Interior Design Budgeting Explained: What To Expect, and How To Save

Money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy trendy new home furnishings. Just ask any interior design junkie who likes to peruse the home goods aisle at their favorite discount retailer. When you want to redesign your interior, it’s important to set a budget and manage your expectations so you don’t end up in the red after your project.

5 tips for saving money on your interior design project

Talking about money can feel awkward for some people, but it can also be empowering. After all, how do you know that you’re getting a good deal (or if you’re overpaying) if you’re not scrutinizing your financial decisions and discussing money with others?

“Discussions regarding financial considerations help us to recommend options that we think are of good value and are appropriate for that individual client’s budget,” said Dana Bacher, a senior designer at Jarrett Design. “Many designers offer different pricing options, including hourly fees and/or flat rates.  It often depends on the type and scale of the project.  There are several benefits to hiring a designer that are worth considering though.

One of the biggest benefits is the level of planning that goes into developing a design for a client. With careful planning and access to resources that are sometimes only available to designers, we can often, in the long run, help clients save money.” – Dana Bacher, Jarrett Design

To ease some of the stress that comes with talking about money, we’ve compiled a foolproof guide to help homeowners master the art of interior design budgets, whether you want to hire a professional or go the DIY route. Read our tips and tricks for estimating your interior design costs, and see how you can save money on your redesign project.

The Price of Professional Interior Designer

bright, pristine white kitchen design in saucon valley, pennsylvania by jarrett design

Saucon Valley Classic Remodel by Jarrett Design

Home Advisor estimates that it costs between $1,950 and $11,673 to hire a professional interior designer. The cost of your interior design project will vary depending on a few things: How quickly do you want the project done? What quality of furnishings do you expect? Do you prioritize low cost over all else? Interior design follows the same general rule of any service you seek, you can pick two: fast, cheap, and good, but you can’t have all three things at once.

To find out how much an interior design project will cost in your area, it’s best to call up a few local companies to request a price quote. The cost of your project will vary based on location, so it’s hard to find a precise estimate that applies to all homeowners.

That’s not to say that they don’t exist. Here’s an estimate from interior design company Teaselwood Design:

Living room

    • Economy (Ikea): $2,500
    • Mid-range (Pottery Barn): $15,000+
    • High end (trade only): $34,000+

Dining room: 

    • Economy (Ikea): $1,500
    • Mid-range (Pottery Barn): $9,000+
    • High end (trade only): $18,000+

Note: The prices above do not include shipping, delivery, hardware, labor, or installation.

Depending on your financial circumstances, you’ll want to shop around for an interior designer who can work with your budget, wants, and needs. It’s important to manage your expectations before you sign any kind of binding contract. Society has made conversating about money seem awkward, but at the end of the day, you’re paying for a service that benefits you.

Transparency is of the utmost importance when discussing your interior design budget with anyone, and any good designer will be upfront about how much you should expect to pay by the time the project is over. While things are always subject to change as you make alterations to your interior design plan, it’s a bad idea to get in over your head spending much more money than you had originally anticipated.

Costs to Consider With DIY Interior Design Projects

DIY project

Photo by Jasmin Schreiber on Unsplash

When it’s time to revamp your home’s interior design, it’s easy to get carried away by the beautiful spreads in magazines without putting much thought into the overall cost of the project. While a couple of hundred dollars for unique or antique furniture pieces here and there might not seem like much at first, it adds up quickly.

That being said, there are many costs that are consistent throughout all interior design projects. Here are several costs you should keep in mind when creating a budget for your redesign:

Budgeting your DIY Project

  • The big-ticket furniture itself, as well as furnishings and accessories
  • New light fixtures, backsplash tiles, paint and wallpaper
  • All tools needed to complete the project, like brushes and hardware
  • Tax, varying depending on where you live
  • Shipping and delivery fees (10-12%, according to one estimate)
  • Installation charges and assembly fees, varying on the retailer

Before you decide on a budget for your DIY interior design project, think long and hard about the results you want to achieve. Do you want the most bang for your buck? Repainting a room can deliver tangible results with little time, effort, and money. Do you want to completely change the vibe of your home? That will be more expensive and time-consuming, but the payoff will be greater.

5 Tips for Saving Money on Your Interior Design

1. Do it yourself

When you hire an interior design company to decorate your home, you’re paying a professional to provide top-tier service. Interior designers are like all other creatives: You get what you pay for, and it can be well worth the money to partner with a pro. However, some homeowners simply don’t have the budget to hire an interior designer, and that’s OK.

In many cases, it’s a good move to turn to DIY interior design. You can save money, sure, but you also get to be more hands-on in deciding exactly what you want out of your project. Keep in mind that when you take your interior design into your own hands, you can’t guarantee the same quality that you receive when you hire a professional.

2. Shop around for deals

You should never pay full price for the furniture you want. Apps like Honey let you test coupon codes to save money at checkout when shopping online. And if you’re shopping in-store, see if there are any floor models–they often come steeply discounted with minimal damage.

If you’ve fallen in love with a piece of furniture you absolutely can’t live without, take a picture and shop around for similar items elsewhere. Plus, you can always come back for the piece if you decide that it’s a good fit. That allows you to mull it over and decide if it’s the right move for your budget.

3. Repurpose secondhand furniture

DIY furniture restoration projects are popular for a reason. You’ll save money, and you’ll also end up with a unique piece of vintage furniture that you carefully restored yourself and also sustainable. Visit your local auction house or estate sale, roll up your sleeves, and get to work on a one-of-a-kind design project.

Check out second-hand stores like Goodwill and the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, as well as looking on Facebook and Nextdoor for good deals on furniture that just needs a bit of elbow grease. Keep in mind that you’ll have to spend money on paint stripper, primer, stain, hardware, paintbrushes, and other supplies if you decide to take the DIY route.

4. Design one room at a time

Patience is a virtue that I was not born with. But in the case of interior design, it pays to furnish one room at a time. Good furniture is pricey, and it’s easier to budget for one room rather than an entire home. That way, you aren’t biting off more than you can chew or taking on debt you can’t repay.

If you’re just getting started with your design overhaul, start in the smallest rooms that require less furniture first. The bathroom is a good test of your interior design budgeting skills because there aren’t a lot of big furniture pieces. Of course, if you want to do a large-scale remodel, then a bathroom overhaul is going to get more pricey, once you factor in materials and labor.

5. Know when to save and when to splurge

A simple rule of thumb: Splurge on decor that will last a lifetime, and save on trendy pieces that will make your home look contemporary and stylish. When choosing furniture, you should look for something classic and durable. It should last generations and outlive the changes in decor trends.

It’s smart to splurge on long-lasting furniture, but you should search around for good deals on accessories that can be changed out when the latest trend is retired. A quick trip to TJ Maxx or HomeGoods, and you’ll find plenty of contemporary accessories that won’t last more than a few seasons.

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