17 Steps for Maximizing Your Decorating Budget

Our step-by-step budget guide will help you set up and stick to a decorating budget — without blowing it.

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D2 Interieurs

Plan for Success

What’s the dirtiest word in decorating? That’s right: budget.

Whether you have just a few $100 for a room makeover or tens of thousands, you’ll need to plan carefully and make tough choices to meet your bottom line. But budgeting isn’t all bad news: “Decorating on a budget isn’t about being cheap, it’s about being smart — making informed decisions and getting the best value for your money,” says interior designer Kristan Cunningham.

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Tobi Fairley

Make a Design Wishlist

Give your imagination free reign. “Initially, at least, pretend that money is no object,” says interior designer Angelo Surmelis. Write down everything you’d like to do and buy. Be specific: Rather than just listing “more kitchen storage,” think about whether that means adding more cabinets or just a freestanding shelf. Although you’re indulging in a bit of fantasy, don’t forget to include the practical stuff that needs to be fixed or upgraded. Your fabulous new kitchen won’t look so fabulous if you don’t address structural issues like cracked plaster walls or uneven flooring.
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Jacob Hand Photography 

Familiarize Yourself with Price Tags

Before you draft an itemized budget, hit the stores, catalogs and Internet to research how much each item on your wishlist will cost. If it’s been a few years since you’ve decorated — or if this is your first major home project — expect some sticker shock. Couches, for example, can range from a few $100 to $1000+, so price out sofas that meet your style, quality and comfort standards.

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Shop Around Before Hiring a Pro

“Determine how much work you’ll need to hire out, too,” Cunningham says. If you’re bringing in skilled trades people to paint, hang wallpaper, run wires for new lights, install flooring and so on, get at least three written estimates for each job before finalizing your budget.
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Tobi Fairley

Prioritize Your Purchases

Start itemizing with your decorating wishlist, real costs and total budget in front of you. Maybe that chic wallpaper you’ve been eyeing will need to be nixed in favor of colorful paint. If you have a whole home to decorate, decide if you need to tackle the project by room or category: furniture first, then window treatments, etc.

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