Sponsored content is premium paid-for content produced by the Irish Times Content Studio on behalf of commercial clients. The Irish Times newsroom or other editorial departments are not involved in the production of sponsored content.

Design and environment top home improvers’ agenda

The spring permanent tsb Ideal Home Show takes place April 1st to 3rd with energy efficiency and sustainability centre stage

With many people looking to take advantage of generous new energy efficiency grants, the permanent tsb Ideal Home Show at the RDS, Dublin is the place to go for inspiration, expert advice and service providers.

The new National Retrofitting Scheme sees the Government step in to help feather all our nests, increasing grant contribution levels available for a typical deep home retrofit from 30 per cent to 50 per cent.

Supports for homeowners that want to take a step-by-step approach to upgrading their homes have been plumped up too, with various grants available from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI).

The grant available to ditch your polluting old oil or gas boiler for an energy efficient heat pump heating system has increased from €3,500 to a toasty €6,500.


For external wall insulation the free money has gone from €6000 to €8000 for a typical detached house.

Grants for insulation are even chunkier, up from €400 to €1,300 for attics, and from €400 to €1,200 to fill cavity walls. It means the Government will pick up 80 per cent of your tab.

All these changes are better for the environment, better for your pocket and better for your comfort at home. But there’s an added bonus too – getting all that work done is the perfect excuse to redecorate.

You’ll be able to discover more from the SEAI who will be on hand all weekend at the show, and you can hear more about the grants at their daily talks, taking place at the Mitsubishi Electric Ecodan Advice Theatre.

Sustainability centre stage

David McConnell of Mitsubishi Electric will be at the spring permanent tsb Ideal Home Show to discuss the latest developments in heat pump technology at the Mitsubishi Electric Ecodan Advice Theatre.

McConnell, a regular exhibitor at the show, says sustainability has moved centre stage among self-builders and renovators and many have questions they’d like to ask. “People want to know why they should change to a heat pump, what is the cost, and whether or not they have to change their radiators,” he explains.

He will explain how the first step to a more sustainable home is to address the fabric of the building – insulating the attic and the walls and replacing draughty windows and doors. Only once that is done is it time to look at heating systems.

Rising energy prices are driving interest in energy efficiency too, he points out. “For every one kilowatt of electricity a heat pump uses, you get back four kilowatts of heat, so they are very efficient. In terms of running costs, you can typically expect to save 25 to 30 per cent over gas, and up to 50 per cent over oil, depending on prices,” he explains.

Designs on interiors

It’s gearing up to be a busy year for the interior design sector, says Susan McGowan of interior architecture and design studio Ashen & Cloud.

“The national move to retrofit is going to be very good for our industry. We’ll see people installing underfloor heating, triple glazing windows, and putting in solar panels, all of which will be very beneficial for the environment, with very valuable grants available from the SEAI to help. It’s important and it gives people a chance to look at how they might redecorate their home at the same time,” says McGowan.

She is creative director of the DFS Interiors Inspiration Centre at this year’s permanent tsb Ideal Home show. She and three other influencers and interiors experts – Joanne Mooney, David O’Brien and Anne Marie Boyhan -  have each staged room sets based on furniture retailer DFS’s marketing campaign which asks “What’s your thing?”, with floors by Grain & Groove.

“Brian’s thing is about sustainability, including the use of antique furniture. Anne Marie’s thing is about sleep and wellbeing. My thing is a restful home,” says McGowan.

“My personal life is hectic, as is my husband’s. We’ve got three children. What I want from my home is a sense of rest, an environment that feels calm, allows you to breath, and is not jarring in any way.”

It’s a sensibility that has informed the décor choices of her room set at the show, a living room featuring a chocolate brown sofa, “moody” flooring and striking wall art.

Just as fast fashion has become unpopular, so too has fast furniture

McGowan has a loyal following on Instagram and often features her own home, a 1950s cottage which she renovated and extended.

Good interior design is not about fashion, it’s about only bringing things that you love into your home, she says. “Your home should be your own style but very often people are afraid of that because they like so many different things and styles that it can be hard for them to put it all together. My job is to take the things clients love and make them feel fresh,” she says.

The new luxury Dulux Heritage collection range of wall paints, set to launch later this spring, will make its debut within the DFS Interiors Room sets. “It’s going to be a real winner. It’s a beautiful palette with very mature, muted shades that are very contemporary,” says McGowan.

The room sets feature wall panelling and flooring from Grain & Groove in Navan. “Flooring and walls make a big statement. It’s a great opportunity to see the different styles of panelling available and how they enhance the look of a room,” she adds.

Sustainability is informing décor decisions too, including a growing respect for pieces that are built to last. “Just as fast fashion has become unpopular, so too has fast furniture. It’s something we haven’t thought about for the past 20 years but now we are,” says McGowan.

Even more inspiration

Visitors to the show will be able to explore its well-loved Showhouse, designed this year by V2 Living, the sister brand and collection of interiors expert Arlene McIntyre’s Ventura Design.

The Build and Extend Zone has everything from insulation to flooring, quantity surveyors to designers, kitchens to bathrooms, plus credible expert advice to help visitors to make decisions.

Exhibitors include Castlestrange Construction, Quick Homes, Fern Hill, JE Architecture, Your Home Office, Home Improvements Ireland, Ronan Rose Roberts Architects, Houseology, Circa Design and IDomus Construction, to name but a few.

Growing interest in sustainability, and a desire to make the most of the new grants schemes, is set to boost attendance at the Energia Retrofit Village too. Among the specialists exhibiting are 2eva.ie, Solar Home, JFW Renewables, Keltic Renewables, Complete Insulations, Electric Ireland and Energy Superstore.

Get your tickets for the spring permanent tsb Ideal Home Show, taking place from 1st -3rd April at the RDS, Dublin at idealhome.ie