How to Establish a Budget For – and With – an Interior Designer

If you feel overwhelmed, you are not alone. This is the single most common issue homeowners face, whether they are building from the ground up or working through their home space by space. You have a vision of what you want to achieve but no idea how to make it a reality. This is where a skilled interior designer comes in. But that opens up another challenge. Budgeting.

Establishing a budget for and with an interior designer can feel just as overwhelming as creating the owners’ suite, kitchen, or whole home of your dreams. This is where we come in.

Five Tips to Establish a Budget For and With Your Interior Designer

We say “for and with” because, yes, you are allocating money to your design project… But you do not have to go it alone. A trusted partner is an invaluable asset at this stage. Work with your designer; it makes a world of difference.

  1. Acknowledge the Elephant In the Room

When it comes to an interior design project, ideas are flowing and excitement is high. The last thing anyone wants to think about is dollars and cents. Which is exactly why it should be the first thing we think of – and talk about! Budgeting needs to be an early-on and ongoing conversation.

Home & Willow Senior Designer and Founder, Stacy Stater explains, “We try to be very honest and realistic. We have current data on what contractors are charging and are upfront with homeowners. It’s better to allow people to gauge when or if to start a project. We’ve found nothing is more disappointing than trying to make a Filet Dream happen on a Meatball Budget.”

So, let’s bring the elephant out, introduce him round, and make him and ourselves comfortable in each other’s presence.

  1. Recognize the Value of Working with an Interior Designer

At this point, you may be thinking, “Could I save some money and go the DIY design route?” You can. However, take a moment to consider the value that working with an interior designer brings to your project (and home). Those in the trade not only have a keen eye for detail and style but also exclusive access to top products (called “trade brands”), awareness of how spaces work with each other, and a honed ability to value engineer to ensure exceptional results that align with your budget.

Think of your project as an investment, while the budget outlines and itemizes how you will realize optimal returns.

  1. Clarify the Scope of Your Project

Start at the beginning. What do you want to achieve? Even if you don’t have every brush stroke of the overall picture, you know what you want to accomplish – or how you want to feel in your space. Services like Designer for a Day can be immeasurably helpful in both clarifying the scope of your project and helping you establish a budget. With Designer for a Day, Home & Willow comes to your home and starts tackling any design issues weighing on your mind. An interior designer creates a list of ideas and solutions. This way, you can begin filling in the details of your picture and get a sense of overall costs.

At this phase, your interior designer can also assist you in prioritizing projects for maximum impact – and value. If your budget is more Meatball than Filet at this point, for example, you can create a multi-phase approach that will enable you to align your style wants with your budgetary needs and/or mix mid-range with designer level items for the perfect fit.

  1. Understand What You’re Paying for – and How

This should be part of the upfront budget conversation. For example, will you be paying a flat rate for the project or an hourly rate? At which phases/project milestones will payments be made? What is included in your interior design services (consultation, meetings/updates, travel, selections, products/supplies, installation, etc.).

There may be other expenses associated with your project, such as shipping and storage of which you need to be aware. While your interior design team will (or should!) make every effort to clarify all of this for you, never hesitate to ask questions until they are answered to your satisfaction.

  1. Create a Contingency Fund

Experienced designers have connections and contacts with other industry professionals, and we routinely mine relevant data to ensure we deliver reasonable budget projections. That said, in 2021, an ice storm thousands of miles away impacted manufacturing of water-based and hot melt adhesives, which meant delays (often very lengthy) for several key products. To paraphrase the saying, if a butterfly flaps its wings in Texas… an Indiana homeowner might wait several months for a high-end sofa.

We have become agile in anticipating and responding to interruptions, delays, and other “wrenches in the works,” they can still happen – for a wide variety of reasons. A contingency fund is a crucial just in case measure for overages, a style safety net, if you will.

Home Awaits

At Home & Willow, our passion and experience empowers clients to make their house a home. Budget plays a key role in this process, but it does not eclipse your needs, your goals, or your vision. Let’s discuss your project – how our process will lead to your stunning results.

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