicholas Watt

The City Gardener is available now. Text by Richard Unsworth and photography by Nicholas Watt.

AU$ 49.99

Posted on October 11, 2021