How to Create a Budget for Interior Design

One of the very first, and most important conversations I have with a potential client concerns the budget for an interior design project.  It's probably no surprise that no one likes to have the "money conversation," but it's a critical part of how we assess the scope of a project.  Designers have a certain {ahem} reputation for spending freely when it comes to client's checkbooks, so it stands to reason why clients have an inherent unwillingness to talk numbers.  Trust me, though, it is much better for the designer to understand the real budget from the beginning; it directs from where we source, the level of customization, and ultimately saves everyone time if it's all out in the open from the get-go.


Sometimes, clients really have no idea what their budget is, or they have a number in mind, but don't know if it will "cover" their project.  When this is the case, I ask them to do a little exercise:  If it's a room they need furnished, I ask them to make a list, and delineate how much they would expect to spend on each item:  a sofa, some chairs, a rug, lighting, art, accessories, etc.  From that information, a basic budget is created, and gives us a good sense of where the client's comfort level is in terms of price point.  

When a client is endeavoring on a large renovation, addition, or entire new build, they often plan for the construction portion of the project, but not necessarily for the furnishings to fill the new space.  I've encountered people who forgot to carve out some of their renovation budget for furnishings, and were frustrated when they couldn't afford to furnish their home on a similar scale.  As a general guideline, I suggest clients take 30% of their construction budget to calculate an amount for furnishings and design services. That way, they're not disappointed when they have a brand-new addition or home, filled with furniture they'd like to replace.

Since we're all about making life easier for clients, or anyone mapping out a budget for a home design project, we put together an easy-to-use Budget Calculator for Interior Design.  See below!  Happy Planning! -- Alison