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How to Budget for an Interior Design Project

The first step when planning for an interior design project is both the most challenging and the most important: crafting a realistic project budget. Whether you’ll be building from the ground up, tackling a large scale home renovation or a single room remodel, or furnishing entire rooms, having a realistic budget will give clarity into what is possible and will steer the project’s style, quality, and execution. Having a budget of $50,000 for a kitchen remodel versus $200,000 will yield a very different process, team, and result. 


Homeowners often have a beautiful vision in their heads, but aren’t quite sure how to translate it into a budget number. That's where we come in!



As a full service interior designer, a large part of our role is helping clients understand the cost of various elements in a design project, especially when it comes to renovating and construction, as those numbers aren’t readily known (as the price for a coffee table or rug might be). Then, once a budgetary number is identified, our job is to work within that budget to design a functional and beautiful space.


There are many factors and elements that contribute to the final design investment amount, and every designer is experienced in working within different budgets. After a decade of working in the design industry, we’ve been able to establish some budgetary starting points for design projects that allow us to work with high quality vendors, reputable contractors, and skilled tradespeople to give our clients a unique space that exceeds their expectations. 


For projects that involve construction, like this one or this one, we recommend a project budget of $130,000 or more, not including design fees. Our construction design services are customized to each project and may include material selections, creation of spec books, contractor collaboration, and ongoing project management.


For projects that involve furnishings, like the ones you see in my portfolio, we recommend a starting budget of $28,000 per room, not including design fees. Depending on your needs, goals, and style, the budget can vary widely. In our full service furnishing design, we handle the design, order placement, project management, installation, and styling ensuring our clients can enjoy a seamless, white glove experience. 


Estimating a Furniture Budget

One way to understand the cost of home furnishings is to look around your room and write down an estimate of the cost to purchase all new items for that particular space as if you were designing that room from scratch. Include the following items in your price estimate:


Window treatments (drapes, shades, valances, etc.)

Window treatment hardware

Rugs and rug pads

Sofa(s) or sectional

Chairs 

Ottomans

Pillows

Throw blankets

Coffee table

Coffee table accessories

Console table

Console table accessories

Mirror

Artwork

Side tables

Side table accessories

Lamps (floor and table)

Ceiling lighting

Wall sconces

Paint

Wallpaper

Decorative moldings


Additionally, it’s important to consider:

Shipping and delivery for all those items

Installation for any of the above items (window treatments, lighting, mouldings, artwork, painter, etc.)


This exercise helps to illustrate the cumulative cost (sometimes surprising!) when you consider each and every item needed. This can help to establish realistic budget ranges to furnish whole rooms.


It is our goal to help you make the most of your investment, whether you're designing a room from scratch or you are working around some existing pieces.


It’s also crucial to understand the possibilities and constraints of your space. How much room you have to work with? What electrical or plumbing elements may be impacted? What end result are you hoping to achieve? A few additional questions to ask yourself while contemplating your budget are:

  • Does your project require any skilled trades, such as carpentry, paint, wallpaper, electricians, plumbers, etc.?

  • What is the total square footage of the space? Is it so large that it’s actually two spaces within one? Or, is the shape of the room unique which will require custom cut rugs and special made furniture?

  • Is there anything you’d like to keep, or is everything being replaced? 

  • Is this a forever home, or are you planning to move in a few years?

  • What type of materials are appropriate for your lifestyle?  Family-friendly with high durability? Organic and natural fibers? Upcycled items and materials with recycled content? High-end, luxury materials that feel and look opulent? 

  • How much assistance do you need through the implementation of your project? Do you want to manage the scheduling of tradespeople, or would you prefer someone else handle the project management?

  • Are you quick to make decisions, or do you need a lot of time to think things through? 


Particularly for projects that involve construction (kitchen or bathroom renovations), it’s always a good idea to plan a little extra for unforeseen circumstances. As you put the finishing touches on your project it’s all too common that last-minute additions, discoveries, or changes are required. For construction projects, we recommend setting aside a contingency fund of about 20% of your construction budget. 


Whether your interior design project cap is $25,000 or $500,000, establishing a number right from the start is key to ensuring a successful project that aligns with (or exceeds!) your expectations. Whether you want to renovate or furnish your home, we can help you create a budget you are comfortable with that aligns with your goals so you can move forward confidently with your design project. Learn more about working together by filling out a Project Inquiry Form

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