4 Easy Steps To Develop A Design Budget For Your Home

4 Easy Steps To Develop A Design Budget For Your Home

Cozy modern contemporary living room with Eames lounge chair

4 Easy Steps To Develop A Design Budget For Your Home

Table of Contents

Developing a Design Budget

Developing an interior design budget on your own requires a bit of work, especially if it is your first time.
There is so much planning that goes into each project that can rival a wedding such as products, labour, shipping, taxes, and more. You must put a game plan together with careful planning and budgeting to avoid unexpected costs that can add up quickly and will help keep your project on track.

A well-thought-out budget is critical to a successful design project.

We have prepared this blog to help you develop your budget similar to how we approach it with our clients.
This process will give you a thorough understanding and a good foundation for doing the project on your own — or coming prepared to work with us at Level Studio!

Start your interior design project by researching and gathering as much information as you can. This exercise will help you better position yourself financially and help visualize and communicate your desired outcome.

01 Define Your Scope of Work

You have to come up with the final vision in mind. What will the big picture look like? 
Before you start opening up walls or ripping out your kitchen, you’ll need to gather your wants and needs list.
This will help you develop the scope of work and from here, you can research what’s involved.

Bright white modern transitional en suite bathroom with soaker tub and black vanity

For example,
do you want to retile your bathroom
or the foyer floor?

Look up what kind of material will work best with moisture or in high-traffic areas, understanding variables is also part of the process. A well-suited material for one room can be the complete opposite for another.

02 Develop a Vision, Measure Twice & Plan

After you figure out the rooms you want to do, you’ll need to create a concept and plan to iron out the details.
We recommend measuring your room, including any existing furniture to remain, windows, doors, and anything necessary to your space, then you can determine the entire scope.

Are you renovating the kitchen but leaving furniture for another time?
Did you just move into your new pre-construction home and only need new furniture?
Or is it a full-scale reno with new furniture?

From our experience, most folks underestimate the cost of the renovation so most or all of the money they had allocated for new furniture gets buried in unforeseen issues during construction.

Another common issue is most people don’t add up all the pieces of furniture that go into a room because they usually buy them at different times and have unrealistic expectations of what a room will cost to furnish.

Make a list of
all the decor and furniture in a room like the living room and estimate the cost of each piece that you’d be comfortable spending money on.

Modern and Bright Living Room with armchairs and a round ottoman acting as a coffee table

Add it all up and then cross-reference it with some of your favourite stores to see what pieces you gravitate towards. It’s an eye-opening exercise and we give you the tools to do it at the end of this article.

Start your process by using Pinterest, Instagram, or Houzz to collect and save the inspiring photos you gravitate towards, even if you like an image and don’t know why – save it. 

As you start gathering inspiration you’ll see a relationship between some of the photos you saved and pinned. This will be your go-to as these inspirational photos will help you connect the dots for your furniture layout and plan. 

Ask yourself, are you into neutrals, or do you like high contrast, bold spaces?

Are you considering built-in walls or shelving units, or ready-made pieces?
Do you want a sectional sofa to enjoy while watching TV or a loveseat with lounge chairs across to create a social-like atmosphere? Do you want the space to be open or partitioned for better acoustics and functionality?

Living Room showing armchairs facing a TV and a plant in the corner

The list goes on
and having asked yourself these questions will give you a better vision and plan of how
you want your
space to look.

These questions are essential and need to be asked as they will be factored into the budget.

For example, an open-concept look on the main floor of an older home will most likely require the inclusion of a large beam to support the floor above as you’re most likely removing a load-bearing wall.
Make sure to ask around about what’s involved to do that and what costs are associated with it.

Have you heard of “Measure Twice, Cut Once”?

The same rules apply when developing a plan and vision for your new design space.
You may have trouble understanding scale and size so if that’s the case, we recommend pulling out the old fashion painter’s tape and mapping out the furniture pieces you want.

If you have dining chairs or stools, make sure to give an extra 36” inches of space to pull out. After you have planned most of the furniture, pretend you’re living in it and imagine how you will walk through it regularly.
Will you have space to walk through even with your hands full of groceries or a tray of food?

Once you have everything figured out, go ahead and measure each piece and make a note. Keep these measurements on standby as they will be critical when you’re searching for furniture in Step 4.

03 The ‘Pick 2 of 3’ Rule

Have you heard of the ‘pick 2 of 3’ rule? It’s fairly straightforward. 
There are 3 main points: good, fast, and cheap.
For projects, it’s been said you can’t have all three. 

In most cases, you can only pick 2 of 3.

Do you want GOOD QUALITY with FAST Delivery? Then it’ll most likely be EXPENSIVE.
Do you want CHEAP cost with FAST Delivery? Then it’ll most likely be POOR IN QUALITY.
Do you want GOOD QUALITY with the CHEAP cost? Then it’ll most likely be a SLOW Delivery.

04 Create A List of Needs & Products

Here comes the fun part!

We created a FREE DOWNLOADABLE spreadsheet template where you can input your selected furniture. Since we’ve done this many times, we figured it’d be helpful to document and make your journey a little smoother. If you’re a traditional kind of person, you can also do this by hand since the formula is quite simple.

Use Google to research product prices.
Search for local retail furniture stores that you’re most attracted to and browse their catalog.
Do keep in mind that cheaper furniture may require more time or extra costs to assemble.

You can identify basic things based on your design concepts and inspiration such as your choice of sofa and whether it’s linen, cotton, leather, synthetic fabric, or faux leather. 

Design Budget

The power to envision your design concept and make a game plan is crucial as fabric choices alone significantly impact your budget.

On our Google Spreadsheet, you’ll see your columns: Item, Dimensions, Quantity, Budget, Subtotal, and Notes. The orange rows separate the rooms. You can duplicate these rows and continue to add items. Update dimensions, quantity, and the price per item – once the numbers go in, the total automatically updates.

Note: We left a 10% contingency with your budgeting for any unforeseen circumstances such as delivery and charges, etc. This amount is a safe cushion for when you’re developing a budget for your design project.

We also left an average sum of 15% for accessories that are vital to your budget. The typical estimate is 10-20% depending on your taste. Accessories will also make a notable dent in your pocket and you should actively include them. So go ahead, look at the artwork, coffee table decorations, bookends, down-filled cushions, books, centerpieces, floral arrangements, and even candles/fragrances and list them down!

That’s it! You’ll start seeing how things tally up quickly. We hope this was helpful to your budgeting process!

Our Advice to You

This is a marathon, not a sprint, and it will take a lot longer than you think.
Take one room at a time and limit your scope if you need to. Interior projects have many components that can be overlooked if you’re redesigning for the first time. If you can’t financially support your entire scope, save the kitchen for next year and take on a smaller room. It’s easy to be in the mood to refresh everything with so much inspiration and content everywhere but don’t bite off more than you can chew!

Final Thoughts


At Level Studio, we’re a full-service interior design firm that provides our clients with exceptional service, taking your project from start to finish to create unique, functional interiors. We understand taking on an interior design project can be overwhelming and if you have an upcoming project where you value time and expertise in the industry, reach out to us.

Related Posts