How do I stay on budget with interior design?

By Dotty Brothers | June 3, 2021
How do I stay on budget with interior design?

We love talking to clients about their dream homes. We get to hear about their hopes and dreams for their home, of course, but also for themselves, their families, often extending for generations. That’s the kind of home we design and build, and whether it remains a family landmark for generations or not, it’s built to last that way.

At some point in ever conversation, we have to shift from talking about dreams to talking about numbers: the budget. It’s a topic that can come easily, or it can be a challenge, but it always has to be discussed. Many of our clients have invested and saved for years to be able to make this big plunge, and whether the budget is modest or massive, our job is to maximize it to full effect.

But the budget still exists, and we try to treat it as a hard limit. Which means we have to work together to decide how that budget will be applied. How much goes to the structure of the home versus the finishing touches? Do you add a bathroom, or a workshop, or a secondary kitchen? Part of our design/build process involves balancing the budget with the dream.

Home interior

As part of the design process, we break the budget down into categories, and to each category we set an allowance. The foundation, framing, roof, kitchen, bedrooms, flooring, etc. are each allocated part of the budget. But designing the skeleton of the home is just one part of the process. The other part of the process is customizing it all to the customers’ needs, helping them to work out what the final finishes will be. An interior designer can help with both of those aspects.

We spoke with local interior designer Cassandra Doolittle from Northern Design Co. about what it’s like to work with an interior designer. She’s an interior designer in the Brainerd Lakes area with many years of experience, and we’ve been fortunate to work with her on a few design/build projects.

We asked her to talk about her process, and how she gets projects started, as well as some other topics. On our website you’ll find a series of video interviews with Cassandra, discussing a wide range of interior design topics: her process, what her goals are for her clients, reasons to hire an interior designer, best practices for staying on budget, how to develop and incorporate your personal style, as well as some common mistakes people make that can be avoided with the help of an interior designer. In this video, Cassandra discusses staying within and maximizing your budget.

Home Interior

As Cassandra points out, the budget is usually determined with the builder (that’s us). We work with our clients to determine the overall budget, and then we break that down into categories. For each category, we determine what must be spent to have a safe and functional home and what can be spent on the interior finishes. At that point, someone like Cassandra can really take the lead.

Your interior designer will take time to get to know you and determine your style, wants, and needs. After that, the interior designer will help you complete your dream home without going over the allowance for each category.

A hard limit on a budget gives us a total cap, but flexibility in these matters is critical. If the bulder or designer can help you find some savings in one category, the extra money can be shifted into another area of the home. Cassandra provides an example: If the tile flooring comes in at half price, you’ll have extra money to put into a focal chandelier or the hand-painted custom backsplash you wanted.

This might sound like you have to sacrifice design in one area to get that high-end design that you want in another area. But that is not necessarily the case. When it comes to design, it is possible to meet the allowances for each category and still get a beautiful, functional design. Interior designers use their experience, connections, and industry knowledge to help do that. It is definitely possible to balance the budget with look and function to get your custom dream home. As Cassandra says, “Not everything has to be a Cadillac for it to look like a Cadillac.” If the money is spent in the right ways, your new home can be all you’ve ever wanted.

A lasting, beautiful custom home that comes in on budget? That’s living the dream home!

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