Big money still being spent on homes

Private Property South Africa
Jackie Gray-Parker

The crowds at the 2016 Homemaker’s Expo showed that house proud South Africans will continue to upgrade their homes, regardless of the economy.

While walking around a packed 2016 Homemaker’s Expo over the weekend, it occurred to me that despite an ailing economy, big money is seemingly still being spent on homes.

Johannesburg’s annual Homemaker’s Expo took place at the Ticketpro Dome from the 25th to the 28th of February. If appearances are anything to go by, the show was a hit with locals who were seemingly quite happy to spend money at many of the high-end exhibitors, one of which was the Kitchen Studio.

Vinesh Maharaj of the Kitchen Studio (which won this year’s ‘best exhibitor’ prize) informed me that it’s not unusual for clients to spend “serious money” on their kitchens. What’s more, business has been brisk he says.

Maharaj adds that clients are increasingly linking up their kitchens to their ‘gadgets’ and automating them. These days, he says it’s not unusual to find kitchens fitted with ‘smart’ fridges, ovens and personalised lighting which can be controlled with the touch of a button. Of course such automation doesn’t come cheap but people are happy to pay he says.

Trends wise, Maharaj says that classic, yet contemporary kitchens punctuated by Wedgewood blue, dark grey and olive green colours are very much in vogue. In terms of appliances and extractors, stainless steel remains a favourite but a move towards luxury coloured stoves and free-standing stoves is also occurring. Materials-wise, Maharaj explains that marble-style quartz counter-tops and African woods are making a big impression in local kitchens.

Over at Audio Visual Gurus which specialises in designing and installing home theatres and home automation systems, Peter Venter explained that increasingly, clients are installing high-end home theatres with a view to keeping their children safe and entertained at home and adding value to their homes.

Says Venter:

Despite the fact that the rand has taken a beating and has affected the price of our products, many of which are imported, we are still being commissioned to design and install high-end home theatres and install top of the line products.

From a trends point of view, Venter explains that clients have moved away from the traditional home theatre look which typically involved heavy curtains and/ or carpeted walls. Now, clients want a far more modern, clean look and personalised accents. He adds that fully integrated home automation systems are really beginning to gain traction in South Africa.

Automation has also had an impact on blinds and curtains. So says Blind Rage/ Curtain Rage’s Duane Leroux who explains that although fairly expensive, motorised curtains and blinds which can be linked to a home automation system are gaining in popularity.

He adds that sheer, fairly neutral coloured blinds and curtains are currently being favoured by clients who then add a splash of colour to a room in the form of ‘non-permanent’ scatter cushions. He adds that clients are also adding blinds and curtains to soften the somewhat hard, industrial look which has been integrated into many homes of late.

Of course there was much more to the expo than just expensive, high end products. There was all manner of lifestyle and re-purposed furniture, solar and energy saving products, beds, linen, pet products, skylights, wall clocks, garden products, patio furniture, food and security products just to name a few.

The show also featured a popular interactive wall, the Builder’s DIY Theatre, a platform for young designers and ‘Seeds of Hope’ which aims to support job creation in the home improvement sector. Two lucky visitors also won the contents of two containers stocked with items curated by 94.7 radio hosts worth R100 000.

That said, I was left with the impression that whatever the economy, people will always make a plan to improve their homes and spend money on feathering their nests which is actually quite positive.

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