How to create (and stick to) an interior design budget

Designing or remodeling your home doesn’t have to be stressful or break the bank. When you determine the true purpose of the project, set a comfortable budget range, and partner with a designer to create your desired aesthetic, the design process can be both enjoyable and gratifying. Read on for our tips to build – and stick to – an interior design budget that will allow you to create a beautiful yet functional space.


Before you begin work on a budget, it’s important to become more informed about the project you are taking on and connect with local interior designers.

  • Find your style. Get a feel for the types of furniture, finishes, and accessories you are most drawn to and the price range in which they fall. Peruse catalogs, browse designers’ images online, and most importantly, visit local design stores nearby to see things in person.


  • Meet with a designer. We recommend you meet with at least 2 or 3 interior designers whose style or work you like. Many designers offer a free consultation; so don’t miss this opportunity to further educate yourself before setting your budget. Come to the meetings prepared with your list of questions; they will likely have several questions for you. Take a look at our previous post, “How to Find the Right Interior Designer for Your Home”, for more tips on selecting a designer.


  • Set a range. Think of the research you are doing as pre-budget ball-parking. Determine a general range so you have a starting point when setting the scope of the project and finding a designer. Research is important here because the type of sofa you might like doesn’t cost what it did 10 years ago! Be sure to include design services in the budget you’re considering. This process will help you set reasonable expectations and create realistic plans within the amount you are willing to spend.


Source: Casa Spazio


After you are empowered with a bit more information, add some structure to the dreams you have for your space.

  • Determine the purpose. What is your design goal? Do you want simply freshen up your interiors, are you looking to make functional changes like adding storage or redesigning a specific area, or are you interested in a major renovation? When you start with a strong purpose in mind, it makes budget allocation for your interior design project much clearer.


  • Take a look at what you have. Think about the pieces you already have in your home. What do you absolutely want to get rid of, what could be repurposed, and what you would like to keep as-is? This will give you an idea of what you will need to purchase and what pieces you will expect your designer to include in your new space.


  • Rank items. Rank the things you currently own or have installed in order of importance. Putting your priorities on paper helps you see what is truly important to you, and helps maintain that focus throughout the design process. Think of the improvements in three categories: what is absolutely essential, what would make you want to spend more time in the space, and what would your dream space include.

We highly recommend you include your designer in the above process. They can help you step-by-step and bring clarity to your thoughts, and they will likely have ideas and/or recommendations that you haven’t yet considered.

Source: JamesThomas Interiors


Work with your designer to create a more detailed budget utilizing their expertise and knowledge paired with your priorities for the space. Put your research and top-ranked items together to create a budget with estimated ranges you’ll want to spend.

  • Make estimations. Determine what items are needed, from cabinetry to lighting to furnishings, etc. and calculate estimates. If you have a limited budget, but ample seating in the living room is important, allocate more toward seating to get that sectional you need, but go less expensive on a coffee table.


  • Consider statement pieces. Once you’ve thought about function, consider allocating more of your design budget to items that will really “make” the room and add value to your home. In almost every design project, one has to choose priorities carefully.


  • Add extras. The cost of a design project is more than just the physical items – you have to consider labor, delivery, and other extras. The beauty of having a designer on board is that they can help you estimate additional costs and give you alternative options when needed.


Throughout the design process, there will be compromises you must make due to budget, time, or availability constraints, so it’s important to prepare yourself accordingly.

  • Maintain some fluidity. This creative process will require you and your designer to review and rethink different aspects of your plan. Keep this in mind and be prepared to reallocate parts of your budget as you find things you love.


  • Take your time. As much as you might love to snap your fingers and have a beautiful, functional new space, there is value in taking your time to find the pieces that are just right for you. Additionally, spacing things out into phases can help with budgeting.


  • Prepare for the unexpected. A designer will help the project run smoothly, but there are bound to be small surprises that come up. Leave some extra funds (and patience) for these changes to avoid any added stress or confusion.

Designing the interior of your home is exciting and rewarding if you prepare properly and set the right expectations. Ready to dive in? Start your research on Refined Haystack by viewing local sources and discovering Chicago-based interior designers that match your style and budget.

Guest post by Refined Haystack — your guide to the best in local design. To begin your search for an interior designer, visit Refined Haystack’s curated guide to the top design talent in the area.

Written by @properties
@properties Christie’s International Real Estate is Chicagoland’s #1 brokerage. Through our affiliation with Christie’s International Real Estate, our network spans nearly 50 countries. No matter your real estate needs, we’ve got you covered.