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Saturday, February 22, 2014

How much will it cost to furnish and decorate my new home? 6 must read tips for staying in budget!

How much will it cost to furnish and decorate my home? Smart question!
Now, to make sure you're getting a realistic answer -  

It's impossible for a designer to know which sofa, chairs, rugs etc fit your expectation level during the first consultation. Asking for a total is similar to asking a car salesman to give you a price before you've explained whether you want leather seats versus fabric? or a sunroof? or the upgraded tow package? and all the other bells and whistles.

To site specific examples, there have been times when I found an amazing bargain sofa at an outlet for a client, which retailed for $2,800, but was discounted to $900 due to excess inventory. .....but my client fell in love with a  $3,200 sofa by Henredon. Or perhaps I find a great wool rug that's on sale for $590. But the client prefers a hand knotted rug that's $4,800. See how much items can vary in price?

Some furniture sales people will guess, because they know you can't hold them to it, they might give a specific answer such as  "you'll need to allow $11,500 for these rooms".
Personally I prefer to be more upfront by sharing the 6 tips below. Along with some great ways to make your home beautiful, functional, and still stay within budget!

1) If a designer or furniture sales clerk gives you a total budget to furnish & decorate your home, know that the only way this makes since is if you see (and approve) each item, in advance.  

2) Now, for the realistic questions - Are you in a hurry to have the home furnished and decorated by a deadline? Are you impulsive? Know that a good designer can find good bargains, if you're willing to be patient. Do you want in stock items? Or are you willing to wait on custom orders? These all affect the answer to the question, how much will it cost to furnish and decorate my home.

3) For an accurate total cost to furnish and decorate your home, an Excel spread sheet is very helpful....with a list of every item. A low and high dollar amount beside each item would allow you to see what will happen if you are the type to pick the more expensive brands when given a choice. You can use Crate & Barrel, or Pottery Barn, or Restoration Hardware as a guide for retail prices.

4) MOST important - Read Reviews!  Are there numerous reviews for the designer? Do the reviews state things like "they helped me stay within budget", or "they provided good quality brands at great discounts". 

I once lost a client by being honest about how the budget could vary, depending on their decisions about choices. That's not what the homeowner wanted to hear. Another designer lured the homeowners in by telling them what they wanted to hear, a "total cost to furnish and decorate their new home." One spouse was a financial planner, the other was an accountant, so they wanted a specific total.  I totally agree that a budget to furnish and decorate a new home is a valid question. And a detailed spread sheet needs to go with it, along with showing the client the EXACT pieces that are being specified!

As for how the homeowner felt once the other designer finished - I imagine you can guess how it turned out! They told me the designer they hired went 440% over budget, and she was able to justify it by saying she had no way of knowing they'd want to upgrade to higher priced merchadise.
Remember to include floor lamps, rugs, benches, accessories, anything
the room needs to be functional and welcoming. 
5) Ask yourself these questions, then add them to the Excel spread sheet:

a) What's missing from the budget - sufficient lighting for reading? window treatments? enough seating?

b) Does it list realistic allowances? For example, does it list $795 for an inexpensive couch, when perhaps you prefer high end more pricey brands which could range from $2,400 to $3,800?

c) What items are not realistic? For example, did they quote a 5 x 7 rug when the room will look best with an 8 x 10 rug? Is their quote for a synthetic rug when you prefer a designer rug in 100% wool?

d) Did they include good quality items which can make or break the room? Such as large colorful art?

6) Now for the good news - where can you cut corners?
  • can you borrow a piece from another room? sometimes there are new uses for old pieces - check out the blog where we take an old hutch and turn it into an amazing mini bar! 
  • can you recover an existing chair or sofa in a new fabric? (see above or type recover in search box for lots more photos)
  • can a current window treatment be altered or hemmed?
  • can you wait for clearance pieces? or are you impulsive?  
  • does your designer pass on discounts?
  • In a recent review you'll read about how we took a dated looking ruffled valance, (they bought years earlier) and turned it into a tailored clean metropolitan look by attaching it to a board.
By recovering furniture this client was able to save
on her total budget to furnish and decorate

For amazing BEFORE and AFTER rooms updated on a BUDGET - click on this link:

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