When it comes to interior design, and how our interior space makes us interact within the space, it’s important to consider the materials, colors and light. All of these factors can be done on a budget or they can be done expensively – it’s important to understand how much you are willing to spend on your interior design. To make matters complicated, furnishing a room or an entire home doesn’t always happen in one fell swoop. Many of us start with the basics we need then choose to add on, collecting here and there, before our interior design is deemed “complete.” Regardless of how you choose to design your interiors, and regardless of whether you choose to do this yourself or work with a professional interior designer, it’s important to have some sort of budget so that your expenses are something you and your family can live with.

Your interior design budget will be greatly influenced by the size of the room (or size of space), the type of furniture and furnishings you wish to purchase, your desired timeline, and whether or not you use a professional. Your personal style will also influence the budget. If you have a passion for French antiques, prepare to spend a lot of money. If you’re fine with whatever pieces are on sale at your local stores, your budget will be quite different.

Even in situations where you want to take on most of the interior design yourself, consulting with an interior designer can be a wise investment. While you will be adding up-front costs, learning from an accredited professional will likely limit headaches for you later. Many interior designers are hired to not only furnish the space but make interior changes. For example, you may want additional electrical work done for lighting or want to change the entrances and exits of a room. Interior designers can draw up plans and hire subcontractors to complete the work. Before you begin your project, consider the following factors that may play a role in your interior design budget.

Know what you want and what you need

The costs of an interior design job can vary widely depending on the scope of the project. Having specific ideas in mind before starting is key for avoiding overruns. If you are bringing a professional to your project, have an interior design contract drawn up that states the services your designer will provide. Any ambiguity can become a potential source of higher costs down the line. Do some homework beforehand and be honest with yourself about what you want and need for the space. Within your contract you can include a layout of all plans detailed down to drawings of your desired designs. Being able to show examples of what you have in mind will help you and your contractor when planning your design.

Crunching the numbers

Coming up with a budget means you first have to decide how much money you can comfortably spend on the project. You have a few options in terms of what type of project you’re willing to undertake. For example, you can hire a professional for one task with a specific cost and timeline or keep them on retainer.  Some interior designers can also help you with interior decoration and may add a percentage fee or mark-up fee to goods purchased. Before hiring a professional, have a clear understanding of how he or she charges for their time and be clear with your budgetary goals and guidelines.


Staying within budget sometimes means compromising on certain things. Top-of-the-line materials not only carry a higher material cost, they can often have a higher shipping fee, longer lead time and possibly a higher installation cost. If your budget is tight, you’ll want to see all the costs involved with your selected materials or furnishings before you purchase. You may find that you need to make certain compromises to stick within your budget.

Financing your project

Say you don’t have the cash to front your interior design project but you have been dreaming of this for a long time. You can still make your dreams come true with a little financing from your bank, credit union, or other lender. These days, it’s pretty easy to take out a home improvement loan or home equity line of credit at a decent rate. But like any loan, make sure you have a very clear understanding of the long-term costs associated with the advancement. Understanding if this type of loan is a good idea or not means doing your homework and speaking with professionals.

Cut down on labor

If your interior design plans call for lots of skilled labor, your costs will be higher. Doing installations yourself may take you longer but can save more money. If you think that you will be doing a lot of the work yourself, be realistic about what you can accomplish. For example, don’t purchase custom cabinetry and then try to install it yourself. Select an off-the-shelf cabinetry system that is designed for the layperson to assemble and install. Some manufactures may insist upon their own installation in order for their warranties to be valid. Always check with the manufacture regarding DIY projects.

What to do when the unexpected happens

Home improvement projects can have a couple bumps along the way at times. That’s why it’s important to plan for every eventuality and budget for extra items, services, and labor, so you have a cushion in the event things don’t go as you thought. Interior design projects often involve multiple teams and every touchpoint along the way is a potential source of delays or increased cost. Try to leave about 20% extra in your budget to cover these unexpected occurrences, but also talk with your interior designer throughout the project to keep on top of the job and find out where potential risks might be.

Top Image Credit: NB Design Group