On the house: get interiors styling advice at London's home stores

Stuck for style? There are now dozens of eager experts at London’s home stores on hand to give advice and a lot of it is free. Consultants will even visit your home, take measurements, and pull your scheme together. But first decide the look you're after....

A quick refresh
Heals, that fabulous Tottenham Court Road treasure trove of modern design, offers a new free 20 minute consultation from one of ten trained staff. Explore each stylist’s profile on the store website first. Longer consultations cost £25 an hour or you can book a home visit for £200, refundable on orders over £10,000. "Lots of customers want to know how to handle open plan family rooms," says designer Siofra Murphy. Her style is modernist with a subtle dash of pattern and colour.

Heals, 196 Tottenham Court Road, W1; email stylingservice@heals.co.uk or call 0207896 7529.

American beauty
Interior design advice is free, including a home visit at the colourful and eclectic American store of West Elm in the West End. Five in-store home stylists have plenty of catalogues and samples, and can put together a room design on their computers. A home visit to include plans/mood boards is also free. Consultant Alex Shaw says, "We love adding a contemporary touch to London’s period terraced homes."

West Elm, 209 Tottenham Court Road, W1; 0207 637 9150; westelm.co.uk.

John Lewis: Semarang petit sofa in Pier Steel, £750; Ikat cushion, £25; Figueria cushion, £30; Berber rug (230 x 60cm), £349; and Patagonia curtain fabric at £25 a metre. 

Tried and tested
John Lewis has four furnishing advisors at Oxford Street, where a free advice session typically takes an hour-and-a-half, but the waiting list is over a week. Or aconsultant can visit your home, followed by a session in store, after which orders are streamlined. This service costs £200, which is refundable against what you buy. "Storage is a big concern for Londoners," says Tony Berardis, a home designer in Oxford Street for nine years. 

Visit johnlewis.com/our-services; John Lewis, 300 Oxford Street, W1 ( 0207629 7711); Peter Jones, SW1 (020 7730 3434); and Kingston (020 8547 3000).

Smart paint makers
Paint giant Dulux offers an interior design service. Audrey Whelan, based in Islington, is one of three designers that cover London. She explains how colour makes a difference, and tackles space planning and furniture, wall coverings, flooring, lighting and accessories. An initial in-home consultation is free, after which a personal Dulux Design Pack costs £295 a room. Then take over yourself, or their designer will source and buy at agreed fees.

See duluxdesignservice.co.uk; call 0333 2227021; or email info@duluxdesignservice.co.uk.

Shaun Clarkson: here he mixes revamped furniture with modern furnishings in a scheme for a client in Stockwell, south London.

Interior designer Shaun Clarkson made his name with flamboyant hotels, restaurants and bars. Now you can steal his style, through a new service at his colourful shop in Pitfield Street, N1, with its mix of upcycled and customised furnishings.There is free advice in store, or a second consultation (by appointment) costs £150, to include samples, a mood board, and space planning. This fee is refundable if you spend £1,500.

Shaun Clarkson, 31-35 Pitfield St, N1; 020 7490 6852; visit pitfieldlondon.com.

Farrow & Ball: walls in Babouche and All White Modern Emulsion; woodwork in All White Estate Eggshell.

Shades of glory
London loves Farrow & Ball. Their colours and gradations of shades are truly impressive. If you are confused you can get help to sort out a room scheme for free at the company’s ten specialist London showrooms, and browse their gorgeous hand-printed wallpapers. Or you can book a personal home visit at £195 an hour, with a £50 voucher towards paint. "We stick to offereing advice on colour schemes and pattern. That is our strength," says the very talented Farrow & Ball expert of many years, Joa Studholme, who has transformed thousands of homes over the years.

Call 01202 876141, or visit farrow-ball.com; Farrow & Ball Chelsea, 249 Fulham Road, SW3; 020 73510273; and in Notting Hill, Islington, Marylebone, Hampstead, Battersea, Wimbledon, Richmond and Blackheath. 
Danish delights
BoConcept furniture stores are well-known in Denmark. Now they have five stores in London where design advice is free, including a home visit. Their style is contemporary and clean cut with a huge range of furniture, furnishings and accessories. Bring your room plans to a store, and a specialist will draw up a 3D plan on the spot. Or book a home visit, where a designer will measure up. A finished plan includes colours and finishes and lots of ideas for customised furniture.

BoConcept, 158 Tottenham Court Road, W1; 020 7388 2447; also in Notting Hill, Finchley Road, Battersea, and Kingston, with concessions in Harrods and Selfridges.

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