‘Home should be an anchor, a port in the storm, a refuge, a happy place in which to dwell, a place where we are loved and where we can love’ – Marvin J Ashton
My home really is my sanctuary. A humble abode perhaps, however, I adore filling it with trinkets found online, on market stalls and in charity shops. Even though I’m currently in a rented property – meaning I’m rather limited with what I can do in terms of home improvements – I compensate for this by injecting my own style onto the blank canvass of good old magnolia, in the way of cushions, fabrics, pictures, decorative candles and lighting.
I’m sure we all have them but my personal lottery win fantasy? To buy a remote plot of land and build my very own home, from scratch. Somewhere in the rambling English countryside, using lots of cool slate, rich oak and neutral colours with a big, open plan dining area. I’ve always wanted a photo wall too, filled with eclectic, mismatched frames and happy memories. The bathroom would be a sanctuary of Moroccan inspired tiles, with a roll top bath and walk in shower. My shiny new Aga would be the focal point of the kitchen, alongside the rows of copper pans hanging above the rustic worktops. Outside would be home to many chickens and freshly grown herbs and vegetables, whilst the kids relaxed in the hammocks and the cats hunted. Can you tell I’ve thought about this a lot?
So, back to reality! On Friday, I headed over to EventCity in Manchester to spend the day at the Ideal Home Show. This is an exhibition designed to showcase some of the very best retailers in the industry and the latest innovations, alongside plenty of demonstrations, helping you find your own home inspiration.
As I entered EventCity, I immediately found myself in the food section. The first stall I noticed belonged one of my local favourites, The Chocolate Cafe. Based in the beautiful Lancashire town of Ramsbottom (don’t laugh), I adore their array of handmade chocolate bars, from Columbia 100% to Manchester Tart. The girls and I have visited The Chocolate Cafe on many occasion and ironically, I met my lovely friend Lewis there for lunch just last week. Highly recommended if you’re in the area.
Along with fresh fruit and vegetables, there was a multitude of goodies on offer. I enjoyed an iced latte, honey cashew nuts, fresh feta and spent a small fortune on American candy. Alongside the Gregg Wallace restaurant, The Dukes Head and street food stalls, you certainly wouldn’t go hungry!
I then hit the shopping section. After initially just going to browse and get some home ideas, I may have left with no less than four bags of shopping! I bought some vintage style plant pots for my kitchen, coasters and a few other things that I can’t tell you about yet, as they are birthday gifts for friends and family (June and July bring a LOT of birthdays in our household)
Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen was also on hand to offer advice and help for us folk who needed it. I decided to give my poor feet (and bank account) a break and sat down at the Ideal Super Theatre, ready to be transformed by Laurence’s worldly interior wisdom. I was already aware of his wallpaper collection with Graham and Brown and have my eye on a pattern or two.
Once Laurence had graced the stage with his undeniably larger-than-life personality, he asked the audience to upload pictures of their own homes onto the large screen, as part of his Home Truths talk. We got to glimpse inside each others homes; the good, the bad and the ugly. From plain and dull to garish and OTT, there was certainly a variety up there! The ‘winner’ was the owner of the bright orange kitchen, which Laurence suggested a lick of pale blue paint would transform instantly, without costing much.
He emphasised that your home should be an extension of your own unique personality, but do remember that there is a fine line between clutter and decoration! I also discovered how to manipulate colour in the home. Pale blue makes a room feel bigger, whilst reds and purples can minimise space; a good thing if you want to create something cosy and intimate. Laurence also explained that many people use a feature wall on the chimney breast, but by using the alcoves instead, you can create an illusion of more space. That’s just a snippet my new found education, and something that I will definitely be implementing in the future.
After Laurence’s talk, I carried on looking around and came across the Roald Dahl-inspired room sets. These were put together by four retailers, based on the theme ‘Roald Dahl 100′ to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of the well-loved British novelist. The Next room appealed to me the most, with a book print wallpaper, turquoise hues, lots of lamps and an all-round cosy atmosphere.
As I mentioned before, I have a fixation with frames, of all sizes, colours and shapes. I adored the Ayers & Graces stall and spent a fair while fawning over all of the goods on offer. I almost bought a beautiful white square frame, but had to restrain myself after buying far too much already! I have made a mental note to visit their website once we move house and then I can go nuts, creating a bespoke wall of memories and smiles.
In the end, I spent around five hours at the Ideal Home Show and came home full of ideas, inspiration and a longing for my fantasy mansion! Until then, you will find me in bed with a cup of tea, getting my home decor fix on Pinterest.
*My ticket was provided FOC, however, all opinions are my own.