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How an Interior design studio approaches budgeting for projects.

Updated: Nov 22, 2020

Start with an excel spreadsheet, not Pintrest!

In the past 4 weeks, I've seen a huge uptake in clients looking for advice on undertaking a home extension, where to start? what are the potential pitfalls? So with this in mind, I've put together a brief piece on the key points to consider before embarking on your house renovations, a kinda "how-to" approach the budget like a design studio.

I’ll give you tips on how to save and when to splurge on fixtures and fittings but most importantly help you create a home that is a true reflection of your personality.

Initially, I would recommend you create an excel spreadsheet labelled with each space you are looking to "upgrade". List every item in that room from the floor up, tedious but I promise you it will pay dividends. Once that master list is complete, look at the adjoining rooms, are they also in need of a refurb? Will this upgrade make them feel like the ugly sister? If so they could become part of the second phase of works which at this stage will form a separate budget but must still be considered in the first phase of interior design.


Kitchens are your big-ticket item, the average size kitchen costing 25 - 40k with the split looking like - Cabinetry - 50%, stone/worktops - 40% and the remaining 10% on appliances. When looking at the fabulous bathrooms I create are on average 5 - 8k for the product and tiles with the installation a further 6 -8k depending on your tile lay choices. With each of these projects, if considering in isolation, I would always ensure your boiler can work with the new bathroom products you hope to install. If you are considering underfloor heating this too will require a larger capacity boiler. Should you need to upgrade the boiler this will substantially affect your budget.

Building the space

With budgeting under your belt, it now comes down to the build and implementation of the designs. The old rule of three quotes for every job is one I would like to think has saved the day on many occasion. Not just as an obvious price comparison but to compare the line items in each quote. As what one contractor will include as standard and others will make a charge for.

Also, beware the hidden costs!!!

You may think that painting the walls in the new kitchen seems like a great idea to save you a few precious pounds but when it needs to be painted and finished within 3 days to meet the installation date of the cabinetry the money saved will not feel worthwhile.

As a design studio, we ask all our trades to quote from a set itemized brief, outlining the materials, style of works and the timelines required. When looking at the quotes give yourself time to research and digest the information. Most trades, work to 4-6 week deadlines and once they break ground (start knocking walls down) they will expect to have the new bathroom, kitchen, tiles and finishes waiting for them to install. If these are a further 4-6 week you could be charged by the builder for this time

Living with the mess

Once you have adapted your mindset that you will be going ahead with the works, your interior designs are complete and you have your new furniture and appliances on order. Its time to put your existing furniture into storage all be it in the garage/ shed/spare room. Alternatively, we often suggest to clients that they sell the unwanted items since they have a full furniture package on order that they are 100% certain will fit in their home the old beds and console tables will make a great eBay sales, all funding the new furniture.

Box up as much of your everyday surroundings as possible seal these boxes and stack in an unused part of the house, limit yourself to live small whilst the works are taking place, as this will save the amount of time you spend cleaning each night once the brick dust settles.

Finishing touches

Now, this is the most fun part, however, this is where the budget usually goes out the window, you pop into your favourite emporium on the high street and think nothing of spending £80 on a vintage-inspired plant pot only to come home and find its way off the mark in your industrial-inspired kitchen.

My tip to clients is set yourself a budget and a wish list. I create a visual shopping list on my phone of the items I’m looking for e.g.: vintage glass vases, x2 large x1 small. Then research how much these will cost new. This then acts as my sourcing bible. Great places to search for accessories for kitchens and bathrooms are charity shops, car boot sales, antique fairs and also Facebook market place.

Pre-build consultancy

If you've read this far your probably feeling overwhelmed and I don't blame you as a studio we create on average 12 bathrooms and 6 kitchens every year and we learn something new every day. Which is why we are so proud to launch our new service the pre-build consultancy, we aim to highlight the potential pitfalls when undertaking a house extension before you break ground. Within this 2 hour session, we examine the architect's plans, with a view to futureproofing your home. Focusing on how you will live in the space on a daily basis.

Our key objective is to ensure each room scheme works together with design continuity. Once the session concludes we send you over a full video link to watch back at your leisure as the information comes thick and fast and we don't want you to miss a beat. Head over to our services page and hit the contact us tab to book your session and get your project underway.

For further household, money-saving tips do head over to the lovely Kara's your best friends guide to cash blog, she's got all the advice you could need on making a big-ticket saving on a daily basis.

That’s all folks! I really hope you found the piece interesting, and as always I’m happy to answer any further questions you may have or head over to email – All images & mood board copyright are owned by Emma merry styling except where noted. Please make sure you credit and tag if you use them. Thank you. x

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