Ideal Home Show

Hillarys Blinds invited me to cover the Ideal Home Show in London. My entry ticket was bought by Hillarys but all opinions are entirely honest and my own.

Ideal Homes Show 2015

The show was held at the Olympia, which isn’t a venue I’ve ever been to before. It is absolutely enormous, and rather beautiful, with a stunning ceiling and galleries all the way round. Purely on an event coverage note, can I just say how lovely it is to work in a venue with natural light? No trying to take photos that look decent in that horrid orange light that convention halls always seem to have!

Hillarys Blinds

I made a quick visit to Hillarys, and recognised a lot of the new fabric range we got to test out at their Crafternoon event. I still think the patterns are gorgeous.

The show was enormous, with sections for Interiors, Home Improvements, Gardens, Technology, Fashion & Beauty, Food and Houseware, Shopping and Show Homes. The Interiors had a great mix of stuff, with everything from classic oak furniture through to retro diner furniture. Unsurprisingly, I made a beeline for the Smeg fridges to gaze at their prettiness. I am obsessed with Smeg kitchen goods. So pretty, so 50s, so perfect. The Garden section was great too, with a section of show gardens from the Young Gardener of the Year Competition. Six gardens can be seen, and you vote for your pick to win the People’s Choice Award. All the gardens were beautiful, and the smell as you walked through was gorgeous. I was particularly taken with a garden which used a fish tank as the base of a bench!

Ideal Show Homes

The Fashion & Beauty section, I was less taken with. A lot of the stalls were very similar to each other and rather suffered from a pet hate of mine: pushy sales people. A lot of the clothing and accessories looked cheap, and not all that different from what you might see in those cheapy clothes shops or own market stalls. However, I did find some very pretty (and incredibly reasonably priced) scarves to buy, and more than enough gorgeous shoes and jewellery to drool over. The Food & Housewares section was up next, which had the standard array of gadgets you’d expect, and a whole lot of delicious food. We sampled a beautiful red wine, and spent quite a while debating what to choose for lunch. Left to my own devices, I could have happily spent most of the day in the Food area, nibbling on sweets, olives and breads.

Ideal Homes Show

The queues for the the various Show Homes were ridiculous all day, so I gave those a miss, but I did have a good explore of the various show rooms set up by the Ideal Homes magazine. I particularly liked the bedroom set up, as the colours were so warm, and pretty. I wasn’t convinced by the way the walls had been half painted in an almost sunset effect, but the soft tones were perfect for a restful, cosy sleeping space.

If you were renovating your home, or conducting some major decoration, you could easily spend an absolute fortune on beautiful things at the Ideal Home Show, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much there was to buy that was affordable. There was plenty of inspiration to, from simple uses of colour through to bigger ideas on how to future proof your home.

The day was fantastic, and I came away full of ideas I can use in KissHQ. Big thanks to Hillarys for sending me!     

 

Hillarys Crafternoon

Hillary's Crafternoon

Hillarys Blinds are taking the new collection of fabrics out on the road, rounding up bloggers around the country to create some crafty delights with their new range. With The Crafty Hen on board to teach us, a crowd of Birmingham bloggers and I descended on the Custard Factory to get our craft on.

The event was organised by my favourites, Joe Blogs, who can always be relied upon to put together a great fun event. Greeted with a cuppa, I settled down and was soon busily gossiping with the other girls there.

Our first challenge was making a reusable fabric cover for notebooks. I selected some pretty fabric from the new range (which is all beautiful, by the way), and got to work. With craft experts on hand to guide us, and very helpful cheat sheets, this task was actually surprisingly simple. After a good raid on all the polka dot buttons I could find, my notebook actually looked pretty! The craft was simple, and probably a great one to try if you’re trying to get little ones into crafting. Confidence began to grow around the room. This was easy! We were craft experts. 

Oh, what fools we were. Next up – a bird. Sounds simple, right? Easy pattern with two pieces. Choose and cut out your fabric, sew the two pieces together, stuff with fluffy stuff – job done. No. I cannot sew by hand. At least, not neatly. The pattern part was fun. The stuffing was fine, but my God, my sewing. My bird needed a fair bit of emergency restitching to keep his insides, well, inside. I showed him to a friend, who thought he was a dolphin. Most of us failed at making actual bird-looking birds, instead creating mutants, fish-birds and sea-lions. Still, it was great fun, and we didn’t stop laughing. You don’t have to be good at craft to enjoy it, it turns out.

Here’s my notebook and bird-dolphin. Don’t laugh.

Crafting

I may not be about to join the Great British Sewing Bee, but I did have a whole heap of fun, and went home with a pretty notebook, and more inclination to actually make stuff. I clearly need the practice anyway…

But look at all these happy faces! Who cares if your bird looks like a sea-lion?

Joe's Bloggers You can read a little more about Hillarys grand tour on their blog. Thanks for a brilliant fun afternoon, Joe Blogs and Hillarys. Me and my bird-dolphin enjoyed ourselves immensely.

Grand Designs Live

Disclosure: My entry to the show was provided by Kinetico. All words, thoughts and opinions in this post are my own and entirely honest. If you’d like to know more about my disclosure policy, you can read about it here.

Grand Designs

On Saturday, I went to check out the Grand Designs Live Show at the NEC in Birmingham. I was invited along by Kinetico, who create home water systems, including water softeners and filters. The show is enormous, and covers just about everything to do with the home you could imagine, from the basics of building right to through to crazy kitchen gadgets and interiors.

Grand Designs Live

When you first come into the hall, you’re greeted with a selection of entrances into the different sections of the show. Always on the look out for more clutter, I dived straight into the interiors area. Immediately I could tell it would be all too easy to spend an absolute fortune at the show. Within about two minutes of walking into the Interiors stalls, I had already fallen in love with some really clever wallpaper posters, a stunning (and giant) oak dining table and a selection of Indian-inspired quilts.

There were some fantastic techy bits tucked away amongst the interiors. Lots of it was definitely ‘aspirational’, but it was really interesting to see some ideas on how home tech, like wireless internet, might work in the next few years. In the Tech Box, I found a couple of examples of transmitters that were stylish and sleek as well as being functional, which seems obvious to me now I’ve seen it. Rather than tucking away your wireless box, why not have something that looks smart?

Not having a garden, I wasn’t expecting to be too captivated by the Gardens section, but I was very wrong about that. I’ve decided I need a huge garden and a posh summer house. There were some seriously amazing examples that were absolutely beautiful. I quite fancied the Hyro Pools too.

Next, it was off to Bathrooms and Kitchens. After I’d drooled over the perfect 1950s style and candy colours of everything made by Smeg (I’d like my whole kitchen to be kitted out by Smeg, please), I went to find Kinetico. The Soft Water Company were showing some of their products. Now, water softeners might not sound very thrilling, but if you live somewhere with hard water, they make a huge amount of difference. When I lived in Bath, I learnt what a total nuisance hard water is. On a basic level, it makes cleaning harder, thanks to limescale, and it can also make showers and washing machines less efficient, making them more expensive to run. Hard water has also been shown to aggravate skin conditions like eczema. Soft water on the other hand, is much better for the skin, because it doesn’t clog pores, or strip out the skin’s natural oils. Both your hair and skin are much softer and smoother with soft water. Sounding more interesting now?

After learning about some of the benefits of soft water with the Kinetico guys, I headed to the Food section. This section was a mix of kitchen gadgets and fresh food. Apparently I only photographed the salami while I was there. Clearly I was too busy sampling cheese and olives to take more pictures. Some of the kitchen gadgets on offer were being shown off with some serious shopping channel style demonstrations, which ended up being rather amusing to stop and watch. I also found Market Lane up here where there were various cooking demonstrations going on throughout the day. I caught part of a session which included some top tips to cook perfect rice. Useful stuff!

Grand Designs Live has now finished, but I’d highly recommend going along next year, whether you’re going all out and building your own house, proper Grand Designs style, or just looking for inspiration on how to decorate your home or give the garden something extra. There was so much to look at; I think you’d struggle to come away without feeling inspired. I would recommend getting in early though. I arrived shortly after doors opened and was able to walk around and look at everything easily. When I left at about midday, it was starting to fill up a lot and I could see it being difficult to get at the stalls through the crowds.

Thanks Kinetico for the invite! Now, who wants to buy me a fancy summer house? And a garden to put it in?