How to create a budget for your design project- and why it is important to your investment!

Cheryl Kees Clendenon Details, In Detail Says 3 Comments

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 A budget is necessary!

In the real world with our #realpeoplelivehere attitude- we know most people have a budget for just about everything  from buying a house to buying a dress. There has to be a budget range where you feel comfortable pursuing your goals in a design/renovation/new build project.

(But hey while  this is true for most of us-  please put us on speed dial if you do not have any budget limit whatsoever! We need to meet! )

Working with a design firm is similar to working with an Architect to design a new home- how will they know what to design to be built if no budget parameters are set? Likewise we do not know what the threshold is for where to begin the design work if we have no idea of what you want to invest.

We can work magic in most reasonable budget ranges but it becomes a longer and more costly design process and frustrating for everyone if there are no guidelines. We do not want to show you ideas out of budget but by the same idea we do not want to show you “all” lower budget ideas either as often it is a matter of balancing the “high low” aspect of each project to achieve the desired results. Trust is important- do not be shy about talking numbers. It is critical to a good working relationship. 

Making a project an investment and not an “expense”

Now I do understand people might not grasp what certain things will cost at the outset- but whether you are redoing interiors for your own personal enjoyment and function or you are redoing a kitchen or bath or building a new home- it is still an investment in your happiness and well being ( and sometimes sanity!) a value to your home or hopefully- of the above! And who wants to make a poor investment?

How do you create a budget when you do not know what your wants and needs will cost?

There are ways to create a budget specific to your project but you need to first start with what the range of spending feels comfortable to you for the particular goals you want to achieve. We help clients with this every day but regardless of our experience in determining budgets, we really need to get a feel for what you are willing to invest in the particular project. This is important from the outset of the design process and as we get into the project further, we can hone in on more specifics. 

4 Steps to determine a reasonable budget range

  1. Serious discussions with spousal/partner unit if you have one-

What are you both willing to agree to invest? Try to  come to some general agreements. This is a secondary business I could open- marital counseling! All too often couples come in and they are at odds with one another and this is just not productive and seriously spoils the cool experience you are about to embark on!

      2.Develop a wish list and divide it into 1,2,3 in terms of priorities-

Even if you both want to have a column on this- it helps us to see priorities and we can also direct you to some degree in this as some things are not a big deal to do later so maybe become a 3 but other things are much more costly to NOT do when you begin a renovation or even just a new style for a room.  And be extravagant a bit and include wishes you think you might not be able to afford- but might give us insight into your overall goals.

     3. Look around at what things cost if doing furnishings- lots of information out there but lordy turn off the tv and the reality shows- unrealistic expectations will get you poor results!

An example of real costs- for an interior one room project

Ok- so what would a living room interior project cost?

As a general rule- an average living room furnishings project including window treatments for one large-ish window is going to be a minimum of  $15,000 excluding design fees, sales tax or any labor to install. This would include a sofa, 2 chairs, custom window panels for one average size window, coffee table, side tables, console, rug and also $1000 for accessories and lamps.

It  will be with  less customization yet still from our lines that are great companies and PEOPLE- this is consistent with Pottery Barn or such pricing- and of course you would get much better style- and-who wants catalog decorating??

soft and serene living room

This living room is more than $15k but it is  larger than you see here,  had a big wall of windows, more expensive fabrics and leather and original artwork.

Have we done living rooms for less? Yep, depends on what you have already and your style- routinely our beach rental projects are less expensive but usually we are using items that are not custom and are from our retail shop.

coastal remodel blue living

This living room was done for a bit less than $15k excluding new flooring!

And then the price can go up- and usually does as most living rooms are not average or they have more windows, or need lighting, or need a larger sofa or sectional or labor of some sort other than installation of windows treatments and the new furniture. We service clients across all spectrums and budgets, with and without kids, large spaces and small- and doing more custom will end up closer to $20 to $25k.

We love to work with out of town clients on full service plans and design execution and have had great success in this – read about it here.

Bathrooms and Kitchens

Bathroom and kitchen total guts typically are harder to budget without determining all the labor costs and are very site specific-  but in a very general way- a typical small bathroom 5×10 can be anywhere from $12k to 20K and up depending on labor costs and a master gut can easily be $25k to 50K  and up –  subject to many factors and final selections. We can help with this and assist in making the best decisions for the biggest bang for the buck- but it takes some initial planning to get hard costs.

We priced out a kitchen budget remodel here  and it was just shy of $37,000 with the client doing some of the work! That is on low end for a kitchen remodel for sure.

budget kitchen blue white

A beautiful small kitchen remodel under $40K!

   4.Think about a budget as an overall investment but can be ok to do in phases- with the right plan. And getting the right plan and design concepts is where a good experienced designer can save you money. Not to mention qualified execution especially in construction projects!

Seriously- we do this for a living. I hear the tales of woe and bad purchases or poor decisions every day. Yes it costs money to hire a designer- but is worth it when you consider your expenditure as an investment- in your sanity, happiness with results, pleased with function and end goals.

We do phased projects all the time- but only when we can settle on an overall plan from the beginning. A plan is one that incorporates the layout, the design concepts, the fixtures, furnishings, ideas – you name it- all under the “plan”.

brick cooking alcove black hood

This is a photo of a kitchen we designed 10+ years ago and recently refreshed with new lighting, bar stools and accessories along with redoing the dining and family room! We want to build relationships that last!

We just get it ok?

Not all designers work the same way. We assess your needs in a wide variety of project types, then offer you a flat fee for design and plans and sometimes managing the project as well- then also a minimum expenditure. Why does this work best? Because we have a retail shop too and are buying at the lowest level with our carefully curated lines.

We offer a win/win

This is our take on it- you will be purchasing the items anyway- why would you not let us handle it when we promise in our contract with you that our pricing will be virtually the same as you can find elsewhere on most items?

Of course there are details to this but are goal is the win/win. This ensures our expertise in making sure the design elements are right for the project- meaning size, color, design attributes- we handle all the hassles and deal with vendors ( and subs or contractor in the case of construction), follow up and track orders, coordinate multiple vendors and then show up and transform your home!  In the case of construction, this is a more lengthy process and more detailed on management of each design element and execution but our approach is the same-whether it is a small project or one of the larger projects we design and manage from the ground up-  we got you covered and it will be done with our 10 step process regardless of size or total expenditure.

The key is to know what budget range you are going to be most comfortable investing in the project and discussing this from the beginning of the design process.

This is our firm’s business model by and large- unless doing plans only or remote E Design jobs-  and even then are selective on which projects we will engage in.  Read about it more from clients here and here and here!

Call us to chat!

850 437 0636 and ask for Liz!

Comments 3

  1. Terrific post, Cheryl, in terms of educating everyone about how you work, and the importance of having a realistic investment goal in mind, when beginning.

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