Decorating budgets

The most common question I get asked is “How much will this room cost?”  Setting your decorating budget is always a challenge for homeowners. They may have a set amount of money put aside but they have no idea how much things cost or how to allocate the money so that everything gets done. I always tell them that we won’t know how much it will cost until we have created a decorating plan.


Custom woodwork in new construction, modern, relaxed living room. Added custom board and batten paneling to a living room in new construction. Combined with a modern color scheme and comfortable seating for a relaxed, informal living room.

Custom recessed panel wainscoting and a modern, moody color are enhanced by contemporary lighting to create a dining room for daily use or for special occasions.

During my first meeting with any client we discuss the functional needs of the space. We talk about things like:

  • how will you use the room
  • what activities will happen there
  • how many people will it need to accommodate
  • are there pets or young children
  • what’s working for you in the room
  • what’s not working for you
  • what pieces of furniture do you intend to keep in the room or re-purpose from another part of your home

Based on the answers, I will create a scale drawing of the room and place furniture in the plan to meet all of their needs. Once they approve the floor plan we have a shopping list of what pieces I need to find for them to complete the plan. Based on my experience and knowledge I am able to provide an average cost for each item. Once these are added up we know what the approximate cost of the room is.

Next we talk about budget and whether everything can be done at once or if we need to divide the project into phases to make it financially comfortable. I know it is more fun to do a room from start to finish but that is not always possible. People need to realize that their dream room can evolve over time as their budget allows.

The rooms above looked like this (below) for a while. It took some patience to get them to their completed state and the homeowners are now taking some time before we start on phase 2: their master bedroom and family room.

We combined traditional trim work with modern colors and lighting

Recessed halogen lights and board and batten paneling add character to new construction.

I hope this demystifies the budgeting process and explains why, if you ask me on the phone for a ballpark estimate for the cost of your new family room, I simply can’t give you a satisfactory answer.

How do you set a decorating budget? . . .First you need a decorating plan.


If you would like help creating a welcome home, contact me at 443-812-6339 or at Don’t live in my area? Ask me about e-design.