Preparing an Interior Design Budget

Keep your interior design project in control by planning ahead.

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.