Design Budgets And The Diet Of Spending

episode-115-refinishing-furniture-staining-438-122906Sticking to your design budget can be as difficult as sticking to a diet. That gorgeous antique console you discovered and just can’t live without is the equivalent of a double fudge brownie staring back at you from the bakery case. And it could blow everything if you indulge.

It gets tricky managing a design budget.  There are always going to be pieces you just can’t seem to get out of your mind, whether it’s a sofa, a chest or a piece of art – even a pricey fabric. And while you toil with the idea of that piece being the perfect complement to your design scheme, your design budget is at risk of being thrown out the window.

But there are ways to work around a budget while keeping the design scheme interesting and true to your vision. I like to think of it as a point system. Yes, that double fudge brownie might be a 6 out of 10, but you have 4 points left and you can still make it work.

Spending money on something you fall in love with is workable. For instance, if there is a fabric you feel is the end-all, be-all, but you can’t afford ten yards of it to cover a chair, make pillows. Making pillows is a great way to integrate this pricey fabric, but you will need a fraction of the yardage it would otherwise take to upholster a chair.

If you can, use the fabric on both sides of the pillows. If that still isn’t budget friendly (and boy, that fabric must be pricey!), use it on one side of the pillow, and find an inexpensive, coordinating fabric – perhaps little checks or stripes – for the back of the pillows. This way, you only need about a yard of the pricey fabric, and already you’ve saved your design budget from complete collapse.

If there is a piece of furniture that is a must-have, the rest of the room will have to be adjusted to accommodate this budget-blowing splurge.

Reuse what you have. Cull through the rest of your house to look for pieces in other rooms that can find a new life in the room you’re redecorating. A side table or small chair that can be pulled in from another room will save you from buying something new. And perhaps all it will need is a good paint job to bring it back to life and complement your design scheme. Even that old mirror sitting in the garage collecting dust would be an excellent addition if painted the same color as the wall or in a bright color to match that pricey fabric! An old desk or table is always fresh in a new coat of white paint.

If you can’t reuse something from the rest of the house, readjust your budget for new furniture. If you previously anticipated spending a good chunk of the budget on a coffee table, but now you can’t live without that gorgeous antique chest you saw, there is nothing wrong with mixing a pricey antique with something less expensive from a catalog. In fact, it adds character.

Crate and Barrel is always my go-to place when a budget has been compromised by that must-have 18th century chair. Shop around and you will find many well-made pieces with beautiful lines that are budget-friendly. It’s a great solution after that big indulgence. And it will allow you to find materials that may not be in the room already: metal, stone-topped or lacquered. They can be a super addition to the room and give it an eclectic feel.

Since you have a few points left at this stage in redecorating,  accessorizing that newly designed room can also run up the budget. Go to yard sales. Gather up every porcelain bird you see, for example. Come home and spray paint them white. Group them together on that pricey antique chest that blew the budget, and you have an instant collection!

Import stores always have great sales on accessories which can be grouped together and look sophisticated. Look for the same subjects but in different sizes, but don’t overdo it. Even a pretty tray can add a touch of elegance at the right price.

Just because you are thinking of blowing your design budget with that pricey antique or fabric, give yourself some points and allot them properly and creatively to the rest of the room. You can have that double fudge brownie,  just be sensible and creative for dinner!

July 30, 2009

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Erin Vosti Lal

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