I have never been to Grand Designs Live before so I was very excited to see what was on offer! I'm sure you are all familiar with Grand Designs on TV... yes? Well, this bi-annual design event is hosted by the Kevin McCloud himself and is a chance for us all to gain inspiration for our homes, get first hand advice from the experts and see the latest products on offer from a multitude of brands.
Think interiors, gardens, bathrooms and kitchens, technology and self build. Basically, it's an adult sweet shop for us home and interior design lovers.
This trip was a bit of a spontaneous, last minute decision so I booked a hotel through Lastminute.com and got one of their secret hotels again. They did not disappoint me! My surprise hotel ended up being 'The Mercure Hotel' in Greenwich; a boutique style hotel with great transport links to Excel Exhibition Centre and some lovely craft beer pubs nearby with good grub.
The low down
I will give you all a lowdown of my day, including the best products that I found, the great advice I was given and how to make the most of your day as this event is huuuuge!
Make the most of your day by getting one of the show guides. Plan your day carefully around any seminars and demonstrations. If you want to make a 30 minute appointment with an expert, I'd advise you to book your slot before you go galivanting. I didn't really plan my day as I got carried away and ended up missing quite a few things that I would have liked to see.
The best advice I was given was from Kevin McCloud and Jane Duncan, president of the RIBA. Although I didn't actually get to meet them both, I attended one of the seminars at the main Grand Theatre. A guy at the end of the seminar asked how do you select an Architect?
Jane's advice was to interview a few architects and pick one that you will have a lot of fun with as well as one that is enthusiastic about your project. One key thing she did say was not to go for the cheapest one. If a mistake is made it can end up a lot more costly than if you paid an extra thousand pounds and got the design right first time.
Kevin's advice was to pick up as many magazines as you can and look at as many websites as possible to look at other peoples work. "You've got to make that emotional connection, I think with the practise. Choose the architect who sees the world as you do, who has the same world view. Choose them, having admired their work for the emotional as well as the rational reasons"
My favourite products
'Culinary Concepts' had an amazing stand showcasing lots of interesting lights. I've been meaning to get a pendant light for above my dining table but haven't found the one yet. That was until I came across this stand! There were so many fabulous lights and different style light bulbs to choose from.
'Adventures in Furniture' (AIF) had a lovely range of wooden contemporary furniture. One piece I particularly liked was the 'Flux' oak dining table which had a striking copper base.
'Furl' have an innovative range of multi functional and space saving furniture. Their stand was so interactive with the guys doing demonstrations of how the products work. This is a British company with products designed and made in the UK. I was surprised to see the amount of colours and finishes available to choose from.
My favourite stands were the Grand Interiors Theatre sponsored by Gumtree (where several room sets were displayed surrounding the theatre and styled really creatively by different designers), Kevin's Green Heroes which showcased eco friendly products within a space designed using the section of a house, and FS Murals which was basically a live wall mural painting demonstration!
All in all I had a fantastic day, discovered some lovely products that I'd never seen before and got some great advice for my garden! I will leave you all with one last piece advice...
Tip: If you are an impulse buyer and aren't wanting to buy anything on the day, be very very wary of those demonstration people as you will be stripped of all your money in minutes. Before I even knew what was happening, I bought a high tech whisk and a high tech toilet brush all within the space of 5 minutes. They are very cool products though!!! That's what I keep telling myself anyway...
30th April - 8th May 2016 in Excel London.
Keep an eye out on my blog for even more details about my London trip .