Sponsored by the Builders Association of North Central Florida and The Gainesville Sun, the event will feature more than 130 local vendors. Among the trends being seen locally, and on display this weekend, are solar energy panels, smart home systems and garden sanctuaries.
“Whether it’s something to do with windows or paint color or a landscaping idea, this show has all the answers, all under one roof, all in one weekend,” said Margie Krpan, deputy executive vice president of the builders association.
Solar Impact co-founder Elaine Jacobson said solar electricity is steadily rising in popularity. Switching to solar energy, she said, can decrease or even eliminate monthly electricity bills.
“Once people learn their return on investment … it’s a whole 16 percent,” Jacobson said. “It’s one of the few home improvements that has a positive return.”
Installing the panels has become considerably more affordable, which has led to more homeowners opting for solar energy, she said.
Solar panels, and videos showing how installations are done, will be displayed at the Solar Impact booth, along with the company’s customized electric car, Jacobson said.
Moving into the home and inside the kitchen, alternatives to granite countertops have become a main attraction.
Brad Fortune, owner of Haile Kitchen Bath, will have white and espresso-colored cabinetry on display. Fortune said he has seen a big push for kitchen remodeling in recent months and that people are choosing countertop material that is more durable and stain resistant than granite.
The big ones are stone, Carrera marble and quartz countertops, both white. Coupled with white cabinets, remodelers have been going for the “classic white-on-white look,” Fortune said.
In the home-tech sector, Crime Prevention Security, a security and home technology company, will take up four booths with its home entertainment systems.
“The big trend is mobile and being able to control the home, whether it’s security, lights, locks or (the) thermostat, all from the mobile device — smartphones or any kind of tablet,” Marketing Director Bobby McAfee said. “New technology on display this year includes wireless, portable Bluetooth speakers, more interactive features for security systems and smartphone control of lights, locks and thermostats.”
Show attendants will find a “man cave” sporting several TVs and mobile-based home entertainment systems, McAfee said.
Outside of the home, gardening trends include backyard retreats, raised-bed gardens and Florida-friendly landscapes.
Jon George, owner of Cottage Gardens, is working on a garden and pool house combination. He said homeowners have been transforming their backyards into retreat-like sanctuaries, with aesthetic features such as pools or fountains.
“From the landscaping and gardening perspective, we are working with a lot of people now doing makeovers on their homes,” George said. “A lot of people have chosen to stay in their homes rather than move.”
The most popular gardens are made up of native plants that attract wildlife such as butterflies and hummingbirds, making it an interactive space.
The common theme, he said, is “build it, and they will come.”
Wendy Wilbur, Alachua County’s environmental horticulture agent, said homeowners are using container gardening, or potted plants, to grow vegetables, herbs and colored plants near front doors. Veggies also are being grown in raised-bed gardens or in raised box frames in front and back yards.
Wilbur said gardeners also are choosing to blend their edible plants within the regular landscape, such as planting tomato plants within a flowerbed.
“We will be showing what is known as Florida-friendly landscaping,” Wilbur said, which involves “designing a landscape that still looks beautiful and is a lot more sustainable.” Given her agency’s strong focus on water conservation, Wilbur said attendees can learn how to make a rain barrel at the Alachua County Master Gardeners booth.
Keeping with the water conservation trend, drip irrigation systems and artificial turf will be the main topic at Lawn Enforcement’s booth.
Mike Troiano said his booth will showcase plants from Florida natives to exotics.
The home and garden show will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $4 per person and free for attendees age 16 and younger.