Do you have an “unfinished” room in your home?
There are lots of reasons decorating projects get derailed. One of the most common reasons is the burst of the budget bubble.
You have big plans for your room and mentally add up the costs, figuring it is totally doable. But, quickly reality sets in as you actually start spending money on the space. You overspend in a few areas, thinking you can save in others. You realize you forgot to budget for a few things. You figure you can spread the costs out over time. But, usually the room never gets done.
It might surprise you, but it is not the furniture that causes the biggest sticker shock when decorating. It is all the other things that add up fast.
When you mentally budget for a space, you generally earmark a decent amount for furniture, but then you figure you can do the rest for some small slush found amount. The problem with this kind of budgeting, is when all is said and done, you run out of money before you feel the room is really complete.
The other stuff, the stuff that adds up fast, is what gives the room all its personality. To do it right, you need lots of those smaller ticket items to really pull the room together.
Let’s look at an example for a living room makeover.
You need a new sofa, a pair of chairs, and a coffee table. The ones shown here would run you about $2000 total.
The room is off to a good start, but it needs a little more oomph to make it awesome.
After spending $2000 on the big pieces, you think you are in good shape. With a budget of $2500, you still have hundreds of dollars to spend on the pretty stuff. Good deal, right?
To finish off the room you need an 8×10′ rug, 4 curtain panels, decorative pillows, a pair of lamps, and art for above the fireplace. You could get all these “budget-friendly” items for $975! Gulp… that is way over budget (remember, you only had $500 left).
Pictured (affiliate links): Moss Logan Chair, Henry Grand Sofa, Plank House Coffee Table, Indoor Outdoor Fretwork Rug, Etched Grid Curtain Panels, Elegant Peacock Art, Teardrop Luxe Lamp, Cane Navy Embroidered Pillow, Knotted Yarns Pillow, Floral Embroidered Pillow, Steven Alan Abstract Crewel Pillow
If you look at each individual item, the prices seem reasonable, and trust me these are on the lower end of the price spectrum. But, all together it adds up…fast! And, you’ll notice we didn’t even get to all the small accessories.
5 Biggest Budget Busters
- Curtain Panels
- Decorative Pillows
So what do you do?
Always plan for all your decorating costs. Don’t assume the “little” things can be taken care of with money leftover after you buy the big things. It rarely works out. Tweet this!
What should you budget?
Well, decor prices vary as widely as decorating styles, but here are the absolute minimums I recommend. On a rare occasion, you may find a better deal, but I wouldn’t plan on it. And, the prices go up from here depending on the quality and materials you want.
Rugs – $250 minimum
This will get you an 8×10′ rug, either an indoor/outdoor rug or a rug ordered from an online discount retailer. To get started, see my favorite sources for rugs.
Lighting – $75 lamp, $150 pendant, $250 chandelier
For $75 you can get a big box mix and match lamp base and lamp shade. To get started, see my favorite sources for gourd lamps.
For $150 pendant lights are a great budget friendly alternative to chandeliers. To get started, see 45 of my favorite pendant lights for under $250.
For $250 you can get a basic chandelier.
Curtain panels – $30-50 per panel minimum
For an 84″ unlined panel budget a minimum of $30 per panel. Add $10-20 for 94-96″ length or for any sort of black out lining. For the best look, always opt for 94-96″ panels to go floor to ceiling and make a standard 8 ft. ceiling look taller. To get started, see my favorite sources for curtain panels under $50.
Art – $100-200 minimum
This is the most nebulous of them all. The bare minimum would be a $100 for a piece larger than 24×36 from a big box store, and it will likely be an unframed printed canvas. This is why DIY art and wall decor is so popular.
Decorative Pillows – $20 minimum for cover, $15-20 minimum for down insert
For $20 you can get an 18×18 pillow cover only in home decor weight fabric (Etsy is an ideal source for pillow covers). For an extra $15-20 you can get a down insert (see my secret to getting pillow inserts for even less). If you can sew a straight line, I recommend making your own pillow covers (watch my video to see how). You can make two 18″ pillows with a yard of home decor fabric (which you can get for as little as $10 a yard).
Yikes, What If You Have No Money?
These minimums basically make a $500 makeover sound impossible, I know.
So, what do you do if your budget is less than $500?
Shop around…a lot. Consider DIY and second-hand. Then, prioritize what you really need to make the biggest impact in the space.
For example, in a dining room where privacy isn’t an issue, you might skip curtain panels in favor of a great rug and art. In the bedroom where you have wall to wall carpet, skip the rug in favor of curtain panels and decorative pillows for the bed. In the living room, make some DIY art so you can splurge on a pretty pair of lamps.
You have to learn to make tradeoffs.
For more examples, see my secret recipe for low budget makeovers to find out where you can get your biggest bang for the buck.
- One Heaping Spoonful of Pattern
- A Pinch of Bold Color
- A Dash of Fun Lighting
- A Handful of Fluff (optional)
- Spread the pattern out on a large surface like a rug or duvet cover. Sometimes curtains work, too.
- Drop in a pinch of bold color on art and decorative objects. Don’t add to much, but use it in at least 3 places around the room.
- Add a dash of lighting with a fun task lamp, table lamps, or candle sconces or holders.
- Optional: Sprinkle on a handful of your favorite fluffy decorative pillows.
When you are planning out your next decorating project, don’t forget to properly budget for all the pretty things including a rug, decorative pillows, curtain panels, lighting, and art. Remember the minimums I recommend here are pretty much the lowest you can get away with. If that is still out of the budget, make trade offs or look for DIY ideas.
What is the one thing you always forget to budget for?
Get a Free Copy of my book "Free Decorating"
"This book is so inspiring, I'm a self confessed "decor" addict, I buy anything I think "may" work only to take it home and be disappointed. After reading this book I can't wait to shop my own home and make more meaningful purchases." - Cori I.