Refurbishments can make or break a pub. So, what can we make of the recent makeover at The Clarence in Balham High Road?

A fixture of many a pubgoer’s night out round these parts, it has a strong reputation to keep intact. So did it really need a change of image?

Re-opened in February after closing the previous month, the first change that hits you is the brightness – the lighting here was on the moody side beforehand, but the colours are, well, let’s just say big.

There is a love-or-hate-it mural opposite the bar, depicting an underwater London. Personally I liked it, but it seems a rather risky move.

And then there are the little wooden stools. Oh my. Green, blue and black, there’s something wrong about them – as if you’re sat supping a pint in the middle of a nursery. In fact, on the afternoon of my latest visit, it might as well have been – yummy mummies were out in force with their little tots crawling around everywhere.

There is a lot of good still to be said about the Clarence – the superior, cosy purple seating, the great selection of beer and ale, a good menu that includes takeaway pizza, and there is always a good atmosphere here on a night out.

But, on the flip side, Heineken costs £3.50 and bottles of wine start at £18.

There is also a new air-con system and more ladies’ loos in place. But as for the pub’s look, as the old saying goes: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

The Clarence, 90-92, Balham High Road, Balham, SW12 9AG

How the pub rates out of five:

Decor: XXX Ok, but not as good as it used to be. I’m still blinded from looking at those stools.

Drink: XXXX Good, and a wide selection.

Price: XX £3.50 for a pint of Heineken. The horror, the horror.

Atmosphere: XXXX It’s always lively in here, even during the day.

Staff: XXX Immediate, friendly, smiley service this time – sometimes it’s not quite like that on a busy night.