Today is the last chance to see London’s inspirational Ideal Home Show in 2023. The main website describes the event as follows:
“From inspiring ideas, to innovative products and on-trend solutions for your home, the Ideal Home Show brings together full scale show homes, over 600 brands, tonnes of free talks, the latest technology and fresh ideas from a team of celebrity guests and experts. The show also offers health and wellbeing advice, an opportunity to be pampered, and places to enjoy some great food and drinks, all in the price of your ticket.” (1)
After a wet month full of mostly depressing news in England, the Ideal Home Show was a wonderfully uplifting tonic for all the senses. Despite the ongoing transport strikes thousands flocked to Kensington Olympia, London, W14 0NE already, to once again experience the delights of this quintessentially English celebration of all things home and garden.
The organisers arranged for ‘meet and greet’ team members to cheerily welcome visitors and make sure that they were heartily thanked and wished farewell as they left the historic exhibition venue.
The voluminous vintage hall accommodates over a hundred exhibitors that include companies and charities and designer names ranging from unknown start ups to household brands. The Ideal Home Show showcases the latest products and ranges for a wide variety of businesses that serve the home furnishings and outdoor environments markets.
This event is a good way to get a overall impression of what is new in residential interior design and also trends for garden living and the outdoor market related products and services. The Ideal Home Show is zoned into sections with likeminded exhibitors grouped together for clarity.
The Home Renovation Zone
This area creates lots of energy and impact as you arrive at the show and we were lucky enough to be able to smile at Greg Wallace of BBC cooking Masterchef and Inside the Factory program fame, who was having fun entertaining guests in his upscale and suitably named Greg Wallace Restaurant.
This variety pack of exhibitors included gorgeous kitchen companies, fabulous fixtures and fittings firms and a champagne bar.
‘The Great Escape’ is a custom built holiday home constructed especially for the show with all the latest in outdoor living chic and packed with examples of environmentally friendly interior design.
“The Great Escape has been designed and built by Mockba Modular utilising Metsec Framing Systems, showcasing just what you can achieve with amazing design for under £100,000. Inspired by the Grand Designs container home, it is reimagined for modular construction utilising 3D design and leading manufacturing technology (cold rolled steel design) to bring the structural vision to life.” (3)
Marketed as a “perfect retreat for a romantic getaway and to recharge your batteries, giving owners a very affordable option to achieve that dream second home.” This home would also be a dream come true for many Millennials saving up to get onto the housing ladder.
The Interiors Zone
The central feature of the ‘show village’ this year is a complete new house that visitors can walk around called ‘the Money Making Home’. The three bedroomed mini town house incorporates many different rooms to make it easy for family and also visitors to independently relax and easily pursue their favourite activities. A social first floor decked patio space stylishly hosts casual get-togethers and summer dinners. We guessed the sometimes surprisingly eclectic mix of interior designs was an intentional decision to delight show attendees, with a whole host of fresh choices for decorating a brand-new villa.
Given the Ideal Home Show’s origins of socially enterprising aims, it is a reflection on British society that this desirable example of a perfect home needs an extra income generating additional wing, that can accommodate the most discerning AirBnB travelers, rather than an extra lodger who works locally.
This year on display through the ground floor hall was everything from beautifully screen printed wall artwork in fashion forward colours, to the latest technologically advanced toilets. Amongst the designer collections of furniture with reassuringly familiar names such as Lawrence Llewelyn-Bowen’s London market inspired rich velvet Portobello and Columbia sofas.
There are many free talks and workshops held throughout the event with experts from magazines such as ‘Good Homes’ and even an ‘Expert Advice Hub’ where budding property developers can gain book appointments to gain useful information from knowledgeable professionals and therefore avoid any ‘costly pitfalls’ or regulatory building indiscretions. A dedicated ‘Smart Home’ area shows the general public the latest in ‘hometech’ with ideas for enhancing the home and garden with discreet systems for controlling devices, appliances, heating and cooling, audio and entertainment equipment and much more.
The Gardens Zone
The garden section is more important than ever and several of the featured interiors built specially for the show demonstrated to potential customers how to effectively ‘bring the outdoors into the home’ in interesting and contemporary ways.
There were several companies selling exterior structures made out of wood and powder coated steel that maximise the enjoyment of outdoor space, whilst also controlling the changeable English weather with louvres, screens and blinds which can be activated at the press of a button.
One of the great things about this exhibition is that it provides an opportunity for small and medium sized British businesses to highlight their wares and promote their personal customer service. Dec from Nationwide which sells construction elements for the home and outdoors explained how the Ideal Home Show was an essential part of the marketing calendar for Nationwide whose showrooms and headquarters are based in Wareham in Dorset. Nationwide and several other attending supplies at the event were offering visitors special show discounts making the Ideal Home Show a great place to visit if home owners are in the market for home improvements this spring.
Beautifully crafted garden displays showed how with a strong theme and some imagination even a modest amount of space in the Olympia centre can be transformed into inviting outdoor areas for entertaining and relaxing with friends and family. Pretty patios and outdoor dining zones to suit new and old houses brightened the mood around the primary hued carpeted floors bustling with couples, day trippers and families.
The Eat and Drink Festival
At the Ideal Home Show this year the party is definitely happening in the upstairs kitchen or ‘Food and Drink Festival’. Beautiful music can be heard from a female singer’s ‘popular musicals style’ songs and she prettily charms the crowds. The public are having a ball discovering delicious foods and drinks from all around the world in one venue. Lots of exhibitors cook up all sorts of delicacies and everything from a special snack to a full blown lunch is available to be enjoyed, in one of the many picnic bench style seating areas or café themed eating places.
Even gluten free cakes can be purchased and teamed with many different types of exotic, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. A life sized ‘Rovers Return Inn’, a stage with day-time TV presenters wine tasting live and even a ‘King’s Coronation Cake Challenge’ added to the lively and noisy atmosphere and amused the mainly British diners who all seemed to be having a very jolly rainy day out.
On the first floor The Health & WellBeing Zone, The Home Accessories Zone and The Spring Clean Zone also present tips and tricks for spring cleaning and choosing the best in products for the home. The latest beauty and personal care products (such as massage chairs) are demonstrated and sampled. The exhibitors give visitors their latest solutions for how to feel fantastic and live your best life, so you and your family can make the most of creating your home retreat.
History of the Ideal Home Show
In 1908 the owner of the Daily Mail newspaper Lord Northcliffe started the annual exhibition “in the spirit of social reform, to stimulate debate about better housing conditions” (1)
Although English residents in 1908 would be amazed at the progress of modern living standards for the majority of the population in the British Isles we have a long way to go to achieve affordable good quality housing for all in this country. It is thought provoking that over a century later from the first Ideal Home Show the UK still has building more social housing and improving existing housing conditions as one of the primary objectives on the priority agenda, for all the political parties.
Ideal Home Show Launches Spring Living in Style
“I had such a great time with my friend at the show and we enjoyed splurging on beauty, make-up and home massage equipment.” declares one women who visited the show for the first time.
“I had a lovely day and enjoyed seeing all the different designs and show houses. I was particularly interested to receive valuable information from an expert about various aspects of converting my home into a property that is suitable for holiday visitors to create an extra retirement income.” explained another lady and keen interior designer.
From the enthusiastic men and women of all ages trying out the vibrating fitness boards to the queues of people making new friends and chatting as they eagerly waited to take the show homes tours, this event can definitely be considered a success. Nobody would guess that the UK has narrowly avoided a recession this week and that property prices are down by 3 per cent for the first time in decades from the vibe at the Ideal Home Show.
Putting together a show on this scale is always a major feat of teamwork and a massive financial gamble. The boldness and energy that the entrepreneurs and event managers have brought to the monumental Olympia exhibition centre this month reminds us all that the home is still the much loved English countryman and woman’s castle. The upbeat positivity and determination to overcome whatever external crisis may hit the economy is part of what makes this ‘nation of shopkeepers’ and small business owners enduringly great.
(1) ‘A bit about the Ideal Home Show’ Ideal Home Show website, 2 April 2023 ‘A bit about the Ideal Home Show’ Ideal Home Show
(2) ‘Daily Mail Ideal Home Exhibition: records, 1910-1990’ Records Department, Victoria and Albert Museum website, September 1990 Daily Mail Ideal Home Exhibition: records, 1910-1990’ VAM
(3) ‘The Show Village’ Ideal Home Show website, 2 April 2023 (3) ‘The Show Village’ Ideal Home Show website 2 April 2023
(4) Nationwide Home Innovations, Wareham, Dorset, 2 April 2023 Nationwide Home Innovations