Design & Remodeling

How to Make the Most of Spring Home Shows

Avoid information overload with these tips from interior designer Arlene Ladegaard.

Photo courtesy of Design Connection, Inc.

Spring is right around the corner (although it may not feel that way), and with warmer temperatures come home improvement projects.

Home shows, such as the Kansas City Home Show, March 28-30 at Bartle Hall, can be a great way to get fresh inspiration and find products and contractors. But with hundreds of exhibitors vying for your attention, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, says Arlene Ladegaard, owner of the award-winning interior design firm Design Connection, Inc.

Here are her tips on how to avoid information overload and leave with what you need to turn your home improvement dream into a reality:

Do your research

“Whatever you’re looking for, get some information ahead of time,” Ladegaard says. Use the event website’s exhibitor list to find which companies will be at the show and research them online before meeting with them in person. Look for companies that keep their websites updated and are eager to show off their latest work.

Attendees should also check to see if companies have won awards or are members of any professional organizations, according to Ladegaard. Service providers who are affiliated with industry groups, such as the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, often have to meet certain standards and are held more accountable for complaints they receive from clients. 

Ask away

Home improvement projects are big investments, so don’t shy away from asking questions. Ladegaard recommends asking companies how current their project photos are and whether they are willing to provide the names of at least three clients from the last year you can call as references.

“If somebody is going off a recommendation that was a couple of years old, they may have completely changed their lead carpenters, and they may be having a very different experience,” she says. “You can also ask somebody how long they’ve been exhibiting. If somebody’s been exhibiting for a long time, they’ve been very successful at that show.”

Play the Field

Even if you aren’t looking to start a major project right now, take advantage of having convenient access to multiple companies.

“You can get a really good feel of who they are and what they are,” Ladegaard says. “You can also sign up to be contacted after the show or have somebody come to your home.”

Check out the latest product samples, compare styles and prices and keep your options open, even if you think you’ve found the perfect company for a major project, she says.

“If they’re not the right company for you, there’s another one who is, so get a couple names.”