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  • Writer's pictureSarah Pence

"How do I decide my ideal budget?"

"What's your ideal budget?" is one of the very first questions I ask a potential client. It's also the question that most, if not all, of them dread. The most common response is "Oh, I have no idea. What's a good number?". Well, unfortunately, I can't decide that for you. What I CAN do, however, is help you figure it out. Only you know your financial situation. My main goal in all of this is to make sure you are comfortable with the budget plans we set. The last thing I want you to do is get half way through your design project and realize that you're in over your head. This is why we start here. The only good surprises are the ones that don't cost a penny, my friend.

When I sit down and work through a budget plan with a client, there are some very important things that I will walk through with them and consider:

1. Create a design plan. This is where we discuss your vision for the space. Are we going to start from scratch and purchase all new furniture? Are we looking to simply give it a little face lift? You'd be surprised to find out how quickly those little things like decorative shelf styling items can add up! They ALL need to factored into your budget.

2. Space Planning. This helps me to determine how many items we are going to need to complete the space. We need to consider each surface, floor covering, and window treatment. Do you need a coffee table? What will we put on it? The corner by the window - do we want to add a live plant? Don't forget the pot! EVERY. SINGLE. ITEM. needs to be factored into your budget.

3. Quality. I work with clients from all walks of life. From military families with many moves ahead of them with young children and pets in tow to retired couples looking to downsize to a well decorated smaller home. We have to consider the function and purpose of each space when select furnishings. If you've got little kids and pets you may need to consider something made with more durable and easy-to-clean materials. High-quality specialty fabrics are worth every penny, but they will cost a premium.

4. You can only pick 2. I'm sorry, but you can't have it all. Quality, price, and timelines all matter. I wish I could tell you that I can provide high-quality items at a cheap price and have them to your home by next week, but unfortunately that's just not the case 99% of the time. Keep in mind:

High-quality + Quick - won't be cheap.

Quick + Cheap - won't be high-quality.

Cheap + High-quality - won't be quick.

5. Make a list. I have a list for EVERYTHING. In fact, I have a list for my lists! When I sit down and compile a detailed list of everything we will need for a project, I mean EVERYTHING. Then, I take it a step further. From that list, I create 3 more - low, medium, and high. I like that I can show my clients the price and quality differences in items across these 3 categories. It's a great way to show where we may have some "wiggle room" in the budget and to see exactly where every bit of their money is going. No surprises, remember?

6. Other costs to consider. You thought we were done, right? Not quite. Now that we've worked through your design plans, carefully listed everything we will need to execute it, and broken it down into subcategories, there is one more step we need to remember. This is what I refer to as "the cost of doing business" - tax, shipping/freight costs, design fees, and accessories. There isn't much we can do about tax and shipping/freight costs, but we do want to be sure we are figuring ALL of them into your totals when ordering. Design fees will vary. If you're working with a large design firm that can offer warehouse receiving and delivery, you're going to likely pay more than you would if you're working with a small business owner like myself. [Keep in mind that either way you are paying for not just a service, but an advocate. We go above and beyond for our clients to be sure that they are pleased with every step of the process and sometimes that means hours of our day on the phone to find you the best items at the best price!] Lastly, don't forget the accessories! That side table next to the gorgeous re-upholstered and upcycled chair we placed in that sunny window spot you love? It NEEDS something on it. Remember, they all add up and we don't want any surprises. Unless it's cake. Always take the cake.

My best advice? Start small. If your budget can't support your plans, curb it for now until it's more affordable and focus on a smaller space or one that doesn't require the same amount of cost. It's always best to approach each space with intention and a solid plan. Your budget plan is such a valuable resource and one I am always happy to work through with you to make sure you're starting your project off on the right foot.

Dream. Create. Inspire. One space at a time.




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