I always thought it was strange that I’m so endlessly preoccupied with clothes but pretty useless with interior design. So when a friend had a free ticket to the Ideal Home Show, I thought, there’s going to be a day devoted to self-improvement and that can only be a good thing. First thing I noticed is that they went to town on decorating Earls Court – pimped out with enormous Kidston-esque flowers, astro-turf on the approach and six-foot cardboard figures of design pin-ups Lawrence Llewellyn Bowen and George Clarke adorn the entrance. Second thing, it ain’t cheap to get in unfortunately. I was just hoping it was going to be worth it.
And then…so, so many stalls. Like the world’s biggest, best, home-centric market, there was everything from hot tubs to massage chairs to summer houses to er, CCTV – if you didn’t think you needed something, you would after this. And like enormous, perfect dolls houses, there were three mock-up houses, fully functional, fake guttering, electricity, the works. Like a full-size Ikea you could actually live in. I walked round oohing and aahing and inquiring as to the price of some wallpaper with logs on it.
And just before I realised I had lost my mind in a beautiful world of perfect decor, we uncovered the next floor. Never mind the tartan cushions and fur throws; upstairs was where it was at. Food, every kind from every nationality imaginable, all giving out free samples. Beauty treatments – teeth whitening, power plates, endless hand scrubs and skin serums were literally being thrown at us. Vintage shopping – clothes, tea sets, ornamental baskets all at ludicrously cheap prices. I spent almost a tenner on pick and mix but I DIDN’T CARE because of the joy of this Ideal Life show. And by the time someone offered to read my palm, I knew the definition of ‘Home’ had been well and truly stretched.
Sure, for the house decorating puritans, there was probably too much fluff around – too many eyebrow bars, too many sausage sellers, not enough all-purpose flooring. But herein lies the wonder of the Ideal Home Show; they’re selling you a life where you can justify spending £800 on a power plate (apparently they normally retail at £1500) or a thermal back massager for £100. You need these things! You need an Ideal Home life, straight outta page 64.
Of course you don’t, and me and my finances managed to escape unscathed (my friend did fall prey to a £30 tooth whitening kit. Special offer). She regrets it now, but hey, that’s the marvel of this event; you get swept along in the consumer euphoria. But let me tell you, its worth it, if for nothing else than silky smooth hands and a stomach full of free gin.
The Ideal Home show is now on until the 30th March at Earls Court, and will next year be moving to Kensington Olympia. Get tickets here.