How to Budget for a Home Decor Project – Plus Free Spending Tracker

How to Budget for a Home Decor Project + FREE BUDGET TEMPLATE

Are you ready to learn everything there is to know about setting a budget for a home decor project, how much it will cost and how to keep up with everything? Luckily, you’re in the right place. I have prepared a fillable spreadsheet to track your entire project from start to finish. Additionally,  I am giving you as much possible information as I can about properly planning for the project so that you can do it right the first time and save money on mistakes. #buyitoncebuyitright

First, I’ve written an update on my One Room Challenge progress, but if you have already read it, scroll on past and get to the goodies.

On a Side Note…

It’s Week 2 of the One Room Challenge and I am rolling right along with the dining room. Have you visited the other hosts and participants? There are beautiful designs brewing with tons of talent behind them. Check it out at One Room Challenge.com.

What is the One Room Challenge?

In case you’re new here, the One Room Challenge, is a forum to share the transformation process of one room in your home. It provides accountability and a support network of other bloggers. I followed along wide eyed for a few years and last year I used the challenge as an opportunity to update our Guest Bathroom – I painted the vanity navy and (how to) painted the vinyl floors to look like trending cement tiles.

Related Post: Navy & Gold Bathroom Makeover and Traditional Blue and Green Dining Room

If you’re following #oneroomchallenge or #bhgorc on Instagram you can watch all the fun (and mishaps) in real time. Make sure you check my Instagram Stories daily for tips, updates and to help vote on design choices!

Why & How You Should Budget for a Home Decor or Interior Design Project

Do you buy random pieces every time you stop into Home Goods stores? Are you overwhelmed with half finished projects and incomplete rooms?

Or maybe you you aren’t unhappy with the rooms in your house, but you want them to feel complete. Do you have great ideas in your head of what you want your bedroom to look like and you have 100 pins to back it up, but it just isn’t coming together. Enter planning and budgeting.

You should set a budget for every single home decor makeover, renovation, design project and write it down because without a plan:

  • it is really easy to overspend without a plan
  • you don’t keep track of the expenses on purchases
  • forget to figure in labor costs
  • you don’t have enough money to finish the project
  • end up with random decor items that don’t fit together
  • you waste your hard earned money
  • it takes longer to complete the project
  • the project never gets completed
  • you spend a lot more money than you expected to finish the room
  • or you have no idea how much you’ve spent in total

Am I resonating with you? Have you done this time and time again? Have you started a project and bought things you think you love, but somehow the room still doesn’t look complete? I’ve been there- a lot of times.

Enter the Budget for a Home Decor Project Tracking Spreadsheet

Luckily, I am sharing a sample Home Decor Budget Tracking spreadsheet to help your next remodel or design project. It’s a basic template (google doc) that you can copy and paste into your own spreadsheet and add lines as needed, edit the amounts, and add in dates and notes. So before you start buying things for your next decor project, read on and come up with a plan.

HAVE A PLAN

Have a plan. A written plan. In order for this budgeting method to be successful you need to have a written plan. Again, you will save money (and time) by taking the time up front to write out specifically what you want the room to look like and what furnishings you plan to buy. Do it right the first time and only spend the money once.

In order to get the plan right, you need to do a little prep work. We are going to cover:

  • how to nail down your home decor style
  • determine how you will use the space
  • what the space is lacking in serving your needs
  • settle on what work you will hire out or DIY
  • make a purchasing list (and enter it on the spreadsheet)
  • set an exact budget dollar amount
  • track your spending as you work on the project

KNOW YOUR STYLE

Knowing your decor style can save you thousands of dollars. Head over to Pinterest and take another look at all of your pins and write down the things you love about them. What do they have in common? Make your must have list.

Take a style quiz: Design Society of America has a great quiz.

A style quiz is a great way to determine what you love. Are you traditional, coastal, eclectic, scandinavian, modern, mid century, cape code, french country, boho? From there, you can determine the types of pieces that fit into that style. By decorating to the style you most enjoy (don’t worry, eclectic covers it all), you will save money by not buying extraneous pieces that don’t fit into what you truly desire.

For example, I really love the simplicity of all white, clean and uncluttered Scandinavian decor, but after trying to achieve it, it felt flat. Why? Because I love color and patterns and bold, bright things with antiques and decor tchotchke collections. (I have a plate wall in the dining room and a giant cheetah next to the mantle).

I can appreciate the farmhouse style, but I know I don’t want to live with it. On the same note, there are really great mid century modern pieces that I adore, but I know they don’t fit into my ideal style or the style of my home so I don’t spend money on them.

CONSIDER THE STYLE OF YOUR HOME

This is a controversial topic. It gets a lot of backlash from home decor bloggers. After all you should do what you love and make your house into the home you want it to be. In some ways this is accurate, but from a design perspective, you aren’t doing the home any justice by decorating the inside in a completely different period than the roots of the home.

For instance, turning the inside of a craftsman house into a beach house is confusing. Not to say you can’t add decorative touches that bridge both styles, but making the entire scheme or the interior something else isn’t true to the house and no matter how much decorating you do, it isn’t going to feel right. It will always be slightly off.

I’m sticking to my guns on this one. It’s okay if you disagree, but really investigate the style of home you have and how it lines up with your style preference. Can you make the two complement each other or will it be an overwhelm of farmhouse when you enter a traditional colonial. Will guests be confused walking into an Italian villa when the exterior is a sprawling modern window box.

HOW WILL YOU USE THE SPACE

In keeping with your personal style preference and the structure of the home, you need to consider how you will use the space. Depending on how much you are willing to spend, you may be able to make modifications to the space or meet your needs in larger ways by knowing how you will use the space.

After all, the space must function and that should be your number one priority over decor. You can add decorative pieces that are functional if you address the things that aren’t working up front. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Which room is it? How do you use currently the space?
    • list the tasks you complete in the room
    • i.e. laundry room- laundry detergent supply storage, hanging clothes, washing machine and dryer space, ironing board storage
  2. What is the room lacking in function?
    • no drying rack, nowhere to fold clothes or store empty laundry baskets, door gets in the way of the room, it is all white and bland
  3. What are proposed solutions & limitations?
    • Add cabinets above the washer/dryer for detergent storage, free up space for a wall mounted drying rack, discard ironing board and iron because it takes up usable space, swap out for a pocket door; add wallpaper, artwork and new lighting
  4. Can I afford all of these modifications?
    • yes- I can install builder grade cabinets, DIY the paint, wallpaper the room myself
    • no- I need to save for a contractor to install pocket doo and for new light fixtures

Should I proceed with the project with or without professional help?

    • If you can afford to have an architect, designer and contractor, you should proceed with consulting them. They have the expertise needed to help fulfill your goals for the space, make the best use of it & ascertain if the modification are even doable.
    • If not, don’t despair. DIY can get you a long way and a small contracting budget can also make huge changes.
    • There is no reason to not make changes because you cannot afford professional help. But, you should do your research and make wise investments with your sweat equity and money. Consider scaling back the project. For example, don’t attempt  full kitchen renovation without help if you want to change the layout but don’t have plumbing or electrical experience. If you can afford to hire these out, problem solved. If you cannot, save for them and proceed with the things you can change- painting, painted cabinets, declutter & organize, add artwork, swap out cabinet pulls.
    • Lastly, do your research on everything. There are articles, books, Youtube, and blogs to answer almost any questions you have whether it be about lighting plans, artwork size, or furniture size and placement. Knowing these answers up front will help you plan the shopping list.

MAKE A LIST

Now that you have assessed the space, how you use it and what is lacking or what you desire to change, you can begin making a list of items that you already have and intend to buy. You can use the Budget Spreadsheet to list these things and their approximate cost.

Download it here: {Design Project BUDGET Tracker Spreadsheet}

A note on cost prohibitive- just because something is cost prohibitive now doesn’t mean you shouldn’t list it. It may be a reality at a later point, or you may find an alternative that you can swap out for the more expensive solution.

HAVE A SET DOLLAR AMOUNT BUDGET FOR YOU HOME DECOR PROJECT

Similarly to having a “buy it” list, you should have a dollar amount assigned to the project. For the laundry room example, my budget could be $500.00. I know exactly how much cash I have to spend right now. I will list all of the amenities needed and an approximate cost for each.

Once you begin sourcing and purchasing, you should update the spreadsheet to ensure you are staying within the confines. If one item comes in higher than you projected, you should decrease the cost of another item. Alternatively, you can scratch something off of the list or increase your budget (if you can). I firmly believe in working towards being debt free and not going into debt over decor. Use available cash, not financing my make these purchases. (This doesn’t mean not to use a credit card for online purchases and pay it off immediately. I do this to avoid my checking/debit account from being hacked).

TRACK YOUR SPENDING

You’re half way there. You know exactly how much you plan to spend so you can now begin tracking how much you’ve actually spent. By now you should have downloaded the {Design Project BUDGET Tracker Spreadsheet} and entered each part of your home decor project into the item column.

Then, you can adjust the plan as needed, i.e. you’ve entered that light fixture & it cost double what you budgeted, so you should reduce another line item to stay within budget.

If you haven’t already, grab a copy of this sample budget tracker I’ve made for you. It is a GoogleDoc. You can use the google sheets doc, copy and paste into your favorite spreadsheet program or download the csv version for excel.

Download it here: {Design Project BUDGET Tracker Spreadsheet}

CSV: Download as CSV version file (ie Excel)

Screenshot of budget spreadsheet for home decor project

HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?

The number one question I am asked is, “How much will the project cost?” This answer is based on your design and can vary greatly depending on your personal finances, and if you are starting from scratch or you have pieces to work with already.

Because having a budget is vitally important, I am going to give you a ballpark cost for a dining room design (because I am redesigning my dining room for the One Room Challenge; I know I switched it up with the laundry room example).

This a mid range price, meaning you can find quality pieces within these price points and if you already own the pieces of furniture or art, you will come in well below this figure. Buying some pieces second hand is another way to stay within the mid-range budget.

Dining Room Cost

ItemQuantityCost
Table1$1,500
Dining Chairs6$1,200
Chandelier1$1,000
Sideboard1$1,200
Rug1$750
Mirror + Art2+$1,000
Accessories10% of total cost$650
Total$7,300

Are you in shock? I know, it sounds crazy that it’s nearly $10,000 for a dining room plan. If you were to add up all of the furniture in your dining room (or living room), you likely come in around that amount. The difference being that you purchased items along the way so it you didn’t have sticker shock.

WHY IS IT SO EXPENSIVE?

I hear you. “Why are the prices so high? I redecorated by entire living room for $1500.00 at XZY bog box store.”

Furniture costs are an easy category to go over budget or have unrealistic pricing expectations. I have chosen realistic prices to give you a little bit of wiggle room for quality furniture. I know you ultimately don’t want to waste money, so the best advice I can give is to spend more now (i.e. save up so you have a larger budget) to buy quality furniture that will last because paying twice for the same thing costs more than doing it right the first time.

You may still be thinking that you have that inexpensive furniture piece that has lasted, so it must be okay to save again. Ask yourself, Do you love it? Will it last to pass on to your children? Is the style something you still love? Still it in good condition? Made of solid hardwood?

If you answered yes, then you got a steal. But I imagine, for the most part, the answer to one of these questions is that it simply does not have the longevity that a quality piece of furniture will have. (Think large pieces- dining table & chairs, sofa, kitchen cabinets, formal living room chairs).

Lastly, I did not include labor costs in this budget. If you have to move electrical, add plumbing, demo walls, pay for painting or wallpaper installation, the cost will go up. I’ve kept it strictly to furniture.

The good news is that you now have an idea of how much the cost will be so that you can save/plan accordingly. You don’t have to go out and buy it all at once. Take time to source quality pieces that will be in style for a long time so you get longer usage. Slowly incorporate new pieces to complete your design plan.

*HOW TO SAVE MONEY*

If you are on a tight budget, I almost always recommend thrifting versus buying a cheap box store item. You can paint or refinish thrifted furniture and accessories, knowing that the frame is solid wood.

  • buy secondhand
  • buy vintage, solid wood for main pieces
  • paint, refinish or stain wood
  • reupholster solid wood frame seating
  • splurge on those main pieces and save on accessories
  • secondary furniture pieces (end tables, night stand, drink drops, lamps) can be bought at discount retailers (wayfair, amazon)

DINING ROOM PROGRESS

Lastly, I’ll wrap up the update on my ORC progress of my dining room redesign. Honestly, I haven’t made as much progress as I hoped. Some of the most time consuming parts like installing trim and scheduling a wallpaperer didn’t get done. I’ve made calls and left messages, I’ve ordered some of the product, but mostly, I’ve been accessory shopping.

blue dining room paint

PAINT: Benjamin Moore Prussian Blue

I did prep and paint the dining room walls! I sprung for Benjamin Moore Prussian Blue in a semi gloss and it is glorious. Also, caulk covers a multitude of sins- I’m looking at you gaps.

I ordered the chair covers and curtains. After seeing both up close, I may swap them out for less pattern on the chair and tone on tone curtains.

As far as accessories go, I picked up some great thrifted finds, consignment pieces. Also, I shopped around my house for vintage items that will complete the sideboard decor and drinks tray.

UPDATED CHECKLIST

  • install chair rail and other trim work around the room.
  • wallpaper the top half of the walls with a fun green pattern.
  • paint the lower half of the walls blue.
  • upholster the end chairs. *I may change the pattern I chose*
  • purchase & hang curtains for added color and a finished look.
  • find a rug, lamps, vases, trays & accessories to tie the room together.

Related Posts: Traditional Blue and Green Dining Room

How to Pick the Perfect Size Chandelier 

Best Affordable Baskets and Crates for Home Decor

How to Style a Coffee Table + 18 Coffee Table Styling Ideas

UP NEXT

That’s all for Week 2, but I hope you will check back in next Wednesday for week 3, where I will have an entire post dedicated to Rules for picking the Proper Size & Placement of pieces in a room you are decorating.

And here is your last chance to grab that Home Decor Budget Tracking Spreadsheet. Download it here: {Design Project BUDGET Tracker Spreadsheet  or CSV: Download as CSV version file (ie Excel)

In case you haven’t popped by any of the guests blogs, here they are below:

At Home With Ashley | Casey Keasler | Dorsey Designs | The Farmhouse Project | Home Made by CarmonaHouse of Funk | House of Jade Interiors | House Seven Design | House That Lars Built | Inspired by CharmJana Bek | Jessica Brigham | Kelly Golightly | Murphy Deesign | The Pink Pagoda | Sarah Gunn | Sherry Hart Designs | Sugar & Cloth | Veronica Solomon | Vintage Revivals | Media BH&G | TM by ORC