Home design help–free!

Source: Shutterstock

Source: Shutterstock

Confession time: I love home improvement shows, but when it comes to my own space, I’m a little indecisive. What if that bold paint color is an eye-sore? Will the different patterns on the rug, comforter and curtains look cool–or clash?

There’s some good news for design-phobes like me. Several retailers, including West Elm, Pottery Barn and IKEA, among other retailers, now offer free design help. It’s much cheaper than hiring an independent designer, and you’re bound to get a few helpful ideas. (In my test, the West Elm consultant had some great tips on finding rugs that are more likely to stand up to my pets’ nails, and how to pick the perfect shade of greige for the living room walls.)

But there are trade-offs. Retailers’ services are more limited in scope and time-frame than hiring an independent designer, and it’s not a fit if you’re not already drooling over their styles.

For more details on how the design programs work, read the full story on CNBC.com.