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Home & Garden

Tips & tricks to getting most out of home shows

Shirley McMarlin
| Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018, 8:07 a.m.
Show chairman Fred Williams (center) provides information to Thad and Marcia Ochs of Delmont at the 2015 Westmoreland Professional Builders Association Home Show at Ferrantes Lakeview in Hempfield.
Rebecca Emanuele | TRIB TOTAL MEDIA
Show chairman Fred Williams (center) provides information to Thad and Marcia Ochs of Delmont at the 2015 Westmoreland Professional Builders Association Home Show at Ferrantes Lakeview in Hempfield.
Greg McBroom (left) talks about the Kitchen and Bath Galleria exhibit with members of the Muchoney family of Jeannette, during the 2015 Westmoreland Professional Builders Association Home Show.
Rebecca Emanuele | TRIB TOTAL MEDIA
Greg McBroom (left) talks about the Kitchen and Bath Galleria exhibit with members of the Muchoney family of Jeannette, during the 2015 Westmoreland Professional Builders Association Home Show.
A model train exhibit was part of the 2017 Pittsburgh Home and Garden Show at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
A model train exhibit was part of the 2017 Pittsburgh Home and Garden Show at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection exhibit at the 2013 Pittsburgh Home and Garden Show featured a house filled with energy-saving and environmentally-friendly tips.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection exhibit at the 2013 Pittsburgh Home and Garden Show featured a house filled with energy-saving and environmentally-friendly tips.

Visiting a home show can be overwhelming. There's so much to see and do that it's hard to take it all in.

How do you know you're seeing the right exhibits or talking to the right people about your project?

The Pittsburgh Home & Garden Show, for example, covers more than 10 acres of space in the downtown David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

“If you walk every aisle just once, you've walked 7 miles,” says the show's executive director John DeSantis.

And besides the exhibitors in the four product categories (garden/outdoor, construction/remodeling, home interiors and kitchen/cooking), there are scads of special features.

You might think you know what you want, but then you happen upon “The Top 10 Life-Changing Products of 2018.”

“People want to know what's new every year,” DeSantis says. “(This year's list) is a surprise, but I can say it's not just things that are cool, attractive or trendy. It's things that will actually change the way we use our homes.

“The criteria for the Top 10 are things that you can actually buy for your home right now,” he says.

One hint: “Robots are a big thing this year.”

The Westmoreland Professional Builders Association Show is smaller in scope, but with 50 to 60 exhibitors, it still offers a wide range of choices to consumers, says show chairman Fred Williams.

“We bring the general public and local construction industry together,” he says. “We've set ourselves apart as a truly local builders' show.”

Like Pittsburgh home show attendees, Westmoreland County folks have an eye on the future.

“A lot of people are looking at making their homes liveable for the next 30 or 40 years,” Williams says. “They're looking at aging in place, like with barrier-free kitchen and bath remodels. They're getting ideas from social media for different smart home features.”

Navigating a home show

Here are 10 tips from DeSantis, Williams and the Internet for successfully navigating a home show:

1. Check out the show website and decide beforehand what you need to see versus what you just want to see.

2. Research websites like those of the Better Business Bureau or Angie's List for reputable businesses to consult.

3. Make a plan to maximize your time. Prioritize the things you want to see.

4. Take photos and measurements. Specifics are helpful when talking to a contractor or other exhibitor about your project or needs.

5. Write down all the questions you can think of.

6. Take advantage of special features and free consultations.

7. It's OK to bring the kids — there are family friendly features and activities to keep them entertained.

8. Give yourself plenty of time.

9. Wear comfortable shoes.

10. A supply of address labels makes it easier to enter drawings for all the freebies.

Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-836-5750, smcmarlin@tribweb.com or via Twitter @shirley_trib.

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