Friday, 11 March 2011

Ideal Home Show engages bloggers in its 103rd year

It's been at least a whole decade since I visited the Ideal Home Show.  The last and only time I came was when I was working in London in the 1990s.  Gosh that actually makes it seem much longer...especially as I now realise that it was in fact some time last century.

But there's nothing quite like being offered a press pass to get me racing to a top London lifestyle show that itself is now over a century old, and all because I wanted to have a proper nosey around the eco refit of a replica of No.1 Coronation Street.

Yes, I admit to being a Corrie fan even from the olden days of Albert Tatlock and it was very interesting being behind the scenes while William Roache, aka Ken Barlow, was being interviewed for Daybreak.  However it was the comparison between the old and the new that really grabbed me, focusing on products and solutions that are available to householders who are considering making their homes more energy efficient and eco-friendly.  And of course, it was a real bonus being able to take snaps before the busy crowds appeared....and trust me, this is the Ideal Home Show so it IS very busy!

(William Roache meeting designer George Clarke, just after the Daybreak broadcast)

The celebrity architect George Clarke, aka Restoration Man, responsible for the eco refit of the fictional terraced home took us on a preview tour of the Coronation Street house, highlighting that the challenge for the UK is that there are around 25 million older homes which are far from energy efficient, whether through lack of insulation, sub-standard boilers and heating systems or choice of appliances. Naturally that represents not just an issue with rising fuel prices, but also a major market opportunity for suppliers targeting the eco market.

(Restoration Man, George Clarke highlighting the inadequacies of Ken Barlow's heating system)

As we walked through the replica terrace, it did feel like nothing much had changed from the days when such a house would have been built, except for the odd pieces of retro technology such as the ancient old boiler (and I don't mean Deirdre Barlow) and the infamous set of flying ducks.

But moving into the refit next-door, you could see what opportunities are available, with a bit of imaginative wall-removing and addition of clever eco-features.

Out go the cramped rooms and in come the open plan designs that offer a more spacious feel for modern living.  Not only did it feel more roomy, but it was more heat efficient too with home insulation, double-glazing and under-floor heating.  George highlighted that it is what you can't see that really makes the difference and could not emphasise the importance of insulation enough.  His top tip before you do anything else, was that great insulation should be the priority.

Of course my interests as ever are in the recycling elements of modern design, and as the group of journalists and bloggers continued upstairs, I couldn't help get just a tad distracted by the kitchen worktop, which was made out of recycled glass bottles from London bars and restaurants as well as old underground Tube train windows.

(Recycled glass worktops from

I also noted that just because it's a modest sized house, plenty of room can still be made available for simple clutter-free storage (now wouldn't that sort out a space for your recycling).

By the time I reached the first floor, the eco architect was extolling the virtues of the tiles in the ensuite bathroom, enthusiastically describing how they "magically" convert Carbon Dioxide into Oxygen.  I know, I had to read that twice too.  Although I can't quite get my head around the technology I can confirm they are made from 95% recycled materials.

 (Floor and wall tiles, available from )

Now that the preview tour is over and I'm sat in the specially equpped Bloggers' lounge, perched on a stool just behind the the Corrie replica house, I can see the queues of visitors waitng patiently to take a peek at the houses for themselves.  All I can say is that if you're visiting the show and are considering an eco refit of your own - or are indeed a fan of the long-running soap - it is worth having a look around.  The tour of the house offers a great opportunity for reminiscing AND forward thinking...and if you are a Corrie fan, you may even get to hang out in "Ken & Deirdre's bedroom" and admire the creases in Ken Barlow's trousers.



Anglian said...

Really enjoyed reading your blog post! Loving the pictures aswell :D hope you had fun!!

Tattie Weasle said...

Oh boy have I banged on about retro fitting in the commercial sector for years and now at last they are doing it for residential. The tiles sound amazing and as I am about to fit tiles in my bathroom rather than the rather dangerous when wet old lino (which will now go to the shed/playhouse for reuse) your opost could not have come at a better time!

Almost Mrs Average said...

Thank you Anglian, and cheers for a great day out too. The houses in the village were a real highlight of the show. Got some great snaps of the Princes House too....In fact, when you've finished with it. Can I move in ;0)

Thanks Tattie Weasle... I'm so with you on those tiles. I'm now itching to knock our kitchen and dining room into one and have it refurbished. Problem is the house is only 8 years old and it would be such a waste at the mo, even tho the original kitchen is pants! ;0)

Anglian said...

Almost Mrs Average, would mind if I mentioned you in my blog that I will be writing for Anglian and include a link to your blog?

Many Thanks,

Almost Mrs Average said...

Anglian----yes please feel free. Looking forward to reading it ;0)

Anglian said...

here is a link to my blog post about the Ideal Home Show that I have written for Anglian. Would really love to hear your views and thoughts about it!

Many Thanks,


Liz@Violet Posy said...

GEORGE!!! and the makeover looked good too ;) xx

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