We’ve got an exciting topic for Design 101 this month: Decorative Budgets! OK, we admit it, budgets don’t sound that much fun.  But trust us, understanding how to invest wisely in your home is invaluable.  Our tips and tricks this month will help you figure out how much you can spend, how to prioritize spending, and help you come up with a plan to furnish your home.  If you’re thinking about redecorating a room or your entire house, the budget is the place to start.

How to Write a Decorative Budget



Step One: Start an Idea Notebook

We have shelves of binders, computer folders, and ## Pinterest boards full of design inspiration. You can do this too!  Start collecting photos of rooms, furniture, and artwork that you like.  You can also add paint colors, fabrics, and wallpapers that catch your eye.  Whether you’re putting together ideas in a binder or online, you’ll start to notice patterns in style and color schemes emerging.   These patterns set the tone for your decorative concept.

Playroom copy

Playroom copy

Step Two: Make a Wish List

Think about what kind of furniture you would like for each room that you are decorating.  Which items from your Idea Notebook would you like to include in your new décor? Try to be specific so that you can use this list to set priorities.  For example:

Example 1: Playroom

  • Freestanding Bookcase for Book and Toy Storage
  • Art Table with Chairs
  • Bean Bags or Soft Seating
  • Chalk Board Easel
  • Etc.

Example 2: Master Bedroom

  • King Sized Canopy Bed
  • Bedside Tables with Drawers
  • Hardwired Bedside Sconces
  • Freestanding Armoire
  • Etc.


Step Three: Write a Household Budget

Don’t jump into decorating by maxing out your credit cards!  We suggest starting any decoration project by putting together an overall household budget.  There are several online sources to help you create a budget if you need a little help.  Be brutally honest with yourself by reviewing your inflows and outflows, as well as any money you’ve set aside for a rainy day.  This will give you an idea of how much you can spend on decoration.  If you find that the money isn’t there, you might be able to make your project more affordable by breaking it up into phases.  If money isn’t an issue, you still want to be able to come up with a number that you’re happy spending without suffering from buyer’s remorse.



Step Four: Create a Furniture Layout

Last month, we discussed Furniture Layouts for every room of your house.  Its time to put your furniture plans to use!  Start by placing any existing furniture you want to reuse.  Next, refer to your Idea Notebook and Wish List to see what additional pieces will fit into your space.  You might find that there are things that you love in your Idea Notebook that just will not fit into your space.  It happens.   You might also find that there are things on your Wish List that you want to include in your space, but buying them will blow your Household Budget.  That happens too.  The key is to prioritize your special needs with your Wish List and Budget.



Step Five: Shop

Sorry, that was a cruel trick.  We’re not quite ready to shop.  But we wanted to keep your interest!  We’re almost there!  After you decide what items you want for your space, you’ll want to research prices.  Start with the items from your Idea Notebook.  If you’re unsure how much furniture costs, surf the Internet or visit local stores. Jot down pricing of items on the furniture sheets in your Idea Notebook or start an itemized list.  Many stores will also give you furniture specification sheets that include pricing.  Without this essential step, it’s hard to know exactly what you’ll spend on any particular item.

When pricing furniture, don’t forget:

  • Sales Tax, depending on the state you live in and the state the item will ship from
  • Delivery charges (we typically estimate 10% of the cost of the item)


Step Six: Create a Decorative Budget Spreadsheet

We like to fabricate decorative budgets in Excel, but you can use other programs or handwrite one as well.  Find a method that works to help you stay organized as you start the design process.

Essential items to include:

  • Item
  • Quantity
  • Cost
  • Estimated Tax
  • Estimated Shipping
  • Labor, if applicable (Will you need an electrician?  A wallpaper hanger?)

Happy Spending and Saving.


Next Up:  If you found yourself with sticker shock, or frustrated with your budget constraints, don’t fret!  This month we’ll help you prioritize your project, implement your plan, and show you where to spend and where to save.

READERS: Do you have a budget dilemma?  Looking for a creative solution? Let us know sometime this month and we might feature your project next (and give you a free design tip)!  We love to hear from you.