Developing an interior design budget on your own isn’t easy. There is SO much that goes into each one, from products to labor to shipping to taxes and beyond…
But a well thought-out budget is critical to a successful design project!
Today, I’m going to walk you through how we develop design budgets with our clients. This should give you clarity and a good foundation for doing the same on your own — or coming prepared when you meet up with us!
1. Create your design concept
A design budget starts with your vision for the space. As part of our design process, we ask you to gather inspirational images that represent what you’d like to see.
Are we installing a wall of built-ins? Looking at classic subway tile or a laser cut mosaic on your backsplash? Envisioning layered draperies or clean solar shades? Are you drawn to minimalistic, maximalistic or somewhere in between?
You’d be surprised how stacks of books and layers of accessories add up. These questions are important, and all need to be factored into the budget.
2. Develop a detailed space plan
We develop detailed space plans to determine how many pieces we need in the space, and we look at ALL the details.
Are we thinking of a larger area rug with a smaller accent rug layered on top? What’s going on the surfaces? Lamps, Trays? Are we using plants or trees in the space? If so, we need to add these (and their pots) to the list.
3. Think about the quality you want in your home
Think about the QUALITY and DURABILITY of what you want in your home. Do you have kids and need a performance fabric (Crypton) on your upholstery? Do you have furniture that will be in full sun and should fight fading (Sunbrella)?
These specialty fabrics all cost a premium, but have important roles in creating a space that lasts.
BID Tip: You can see which brands of furniture had and liked in the past. Lift up the sofa or chair cushion and the brand will often be on a label. Or, on the underside of casegoods.
4. Remember that you can only pick two…
5. Create a detailed list of products and needs
We then take your space plans or furniture plans and make a detailed list in Excel. We have templates for this because, well, we’ve done it a few times. 😉 You can also do this by hand if that’s your jam.
Each spreadsheet has columns for Good, Better, Best (or Low, Mid, High), and we add price points for each line item in each price category.
You can use Google to research product prices. For example, take your dining chairs… depending on the design concept, you should already know if these chairs are going to be fully upholstered, fully wooden, or just an upholstered seat. This LARGELY impacts budget!
BID Tip: Don’t forget these often overlooked items! Drapery hardware, wall art (this is big!), rug pads, pillows, duvet inserts, wallpaper, plants, etc.
You can check out our Interior Design Project Planner for an example of this itemized list!
Don’t forget to factor in hardware!
6. Add up each price column for a subtotal
When you add up each price column, you’ll quickly see the bare minimum needed to execute your vision. But wait! There are other costs you need to consider, too…
- Shipping/freight costs (assume an average of ~10%-12%)
- Installation charges for wallpaper, window treatments, etc.
- ACCESSORIES!! These add up and should not be overlooked. On average, estimate 10%-20% of the subtotal cost but absolutely no less than 7%. That cocktail table NEEDS items to feel finished!
- Built-Ins or millwork needed
- If you’re working through a design firm, there is also a receiving warehouse and delivery fee… though it is worth its weight in gold, as they receive and inspect every single item, eliminating the need for you to be home constantly and deal with claims on any damaged goods.
That’s it! You’ll see that it adds up quickly.
If you’re on a tight budget, limit your scope and do a single area well versus trying to do everything at once. If your budget can’t really support the quality you’d like, save the dining room for next fall and do the family room really well now.
Quick reminder: our Interior Design Project Planner is a valuable resource in starting your project on the right foot. You’ll get a breakdown of standard costs (including construction) by quality level and labor needed — highly recommend it.
That’s all for now, but I will see you back here on the blog in two short weeks. In the meantime, keep dreaming up your boldest life!