from left: Fiona Phillips, Monty Don, Linda Barker, George Clark, Gregg Wallace

Ideal Home Show 2010

1st April 2010

Jill Glenn reviews the Ideal Home Show 2010

Every year I’m tempted by the Ideal Home Show, and every year it’s the same – a vast arena stuffed with increasingly diverse exhibitors (what is the relevance of Farmer Gosden’s Ice Cream to home interiors or exteriors?) and a sense that there’s something much more interesting or innovative happening just around the next corner. Or the corner after that. Keep hoping.

For a hundred years it was the Daily Mail Ideal Home Show. You knew what you were getting. Its new owners, Media 10 (who are also responsible for Grand Designs Live), acquired it last summer, with the intention of revitalising it and relaunching it this year. In their words, it had become ‘a bit of a rudderless ship, drifting in the wrong direction’. Their aim, they declare, is to restore the show to former glory. ‘We are committed to putting on the best Ideal Home Show that the public will have seen in decades’.

Yes?

Well…

There’s certainly a greater degree of celebritisation. The poster promotes a novel happy family grouping a world away from 2.4 children and a dog. Would they all fit in one of the show homes? Probably not… There’s George Clarke: Ideal Home Improvements; Fiona Phillips: Ideal Woman; Monty Don: Ideal Gardens; Gregg Wallace: Ideal Food; Linda Barker: Ideal Interiors; and Suzi Perry: Ideal Gadgets. They are, apparently, more than just window-dressing; they form part of the committee that will take the show forward and decide on the content for future years. Certainly they bring some specialist knowledge and experience, as well as glamour and pzazz – and clearly they’re a big draw. The biggest audiences of the day were around the ‘theatres’ in the different areas of the show where Don and Barker and Wallace were doing their stuff. The Ideal Home of the Future section was nowhere near so well attended.

The show homes were popular as ever, with queues to match. The Before and After House offered something new: a family home for four, looking plain and average and lived in (cue much muttering from the crowds of “looks like my house”) followed by a mirror layout, miraculously transformed into a state-of-the-art dream interior. It seemed a waste to devote so much space to Before (we all know what Before looks like), although it certainly added to the glory of After. Whether the teenager whose identity was wrapped up in his bedroom would be able to maintain the pristine loveliness of the new offering seemed highly questionable though.

There’s considerably more emphasis at the show, as years go by, on eco-friendly and energy-efficient developments. It’s good to see, even if it’s there more for political correctness than anything else. Perhaps I’m just a cynic.

There was only one thing that really grabbed my attention: the Cub House… No, nothing to do with small boys in uniform promising to do their best. This Cub House is gleaming and glorious, a new way to live.

Overall, though, there really didn’t seem that much that was new; it’s a fun day out, sure, but still a bit lacking in inspiration or ideas (you’ll get more of that here… but I would say that, wouldn’t I?). It is Media 10’s first year, however; maybe they haven’t really had a proper chance to show us what they’re made of. I expect I’ll be back next year, after all.

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