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IDEAL HOME SHOW, 11 - 27 March 2011. Earls Court, London

The Ideal Home Show is for people looking for ideas and inspiration for their home as well as offering an entertaining day out with the food section with its tempting array of dishes and a woman's section with a make-up bar and fashion shows. There is also a Celebrity Chef Cooking Theatre and a How-To Theatre offering tips on DIY projects.

The centre of the show remains the full-scale buildings. This year the theme was eco-friendly sustainable houses. The centrepiece was The Princes' House built by The Princes Foundation and visited by Prince Charles on the 17th March. The house is in a traditional style and constructed from natural materials like wool, hemp, wood and lime to make it non-toxic and kind the environment. The interior is decorated with eco-friendly paints and paper, while the bathroom fittings have water-saving features and the kitchen has low energy appliances. The house has a passive ventilation system and gets its heating and hot water from an air source heat pump that provides heating based on heat exchange technology (like a fridge in reverse) and can replace gas, oil or electric heating.

Ideal Home Show Village

The Open Plan Living House (to the right of The Prince's House in the picture above) is a streamlined Scandinavian style self-build home built from pine grown in responsibly-managed forests in Sweden. The house has large window areas to flood it with natural light but because the house is triple glazed, the house keeps warm in winter and cool in summer. The self build kits for houses like this are made by Jorntrahus and start at £50k for a two bedroom house, up to £125k for a 4 bedroom house on a supply-only basis. Jorntrahus.

The other showhouse was an example of a refurbishment project with a full scale replica of no 1 Coronation Street from the TV series next to a comparable house as it might look if reformed today. Both have been furnished to represent how it would look both before and after the refit. The old home looks dated to modern eyes with its cluttered small rooms, heavy wooden furniture and a bathroom suite in a tasteful (!) shade of avocado. The refurbished home looks much sharper with more open living space, a practical kitchen, smart bathroom and large fitted wardrobes that maximise storage space, or perhaps only encourage more clothes buying to fill them. The change is not confined just to the decor, underneath the surface the new-look house has energy efficient appliances, home insulation, double glazing and underfloor heating.


Mark Wilkinson's new kitchen - is the Shan Gara the new Shangri-la for cooks?
Mark Wilkinson has established a reputation for innovative design in kitchens combined with quality cabinetry skills. Oriental influences abound in the new kitchen with its Japanese style panelling; these are not made out of rice paper but wafer-thin rippled sycamore in a walnut strip frame. The work surface each side of the cooker is not the standard depth but cleverly extends an extra 40com so that surface-top appliances like kettles and toasters can be hidden behind the sliding panelled doors when not in use. The detailing on the long drawer doors is superb with silky oak or coloured salmon skin panels set in a walnut frame. Mark Wilkinson.

Mark Wilkinson Shan Gara Kitchen

The garden home office gets an up-to date look
Forget the traditional log cabin or chalet in the garden, In It Studios specialises in eco-friendly garden structures with eye-catching contemporary aesthetics. They are fully insulated and heated with double glazing and options for WC, kitchen or bathroom in addition to the main living or studying area. Every studio is bespoke and the company takes care of the project from inception to completion including a complete design and build service. The studios can be placed in the garden, but they can also be used as home extensions by abutting them to the house wall. As an example of pricing, a 35sqm (eg 7.2m x 4.8,) studio comes out at about £1k per sqm fully installed. In It Studios.

In It Garden Studios

Victorian era lounger chair with modern features
The Swedish company, Mygind Designs, launched their garden chairs into the UK at the Ideal Home Show. They are inspired by Victorian beach chairs but the fabrics on the cushions and awning are made from the latest weather-resistant materials. The lounger chair has six different positions from upright to full lounger, there are two side tables that will come in handy for drinks, and the footstools can be adjusted to two heights. The chair is on wheels so that it can be easily moved to take advantage of the sun or to turn away from the wind. The whole chair including cushions and the detachable footstools can be covered in a G-tex breathable cover for when it rains. Mygind Design.

Mygind garden lounger

Or how about something more space age for your garden?
Ornate Garden produce these contemporary rotating pods, they are sphere-shaped structures that can be spun round to face the sun, or shade. They have a dining table in the centre of the cushioned benching and this can be lowered when not in use; put in-fill cushions on top and you have a garden bed. Ornate Garden.

Garden pod

Tidy up the most ignored room in the house
Can't find what you need? Are you rummaging through boxes or along shelves? Dura has everything for a complete makeover of your garage. Steel cabinets with drawers and cupboards that can be configured to your needs, wall-mounted slatted panels that allow you to clip on hooks, racks and baskets for storing tools and leisure equipment and flooring to replace bare concrete floors ranging from PVC or porcelain tiles to aluminium plate and epoxy resin coatings. Dura Fitted Garages.

Dura fitted garages

Simple and secure
For a more plain and simple solution to garage storage, take a look at the Genie Box which was launched at the show. A steel locker that is not only lockable but bolted into the floor. It is designed to occupy the unused space over your car bonnet. It would find use both in domestic garages and in apartment block underground parking areas. Genie Box.
  Genie box

Feeling flush?
The AquaClean from Geberit looks like a sleek modern WC but it has a control panel that allows you to clean yourself with a few seconds of water jet followed by a rush of drying air. These toilets have been around in hygiene-conscious Japan for more than twenty years but haven't yet caught on in Europe. Perhaps they will now; is this the end of the roll for toilet paper? Go to their website which explains everything, and have a look at the videos, they are hilarious! AquaClean.

Geberit AquaClean Geberit AquaClean Geberit AquaClean

Wake up your walls
Wallpaper Direct had a large stand at the show, making the most of the revival of wallpaper to add more drama to a room's walls than paint can allow. Designers are predicting that wallpaper will be even bolder this year with vibrant colours and patterns and interesting finishes designed to stand out against neutral floors and ceilings. Here are some of the new wallpapers they were exhibiting at the show, go to Wallpaper Direct for more.

Claudine wallpaper Floral wallpaper Koi carp wallpaper London wallpaper Miro wallpaper


Friendly paint
Little Greene was awarded 'Best Small Stand' at the Ideal Home Show. Their environmentally friendly paints are made from natural, rather than synthetic, materials. The water based paints contain no solvents and the oil based paints have been reformulated with sustainable vegetable oils so they are no respiratory issues while painting and they are virtually odourless. They have a depth of colour up to 40% more than ordinary paints. This allows undertones to subtly change in different lights providing character and definition. Their range includes the English Heritage Collection which is the result of the co-operation between Little Greene and English Heritage to discover the true historic colours used in interior decoration from the Georgian period onwards. Little Greene.
  Little Greene

Juicy colours that will be the light of your life
Delicious Deco is a brand new online store selling lighting that will add juicy colour to your home. Think multi-coloured chandeliers and ceiling lighting, coloured lamp bases with ruby lamp shades and you are on your way to banishing brass and beige from your life. Go to Delicious Deco.

Multicolour chandelier pendant light ruby chandelier table lamp

To finish with the cheese
In the food area of the show there were many enticing stands ranging from spicy curries to Mediterranean delicacies but we want to highlight one of the cheese stalls. Alsop & Walker was started by a pair of chefs three years ago and they bring a chef's attention of detail to their artisan cheeses. Their latest cheese, launched at the show, is called Lord London and is based on Galician breast-shaped cheese moulds, it has a rather refined and sophisticated taste. My favourite was Mayfield a firm golden cheese with oval shaped holes throughout and a nutty finish. Go to Alsop & Walker to see more of their cheeses.
  Alsop and Walker cheeses

For more information about the show, go to Ideal Home Show.

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