Budgeting for an interiors project is, in essence, quite dull. Spreadsheets full of very dull columns (insulation, who knew how much that could cost!), not to mention the dreaded ‘contingency’ budget, which, let’s face it, is always the one that take you by surprise. But the more that I design and project manage, the more important I’ve discovered it is to budget. And by budget, I mean REALLY budget.
Good interior design is rather like an iceberg; you don’t see most of it. Well, not if it’s done well. From day one, you have to have an idea of where a piece of furniture will go so that you can make sure the first fix electrics are in the right place. You need to choose the colour of your internal window finish weeks before the windows arrive, which means you need a good idea of what the wall colours might be. Planning isn’t just a consequential what needs to be done by x for y to happen, it’s all about the money.
Assuming money is finite (it usually is) from day one, there are difficult decisions to be made. The huge part of your budget will not be on paint, or chairs, or lighting, or tiles. It will be on the foundations of a room or house. BUT the thing that makes that project finished, are the paint colours, the chairs, and the lighting, and yes, the tiles…. what I’m saying is, don’t forget about them. Or leave them out. Or think ‘I’ll deal with that at the time.’ Whilst raw concrete can be a lovely feature, raw breeze blocks, exposed wiring, and all the ply are rarely a real aesthetic choice. Glimpses of them, sure, but not all in. An interior finished in breeze blocks, is a project that ran out of money.
So from the very first budget that you draw up on the back of an envelope, include flooring. And lighting. And the fitting for each of these so that you can really understand where the money is going to be spent. It may be that you fall in love with a tile that costs £6 each, and there is another ‘quite’ nice one for £3. It’s half the price. But then you add in fitting (fixed whether you go for the fancy tile or the cheaper option), and suddenly the difference closes. It’s not double at all, the tile that will make you smile every time you open the front door isn’t so much more after all.
From your tradesmen asked for a fitting cost. It will depend where you are in the country, whether they include the materials, the grout etc.. etc… but make sure you compare like for like.
When it comes to lighting, it’s so easy to not include it in a budget. Or to just put a pendant in the centre of every room and be done with it. There are table lamps if you need more right? Well, depending on the extent of your interior project, if re-wiring is in the mix, then put wiring in for all the lights. Historically I have had a healthy dislike of wall sconces (I mean, the name itself leaves a lot to be desired), but there are some really fantastic modern options now…
Another thing to consider, is functionality of a room. I love pendant lights over a dining table, they add atmosphere and flexibility… but what happens if you have a party? And the dining table gets moved to one side? If wine is involved there will be head-butting of said light fittings, and since so many of them tend to be glass, this could be not only expensive, but quite dangerous.
The one thing that CAN wait when it comes to budget, is furniture. And of course, that’s the last thing that you want to wait for. When your interiors project is finished, be it big, be it small, you’re going to want to sit in a comfy chair, chosen for that space specifically and enjoy the finish… but, if money is tight, make sure that you spend the money on the things that you can’t change first. And that don’t involve tradesmen coming back to change a light fitting. Trust me, you’ll be tired of people walking through your house.
Final check lists for budgeting: