Miss A Columnist

Denise Willard has over a decade of experience transforming the homes of clients in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Northern Virginia. Her work has been showcased on ABC Affiliate, News Channel 8 and published in The Washington Post, Home and Design Magazine, Washington Home & Garden, The Washingtonian, and Elan. She writes a regular design column for Viva Tysons, and has a blog where she shares her interior decorating insights, DreamDesignLive.com .

Denise specializes in creating simple, but elegant transitional interiors that are reflective of her clients' personalities and lifestyles. The combination of her southern roots and urban lifestyle can be seen in her personal design style, which combines the comfort and hospitality of the South with the flair of the big city.

How to Create A Design Budget

One of the keys to a successful interior transformation project is having an understanding up-front of what things cost and what you can afford to spend. If you are moving or considering hiring an interior designer for one or more spaces in your home, here are 2 simple ways to estimate how much your project may cost.

1. You Just Bought A New Home: For new homeowners who want to personalize the interior of their new home, a general rule is to save 15-20% of the cost of the house for design fees, purchases and simple renovations or upgrades. Full scale remodeling projects, additions or the like, will certainly require more than that. For example, if your family is moving into a home that cost $500,000, about 75-100k would be spent on designing the spaces within the home. This may sound like a large chunk of money, considering the down payment and new commitment to a mortgage that are associated with purchasing a home, but when you put everything into perspective there is usually a lot of work to be done when moving into a new home. Some of the core changes that will most likely eat up your budget include painting, cosmetic changes, minor upgrades (kitchen/bath) and buying furniture that fits the space.

2. You Want To Re-do a Room In Your Existing Home: Another way to estimate the cost of a design project is to determine the cost of case goods, rugs, lamps and upholstery items. To do this, look at various retail furniture store catalogs that are mailed to your home (or online) to get prices for sofas, lamps, side tables, etc. Using these prices as the low-end of the range, calculate the upper end by adding 50% to the price for each item. This upper-end represents entry-level designer goods. Calculate this range for each item you will need to purchase for your project and add them together, giving you a lower and upper end price range to work with.

The next step is to determine where your budget fits within the range.  Most clients’ budgets fall somewhere in the middle–which means you can spend more on the core items like beds, sofas, a dining room table and chairs, and less on items like occasional tables, bar stools, and benches.

If you find that your budget will not allow you to purchase all the items on your “wish-list” at once, break down your purchases into three categories: must haves (0-6 months), like-to-haves (6 months to a year) and willing to wait (1 year and beyond). When breaking down your purchases into these categories, remember that the core elements, including main upholstery items, beds, dressers and nightstands, a dining room or kitchen table, dining chairs, a few lamps, basic light blocking/privacy window coverings and wall colors should be completed first, followed by the more decorative elements like rugs, artwork, accessories, and decorative window treatments.

Happy Decorating!


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