A decade ago, then fledgling Charleston Home + Design Show unveiled a new event: Top interior designers would offer makeover consults — for free.

The home and design show’s grown in stature and evolved in presentation since then, lining up new exhibits and moving temporarily to a different locale.

But the free-wheeling confabs with American Society of Interior Designers members proved a hit, and today they’re a staple at the annual show.

“We’ve done that every year since 2004,” says Tim Barkley, publisher of Charleston Home + Design magazine and show organizer.

This year’s fest will be Jan. 24-26 in the “covered, heated and protected-from-the-elements” confines of The Citadel’s Johnson Hagood Stadium concourse, he says.

Show hours are Friday, 11 a.m.- 8 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.- 6 p.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is $7 Saturday and Sunday. Friday is free.

The no-charge consultations, made possible because designers volunteer to waive fees, are “very popular with homeowners,” Barkley says. “I think coming out of the recession, there’s still the mindset (to) get something for free.”

There are 13 designers participating in the face-to-face designer meetings Friday. Consultations take place every half an hour. “When you are engaged in a conversation on something so personal, about your home, 20 or 30 minutes go by fast,” he says. Attendees often set up future appointments to continue plans with the designer, he says.

The show organizer urges people who set up consultations with the ASID professionals to arrive prepared. He recommends people who want a consultation bring house plans or room dimensions; fabric swatches; paint chips; flooring, countertop and/ or cabinetry samples; photos showing the space or expected furniture pieces; and magazine images of desired rooms or styles.

“It’s amazing. They can really accomplish quite a bit,” he says.

Although Barkley’s made good use of the designer consultation meets, he acknowledges he didn’t originate the idea.

When he launched the Charleston Home + Design Show more than a decade ago, he researched and visited Architectural Digest’s home show in New York. There, top-notch designers who typically charge $500 an hour were providing free consultations with event-goers, he says.

Newer spectacles likewise have enjoyed fanfare at the Home + Design show. The White Room Challenge involves six local Ethan Allen interior designers who start with empty 100 square foot rooms painted white and get 12 hours to transform them into “luxurious living spaces.” Each room has a non-profit associated with it. Ethan Allen will sponsor the challenge for the second straight year. Also involved are Sherwin-Williams as paint supplier, 1st Class Painting and Resortation as paint and drywall contractor, 84 Lumber as building material supplier, Strock Enterprises as general contractor and framer, Carpet Baggers Floorcoverings as flooring supplier, Charleston Lighting and Interiors as lighting supplier and Ethan Allen for interior design and décor.

Barkley says the event fits with today’s residential lifestyle. “Everybody’s challenged for space these days.”

A new twist this year will be the show’s prized “giveaway” to lucky attendees. In past years, the fest would contribute a room makeover or other big prize. Organizers decided for 2014 to spread out the number of gifts and the chances of winning. There will be eight home-improvement “packages,” each valued at $2,000.

They consist of a garage organizing makeover from Lowcountry Monkey Bars, home furnishings package from Ethan Allen, eight-piece cookware package from Kitchen Craft, backyard water feature from HLG Growers, hurricane shutter package from Lowcountry Hurricane Protection, Stressless Recliner from Danco Modern Furniture, sofa from Coralberry Cottage and custom-made kitchen island from Charleston Woodworks.

The show will host a weekend silent auction with all the proceeds going to four local charities. They are The Citadel Brigadier Foundation Memorial Fund; Citadel Bulldog Mascots, Boo X and General II; RememberThose.org; and Pet Helpers.

Also, Miss South Carolina Brooke Mosteller of Mount Pleasant will make an appearance noon-2 p.m. to sign copies of the latest Charleston Home + Design magazine with a photo of her on the cover. The edition features an article about Mosteller and the home she grew up in east of the Cooper.

And as in past years, the show will offer thousands of custom home products from close to 100 home improvement, design and remodeling businesses and accessories suppliers.

This year, Friday hours were extended to 8 p.m. “Friday has become the new Saturday for us,” he says.

The Charleston Home + Design Show originated at the Gaillard Auditorium and remained there until the city decided to rebuild the downtown structure. Barkley says organizers will host one more Home + Design show at Johnson Hagood, which has turned out to be a well-received temporary spot, and then return in winter 2015 to the new Gaillard.

“We always try to go above and beyond,” Barkley says.

Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or jparker@postandcourier.com.