Essential Tips for Your Interior Design Budget Breakdown

When creating an interior design budget breakdown, follow these essential tips:

☑️ Itemize every project expense – materials, labor, fees. A detailed budget breakdown prevents surprise costs.

☑️ Research regional rates. Material and labor costs can vary greatly by location. Get quotes from local providers.

☑️ Include a 10-20% contingency. Pad your budget to account for unforeseen expenses that often arise during design projects.

Setting an interior design budget is crucial before starting any project. A clear budget helps manage expectations, prevent cost overruns, and appropriately allocate funds. When hiring a professional interior designer, be sure to discuss your scope of work and define interior design expenses upfront to inform the final budget.

Especially for interior design beginners without first determining your decorating project budget, it’s difficult for an interior designer to provide accurate quotes and ensure your vision aligns with realistic costs. Discuss your interior style goals, must-have features, preferred materials, and overall scope with a designer before finalizing your budget. This allows them to give informed cost estimates for the project based on your needs.

Factor in all potential interior design expenses like contracting, permits, furnishings, lighting, flooring, appliances, and more. Pad estimates by 10-20% to allow for contingencies too. Setting a clear interior design budget at the start enables you to stick to your spending goals and avoid budget-busting surprises down the road.

Why consider interior design expenses guide?

This comprehensive guide outlines the key steps for determining an accurate interior design budget. It explains why setting a clear budget is so crucial before starting any interior design project.

The article provides actionable advice for interior design newcomers on how to partner with a professional designer to align on scope, costs, and quotes. It covers best practices like:

  • Discussing your design style goals and must-haves upfront
  • Researching expected material and labor costs
  • Getting multiple designer quotes to compare
  • Building in a 10-20% contingency cushion
  • Being flexible to adjust scope if needed to meet budget needs

Several sections offer insider tips on red flags to watch out for when working with designers on budgeting. It also explains what to expect from a designer when re-evaluating an over-budget plan.

With clear guidance and checklists for calculating square footage, estimating costs, and sticking to your budget, this article empowers interior design novices. It helps set realistic expectations for budgeting any home refresh, remodel, or redesign project.

The well-researched, step-by-step approach makes this guide a must-read for anyone tackling their first interior design project. It provides a budget-savvy blueprint for achieving your dream home within your financial means.

5 red flags to watch out for when adjusting an interior design budget

  1. Designer refuses to make any changes to the scope or product selection. They insist you must stick to the original plan, regardless of budget concerns.
  2. Designer makes dramatic substitutions or eliminations without consulting you first. They change your must-haves without discussion.

  3. Designer does not provide revised quotes and budgets when the scope is scaled down. There is no documentation on how the new plan aligns with your budget.

  4. Designer does not communicate timeline or lead time impacts of product changes. You are left unaware of new delays.

  5. Designer seems unwilling to work with you to creatively find solutions. They show no flexibility or ideas for bringing costs down.

The right spatial designer will collaborate with you to align an over-budget interior design project budget. Watch for any red flags that indicate inflexibility, poor communication, or disregard for your budget needs.

Total Square Footage

Having an accurate measurement of the total square footage is crucial for coming up with an interior design budget.

This helps determine the appropriate amounts of materials and furnishings needed.

What to Expect from the Designer

The interior designer will measure the total square footage of all rooms included in the project scope. This should include:

  • Wall to wall dimensions of each room
  • Irregular nooks and alcove spaces
  • Entryways and hallways
  • Inside closets and storage areas
  • Other lived-in spaces like attics or basements if relevant

The designer should use a laser measure or tape measure to get precise room sizes. They will tally up the total square footage and note it in the quote or proposal.

As the client, double check that the total square footage seems accurate based on the rooms included. This is a key number that informs budgeting and material quantities needed.


Define Your Design Project Budget

Your scope impacts your budget. A cosmetic refresh costs less than major structural changes.


  • Painting vs. knocking down walls
  • Buying decor vs. gut renovation

Read more: Tips For Finding Best Interior Designer

Define Your Design Project Budget

Define Your Design Style

Your interior design style preferences directly impact your project budget. Certain styles inherently cost more due to materials and labor involved.

Contemporary Style

This modern minimalist style uses pricier materials like metal, glass, concrete and stone. Custom fabricated furniture and lighting also add cost. Smaller contemporary spaces can be designed for $150-300 per square foot.

Traditional Style

Features like wainscoting, moldings, and ornate trim raise labor costs for this classic style. Shop antique stores for one-of-a-kind vintage finds within budget. Expect $100-250 per square foot.

Eclectic Style

Mixing eras and influences allows flexibility to incorporate both high and low-end elements. Focus splurges only on statement pieces, saving on supplementary decor. Target $80-180 per square foot.

Farmhouse Style

Distressed wood, galvanized metal, and vintage accents can be sourced affordably. Simple carpentry cuts labor costs. Budget $50-150 per square foot for this casual style.

Talk about your preferred design style with your designer early on. They can tailor recommendations to styles that align with your budget parameters. Keeping your style expectations realistic is key for staying on budget.

Have a project to design? We know how to do interior design effectively >

Factor in Contingencies 

Pad your estimate by 10-20% for the unexpected – repairs, changes, delays.

Key steps: square footage, scope, material costs, labor rates, contingencies. Stick to your interior design process and budget!

A wooden dresser with a mirror in front of it.
A wooden dresser with a mirror in front of it.

Calculate Total Square Footage

Having an accurate measurement of the total square footage is crucial for estimating the materials and costs for your interior design project.

What to Expect from the Designer

The interior designer will measure and calculate the total square footage. This determines how much of various materials you’ll need, including:

  • Wall decorations
  • Furniture
  • Flooring
  • Paint

The designer should use a laser measure or tape measure to get precise room sizes. They will tally the total square footage and provide this information in their proposal.

Why Total Square Footage Matters for interior design project

A bedroom with a chair, a lamp, and a vase.
A bedroom with a chair, a lamp, and a vase.

As the client, knowing the total square footage helps you:

  • Evaluate if the designer’s measurements seem accurate
  • Understand how material quantities and costs are estimated
  • Ensure the project stays within your desired budget
  • Use a laser measuring tape for accuracy. Or, measure manually with a standard tape measure.
  • Measure from wall to wall – the full length and width of each room.
  • Include awkward nooks, hallways, closets and other spaces in your total.
  • For rooms with vaulted ceilings, measure the floor space only, not the full cubic area.
  • For staircase spaces, measure the floor footprint only, not angled areas.
  • Round your final total square footage number up slightly to have a buffer.

 Track Your Measurements

Use a notebook to record measurements for each room and tally the total square footage.

📝 Room📏 Length x Width🟰 Total sq. ft.
Living room15 ft x 18 ft270 sq. ft.
Kitchen12 ft x 10 ft120 sq. ft.


Accurately measuring and tracking square footage is a key first step for any interior design project. This helps inform your material quantities, costs, and overall budget.

Define Your Design Scope

The scope of your interior design project greatly impacts your overall budget. A narrow, cosmetic scope costs far less than major structural renovations.

Narrow Scope

For a surface-level refresh, the scope may include:

  • Painting walls
  • Hanging new artwork
  • Buying decorative accessories
  • Adding window treatments
  • Updating fixtures like lighting or faucets

This cosmetic scope has lower material costs and labor needs.

A wooden desk with a chair and a vase.
A wooden desk with a chair and a vase.

Broad Scope

For an extensive redesign, the scope may cover:

  • Knocking down walls
  • Moving plumbing or electric
  • New cabinetry and counters
  • Luxury appliances
  • Custom built-ins and millwork
  • Flooring replacement

The structural changes require more materials, permits, contracting, and expense.

Evaluate Your Needs

Analyze how much change you want vs. needs. Prioritize must-haves first in your interior design scope.

Clearly defining your scope sets expectations for the budget and final result. Discuss options with your designer.

How Do You Know Your Home Needs a Makeover project? You can find out in Home Makeover Guide.

Research Material and Labor Costs

To create an accurate interior design budget, thoroughly research expected material and labor costs.

If you are into DIY we have entire page how to learn virtual staging software

Gather Material Cost Estimates

  • Flooring – carpeting, hardwood, tile, etc.
  • Countertops – granite, quartz, marble
  • Cabinets
  • Furniture – sofas, beds, dining sets
  • Decor – art, mirrors, lamps
  • Textiles – pillows, curtains, rugs

Search home improvement sites to find price ranges for different materials in your area. Expect higher costs for premium brands and materials.

Understand Labor Rates

  • Contractors – electricians, plumbers
  • Carpenters – for built-ins, custom woodwork
  • Installers – flooring, countertops, wallpaper
  • Painters
  • General handyman services

Lookup average hourly rates for labor in your region. More experience demands higher rates.

Budget for Extra Costs

Don’t forget added expenses like:

  • Permits
  • Disposal fees
  • Sales tax
  • Delivery charges
  • Parking permits

Thoroughly researching all expected material and labor costs will lead to the most accurate interior design budget.

Factor in Contingencies

When establishing a budget for your next interior design project, it’s wise to pad estimates by 10-20% to allow for unexpected expenses.

As a professional interior designer will tell you, there are often hidden costs that arise during the design process. Building in a contingency provides crucial wiggle room in your project budget.

You’ll be glad you budgeted extra when unforeseen issues like these come up:

  • Repairing problems behind walls or under floors
  • Change orders and additions to initial scope
  • Vendor or shipping delays increasing lead times
  • Mistakes requiring rework or returns
  • Cost overruns from contractors going over their budget

The size of the room and scope of your interior design and decorating project will influence how much contingency you need. A minor living room update may need 10% extra, while a whole home remodel may need a 20% cushion.

Discuss contingency needs with your designer when first establishing your preliminary budget. This helps set realistic expectations for what you’ll be able to accomplish.

Leave contingency funds untouched until truly needed. With careful planning upfront, you may be able to stay within your initial budget. But having that extra wiggle room provides peace of mind just in case the unexpected happens.

Smart budget planning is key for every interior design project. Factor in a contingency to avoid budget-busting surprises!

interior renders from tallbox

Have a project to design? We know how to do interior design effectively >

Compare Designer Quotes

When hiring an interior designer, get bids from at least 3 professionals to compare rates. But look at more than just cost when evaluating quotes.

Ensure Alignment with Scope

Carefully review if the quote’s proposed scope of work matches your interior design goals.

  • Does it cover everything you want to furnish and remodel in the space?
  • Are any must-have elements missing from the scope?

Ask designers to revise quotes if the scope doesn’t fully align. Get revised quotes before finalizing your budget.

Factor in Experience

Consider a designer’s background and years in the industry. An experienced professional with 10+ years of interior design projects may have higher rates but provide value through:

  • Knowledge of building codes
  • Construction insights
  • Vendor relationships for better pricing
  • efficiency guiding the design process

Weigh experience with costs to find the best fit.

Review Their Portfolio

Make sure the designer’s style and past work fits your aesthetic vision for the space. Compare how well each candidate’s portfolio matches your desired design style.

Balancing cost, experience, and portfolio is key when evaluating and comparing designer quotes. Look at the full picture when selecting your interior design pro to stay within budget.

Adjust Budget If Needed

If designer quotes exceed your budget for designing, carefully re-evaluate your scope and wish list. Focus on prioritizing must-haves first, then see what’s feasible within your total realistic budget.

What to Expect from the Designer

When quotes come in over budget, a professional designer should:

  • Review the full scope and budget with you in detail
  • Suggest ways to scale back less critical elements
  • Present alternative materials and labor approaches to reasonable budget
  • Revise quotes and scope outlines accordingly
  • Communicate any required changes in product lead times
  • Guide you in making choices to meet the new budget parameters
  • Should not start chaning their design fees – if they do, this is a red flag

An experienced designer won’t compromise on your must-have features. They will work flexibly to bring your vision in on budget through scope adjustment and value engineering.

Communicate openly with your designer so they understand exactly which elements are highest priority to retain if downsizing the project. By partnering together, you can find the right balance of design elements within your total reworked budget.

Review Scope

  • Could you scale back the scope to focus on key rooms first?
  • Are there any parts of the project you could DIY to save on labor fees?
  • Is a phased approach possible, spreading the work over time?

Discuss adjusting scope with your designer to align with your budget to cover home design services.

Look at Material Options

  • For countertops, compare quartz vs. natural stone for price points.
  • With furniture, look for quality craftsmanship at mid-range price points.
  • Weigh custom built-ins vs. ready-to-assemble pieces to save.

Prioritize must-have fixtures and labor first when planning to spend. Then look at potential savings on finishes and decor.

Determining your budget

Determining your interior design budget takes research and realistic planning. Follow these key steps:

  • Measure square footage
  • Define scope
  • Research costs
  • Get designer quotes
  • Set contingencies
  • Adjust as needed

Setting and sticking to your budget prevents surprises and helps you achieve your dream home design vision within budget.

With careful planning guided by a professional designer, you can craft a budget-friendly blueprint for your next home project.