The weather is all over the place, so hibernating at home seems like a good option. As well as dreaming of spring, you may also imagine improving your house. Whether it’s improving the insulation, roof and furnace, creating a new space downstairs to host games nights, or renovating the kitchen, you may want to consult with the experts before turning your thoughts into actions. The London Home Builders’ Lifestyle Home Show Jan. 27-29 at Western Fair District is just the place to find them.
Lois Langdon, LHBA executive officer, said, “The LHBA does this show as a way to bring the best and newest here for our fellow Londoners.”
LHBA’s president Trevor McKenzie, writes in the show guide: “You might think that after 24 years of holding the Lifestyle Home Show, that we might run out of ideas, but that’s part of the wonder of the housing and renovation industry — there’s never an end to innovation. Whether it’s improvements in the performance of construction materials and home operating systems, totally new products and services created to support the needs of today’s families or new building science that enhances how your home functions — there is always something new and improved!”
It is also a showcase for local businesses, providing them with an opportunity to talk to people, answer questions, and show their products and services.
“Typically attendance is 14,000 from London and area — just under 600 booths, about 250 exhibitors,” Langdon said. Visitors are fairly evenly split in age: 42 per cent 35 to 55, 53 per cent 55 and older, and five per cent 18 to 34. No surprise that 90 per cent own their home. They are looking for information on renovating, landscaping, decorating, and building a home.
Some exhibitors have participated since the beginning, others are joining for the first time.
One of the new kids on the block is the Food Incubator. Five businesses will be at the show: Meals on Wheels’ Village Table, Old East Village Grocer, Fire Roasted Coffee, the Urban Oven, and Naturally Vegan.
“We want to raise awareness that we are bringing accessible and unique healthy food to the neighbourhood,” said Vanessa Cullen, fund development and event co-ordinator, Meals on Wheels London. The Food Incubator is in Old East Village at 630 Dundas St.
“It’s a gathering space and we are working on ideas to bring the public in,” Cullen said. Meetings, cooking classes, parties and events have been held — including a barbecue on the patio in November, free for the community. A pilot breakfast program is being tested and there are plans for a lunch service for the general public in the spring.
“We want to showcase what the incubator is about and give information to visitors,” Cullen said. “We want to offer more programming and funding to support it, and explore a greater demographic. It’s a cool building with lots of parking.”
Also new and looking to spread the word is the Career Resource Centre. “The residential construction industry is facing huge shortages of trades and workers in the years coming, so we have assembled a large display with information on the vast variety of careers that we have to offer,” Langdon said.
“It isn’t a job fair, it’s a resource centre for information. Fanshawe College, North American Trade Schools and the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program will be there with displays and information.”
One of the stalwarts is Alfred’s Carpet One. They’ve come each year to feature a new product.
“It gives us a chance to connect with our customers and prospective customers,” owner Al Sinclair said. “You can put a face to a name, meet and greet.” He said the booth sees about a person per minute on average during the show, with six to 10 during peak times.
“Typically, we try to feature something new in the industry. Flooring has changed a lot in the last few years. We bring something you may not have seen before.”
This year that product is Drop and Done vinyl plank flooring.
“It’s one of the products in the hottest segment of the market — LVT, which stands for Luxury Vinyl Tile.” This is flooring that looks like plank wood, stone or tile.
Before, choices were ceramic tile, hardwood and carpet. Carpet is losing its appeal in most spaces other than bedrooms and stairs, while LVT is gaining, due to its versatility.
“The appeal is it’s easy to install, without needing to be glued to the sub-floor or with a tongue and groove mechanism, which can cause problems later. Not only is it easier to install, it is trouble-free down the road. It has a lot of applications,” Sinclair said.
Those include commercial, such as clinics, retail and office, as well as residential in any room and below grade because it is waterproof. If it gets wet (say in a flooded basement), you can pull it up, dry it and put it back down. It’s ideal for the DIYer.
The booth will show most of the patterns available so visitors can see, touch and walk on them.
A main component of any home show is the stage and the demonstrations. On Friday, you can gain decorating tips from Boost Home Styling; take a crash course in plant selection and design with Heather Bailey from Rural Roots; or learn how to clean your home the natural way with Laureen McKay of the Healthy Household.
Steve Timmermans of Everwoods offers a session Saturday on bringing the natural beauty of functional architecture and the purpose of trees to homes. An energy checkup, tips for surviving a renovation, flooring trends, determining whether to hire a contractor or designer first, and a repeat of the plant course complete the day’s lineup.
If you like the latest tech toys, don’t miss Home Automation is the Internet of Things by Marcel Mukerjee on Sunday. The London fire department will discuss common causes of fires in the home and more importantly, how to prevent them, the need for smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and organizing an escape plan.
Bailey returns to talk about low-maintenance landscapes, and McKay repeats her advice on cleaning naturally.
London goes CityGreen with its booth of information on the environment. City staff will answer questions on sustainability. They’ll also help you determine if you’re “keeping up with the Joneses” in terms of the environment: how your hydro, water and gas bill compares with your neighbours’; whether your vehicle is more efficient or less; if you recycle more and put out less garbage. Find out what happens to your recyclables, yard waste and leaves after they’re collected. You can also learn about the Shift Rapid Transit plan and London ON Bikes (cycling master plan) and how you can participate.
Or stroll down the Boulevard of Dreams for inspiration from luxury lifestyle products and services from new home to home improvements.