Article by Barbara Chandler

Award-winning design and interiors writer Barbara Chandler tells you where to search.

Furnishing a home can be bewildering to say the least, with so much homeware on the market and a mass of places and ways to buy it. Happily, today’s tech puts free online specialist advice at your fingertips. 

Fenella Double Bed, £349, MADE.COM

HOME DESIGN ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Social media is first base for inspo and info. Pinterest is full of fabulous ideas – do a search then “pin” (save) the best results to your “board” (personal file). You can share them with friends, family and professionals. Save your own photos and add a “pin” icon to your browser to store images from the internet. Find your user guide here

Follow Facebook pages for useful brands and designers to get updates, advice and links to videos. Find a guide here

Instagram is where the influencers hang out, with their personal snaps and stories. Just follow the ones that appeal, from the countless candidates charting their renovations, design discoveries and opinions – often with links to longer blogs on their own websites –  to short videos on IGTV, and/or podcasts. Here’s a taster:

All paints are from new Dulux Heritage range, priced at £40.64 for 2.5 litres. Walls are in Romney Wool, woodwork is China White, dulux.co.uk

Kate Watson Smyth @mad_about_the_house (256K followers) leads the pack, with her carefully considered posts, three books and personally curated shopping channel. Lisa Dawson @_lisa_dawson_ (184K followers) is an offbeat on-trend one-woman whirlwind of home ideas. Her Resourceful Living book is out in April (Kyle Books).

Emily Murray @pinkhouseliving (88.6k followers) is relentlessly pink in her tastes and even has her own paint shade. By contrast, stylist/writer Dan Hull @_millergrey (19.6K followers) says “grey is my first love”, with lovely images.

Dee Campling @deecampling (182K followers) is another talented stylist, while Reena Simon @hygge_for_home (246K followers) is renovating a Sixties bungalow. 

Jess Hurrell @gold_is_a_neutral (51.4K followers) offers quirky tips for shopping and design – and Bianca Hall @frenchforpineaple (37.7K followers) is an appealingly gentle blogger and DIY enthusiast.

There are dozens, if not hundreds, more.

Videos on YouTube will solve most design and DIY dilemmas, including curtain and cushion making, painting, carpentry and gardening, posted by individuals and brands on their own “channels”. Download and/or put the app on your phone.

For a user’s guide, click here

Even those mini-clips on Tik Tok and its rival Instagram Reels could spark an idea –  and will make you laugh or groan. Find a guide here

Home renovators share experiences and expertise at Houzz  in literally millions of pictures and stories. You can refine a search by room, style, colour, size and so on, right down to, for example, the finish of a kitchen unit. There’s specialist advice, trends and tips, lists of local tradespeople and a product directory.

Voxlov bamboo chair, £75, and table, £199 Ikea.com

FREE ADVICE FROM YOUR FAVOURITE STORES 

Until lockdown lifts, most shopping for interiors is on the web where business is booming. Store closures have spawned new “virtual” ways to get help, fuelled by technology. When things open up, shopping will be a hybrid affair, with virtual advice, planning and colour-scheming online underpinned by shopping and “experiences” in store. 

All online design services depend on your input, so double-check your measurements, work out a budget, think about your deadline and collect ideas on colour and style before you start.  

Look for the live chat icons bottom right of website screens, to make contact directly with an assistant during office hours. Then you can have a video chat on FaceTime, SnapChat or similar, or book an appointment with a specialist. For the cleverest tech, download the apps of your favourite brands to your phone or iPad. You may be able to take a snap of your room and then play around with wall colours, or add images of furniture. 

Isola Hand Tuft Rug, £349, MADE.COM

BUDGET BRANDS

Ikea has online planning tools for its most popular living room storage, seating and more – plus an online interior design service for £65 a room.

Next is doing free interior design with plans and mood boards.

DIY

Bone up on types of paint, trends, colours and inventive DIY from Dulux with a virtual paint selector and lots of videos. Or get practical and colour advice on 0333 2227171. Download a free visualiser app to virtually paint your own room, and instantly match colours. Follow Dulux pages on all social media, for links to videos and podcasts.

Play around with paint colours with Wickes.

Find excellent wallpapering videos at Wallpaper Direct.

Legend corner sofa, £1,295, St Moritz coffee table, £699, Milo brass floor lamp, £149, Marlow rug, £199; furniturevillage.co.uk

LET THE EXPERTS TALK YOU THROUGH IT 

A bookable furnishing adviser at John Lewis can help online with anything from a cushion update to a room revamp. They will create 3D images of your room showing off their suggestions, fine-tuning as you go along. Book  here.

Book a free advice session with West Elm here 

Get more free virtual advice session on Made.com (click here) This brand also has a fun room planner. You do a quiz to find your style, which they turn into a 3D room to explore simply using your mouse.

Furniture Village, with a slick interactive website, does video chats and store tours. Click here

Design your own rug at Alternative Flooring 

Carpetright has virtual surveyors bookable online, or they’ll come, Covid-safe, to your home to estimate, then deliver and fit. Click here 

Parker large corner chaise in navy plush velvet, £1,925, Lloyd nest of two tables, £225, Amara leaf rug, from £80 to £260, Erin floor lamp, £160 next.co.uk

MOVING UPMARKET 

For a free design consultation with old-established Heal’s, the benchmark retailer for quality design, click here   Or click here to book a new styling service at The Conran Shop – “informed by the sharp eye of our late founder Sir Terence Conran” – and offered free for a limited period of time.

For a free virtual advice session with SCP, east London’s design store, click here

ON-SCREEN INSPIRATION 

Interior design shows on Netflix include Interior Design Masters, Interior Design Challenge, Grand Designs, Tidy Up with Marie Kondo, Amazing Interiors, and The Apartment.

 

 

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