So, how DO I figure out my budget?
What's the one thing you (should) hear all the time from every designer/design website/tv show/magazine article?
Establish a budget!
But how do you actually DO that?
I'm sure there are a ton of resources out there that can show you and tell you how to determine a living budget but for design work it may be a bit different. Often, budgets are established by how much financing you can get. Or, if it's a smaller project, maybe it's based on how much you've saved or on a bonus you are set to receive.
When it comes to dollars and cents, my Mom is far more a pro than I am (she's literally a pro, like CGA pro), but I do know how to start estimating what you'll need and that's a great place to start!
So what do you (really) need?
Let's say you want to update your living room. You've been living with your university/single girl furniture since before it was 'vintage' and now it's time to upgrade. First, determine the basics you need:
- Coffee Table
- Side Tables
- New Paint
- TV Stand
Next, what is the 'eye candy' in the room:
- Decorative Cushions
- That stunning bowl you saw at Pier 1
Always, always, ALWAYS start with your biggest piece - aka, your sofa. You don't want to buy all the pretty things and then have to cheap out on a sofa because you ran out of money. Determine how long you want your sofa to last (not forever, but maybe 5-7 years?) and how it's going to be used - if you have a barrel of young kids, you'd need it to be easy to clean and durable; if it's just you and your honey or three of your closest friends, you want it to be super comfortable to hang out in for hours. With rare exception, for a better quality 3 seater sofa, no fancy options, you're looking at $1000-2000.
Then move on to the next most important piece. Maybe that's a new coffee table. If your current coffee table is fine but your TV stand is still a stack of milk crates, that's next on the list. For case goods, a great question to ask yourself (and be super honest here) is how creative are you? If you're super crafty and creative, you could pull together a fabulous TV stand for $100. If not, allow for $500-$1000 depending on the size and quality you're after.
Get the idea? Now keep moving down the list.
Next most important may be lamps. If you know by now that you're spending $1500 on a sofa and $750 on a TV stand, maybe you don't want to spend more than $400 on 2 lamps. So, set a budget of $200 per lamp and (please listen to this part carefully) DO NOT EXCEED IT! Online is a great place to look for budget-friendly, stylish lamps so set your search parameters to $25-199 and if it doesn't fit in that budget, girl, do not pass go!
The great thing about living rooms is that generally you won't need much paid labour, unless you want to hire a painter. If you have the time and are not a terrible painter, I recommend painting the room yourself. A $50 gallon of paint and a Saturday afternoon with a friend or two can create a new space faster than you can say boo! Plus, you get to chat about the latest with your gal pal(s)! And who says no to pizza and beer après an afternoon of work? Pretty much no one, that's who!
Amy, what about the eye candy?
It's easy to get lost/over budget in the eye candy and it's generally the first thing people notice but it's super important to "set a limit and play within it". I don't suggest a buy-everything-all-at-once shopping spree, I prefer a curated-over-time aesthetic. This will not only give you more breathing room in your budget, it makes the search more of an adventure and way more fun!
Don't have time to do all the homework and research? DTI is launching our Virtual Design offering VERY SOON so I can help you create a gorgeous room you'll love for years without sprouting new gray hairs or blowing through your inheritance! And you never even need to leave the house!
Be sure to sign up to the DTI Monthly News to get FIRST ACCESS to the Virtual Design packages when they launch!