decorating on a budget

What Does it Cost to Furnish a Room?

I wanted to give some straight talk today about pricing.  One of the common questions I'm asked during my consultations is how much does it REALLY cost to furnish a room?  The answer to this can best be compared to what it costs to buy a car.  Do you want a used Toyota that can reliably get you around for the next couple of years?  Or do you want a brand new Lexus with all the bells and whistles?  The costs associated with furniture mainly has to do with the quality of the piece and the old saying "you get what you pay for" totally applies to furniture. Here are some photos to represent what I'm talking about.  The first room will cost you about $3,000 and the second one would be about $15,000.

Ikea Family Room

Jennifer Taylor Design

Can you tell which one was professionally designed and which one was purchased from a big box store?  The IKEA room (top photo) is pretty and functional, but the quality of the furniture isn't the best and it's rather simple.  Not a lot of color or texture.  Ho hum to say the least! The second one features two custom sofas, a room size wool rug and details throughout.

I tell my clients that a starting point with me is around $25.00 per square foot.  This includes good quality upholstery pieces, a few designer pillows, framed prints for the wall, most of your accessories will be from Home Goods and no custom window treatments.  If you increase your budget to $45.00 per square foot then that gives you upgraded down cushions on the upholstery, unique designer accessories, a wool area rug and custom window treatments.  Then, there are those designers who suggest $100 or more per square foot.  I'm not one of those.

Honestly, most of my clients stay around $35.00 as I consider myself really good at mixing high and low items to get the perfect mix in a room.  Another thing to consider is this budget does not include interior design fees.  These are totally separate from the furnishings budget and I'll talk about those in a later post.

So, where do you start if you want to tackle a project on your own?  Spend more on pieces that will get the most use - sofas, dining tables and mattresses.  Spend the least on items that you can easily change - throw pillows and accessories.  Make a list of each item you need for the room and assign a budget to that piece, even if it's a range.  You can search online and use catalogs to help you figure this out.  Once you have a budget you are comfortable with, then commit to the project and start shopping!

If you need help with the shopping part, then call your favorite designer to help.  Most of us are really good at finding those perfect pieces.  Can you imagine leaving your house for the day and coming home to a completely decorated room?  It can happen, just like on television.

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Decorating Like a Pro {on a budget}

One of my favorite blogs to read is Copy Cat Chic.  Reichel Broussard has an uncanny ability to find the "cheap" version of higher end furnishings and posts them on her website.  I love finding new sources for more affordable pieces for my clients here.  Mixing high and low is not only key to successful design, but it's more budget friendly.  Here is one of her most recent comparisons. Copy Cat Chic - budget friendly design at Jennifer Taylor Design

Copy Cat Chic - budget friendly design at Jennifer Taylor Design

I always advise my clients to invest in pieces that get the most use - sofas, breakfast tables, bar stools - as less expensive sometimes means not as good a quality.  So once those items are checked off your list, then that's where the fun part comes in shopping for all the remaining pieces.

For rugs, I like using Rug Studio.  They often have sales and shipping is free on almost all their rugs.  They also have a very good search function that allows you to really narrow down the choices to what will work in your space.  I needed an outdoor rug for a client who already owned furniture with orange/rust cushions, so I was able to search by size, style and color to narrow it down from almost 40,000 options to only 287.  If you are ever unsure about ordering a large rug, order the smallest size they offer and use that as a sample.  Your only out-of-pocket expense is returning it back, which is way less than returning a room size rug that wasn't all you thought it would be.

Another favorite is Target.  Not only do I love shopping here for those great finishing touches - decorative pillows, towels, picture frames and lamps - it's also a great place to pick up accent pieces of furniture.  Interior Fun came up with this amazing mood board with only items available at Target.  The Nate Berkus and Threshold lines are some of my favorites.

Interior Fun Mood Board - budget friendly decorating ideas - Jennifer Taylor Design Blog

Another great designer secret is taking ready-made drapery panels and adding some custom details.  The easiest trick is adding decorative tape to the leading edge of panels like Chinoiserie Chic did here.  Linen draperies give you the biggest bang for your buck and are available everywhere these days.

Budget Friendly Ideas

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