Debbie Arrington

Seeds: The ‘big show’ returns to Cal Expo

Is it finally time to remodel your kitchen? What about the bathroom? Or that ugly floor? Lawn renovation or replacement – that’s definitely a priority, too.

Every January, homeowners ponder their to-do lists as they browse hundreds of vendors at the Northern California Home & Landscape Expo, the area’s largest show of its kind.

For Sacramento residents, this annual event – which will be held Friday, Jan. 29, through Jan. 31 at Cal Expo – kicks home improvement projects into high gear.

“We call it the big show at Cal Expo – because it is,” said producer Stefani Norville, who has worked on the event since its 1995 beginnings.

After the Great Recession, consumers have a lot of pent-up renovation energy, and it shows in the expo’s numbers. Attendance last year topped 35,000, said Norville, who expects a similar turnout for this 22nd annual show. More than 600 businesses will host 1,000-plus booths and displays.

“Last year, we saw a little increase (in business) and we should see more,” said Norville, who lives in Folsom. “The recession finally felt like it’s behind us and the home industry has stabilized. We’re also seeing a lot of new construction; it had been dormant for more than three years. Now, people are saying, ‘You know what? Let’s get things done.’ 

Judging by consumer interest and vendors, kitchens and related products are the big draw for most patrons.

“We still see kitchens as No. 1,” Norville said. “Consumers want functionality. The kitchen is one place where you spend the most time in your home. Bathrooms are right up there, too.”

Continuing a pre-recession trend, many homeowners are choosing to stay put and remodel instead of moving, Norville said.

“Some contractors are overwhelmed,” she said. “They have so much business. People love their neighborhood and don’t want to move, but they want to update their home. Our show features a lot of specialists. You can make the kitchen look like new with cabinetry. Flooring makes an immediate difference in your home. Roofing may not be as much fun, but it’s necessary and important – especially with El Niño.”

After four years of drought, it was tempting to emphasize water savings once again at this expo, Norville noted. Instead, her crew took a broader perspective.

“We joke that everybody sells artificial turf now,” she said. “That will be interesting for consumers to shop and compare. For the first time, we added a seminar on shopping for artificial turf and tips on maintenance. The key is installation. You don’t know that, just looking at samples.”

Other seminars feature such favorites as landscape designers and authors Roberta Walker and Michael Glassman. An expert on easy-care low-water gardening, Walker will present “How to Create a Drought-Tolerant Landscape from Beginning to End” at noon Jan. 31. Glassman will debut his latest book, “The Garden Bible: Designing the Perfect Outdoor Space” at 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 30, and present a second seminar, “Outdoor Trends in Landscape Design,” at 3 p.m. Jan. 31.

“Personally, I love our workshop schedule,” Norville said. “This is an opportunity for homeowners to explore their options.”

The always popular Designer Showcase features landscapes created with current trends in mind, Norville said. Expect to see some knockout water features as well as drought-minded designs.

As for El Niño storms, Norville isn’t worried.

“We’ve had our very best (attendance) years when it’s raining,” she said. “When it’s sunny and 70 degrees, people do other things.”

Northern California Home & Landscape Expo

  • Where: Cal Expo, 1600 Exposition Blvd., Sacramento
  • When: Noon-7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 29; 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 30 and 31
  • Admission: $7; children age 12 and under admitted free; Friday only, seniors age 60 and up, $2
  • Details: