Shopping: Check It Out: The Capital Home Show 98

MUCH HAS been made recently of the importance of the correct placement of a vase or chair when talking interior design. The Capital Home Show 98 promises to be rather more down-to-earth. More interestingly, it appears to be an exhibition that is determined to inspire you to greater things in home decoration, rather than just making you wish you lived somewhere else. The exhibition at the Grand Hall, Olympia, now in its second year, offers a chance to glean advice on everything from getting the desired paint effect to cooking perfect apple strudel.

James Gower, the manager of the DMG Exhibition Group, explained the success of last year's show: "Companies selling high-quality contemporary wares with an appeal to a youngish discerning audience did extremely well. Again the attraction seemed to be the different and even the bizarre. Our audience came to see something unusual, and not `high street'."

The Capital Home Show hosts 300 exhibitors from all over the world. These are designers chosen with London home-owners in mind - those who appreciate the tribulations of living in a cramped metropolis, and the exhibition's accessories and fittings, lectures and demonstrations are all intended to help you turn a poky box room into a wide open living-space.

And for those visitors who are lucky enough to be kings and queens of infinite space, there is a good choice of European sofas, beds and furniture to browse through. Ligne Roset, the French supplier of upholstery and furniture, is displaying chairs, wardrobes and chair-beds, and there will also be Hulsta beds from Germany, furniture from Spain and candles from Denmark among the exhibits.

For the home exhibition novice, The Capital Home Show 98 is eager to set itself apart from the Ideal Home show.

As Gower says, "Ideal Home visitors and exhibitors had asked for a homes show in London in the autumn. We looked at the way in which the Ideal Home show was developing and decided to move the new show in a more contemporary and upmarket direction. Urban home-owners are spoiled, and want something different. The Capital Home Show will go a long way to satisfying their needs."

One of the most distinctive features about the Capital Home Show 98 is the amount of expertise on hand to advise on all aspects of home life. The exhibition includes cookery demonstrations and wine-tasting, and the chef Antony Worrall Thompson will be serving tapas and sangria in a Mediterranean bistro. If your cooking-space seems a little too cramped for such extravagant new creations, Andrew Macintosh and Laurence Llewelyn Bowen, presenters of the BBC's controversial Changing Rooms programme and old hands at homes exhibitions, will be on hand to show off the latest trends.

Outside in the flowerpots and among the rooftop plots is the plantsman and landscape designer Stephen Woodhams, who will be promoting his new book Flower Power and advising visitors on urban garden design.

If you still are not tempted, the exhibition boasts a full-time DJ and the opportunity for visitors to meet designers and buy one-off pieces. Home may never be the same again.

The Capital Home Show 98 will be held in the Great Hall, Olympia, from 19 to 27 September. The exhibition will be open from 11am to 9pm during the week and from 10am to 6pm at weekends. Admission costs pounds 10 for adults and pounds 6 for children. For tickets, telephone 0990 900 090

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