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VM choice: John Lewis Oxford Street's refurbished home departments

John Lewis has reopened its newly refurbished Home floors in London’s Oxford Street, creating a truly inspirational space.

There is an opulent tableaux on the second floor, at the top of the escalator nearest the main entrance, an almost Barbie-doll fantasy with its appealing touches of hot colour and elaborate finishes. I particularly like the way the trellis on the wall relates to the trellis on the ceiling. This is used elsewhere in the new layout, which includes home, furniture, kitchen, bathroom, household textiles, and lighting.

An arc of trellis hovers over the bathroom fittings section, linking the cash desk to the main aisle.

This mobile of bubbles suspended above the bathroom textiles island-fixtures adds interest.

Adding this little touch makes it all look special.

The island-fixtures really bring life to the space, all nicely colour-blocked, and interestingly dressed with a selection of relevant accessories too.

In the home furnishing textiles section a giant mushroom offers customers a seat and John Lewis, an opportunity to display larger lengths of fabrics.

Around the walls are dressed spaces: with a sofa, cushions, a side table, a pendant and a table-lamp, and linked fabrics and furniture, this makes the choice of fabric and furniture so much more real. Notice the way the arch in the foreground frames the space.

This is a piece of fun. Barely recognizable to the naked eye, when viewed through the camera of a phone, the image magically becomes a clear image of the Mona Lisa. Find it in the blinds department.

Central to the changes is a new central staircase linking the lighting, furnishing fabrics, bed and bath textiles, and home accessories on the second floor, to the furniture, kitchens and bathrooms departments on the third floor. Turning around a giant circular woolen tapestry of the London Skyline ‘Suspended on String,’ is woven by Herbert Parkinson, supplier of many of John Lewis home fabrics, which is suspended between the floors.

Upstairs on the third floor, the upper part of the woven tapestry is visible. Suspended from a ring surmounted by a rainbow of cones of thread, it forms a visible reminder to customers that despite our current fashion for muted tones, colour in the home can be fun.

The furniture department has been beautifully dressed and no longer resembles a warehouse. While many retailers may actually sell on-line, the store must become a flagship to tempt and reassure customers, especially for big-ticket items. The experience of visiting the store should be a delight, as here. The cushions, tea tray, lighting, and wall decorations all help customers to imagine the sofa in their home, and as they are all duplicate-displayed within their own departments, should promote additional purchases too.

Part of the space has been franchised to US furniture company West Elm, which also has a store on Tottenham Court Road.

Besides being duplicated in its relevant department House, the entry-level range produced by John Lewis, has its own display section. With the iconic yellow circle motif of the range employed as a wall treatment, the simple finishes and solid colours of the range sit well together.

Even the bespoke kitchen section has been cleaned up and re-dressed. The use of fresh plants transforms spaces such as these, making them look new and fresh.

Whilst the lighting department remains a brightly-lit mix of glass, shades, and table lamps, I liked the lamp bases section with its clear counter tops for customers to try combinations, and these clusters of shades above, each shade combinations nicely lit.

Even the bathroom department has been dressed. The addition of white toweling robes, tied exactly as at a nice hotel, transforms the display. Note too, the darker floor, forming a pleasing contrast to the most-popular white fittings.

As the bathroom department gives way to the bed department, the flooring changes to help define the shift.

The mattress department is a very necessary section – who buys a mattress without trying it? Such areas can look a rather dull sea of whites and near whites, which makes the wall decoration - a giant, blow-up of a hopsack weave textile - so welcome. Created on an undulating wooden frame, the plush ‘fibres’ are stuffed with thick foam.

Wandering back to the centre of the floor, a display of John Lewis paint colours is deftly demonstrated on the surface of a selection of tea pots, each securely labelled.

Intriguingly, walking inside the large, white, faceted-head, sweetly called the Head of Design, in the middle of the floor, allows each customer to complete a psychometric text using a selection of images. The result can be printed, or emailed to the customer, and claims to determine the customer’s preferences for interiors.

Somehow, the Home floors seem larger than in the past. They are certainly brighter, much more interesting, and very welcoming. 

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