Create an ideal home of your own

Pick up tips and ideas at ‘The Irish Times’ events at the Ideal Home Show this weekend

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a person with means to improve their home would be in want of a helping hand.

And while it’s the personal finishes that make a house a home, there’s something about an expert’s touch that really helps a do-up project come to life.

At the Irish Times Home & Design theatre at this weekend's Permanent TSB Ideal Home Show, there's no shortage of folks versed in the fine arts of design, interiors, landscape design and architecture. Whether you're attempting to haul yourself on to the property ladder as a novice or are of the improve-but-don't-move persuasion, you'll find much to like here.

Presiding over events as the Ideal Home Show's special guest is the TV presenter Melinda Messenger (who will talk with the broadcaster Sybil Mulcahy at the Irish Times Home & Design theatre on Friday at 1.30pm). Messenger rose to fame as a model (and occasional muse for Vivienne Westwood) in the 1980s, and since then she has become a business powerhouse, presenting TV programmes, creating her perfume brand, and developing a range of essential-oil fragrances, due to launch next year. She also has found time to work on three books: her autobiography, a book on meditation and one titled Odd Job Women.


And, as the host of Cowboy Builders alongside Dominic Littlewood, Messenger knows a thing or two about home improvement. On Saturday (2pm) she talks with Conor Pope of The Irish Times about avoiding the pitfalls and sales patter of the cowboy builder.

If you’re a regular reader of this newspaper’s home and property sections you will be familiar with many of the names in this weekend’s mind-hive.

The colour therapist Orla Kelly will talk to Dominique McMullan about the transformative powers of various hues, and why some shades work best in different spaces (Friday, 2.15pm), as well as about different types of paint (Saturday, 2.45pm).

“No matter what people do to their houses, I always say that thinking about paint has miraculous results. Even if you have a small budget, pick a strong colour, even for one wall in one room,” says Kelly. “I think now that the general public have become fascinated by it. It’s the new food, the new sexy thing.”

The chef Eunice Power (Friday, 1pm) will also be at the Irish Times Home & Design theatre to offer pointers on how to become a creative whizz in the kitchen.

Later on Friday the Irish Times travel writer Joan Scales will be joined by one of Airbnb's top hosts in Ireland, Karen O'Rourke, with lots of tips for making your home a comfort zone for visitors and an earning zone for you. That's at 4pm on Friday.

But home improvement is sometimes less about indulging one’s creative side and more about getting the right person for the job at hand.

Choosing an architect is among the more daunting and significant decisions a homeowner can make; the journalist Emma Cullinan will be on hand to reveal how to get the most bang for your buck when choosing an architect, and how to keep that potentially fractious relationship happy and harmonious (Saturday, 3.45pm).

“The talk will be mainly about why to employ an architect, and how to make the process go well,” says Cullinan. “It helps to describe the way you live to an architect at your first meeting, for instance. I think people are slightly intimidated by architects, and they have a certain reputation, but in fact they’re quite socially minded. I hope people who come to our talk will see that they’re human beings!”

Equally daunting is the prospect of viewing properties to buy, but according to Irish Times Property Editor Madeleine Lyons, the interior designer Denise O'Connor and the Sherry FitzGerald estate agent Kelly Marshall it need not feel like a chore. The three will discuss how to get the most out of an open viewing, and what to keep a keen eye out for (Friday, 3pm).

The man cave is a relatively new concept in interior design (although, as many men will readily attest, an increasingly important one). As for how to create the perfect escapist lair, Gary Quinn and Fionn Davenport, along with Arlene McIntyre of Ventura, will be on hand to provide the answers (Saturday, 4.30pm).

“It’ll be a bit of fun, but we’ll be putting a spotlight on what men think they want in a man cave,” Quinn says. “I’m doing up my own attic space with a sound system, a table to play a bit of poker, a great TV, PlayStation . . . all those immature things that blokes love. As a middle-aged man you don’t grow out of these things.”

Houzz is a name familiar to style mavens of all ages, and Andrew Small, from the internet source on all things home-related, will be talking to Alanna Gallagher ahead of the launch of Houzz's Irish site (Saturday, 1pm).

If you have some extra cash to splash on an art investment, Gemma Tipton will be explaining how to start a smart art collection and how to frame your investments to best effect (Sunday, 4pm).

Andrew Rudd is fast becoming a name synonymous with party planning and sumptuous supper clubs, so he is of course worth a visit (Sunday, 3pm) if you want to get the lowdown on kitchen design and gadgets.

“Working on a commercial environment gives me a good insight to work out the flow of a kitchen and what equipment you need,” he says. “My talk will be very practical and no-nonsense. There are only two gadgets that I take to someone’s house when I cook for them: a knife and a Thermomix, which is like having a second person in the kitchen. I’ve been in many homes that have the Rolls-Royces of kitchens but are supplemented by terrible appliances. A lot of people just don’t know the difference.”

And, for the curious and forward-thinking, Conor Pope and a host of tech experts will be making an entertaining guess at what the Irish home of the future might look like (Sunday, 5pm). From robot butlers to beds that make themselves, this will be domestic dreaming at its best.

All the talks mentioned here take place at the Irish Times Home & Design theatre at the Permanent TSB Ideal Home Show at the RDS, Dublin 4, April 15th-17th. Find out more at