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Friday, 28 August 2009

Homes & Interiors Scotland Exhibition

A year ago I gained my diploma from the Institute of Interior Design. Not to run away from PR, but to augment our service for clients.

After all, when we've re-vamped the website, the marketing and sales materials, raised the profile in the press and online, there's no point in customers coming into a scrappy building and reception area. Plus, with five property renovations under my belt, I wanted the technical skills to add a extra style to my own developments.

We are lucky to have a terrific award-winning magazine devoted to the best Scotland offers in interior design. I always look forward to their annual Homes & Interiors Scotland Exhibition at the SECC in Glasgow.

And this year, despite the credit crunch, they are putting on an exceptional range of exhibitors, with eight room sets created by leading designers for you to pick up loads of ideas and inspiration. Plus free talks and demonstrations from 28-30 August. They include advice from world-famous designer, Nina Campbell, plus award-winning architect, Crichton Wood's "Open Up Your Home" talk shows how to enhance a home on a budget.

I particularly enjoyed Cole & Son's MD, Anthony Evans' whizz through centuries of wallpaper and production methods, up to the latest digital designs for whole walls and ceilings. They have been making beautiful hand printed wallpapers since 1875.

The new inspiration zone is a treat, offering you the chance to browse through sample books from the world's most influential brands of fabrics and wallpapers. Designs by Casamance, Zoffany and Moon all caught my eye for traditional quality designs with a contemporary edge that won't go out of date. And compared to furniture and lighting, you don't need to splash out much for a very special fabric to add real impact to a room. A few special cushions and maybe a blind will do the trick.

At the other end of the scale, the technology showcase focused on practical advice on energy saving and grants for generating your own power. I had a long chat with an energy saving trust adviser and now have a good master plan for our own building. They also had some great suppliers exhibiting really ingenious eco products.

If you have draughty chimneys, you can stop the draughts and save money on your heating bills for a few pounds with the ingenious chimney balloon. from MGC Sempatap. The same company were offering reflective panels to place behind radiators to bounce heat back into the room instead of heating the wall. Nothing new in that, but by incorporating specially designed ridges on the panels, the heated air is forced to swirl, taking the heat further into the room, saving money by improving the thermal efficiency of your radiators. Their thermal insulation is as easy as wallpaper to work with and not only puts paid to mould, it adds serious thermal properties to walls.

Tim Stead's legacy of distinctive wooden sculptural furniture is carried forward by his widow and the craftsmen he trained. It was a pleasure to see them at the show for the first time this year.

Another first timer at the exhibition was a brilliant start-up business called Gorgeous Graffiti that had designers queueing up to offer compliments on creating a stone mason look out of hand carved wooden lettering and canvas. Bespoke logos, mottoes or poems are no problem. Bang on trend and very affordable.

CraftScotland brought some really stunning pieces, from laser cut delicacy to spectacular glass and lighting.

I also liked Jokadirect's bespoke lampshades. They can do anything in almost any size, in wood or cloth, to suit your interior. Their statement feature drum pendents are popular for commercial interiors and incorporate beautiful diffuser panels to soften the light and reduce glare. They can use your fabric too. Just the thing to match the rest of your design scheme.

Architectural Angels were offering a great deal on innovative garden design, starting at under £300.

The sinuous curves of the Ashley Ann kitchen display marry Italian design flair with German engineering. They put the appliances round the walls with the work surfaces in the middle, along with the hobs and griddle. You know it makes sense when you see it.

Pick up a copy of BoConcept's new catalogue and feast your eyes on their extensive display of customisable furniture.

Another catalogue worth picking up is Habitat's latest catalogue with a Hamburg theme. Their distinctive classic range comes with a 10% discount flyer at the show.

And after seeing the display of LEDs at their stand, I'm looking forward to seeing David Brown Lighting's revamped showroom shortly. Always an inspiring treat to visit their Edinburgh showroom as lighting is the one element that makes or breaks an interior design.

I confess I fell for a silk duvet with a substantial show discount from Mandarin Silk. Any duvet that can be cleaned by the simple act of hanging outside for a couple of hours twice a year has my vote. And silk's ability to regulate your temperature added to its natural hypoallergenic qualities are all benefits worth having.

Millers specialist floor coverings included some of the best textural rug selections I have seen for some time, including some really unusual BIC rugs.

And when it all gets too much, don't forget to collect your free tickets for the Oddbins wine tasting!

I'd wear flat shoes as there's a lot of ground to cover, and take a sturdy bag for rucksack for all the literature too!

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posted by Penny Haywood Calder at


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