Exciting news in the Bartlett/Friend household, Tom and I officially moved in to our own house at the weekend! Last week I took a jaunt to the Ideal Home Show at London Olympia for the opening weekend and to stock up on much needed cushions.
The Ideal Home Show ends on 3rd April, so there’s still time to check out the two hectares of exhibitors from the interiors, home improvements, gardens, food, housewares, technology and fashion and beauty sections – they’ve definitely covered every aspect of the ‘home’.
This was my first trip to the Ideal Home Show so I was pleased to see that there wasn’t a huge queue to get in – as a lot of the promotional pictures showed quite big crowds gathering outside the giant Hollywood-esque letters. Now the website might proudly state that the Olympia London is served by its own tube station – but it fails to mention that it’s not served by any main tube line to speak of.
For reference, especially if you are travelling down at the weekend, get the tube up from West Brompton rather than try and change at Earls Court, which only runs a limited service to Kensington Olympia at the weekends. Alternatively, consult CityMapper!
The show homes
The Ideal Home Show was founded in 1908 by the Daily Mail and was originally envisaged as a publicity tool for the newspaper as a way of increasing their revenue through advertising.
The show homes have been a staple of the exhibition and as the website says ‘in the early days, guests would have been amazed by the full size Tudorbethan houses built at the exhibition.’ The show has been a trailblazer showcasing home innovations – the vacuum cleaner, electric kettle, toaster and the Teasmade all made their debut at the Ideal Home Show.
Now this was my Mum’s return trip to the Ideal Home Show and rightly made a B line for the Show Homes. This year the exhibition featured three full sized ideal homes each themed – eco, a twist on the traditional British home and a house designed to save you time. Although there were queues for all three houses, they move along prettily steadily.
It is an amazing feat to construct three temporary houses in the main exhibition space, but neither of us really felt that there was anything particularly innovative or new – especially the time saving house. They did have a robot hoover (which would save 8 minutes a day) and an app that would fill the bath with water to save you waiting around (saving 4 minutes) but I wouldn’t rush out to stock up on them.
As a bit of a recycling nut, I was excited by the multi-compartment recycling bin… cough… sad.
The Ideal Home Show is also home to the Ideal Home Young Gardener awards and I thought the show gardens were quite interesting – although Tom wasn’t impressed with my photos because there were too many cushions involved for his liking.
Once you’ve made your way round the mains floor sections, which you can tell by the giant signs sporting home improvement celeb professionals, there’s plenty of shopping upstairs. You could tell the serious shoppers by the nifty crates on wheels they dragged around – genius.
The Food Court is pretty good with lots of different cuisines – you are much better going for individual producers rather than buying your lunch from Olympia’s own outlets where the food is expensively mediocre. We had some great churros from Churros Garcia.
The Ideal Home Show is definitely a good day out – there’s lots of inspiration. There’s also lots of repetition in goods – there’s only so many spiralizers one needs. There’s also some super popular products – watch out for the magic shammies and the no-brush-toilet-brush.
Things to know…
- There are a million offers for Ideal Home Show tickets, you apply through Martin Lewis’ Money Saving Expert website and use the code IHS2016.
- Do check out CityMapper on the best way to get there.
- Wear comfortable shoes – there’s not much space for taking a break.