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No place like home (show)

DH and I went down to the Vancouver Home and Design Show to catch up on the trends that are new and exciting in this red-hot renovation and building market.

I remember going to the show twenty years ago or so and it seems to me that it was kiosk after kiosk of handy-dandy  labour-saving devices, pots and pans, with a few decorating and building companies thrown in.  Or maybe that was the PNE.  Anyway, the past few years you’ve been able to talk with a lot of renovation companies, plus get some great ideas about new products that are available.

As usual there were great speakers — including Bryan Baeumler,  Colin McAllister and Justin Ryan, lots of great chefs and designers.

Small was definitely big this year.  There were several retailers showing off various ways to hide beds — not just floor mounted but pieces that looked like regular cabinets but made out into beds.  And Urban Barn tasked the three designers competing for their Next Top Designer with designing a dual-purpose space in just 150 square feet.

I saw a lot I really liked but for me the outstanding exhibition was the NOMAD MicroHome.  The display unit showed how much living and storage you could fit into a 10 foot by 10 foot footprint.  It would be great for an extra bedroom, tucked into your yard.  Or, with the addition of other modules, you could easily make a nice vacation home.  You can even go completely green with the addition of  a Water Generation Plant, a Solar Power Plant, a Rainwater Collection System and a Grey Water Treatment Plant.

And they are pretty good looking, too.


While looking at the home I got a feeling of deja vu — and sure enough I wrote about the Nomad last year.  It’s great to see an innovative local company moving ahead.


Our visit to the BC Home and Garden Show

DH and I braved the snow yesterday to take in the BC Home and Garden Show. Thanks to Ian at the Home Discovery Show for the admission!

There were masses of people, lots to see, lots to do, in short, the usual Home and Garden Show.

And there were lots of individual items — and a few over arching trends.

Smaller is definitely in.  We saw a couple of laneway builders — one, My Lane Home, builds the structure off-site and then assembles it on the foundation they put on your property.  We had a nice chat with them. A lot of the regular design/build/renovate exhibitors were also displaying info on building laneways.

Small is also in with the furniture exhibitors.  We saw very few big pieces, and we saw two exhibitors with credenzas that made into full-size dining tables.  Like this:

Credenza1 Credenza2 Credenza3

Plus there were several booths showing beds that came out of cabinets or the more traditional Murphy-bed set-up for transforming spare spaces into guest rooms with the touch of a button. Plus closet systems that made use of every inch.

The furniture was also sleek and functional looking — nary a curve or a piece of extra ornamentation to be seen in upholstered or hard furnishings. And it really was about doing more with fewer pieces.

Window coverings were also more in the “blinds and shades” family than opulent draperies — and there were no prints except for a few geometrics. When I remember the meters and meters of cabbage roses we used on every upholstered surface in the 70s and 80s!  They are totally out of style now.

The finishes were the ones we’ve seen before — hardwood and engineered floors are still the most popular, there isn’t anything new there.  The counter tops were either quartz or what I came to think of as “novelty” stones, like marble with swaths of green running through; plus lighter granites than the blacks and dark greys we’ve seen in the past few shows.

There was a clean aesthetic when it came to all the decorating. The only place I saw texture was in the walls.  Bathroom and kitchen tiles often had designs incised into them — one booth had sheets of tempered glass with colours and textures embedded in it.  For myself, I would never put anything like that in my home.  How many homes have baths installed in the 1980s?  You can tell because of the florals in the tiles, something that is completely out of style now.  Tiling is something you only want to do once — don’t put anything up that is so very ….. dating.

Saving energy was a definite theme when it came to the doors and windows on display.  Plus there were lots of home security exhibitors, so it seems that putting in a security system is no longer an option but a necessity.

Taking it outside, I was surprised to see how much concrete was being used, often in interested ways.  And outdoor fire pits and fireplaces were everywhere.  “Outdoor rooms” are taking over from “yards and gardens”.

Of course, there were lots of booths selling things, mixers, knives, nozzles and ladders — I saw one man carrying a huge box containing a super-duper car seat cushion.  Luckily we were travelling by transit and had no way to get a lot of “things” home, and of course, no where to put them when we got there!  So we saved a fortune.

There’s no place like Home Show

I love going to the BC Home and Garden Show.  Even when our home renovations were restricted to painting our hallway — just going to the show made us feel like we were “real” home owners.


This year, of course, we had a legitimate reason to be there.  We are building a home!  We wanted to look around at, well, everything, but there are a couple of things that we paid close attention to.

Home security: Currently we have an alarm system installed in our condo.  We enter a few digits on a keypad and arm or disarm the system.  This was the first alarm system I’d ever used, and I was pretty impressed with the system and the motion sensors tucked into the corners.

Seems pretty old school now. Now the smart systems can be armed or disarmed by your cell phone while you are halfway around the world.  It can be run through your laptop or ipad and control your TV, stereo, heat and lights.  My little carrier bag is stuffed with brochures from the various distributors, and it’ll take some serious on-line investigation to even get started on deciding what we need.

Window Coverings: It was great to see all the window coverings laid out before us.  We got to see them up close, and we think we will go with Hunter Douglas Silhouette.  We really love the way you can get full coverage, but also even with the blinds open the sheer outer panels give you UV and heat protection, perfect for our upstairs sitting room that faces full south.

Naturally, they can be installed to open or shut with the flick of a switch or a remote.  It’s nice to dream about, but we’re talking about two 32 x 48 inch windows and one glass door — I think a pull on a couple of cords will not be too onerous.

Of course there were lots of other things to see — from celebrity appearances to basement bathrooms to roofing options plus grdens and fountains, but we just poked our heads into the booths that we related to.  Although we also tried out every bar stool we saw, just to see what they felt like to sit in.  We will need to get two stools for our kitchen counter/table.  They will have to be a little higher than regular kitchen chairs,  which are usually 18 inches high for 29-inch-high tables.  Counters are usually 36 inches high, so we’ll need to accommodate that.  Regular bar stools will be too tall, but we were just checking the comfort levels of different styles. Note:  lushly padded seats are too precarious, your bottom wobbles on them.

Update:  Here’s what four editors of BC Living magazine found to love at the BC Home and Garden Show.

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