What does an Ideal Home look like?

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iStock_000010572342XSmallOn the first day of the Ideal Homes Show, we explore what really makes a home perfect.

Today is the first day of the Ideal Homes Show exhibition at Earls Court in London. Now in its one-hundred-and-third year , this year over 600 exhibitors share their wares, selling everything from gadgets, decorating tools and gardening ideas to hot tubs!

They’re not just selling individual products here, they’re selling a lifestyle and you can even take a peek at a real village of show homes that has been built right there in the arena. Plus, just in time for the royal wedding, a ‘Prince’s’ house has been built so HRH The Prince of Wales can show-off the eco leanings of his Foundation for the Built Environment.

It’s all a little bit Stepford Wives though. Does everyone really aspire to own an ecologically friendly, perfectly clean, just-been-decorated show home? What do we all really want?

What sells a home?

The people who market homes for a living should know what people like to see when buying. Points that often come up are:

  • Modern bathrooms and kitchens
  • No clutter
  • Neutral walls

But of course what we need when we’re trying to imagine ourselves in a home is far different from what we want to live in.

What does the government think we should look for?

When buying a house, the government also has suggestions of physical attributes people should consider, including:

  • Size of the rooms
  • Storage space
  • Natural light
  • Maintenance
  • Signs of subsidence/wear and tear
  • Number of power points

But this is a little bit more clinical and practical and constitutes needs rather than wants. I think the last point they make is the most important:

“does it feel like it could be your home”

Home decoration

Like with fashion, there are trends in home decorating. In the late 1990s homes went through a ‘Home Front’ stage where everything was distressed or mimicking the designs of Lawrence Llewellyn-Bowen and then we went quite clean with various shades of white and beige.

Looking through the Elle: Decor magazine you can discover the latest trends in paintwork (‘historic’ colours), furnishings (a blend of current and contemporary) and furnishings (kitchen islands are all the rage). Trends change all the time and keeping up with them can be costly but decorating allows you to stamp some personality on your surroundings.

Substance over style?

It’s trendy to be minimalist. Blogs like Leo Babauta’s Zen Habits talk about clearing the clutter and concentrating on the important things in life. But what does a minimalist think is important?

  • Functional furnishings
  • Clear surfaces
  • Quality products
  • Subdued colours

A clutter-free life is a lovely thought but living without ‘stuff’ isn’t a realistic option for most of us.

How about the builders?

Building companies that work on large projects have specific budgets to work around, and often they’re under pressure to cut costs. Of course, if you have the money, you can pay a builder to create the home of your dreams, or do all the work yourself, as long as you abide by building regulations.

My ideal home is NOT your ideal home

The Channel 4 show Grand Designs which follows people building their dream home has featured some very unique homes from timber-framed homes to Huf Houses and even underground buildings.

What does your ideal home look like? Is it big or small, a flat, house or even a caravan? My ideal home would be a small terraced property near a train station with white walls and lots of room for books. We all want something different.

The one thing all of the Grand Designs houses have in common is their uniqueness. It’s nice to have a hot-tub or lots of natural light but in spite of trends and requirements an ideal home is one that allows you to be yourself. What makes a house a home is the people within it and perhaps your ideal home is the one you build with friends, family or by yourself.

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The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Policy Expert.