How much does furnishing a home with an interior designer cost? What do most people forget to include in their furnishings budgets? How can you get a realistic idea of what your investment could look like?
These are some of the top questions we hear from new and prospective clients, and if you have a room (or a whole home) that you’re eager to design, I bet you’ve had these questions, too. After all, understanding your expected investment is the best way to ensure you get the result you want.
This week, I want to explore the specifics of furnishing a home, not on your own, but with an interior designer. (As you’ll see, it’s a whole different experience!) Together, we’ll cover the following topics:
- Which items are considered “furnishings?”
- How furnishing a home with an interior designer is different than doing it yourself
- Factors that impact a furnishings budget
- The approximate investment you can expect to make in furnishings
- Examples of itemized furnishings budgets
Before we dive in, I also want to point you to our not-to-be-missed Interior Design Project Planner. It includes helpful charts and guided steps for budgeting and planning your project. Got your hands on it? Fantastic. Let’s go…
Which items are considered “furnishings?”
I’ve realized that there’s a bit of a common misconception around this word. Thanks to the similar prefixes in “furnishings” and “furniture,” many people mistakenly believe that they are one and the same. But when designers say “furnish” a home, we’re referring to rugs, lighting, furniture, artwork, draperies, and yes, even the large and small accessories we use for styling!
You could also think about it like this — the fixed elements of your home (hardwood floors, that gorgeous fireplace stone, built-ins, etc.) are not furnishings. Anything that is not permanently attached is a furnishing.
Yes, furnishings can include a pandemic-worthy bar cart. 😉
How is furnishing your home with an interior designer different than doing it yourself?
This is a great question. There are many advantages to working with a designer on this aspect of your home, but I’ll admit, it’s not for everyone. (At Blakely, we fully furnish rooms and homes as part of our Full-Service Interior Design.)
Here are the top 4 differences between hiring a designer and DIY’ing it…
1. One-of-a-Kind Home Personalized to Your Style & Lifestyle
Working with a designer to furnish your home means you can have custom, one-of-a-kind pieces tailored exactly to your style and lifestyle. As designers, it’s our job to make a space special, and in order to get that feeling, we look at adding an extra layer of detail and personalization.
This comes in the form of using custom furniture, unique fabrics, made-to-order throw pillows, original artwork, and much, much more. You won’t find these in retail!
We designed this one-of-a-kind bed for the master bedroom in The Ocean Meadow Project. The yellow welt adds a perfect pop of color next to the rich navy and crisp white fabric. (Did you notice the same yellow welt on the custom throw pillow? It’s all in the details 😉 )
2. High-Quality Furnishings & Pre-Vetted Brands
Our vetting process of finding the best quality for the best price means we can get you higher quality pieces than you would find yourself in places like the Pottery Barn website or the Restoration Hardware catalog.
Now, it’s true that you may have a slightly lower investment when ordering through these retail sources, but you won’t get the same quality compared to the brands we use. So if you are going to invest in furnishing your home with pieces that are made to last, working with a designer is a huge advantage! (P.S. Here’s how we spot quality furniture that will last.)
3. A Boatload of Time & Stress Averted
This is one aspect of our role as designers that I think gets overlooked, mainly because our clients do not physically see us doing this part of the project. It includes precise ordering, tracking shipments, coordinating and receiving deliveries, inspecting products, managing vendor issues, damages, or backorders, storing all the furnishings, and finally… installing them.
Now imagine doing all of this yourself with little to no experience! It’s a lot.
Most people cannot believe how much time and energy this part of the process takes. In fact, other than the stunningly personal and functional design you will get, I truly believe that project management is where designers are worth their weight in gold. You save countless hours. You avoid stress. And you can rest assured that experienced professionals have your back.
From space planning to procurement, no detail is overlooked.
4. Fully Finished & Cohesively Designed Home
When most people try to furnish their homes on their own, they usually purchase a piece here and there, building up the room gradually. This approach is a trying process for most, often costs the same over time (or more… since you may be winging it and learning as you go), and never has the same outcome as a space designed to completion from the start.
If it’s important for you to have a fully finished, cohesive home, working with a designer is the way to go.
Tip: If you prefer to furnish your home at your own pace, that’s okay! Full-Service Interior Design may not be right for you, but our Design Consultation or Design Direction services can give you excellent direction or a design concept you can easily bring to life.
Part of our Design Process includes creating design concept boards that set the overall look and feel of your space. If you’re designing your home piecemeal, it is very difficult to achieve the same level of cohesiveness.
What factors impact a furnishings budget?
Unfortunately, I can’t give you a one-size-fits-all budget for furnishings. The cost of furnishing a home varies from project to project and depends on many different factors. I will share some estimates and an example of two budgets below, but it’s important to know what could impact those numbers.
- The size of the room, the space plan, & how many pieces you’ll need
- The quality of the furniture (if you want high end, luxury furniture, we can do that)
- How many custom pieces we design
- The amount of window treatments needed (if you have 10 tall windows in your living room, the investment will significantly increase)
- Fabric options (such as beautiful and totally wine-proof Crypton!), trims & other additional design elements
- Taxes, shipping & warehousing costs, installation & professional services
Don’t forget these…
There are also many elements of a room that are not obvious pieces… and can often be forgotten if you’re planning a budget on your own. Once you start factoring these in, they can add up fast! For example, you may have remembered to budget for larger items like sofas, beds, dining tables and chairs, but did you remember to factor items like light fixtures, mirrors, bedding, rugs & rug pads, and art?
A lot of details go into creating a space that’s stunning AND helps you live vibrantly.
Typical Furnishings Investment & Examples
Okay, the moment you’ve been waiting for… numbers! Based on our past projects and as a general rule of thumb, we estimate it will cost $100-$150/sq.ft to furnish a room.
Keep in mind that these are numbers from our projects — with our aesthetic, our focus on durability, and our approach to comfortably filling a space. Working with another designer may have variations in investment level.
Example: Living Room Furnishings Budget
An average 300 sq.ft living room will cost anywhere from $30K – $45K. Here’s an example of a living room budget we recently created, where we specified every last detail for each piece, from upholstery to window treatment hardware:
- 2 Sofas/Sectional: $8,600
- 2 Lounge chairs: $4,400
- Custom pillows for sofa & lounge chairs: $2,500
- Cocktail table: $3,400
- Upholstered bench: $1,400
- 2 Side tables: $1,800
- 2 Table lamps: $800
- 16×20 area rug & rug pad: $6,500
- Artwork: $1,600
- 1 pair of draperies & hardware: $2,800
- Accessories: $4,500
Grand Total (Furnishings): $38,300
Other expenses to be calculated and included in this budget are tax, shipping & warehousing, installation of wallpaper & window treatments, and design fees. You’ll see most of these in the next example.
This estimate also does not include professional services, such as the cost of working with an interior designer.
There’s more than meets the eye in a room…
Example: Master Bedroom Furnishings Budget
The following is an example of a budget we recently completed for a 250 sq.ft luxury master bedroom:
- Custom upholstered king bed: $5,200
- Kings bedding & pillows: $2,600
- Custom lounge chair: $2,100
- 7×3 floor mirror: $1,400
- Grasscloth wallpaper for entire room: $3,300
- 2 nightstands: $3,000
- Area rug & rug pad: $2,900
- 2 table lamps: $900
- Art: $800
- 1 pair of draperies & hardware: $2,500
- 4 Blackout roman shades: $5,700
- Accessories: $4,500
- Warehousing & Receiving: $1,100
- Sales Tax: $2,700
- Freight & Shipping: $3,300
- Wallpaper & window treatment installation: $2,800
Grand Total: $44,800
Again, your furnishings investment will depend on the fabrics we choose, how many custom pieces we specify, how many window treatments you’ll need, etc., so yours could be more or less. It is also difficult to estimate design fees (if you’re working with an interior designer), as it depends on the scope of the entire project, not just on furnishing a room.
The result? A place to live boldly, vibrantly, and with the ones you love most!
What’s the next step?
So, what did you think? Is the investment higher than you expected? Lower? More detailed and involved than you realized?
Again, these are the ballpark investments for the typical projects we work on. You may see some variation with other designers, and that’s okay. We’re all different, and we all work at the investment levels that allow us to achieve optimal results for our clients.
For us that means having a budget that lets us prioritize high-quality pieces, comfortably fill the space, adhere to our vibrant coastal aesthetic, and manage your project from concept to completion for the most holistic, beautiful result!
I will wrap things up here, but I really hope this post has brought you some clarity. If not on the exact number you can expect to invest, at least on the strategy for creating a budget that fits your home and lifestyle goals.
If you’re feeling eager to start your project, contact us here and let’s get to know each other! (We are currently working on projects with installations set for spring 2021, so be sure to get on our calendar sooner rather than later!)
We can’t wait to meet you…