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Following in the steps of other consumer shows (the Interior Design Show, Canada Blooms), the National Home Show threw its first opening-night party at the Direct Energy Centre Friday, an event the show's manager, Lisa Barnes, said was long overdue. “The National Home Show is one of the largest commercial shows in North America, so we thought we should be kicking this off properly,” said Barnes. “It was the right time to do it.”
Changes at the 2009 National Home Show—now in its 58th year—include a date switch from April to February, and a new spokeperson, Extreme Home Makeover host Ty Pennington, who couldn't attend the event due to other commitments. Barnes said the inaugural Housewarming Party served as a platform to celebrate the changes and raise money for the Children's Miracle Network. The bash also gave the show a boost of publicity thanks to its presenting sponsor, CityLine. CityLine's Tracy Moore also hosted the evening.
The 32,000-square-foot Dream Gardens, a small piece of the sprawling show, set the scene for the party. Eight landscape designers created patio installations for the area, with themes from eco-friendliness to outdoor entertaining. In the center of the installations, a lit-up bar and faux grass-floored lounge area served as the mingling point for the event's 550 guests.
Barnes said she also wanted the opening night to include a 1930s Hollywood theme, which included cigarette girls serving hors d'oeuvres and drinks and the Graham Howes Band, a jazz trio, providing background music. The location of the Dream Home, styled by Janette Ewen, was repositioned this year so guests could walk through it and end up in the Dream Gardens.
“It's been a tough year, and there are more tough times ahead, so we have the Dream Gardens and Dream Home, which are very whimsical, tied in with 1930s Hollywood escapism and glamour for the party,” said Barnes. Also in response to the economy, Barnes pointed out this year's National Home Show—which runs until March 1—is keeping its focus on do-it-yourself projects and products that suit a wide range of budgets.
Event sponsors included RBC, Toronto Wine & Spirit Festival, the Brick, Flex Court Canada, EQ3, and Peller Estates. The National Home Show is presented by Re/Max.