We just got back from the Great Big Home and Garden Show at Cleveland’s IX Center. I’ve never been to either a home and garden show or the IX center before so this was a treat on both fronts. Having never had a vested interest in things like siding or tile before, home and garden type stuff hasn’t appealed, but now these subjects are constantly on my mind. Especially as we transition from the core work to the finishing work, the options seem to magnify. When you get down to it, there’s not a significant number of choices or differences when you’re buying things like nails, lumber, or cement. Our choice of store pretty much came down to whatever building supplier was closest to the project site (the Euclid Home Depot) and whatever they happened to sell for the given item I needed. Some things got special ordered, like our initial lumber delivery, but the bulk of our day by day spending is at the one store. The two things that we’re working on deciding right now are flooring and cabinets for the kitchen. Our flooring needs, which I’m sure will get their own post, are tile for the kitchen, laundry room, and bathroom, wood for several other rooms, and maybe carpet for one or more bedrooms. Within each of those subsets are a huge array of dealers, each with a huge catalog of choices.
Anywho, armed with my new found need for tiles and wooden boxes, we hit up the home and garden show with the hopes of maybe getting some ideas or pricing out some possibilities. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The ads and website just promoted things like “The Big Idea Model Home” or a list of celebrities I’ve never heard of. The IX-Center (short for International Expo) is a massive facility near the Cleveland airport. It’s one of the largest convention spaces I’ve been in. It includes a farris wheel set up in the center of the hall. This is a built in attraction (as opposed to something that was part of the show). The hall was divided into two areas. The garden and live plant area was dimly lit (I assume to keep the plants on life support), and featured a variety of landscaped walk throughs and pavilion areas plus a makeshift garden restaurant area. Each of the different contributors to this part of the show were given a theme country. While it was neat to go through these themed landscapes, the plants were kind of sad to be indoors and forced to bloom in Ohio in February. We got a good idea of things we like and don’t like when it comes to landscaping. Some day, we’ll tackle our outdoors, but that’ll be a project for next summer or even the summer afterwards.
From there we headed into the other half of the show. This section was divided into a few subsections: food court, contractors, show homes, main stage, and sellers. We didn’t spend any time at the main stage, but there was some celebrity landscaper guy who I’m sure has a show on HDTV or the DIY network or something like that. We did walk through the model home spaces. They were neat. Not because of what they showed, essentially they were mcMansion-style building packaged in such a way that you’d contract the designer to build your house, but because they were houses or parts of houses, built inside this convention hall for the purpose of this show. At one point, while standing in line, we saw a time lapse video of the building of the house we were about to go into. It was really neat. For our project and purpose, I think I got the least out of the model home tours. The most flabbergasting part of the tour was in the Dream Basement. It, of course, was a series of rec rooms, game rooms, and kitchen/bar with rock music being pumped into ever room. The crazy part is they had, what must have been 12 or 14′ ceilings. Finished ceilings. Who’s basement is 14-16′ deep? I’ve been in a ton of finished basements before, but never one that could support that kind of headspace!
I won’t bore you with the food court, which was whatever you’d problem expect. The rest of the show was divided between the contractors and the sellers. Not to split hairs, I know they were all selling something. But the contractors wanted to give you their pamplet and get your contract information and the sellers were trying to get your money on the spot. It was interested to see the types of industries represented. Being focused on what our project needs, means not thinking very much about all the other things out there. For example, our house has siding and the roof and insulation checked out as good. We don’t have, nor plan on getting a spa or pool. But there were tons of roofers, spa-sellers, and the like. And I’m sure there were tons of other people that came to the hall looking for information on getting siding or replacing their current house coverings. Surprisingly, there weren’t actually that many companies selling flooring. I suspect that it’s in a weird netherworld because it’s the type of thing you buy and can put in yourself if you want or have the dealer contract the install for you. By contrast, roofers are more or less being contracted for their skill and labor. They’ll (like me) go to Home Depot to get their supplies. Conversely, there were a handful of cabinet people that ranged from bargain basement purveyors to custom woodworkers. It was helpful and we have a few more leads to follow on that front.
The sellers area was by far the bizarre (literally and figuratively) part of the show. There were live infomercials of people selling cleaning supplies, pots and pans, and all manor of goods. There were sample tables of dips. Always dips. People must love dips and make your own dip packages. There must have been no less than 10 sellers of dips and salsas. There were weird junk stores (think dollar stores) selling coloring books and stickers. There were massage chairs. There were scarves and alpaca yarns. There were shoe cleaners. It was dizzying. We did mange to buy one thing of note. One of the infomercial booths — when I say that, I mean, it was a guy or team, with microphone headsets, giving an extended sales pitch followed by the inevitable “but wait, we’ll also throw in x, y, z” — was a Scottish company that was selling tile cutting supplies. Their specific tool made it easy to score a break tile, as well as make intricate cuts and holes. Given that we do have a need for such a tool and I expected to buy something like that soon anyways, this seemed like a product tailored to us. I’m hoping it doesn’t go the way of all other “make your life easier” products and end up in the back of a drawer somewhere. If we can manage to avoid renting a wet-saw, it’ll be a fantastic investment.
All in all, it was a fun day and a very good experience. I’d recommend it to anyone who cares about homes and gardens and especially if you’re planning any major renovation products. Apparently, like with other conventions I’m more familiar with, there’s a season that lasts from now through mid-summer, so I imagine there’s one coming to a place near you sometime soon.