Fresh ideas: 10 things to see and do at the Spring Ideal Home show

The RDS show marks the start of the home improvement season

1 Reduce your energy bills

Kicking yourself for having missed out on the Home Renovation Incentive Scheme? All is not lost. Make a beeline for the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) stand to find out about all the ways in which you can at least reduce your energy bills. We’re not just talking about putting in insulation, solar panels and heat pumps – though that will of course save you money over time – but the range of grants on offer to help cut the cost of installing them. These run from €400 for attic insulation, to €6,000 for external wall insulation. There’s also a new grant of €3,500 for heat pump systems.

2 Free building advice

Anyone planning to extend, renovate or build should get along for the free advice alone. Where else are you going to get the benefit of so much expertise – with no pressure to commit? Catch the seminars at the Mitsubishi Electric Home Advice Theatre and then head for the show's Build Expo section to talk to the architects, builders and suppliers on hand to answer your questions. Do yourself a favour and formulate your questions in advance and bring pictures of your home and garden on your phone. A little homework will help you make an informed decision when your building project is ready to go.

3 Interviews and presentations

Borrow some inspiration from the experts at the Home Interiors Fair, which will present a series of interviews with two of RTÉ's Home of the Year judges, interior designer Deirdre Whelan of Scott Tallon Walker and Cork-based architect Peter Crowley of PAC Studio. Don't miss Patricia Power's presentations either, the quantity surveyor best known for her non-nonsense approach to costs on the earlier series of Room to Improve. Power is a font of practical tips to help you keep quality up and costs down. If you've a modest home improvement budget, this is the session to go to.

4 The showhouse

The centerpiece of every Ideal Home Show is the showhouse and this season's showhouse is designed by Rebecca Roe of Hedgeroe Home, known for a sophisticated look that takes its cues from fashion houses. Dyson is sponsoring the showhouse and there'll be an emphasis on air purification systems and vacuum cleaners that remove particles such as dust and allergens.


5 Room sets from Arnotts

If your sofa's a little sad and your bedroom a bit boring, check out the range of furniture from Arnotts. Its stand will have a series of room sets to wander through. The focus is on contemporary furniture from brands such as BoConcept, Ecrol and Kartell, so if you're looking for one or two key pieces for your living room – to draw the eye away from your own more shabby than chic collection – it's the place to go, particularly as there'll be offers and discounts available to show visitors.

6 Garden advice

If the Ideal Home Spring Show is here, can summer be far behind? In other words, it’s time to get your garden in order. Check out The Garden Shop where Michael O’Reilly will be on hand with a team of garden designers for 15-minute one-to-one consultations. Come prepared with pictures and measurements and you’ll be amazed at how much ground you can cover, literally. Book your slot as soon as you arrive, this one will fill up fast.

7 Harvey Norman furnishings

Check out the new season's furnishings from Harvey Norman which is back at the show after an absense of a couple of years. Among its themes this season is "Parker Palm", a glamorous homage to the fun makeover which designer Jonathan Adler gave the iconic Parker Palm Springs hotel in California. Choose some intense colours, some cheeky wall art and a velvet cushion or two and you're half way there.

The store is also using the show to introduce its new partnership with designer Angel Strawbridge, of TV’s Escape to the Chateau, to launch a range of soft furnishings and wallpaper. If that isn’t reason enough to go, the store will also be offering 20 per cent off all home wares, linen and pillows just for show goers.

8 Small outdoor spaces

Find your way to Keane Spaces, a new business venture from Wexford couple Damien Keane, a garden designer, and architectural glass artist Bianca Divito. Aimed specifically at small spaces, the idea behind it is that not everyone can afford a full-scale garden design, but they might like a special place within the garden, for a smaller budget. Such small escape places could include a hideaway for al fresco dining, or an outdoor meditation space. They can create a lush hideaway from tall bamboo, tree ferns, banana trees, ornamental grasses, glass art and seating suitable for even the teensiest city garden.

9 Pods

In a time of accommodation shortage, good things come of small properties. The Pod Factory creates bespoke garden pods at its purpose-built factory in Meath before installing them on site using steel frame construction. Units come fully fitted with a kitchen cum living room, bathroom and bedroom space, are fully insulated and designed for year-round use. Exteriors are clad in Canadian Cedar as well as a protective acrylic plaster render. If you can’t get around to its showroom to see what’s possible, check them out at the Ideal Home Show instead.

10 Artwork

Not everyone is there to talk plasterboard and render of course. For many visitors, the show is the perfect opportunity to shop for artworks in a relaxed, non-gallery atmosphere. As always there are some great options at the show and this spring is no exception, with paintings from exhibitors such as The Oriel Gallery, artists such as Theo Hanley and Chris O'Hara; photography from Keith Woodard and Living Earth Photography; as well as mosaics from Judith Ashton, to name just a few. For occasion gifts to mark events such as the arrival of a new baby, check out A Little Irish Birdie Told Me, where prices range from €16 for lovely handmade keepsakes.

Spring Permanent tsb Ideal Home Show 2019 runs from Friday, April 12th to Sunday, April 14th.

Sandra O'Connell

Sandra O'Connell

Sandra O'Connell is a contributor to The Irish Times