how to budget interior design photo credit: dttsp

Today we're talking about interior design budgets.  If you missed yesterday's Part 1, What Will it Cost to Decorate My Home? read that first.

Ever wondered how much it would cost to redo your living room?  I often meet with clients and when I ask, "What do you want to spend on this project?" or "What is your interior design budget?" I usually get blank stares and not-sures.  There are a few reasons for not sharing your budget with an interior designer.

1) You really don't know what you should spend.  

Though if I really press there is usually an amount clients don't want to exceed.   Do you want to spend one million?  Or maybe $10,000?

2) You have an amount in mind but are unsure if it is feasible.  

You'll want to use the budget worksheet below or just throw the number out to your designer.  She'll be able to tell you if the amount is reasonable.

3) You have an amount in mind but don't want to show your cards. 

The right designer cannot give you what you want without knowing what you want to pay for it.  She can't do her job without knowing  what your number is.  Read yesterday's post, What Will it Cost to Decorate My Home? to see the pitfalls of not showing your cards.


the true cost of interior design photo credit: dttsp If your house is as big as the  Lake Palace in Udaipur don't even read the article below, just give me a call.

But if your first thought after: “I need to hire a designer"? is...

How much will designing my home cost? How much does hiring a designer cost? Continue reading.  Its getting juicy.  Not Lake Palace juicy, but really really helpful.  

These are difficult questions and many clients want this answered before they speak to an interior designer.   I know if this were an easy question both clients and designers would be much happier.

But imagine walking into your doctor and before describing any symptoms or problems with her you asked what the cure was.  Or imagine you are buying a car and the first question you ask the dealer is “how much?” before talking about what you need & want.  The doctor will be unable to cure your illness and the dealer would want to ask several qualifying questions before knowing what type of car you’re looking for.

It’s a bit of a chicken & egg situation.

The designer can’t give you a price until she knows what you’re looking for and you don’t know if you want to hire a designer until you know the price.  Dilemma.

Let me tell a story, a designer friend met with a woman who wanted to redo her living room.  When asked the client told the designer she had a budget of $25,000.  So the designer went home to design the most beautiful room she could, selecting the right items, picking the right fabrics and keeping everything in budget.  When the designer presented her design scheme to the client, it was not what the client wanted.  Why?  “This design is not luxurious enough, I would have paid twice as much!” said the client. Moral of the story, have a realistic budget and don’t be afraid to share that with your designer.

The right designer will work hard to put your money where it'll work best for you – whether it is to keep it in your pocket or to display it with beautiful silk upholstered walls.

If you want to talk about how much it will cost, the first place to start is what you want to spend. 

You can start small.  Let say you want to update your bedroom , tell the designer what you think a reasonable amount to spend on a new bed, on new curtains, on art.  This will give the designer an idea as to what your range is and a good starting point.  For example, if you tell me you are comfortable spending $4000 on a bedframe and $500 on curtains, I think possibly a custom bed and off-the-rack curtains.  Then if you tell me that you’d like to keep your nightstands, but everything else will go and your bedroom is average size, I would say  “$15,000 sounds like a good budget is that something you’d be comfortable with?”

Here is another example: You call and say that you want to decorate that same average size bedroom top down for $50,000.  This may be the same bedroom and need the same items, but the finishing and the quality would be much different.  This would be custom pieces, antiques with provenance, luxurious imported fabrics, quality finishes.

Design on that same bedroom could range from $1000 to $1,000,000 so the client and the designer need to work together to determine what the client would be comfortable spending on the project and if that is a reasonable number for the designer to work with. 

Not all designers are comfortable working in all budgets or have the same resources to work in all budgets.  Will someone who is used to buying Pottery Barn know where to find a Late 18th Century Louis XVI Lit A La Turque?  These are all questions to ask a designer before hiring.

Read the 12 Essential Questions to Ask Your Designer.

Stay tuned tomorrow for Part 2 of this post - How to Budget Interior Design.  I've created a super-helpful Printable Budget Worksheet to get you started.