For the Real Homes Awards 2020, our mission was simple: find and name the very best home products. At Real Homes, we not only find the most inspiring ideas and share practical advice for your project, we also review everything you might need to finish your home. From washing machines to mattresses, and sofas to smart home devices, we make it our job to help you buy the best products at the lowest prices.
We had hundreds of entrants for this year's awards; our expert panel (below) picked a shortlist, then we turned it over to you, our readers to choose your favourites for each category. Now your votes have been counted and we can announce the winners below.
The overall winners of each category are those that received the most public votes from the judges shortlist; the 'highly commended' in each section are those that came second or third in their categories. So, without further ado...
Real Homes Awards winners 2020
These are the Real Homes Product Awards 2020 winners.
Best interiors brand: deVOL
deVOL kitchens make regular appearances in our kitchen ideas features. We love the aesthetics and quality of this brand – and so do our readers. The kitchens are beautiful, perfect for period properties, but sleek enough to suit contemporary homes. deVOL has branched out into furniture, too, from pieces designed to complement their kitchen ranges, but also stand-out, intricately decorated pieces that will make any home look unique. There are antique buys, too, from 'decorative odds and sods' to furniture, for those that want an easy to source one-off. It doesn't stop there, deVOL has a beautiful range of lighting and kitchen fittings, too.
It's the perfect one-stop shop for renovators, shoppers and browsers...
Best mattress: Simba Sleep Hybrid mattress
To say we've given the Simba Sleep Hybrid mattress a thorough review would be an understatement. Our expert mattress reviewer loved it when she tried it out some months ago (see our Simba mattress review for more info), inspiring Realhomes.com's Editor in Chief, Lucy Searle, to get one for herself.
'I've been sleeping on the Simba for months now and it's no exaggeration to say it's transformed my sleep. I've had a bad back for years and after just a couple of weeks of using the Simba (along with the brilliant Simba pillow, I might add), my back has seemingly repaired itself in a way that no physio or exercise class has ever been able to do. As Cinderella (almost said), "It's not too soft, and it's not too hard. It's just right". I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.'
Emma Original mattress
Best small kitchen appliance: KitchenAid Artisan 400
The KitchenAid Artisan 400 is another product we've given an extended testing. Editor in Chief Lucy tested this blender at home and loved it (see her KitchenAid K400 Artisan blender review). She says: 'This is a sturdy piece of kit that takes on all those blending jobs you're likely to want to do in an average week. We use it every day: in the week, it's great for smoothies and dips; at the weekend it's even mixed mojitos. It's rare that we don't use it every day for something. And because it's not complicated to use, both my teens use it independently, too. Of course, it helps that its functionality is matched by the good looks you'd expect from a KitchenAid appliance, too.'
Best fridge: Haier HB18FGSAAA French Door fridge freezer
We loved the performance of the A++ Haier HB18FGSAAA French Door fridge freezer, how it can take a massive 31 shopping bags-worth of food, how practical the roomy freezer drawers are, and how the additional LED lighting makes it feel so contemporary when it's open... but fabulous usability aside, the real talking point of this fridge for the judging panel was its looks. For us, this appliance is more like a sleek piece of furniture than plain old kitchen kit – and that comes down to its slim design and contemporary styling.
Best washing machine: Haier I-Pro Series 7 washing machine
Another winner from Haier, the I-Pro Series 7 washing machine is a brilliant buy. Unlike with the fridge freezer above, the judging panel was less concerned with this washing machine's looks but very impressed by its 20 minute detergent-free refresh cycle, the drum lights – so you can see inside clearly (genius!), its 8kg capacity, its wide door opening, its A+++ energy rating and overall quiet performance – and, because we're Real Homes and we know that not everyone has a massive budget, the very reasonable price tag (RRP just under £500 but you can get it for around £470).
Best vacuum cleaner: H-FREE 500 HF522BH
We're big fans of the accessibility and ease of use of cordless vacuum cleaners, and the H-FREE 500 HF522BH was a top choice for us in the vacuums category – and really popular with our readers. What's important to us in a cordless vacuum? Good suction, decent charge and quick recharge, tons of accessories that make it truly useful around the house and foldability so that it can be stashed away somewhere handy. And, of course, it's got to be light enough to be handled by everyone from gym bunnies to frail householders who don't want to be lugging a great big corded vacuum about. This H-FREE ticked all those boxes for us, plus it's easy to manoeuvre and empty, too.
Best coffee machine: Breville Barista Mini coffee machine
We LOVE the Breville Barista Mini coffee machine. We'll admit it – in the course of testing coffee machines, we've used a lot of coffee makers (and drunk a lot of coffee). We give good reviews to coffee machines based on how easy it is to use them to make really tasty coffee (those two features are non-negotiable); then we look at price – because we know not everyone has lots to spend – and of course, looks (because we are, after all, interiors' obsessives).
With the Barista mini you get barista-style coffee from a barista-style coffee machine (15 bar Italian pump, milk frother, rich crema, etc), all from a maker that's small enough to fit in the tiniest of kitchens, and all at a price that doesn't break the bank.
Best kitchen assistant: Hoover H-KEEPHEAT 700 Plus HODP0507BI
We had some brilliant entries into the best kitchen assistant category – but we choose the Hoover H-KEEPHEAT 700 Plus HODP0507BI for its all-round performance. To start with, it's big: it has a family-sized 75 litre capacity so you can cook several things at once (we always judge an oven on whether it can cope with Christmas Day; it can). And, should an oven be your only cooking appliance, it has to be versatile: the Hoover H-KEEPHEAT 700 PLUS offers grill setting on top of the usual cooking settings you'd expect from a modern appliance.
There's also the H-KEEPHEAT technology – it allows you to cook your food, seal it and then preserve it at serving temperature in the oven for up to a week. Not using it for that? The low temperature cooking function produces tasty results. And, if you're a smart home adopter, you'll like the Hoover Wizard app, which allows you to control the oven from your phone. Pyrolytic cleaning? Yup, it has that too.
Best cleaning product: Blueair Classic 480i air purifier
Our MD Jason Orme tested the Blueair Classic 480i air purifier and was super impressed – you can read the Blueair Classic 480i review here. His main aim was to help his son cope with severe hayfever. 'It made a significant difference to his (usually miserable) experiences of late Spring/early Summer. He felt almost instant relief in the room and woke up having slept better than in previous years’ high pollen seasons'. This isn't a cheap – or small – piece of kit (you can find more of the best air purifiers in our buyer's guide), but we felt it merited recognition for its amazing performance. And what's better than cleaner air?
Best TV: Samsung 2020 Q950TS Flagship QED 8K HDR Smart TV
We are BIG fans of Samsung TVs and the Samsung 2020 Q950TS Flagship QED 8K HDR Smart TV was easily our favourite in the TVs category. Our interest in this TV was first piqued when we caught the review written by our friends and colleagues over at TechRadar. They acknowledged the high price tag and lack of 8K content available as drawbacks, but said in summing up that 'the Samsung Q950TS 8K QLED TV is both a demonstration of what our future viewing might look like, and a shining example of just how good a TV can make 4K content look right now.'
Its design is beautiful, it's smart capabilities a 'winning formula', as TechRadar said, and its picture quality with high definition content gives a 'deeply impressive performance'. We can't top those comments. It's utterly brilliant.
Best Smart Home product: Yale Keyless Lock
The Yale Keyless Lock already topped our buyer's guide of the best smart lock, so we were happy to shortlist it – and allow our readers to have their say. For us, the stand-out features of this lock are its smart features.
You can control it from your phone, tapping to gain access, give friends, babysitters, cleaners or Airbnb guests a temporary code that can be immediately deleted, and be sure that it's tamper-proof – you'll be notified if it sense anyone trying to interfere with it. Finally, it's wireless, so easy to install.
Best security camera
The Ring Doorbell 3 Plus was reviewed by our MD Jason Orme recently and given five stars – see our review for everything you need to know. In a nutshell, we were already fans of the earlier versions of this video doorbell – it's been on our list of best video doorbell since its inception – but found that the 3 Plus has improved on the first Ring Doorbell and its second model.
As Jason explains in our review, 'This model irons out some of the familiar issues with motion-detection technology. It offers a "Near Motion Zone" capture which is suited to front doors on busy roads with pedestrian traffic, and reduces the false alert problem that affects so much of this type of system. Even better, the user can set motion detection zones, which further allows personalisation of the alert system. Indeed, the success of security cameras and video doorbells almost entirely comes down to how smart the alert process is, and we consistently find Ring’s systems score very highly in this regard.'
Best garden buy: Caribbean Blinds UK Ltd Outdoor Living Pod
We are advocates of outdoor living – although that's often a challenge in the UK. But it's not all about making your garden usable for longer – as part of a garden's design, an outdoor living 'pod' can add much needed structure and focus, too.
Caribbean Blinds UK Ltd Outdoor Living Pod has long been a favourite – and our readers voted overwhelmingly for it. Many were past customers who have be thrilled with their experience of having one of these pods in their gardens.
The judging panel loved its versatility. The aluminium louvered roof pergola canopy rotates at the touch of a button, making it water-, wind- and snow-proof when closed. And in beautiful weather, the louvres can be easily positioned to give you shade – or on the Prestige model, will slide right back for full sun. There are optional heavy-duty roller blinds for the sides to protect you from wind and rain (without blocking the view) and even lighting, heating and guttering within the framework so it can be used at night, and in the rain, and in the cold, too. In other words, this pod makes outdoor living truly achievable.
How it worked
Our shortlist is below. The editorial team of RealHomes.com and a special panel of industry experts whittled the long-list down to this list on the basis of experience. We see 100s of products each year so we’re perfectly placed to work out the best ones. Remember, too, that in the course of our work, many of the products being entered will already have been tried, tested and reviewed by our panel members.
To decide on a winner, we invited you, our readers, to vote on the ones you’ve used or deem to be the best. This gave a really balanced view and allowed us to fairly come up with a winner for each category.
This was our shortlist. There are 13 categories with several brands and products that you cast your vote for. Remember: you were able to vote for as many as you wanted.
Best interiors brand
- deVOL kitchens
- Atkin & Thyme
- Dowsing & Reynolds
- Happy Beds
- REM-fit 600 Lux mattress
- Happy Beds Signature Crystal 3000 Pocket Sprung Orthopedic Natural Fillings mattress
- Simba Sleep Hybrid mattress
- The Topper by Panda
- OTTY Pure Hybrid mattress
Best small kitchen appliance
- KitchenAid Artisan K400 blender
- Hotpoint Supreme Chef multifunction microwave oven
- Bertazzoni F457PROMWTN Professional Series built-in combination microwave oven
- Samsung MW5000T Series microwave oven
- Haier HB18FGSAAA French Door fridge freezer
- Fisher & Paykel Freestanding Quad Door refrigerator freezer
- LG InstaView Door-in-Door fridge freezer
- Bertazzoni bottom mount built-in fridge freezer
- Samsung Family Hub fridge freezer
Best washing machine
- Haier I-Pro Series 7 washing machine
- Fisher & Paykel Front Loader washing machine
- LG F4V909BTS (V Series) washing machine
- Hoover H-WASH 500 14kg washing machine
- Samsung QuickDrive
Best vacuum cleaner
- Roborock S6 Max V robot vacuum
- Roborock H6 robot vacuum
- Shark Anti-Wrap Upright vacuum cleaner
- H-FREE 500 HF522BH
- Samsung POWERstick Jet 90 Pro
Best coffee machine
- Lavazza Desea coffee machine
- Breville Barista Mini coffee machine
- Fisher & Paykel coffee maker
- Cuisinart 1-Cup Filter Grind and Brew Coffee Maker at Wayfair
- Wayfair 2.8L Filter Coffee Machine
Best kitchen assistant
- Hotpoint Slimline Dishwasher with 3D Zone Wash Technology
- Indesit freestanding slimline Push&Go dishwasher
- Bertazzoni Professional Series 60cm built-in oven in matt black
- Hoover H-KEEPHEAT 700 Plus HODP0507BI
Best cleaning product
- Harvey Water Softener HV4
- Roborock H6 robot vacuum
- Blueair Classic 480i air purifier
- Samsung POWERstick Jet 90 Pro
- LG 48in CX OLED TV
- LG 65GX TV
- Samsung 2020 Q950TS Flagship QED 8K HDR Smart TV
Best smart home product
- Tadoº smart thermostat
- Blueair Classic 480i air purifier
- GROHE Sensia Arena shower toilet
- Ring Alarm
- Yale Keyless Lock
Best security camera
- EZVIZ Outdoor Camera
- Kami Wire-Free outdoor camera
- Ring Doorbell 3 Plus
- Ring Indoor Cam
Best garden buy
- Caribbean Blinds UK Ltd Outdoor Living Pod
- Kaia double hammock at Wayfair
- Mayela wooden bench at Wayfair
- Steel Fire Pit at Wayfair
In order to win a Real Homes Award, a product should meet several criteria.
- It needs to offer new and/or unique features that set it apart from its competitors. These features should save time, or solve a particular practical problem.
- Where appropriate, the product should offer greater comfort than its competitors
- Where relevant, the product needs to be durable and well-built. In our Real Homes, our busy lives mean that our homes products get a lot of use, so we need them to last and perform in the long term as well as they did on the first day.
- They need to look great
- They need to be good value for money. We’re not afraid to invest in good quality products that should last, but they need to justify the extra cost.
Public voting until August 31st 2020.
Winners announced September 15th 2020.
The judging panel
Lucy Searle, Global Editor-in-Chief, Realhomes.com
Lucy's first job was writing a DIY column for a magazine for the over 50s (which seemed a long way off back then – not so now!). She then moved to a DIY magazine as deputy ed, then freelanced her way around the homes departments of most women's magazines on the market before working on Your Home and Family Circle magazines as homes editor. From there, she went to Ideal Home magazine as associate editor, then launched 4Homes magazine for Channel 4, then the Channel 4 4Homes website, before going back to freelancing and running a social media business. She was tempted back to working for a big publisher by the chance to work with the great team at Realhomes.com... Her expertise? She's revamped, bought and sold eight properties, including one abroad, and in that time has tried, tested and reviewed just about every product sold for homes...
Jason Orme, Managing Director, Home Interest Group
Jason has been working in the homes sector for 20 years, spending much of this time as editor of Homebuilding & Renovating magazine; he also authored The Self Build Dream. In this time, he has built several homes for himself and advised 1,000s of other on the best ways to design and manage their own building projects. He has also worked closely with the government to help shape housing policy.
Beth Murton, Editor, Real Homes magazine
Beth's connection with Real Homes goes back a long way as my her job in magazines was working as a sub-editor for the magazine more than 15 years ago. It cemented her love of all things homes-related and she's never looked back. She's since worked on the launch of 4homes magazine, where Lucy Searle was editor, was deputy editor of Grand Designs magazine and Real Homes. She freelanced for a number of homes magazines for several years and is now on her third stint at Real Homes as magazine editor.
Laura Crombie, Brand Development Editor, Real Homes
Laura started out as a newspaper reporter, then was editor of a regional magazine, and editorial manager for a travel company (who doesn’t love a free holiday?). She started at Real Homes magazine in 2015 as Deputy Editor and then become Editor before taking on her current position, which focuses on video and events (you may have seen her presenting Real Homes TV). She's renovated a buy-to-let property and is about to tackle a 1960s gem. As for expertise, she's an all-rounder.
Jennifer Oksien, Appliances Editor, Real Homes
Jennifer is our resident appliances expert, testing, reviewing and writing about everything from washing machines to coffee makers. Before she worked with us, she also worked at John Lewis, creating content for their website. It was there that she made the break into tech and appliances; writing those product descriptions we heavily rely on for making informed purchase decisions, and an array of supporting editorial to help narrow down the choices.
Sarah Warwick, Contributing Editor, Real Homes
Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor writing for websites, national newspapers, and magazines. She’s spent most of her journalistic career specialising in homes – long enough to see fridges become smart, decorating fashions embrace both minimalism and maximalism, and interiors that blur the indoor/outdoor link become a must-have. She loves testing the latest home appliances, revealing the trends in furnishings and fittings for every room, and investigating the benefits, costs and practicalities of home improvement. It's no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house revamper. For Realhomes.com, Sarah reviews coffee machines and vacuum cleaners, to name but a few must-have household items, taking them through their paces at home to give us an honest, real life review and comparison of every model.
Linda Clayton, Contributing Editor, Real Homes
Linda is a freelance journalist who has specialised in homes and interiors for the past 19 years, beginning on a trade rag for the Daily Mail Group and now writing full-time for the likes of Homes & Gardens, Livingetc, Country Homes & Interiors, and of course Real Homes. Linda is our resident mattress reviewer. She spends at least a week on every mattress she tests for us, as does her ever-patient husband. In reviewing mattresses for us for more than a year, she has become something of a very opinionated expert. That's not all, though. Linda is an expert on everything kitchen-related, from appliances to cabinetry (it helps that her husband is a cabinet maker, of course).
Verity Burns, Contributing Editor, Real Homes
Verity Burns is our smart home tech expert. She has been writing about technology for over a decade, and spends a lot of time tinkering with the latest in smart home tech for The Hub section of Realhomes.com. You may even spot her chatting about smart home best buys and top tips on The Real Homes Show (you can check that out here).
Find out more about the Real Homes team on our About Us page.