There's never been a better week to throw down the paintbrush, ditch those overalls and take a break from Housebusters, Changing Rooms and "Handy Andy". Yes, the experts are in town and now's your chance to scumble along and witness their handiwork in the flesh.

Best of all, what can only be described as a veritable DIY roadshow in the capital this week, comes in full technicolor and with something to appeal to all tastes, incomes, and levels of know-how.

To ease yourself in, why not start with the Daily Mail Ideal Home Exhibition (to 13 Apr). The granny of all home improvements shows has, for the most part, shuffled along in blissful ignorance of the public's steadily increasing knowledge of all things interior. You can be sure that there'll still be stalls trying to shift "labour-saving" devices, such as irons that run on salt, and kettles that whistle "Bohemian Rhapsody". And, it just wouldn't be the same if you didn't buy something, use it once and put it back in the box.

This year's cutting-edge theme, as we stand on the brink of the new millennium, is "Parks and Gardens", the centrepiece of which is a Victorian park, complete with bandstand and authentic iron railings no less. Cool.

Meanwhile, The Country Living Spring Fair (25-29 March) adopts a more crafty approach to living it up. For this year's event, more than 300 small businesses have been hand-picked by the magazine to create a working village, complete with craftspeople, cooks, decorators and gardeners. And there's a rare chance to see chair-bodging at close quarters.

Those who would rather have their heart cut out with a screwdriver than don a pair of green wellies, would be better advised to sample the urban sophistication of London Design Week (open to trade and professional visitors 22-24 March and to the public on 25 March), which encompasses Chelsea Design Week, Chelsea Harbour Spring Week, and Living Design London in Battersea Park.

The three events aim to highlight the latest trends through a breathless itinerary of lectures, seminars and working demonstrations, from Sasha

Gibb on "Interiors towards the Next Century" to "The Psychology of Colour in Decoration" by Petra Marshall and Anthony Little's "Ten Desert Island Designs".

The shape of things to come? We shall see.


Ideal Home Exhibition Earl's Court Exhibition Centre, Warwick Rd, London SW5 (0990 960090) to 13 Apr

Country Living Spring Fair

Business Design Centre, Islington N1 (0121-767 4757) 25-29 March

London Design Week:

Living Design London

Battersea Park London, SW11

Chelsea Harbour Spring Week

Chelsea Harbour Design Centre, London SW10.

Chelsea Design Week

In and around Chelsea.

Details of all London Design Week events (open to the public on 25 March) on 0171-351 4433