The autumn Ideal Home Show is set to be one of the biggest in recent years with 230 exhibitors. Around 25,000 visitors are expected at what is now a bi-annual event (the spring Ideal Home Show takes place in April) and a must-see for anyone thinking of building, renovating, extending or redecorating their home.
Event organiser Sean Lemass of SDL, which has run the show since 1994, estimates around €30 million worth of sales will take place on foot of the show, with 72 per cent of visitors falling into the lucrative ABC1 demographic. Research by the company indicates that almost one third (31 per cent) of visitors will spend between €5,000 and €10,000, with 4 per cent expecting to spend between €10,000 and €50,000.
The show is a bellwether of the economy. “In 2012 it was all about reducing energy bills and saving money,” says Lemass. This year, research indicates energy saving has been replaced by furniture and interiors as the areas of most interest to visitors.
“The real money coming into the show is people coming in to build an entire house or undertake a renovation. We keep in touch with what people want and this year what they want is bespoke interior design and furniture that’s not just functional but nice too.”
This year's showhouse is a Manhattan Loft, the work of interior designer Arlene McIntyre's Dublin studio Ventura. Paint maker Colourtrend will have an interior design forum while at the Design & Build station, a team of construction experts will be on hand to answer questions.
The Irish Times Home & Design Theatre will stage a series of seminars and interviews with industry professionals including homewares designer Paul Costello, interior designer Arlene McIntyre and colour consultant Orla Kelly. Topics include everything from interior design on a budget and upcycling furniture to preparing your home to host AirBnB guests.
The four-day exhibition also has a schedule of workshops and panel discussions on everything from passive homes and sustainable energy to home security, 3D design for interiors, avoiding neighbour disputes and how to make your home dog-friendly. But the real value for anyone looking to invest in home improvement is the access the show provides to engineering consultants, construction professionals, interior designers and home-furnishing makers all under one roof.
Furniture companies exhibiting include Kerry-based Mango Crafts, which specialises in designing and crafting unique furniture from timber sourced in Asia. Its high-end woods include acacia, ironwood, teak and reclaimed teak roots, sourced principally in northern Thailand and dried in the company's facility there.
There are exhibitors who specialise in designs for children too, including Irish teepee company Maple and Spud. Kids Space, a maker of colourful furniture for children from tots to teens, will be showing its latest collection.
And there is a strong focus on the garden, from seminars with Irish Times gardening expert Fionnuala Fallon to exhibitors such as Belfast-based outdoor furniture specialist Euro Garden and Home. The garden features and furniture available from the Living Outdoors Company includes glamping pods and barrel saunas.
As well as exponents of the latest in building materials and technology, from foam insulation to renewable heat systems and technologies that help control children’s internet usage, there is an array of art and photography stands, including Shoot My Dog, which specialises in canine portraiture. Visitors can also benefit from a string of show-only deals, including prizes and discounts.
Vincent Kelly of Gallery Zozimus on Dublin's Francis Street, first took a stand at the show's spring event this year. Such was the interest in his eclectic collection of artworks that he has booked again this autumn.
“We are providing the artwork for the showhouse so it makes sense for us to have a stand presence there too,” says Kelly. “Last time around we sold quite a number of paintings and ceramics. It’s also a valuable way for us to promote ourselves. For many people it can be intimidating to go into an art gallery. Attendance at the show makes us more accessible. People come to the show when they are thinking of building or furnishing a house, and come to us for the cream – a nice piece of artwork for their home.”
Tadhg Dineen is an Ideal Home Show veteran. His Waterford-based family business, Tara Crystal Chandeliers, has exhibited at the show for 20 years. "It's always a good one for us because people come at the very start of their building project and they see us. Then they come back to the show when they are doing their interiors and they remember us," says Dineen. "The autumn show is particularly important for us because typically our customers will have been getting the building work done all year and are now starting into the finishing, wanting to get their homes ready and furnished in time for Christmas."
Tara Crystal Chandeliers, which was set up in 1993, specialises in bespoke, hand-cut light fittings, typically for entrance halls and reception rooms, with an average spend per customer of around €3,500.
“Even in the depths of the recession we were kept busy with Dublin’s redbrick houses but things are getting busy again now all over,” says Dineen.
The Permanent TSB Ideal Homes Show takes place at the RDS Simmonscourt on the bank holiday weekend (28th–31st October).