The fun part of redoing a living room is the designing of the living room and I did have fun designing. Then there is the reality check known as the budget. That said, a budget can help you realize the dream of the design without feeling the awful pain of buyer’s remorse. There are a couple of ways to approach budget when you are looking at design redo. Both work and I personally use both in establishing my total budget. That said, I always know exactly what I have set aside at that particular moment in time for a particular project. Never start a project without knowing what you have financially available for it.
Pie in the Sky
When I start thinking about budget, I always start with the concept of “If money were no object, what would I do?” Its funny but I find when you start with a scarcity mentality, you often shut off options. But when you start with an abundance mentality, the brain works to find options! In the case of my living room, pie in the sky, I would pretty much not keep anything currently in there. I’d donate it or sell it so it had a good home. But for either emotional reasons or age reasons or style reasons, there really isn’t much that would stay. So, I then made a list of everything I would need to purchase, including paint, molding, trims, etc. Then I sourced it.
Sourcing is basically finding options that you love and would use and getting a price. For me this included finding the exact sofa daybed, hexagon coffee table and mini chair that I fell in love with and reasonable estimate of cost for other items based on well the basics of the item. For example, we want an electric wall mount fireplace, the cool contemporary glass beads in the bottom but not really sure on which one exactly. So I looked up to get an average of the cost for one that was the size and style I envision.
Once I do all my dreaming, I then get the sticker price for my redo/remodeling project. Often times I find myself pleasantly surprised that my pie in the sky dream’s price tag falls right into what my wallet wanted to spend. Other times, as in the case of my furniture eating living room, its way more than I wanted to spend. However, the dreaming did give me a clear understanding on exactly what I really wanted and what I could be flexible in.
I’m a pretty resourceful girl. I have done complete bathroom guts save the tub and toilet for less than $1,000. And while I skimp on price, I don’t skimp on design or beauty. When my pie and reality don’t meet, its time to re-evaluate and scale down.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Furniture
The first part of doing just that is looking at what I already have and see how can it be reused or repurposed or recycled into something new. I’m pretty adamant that my husband and his ex-wife’s couches go. Not only for the ex-wife factor, but they really do not fit the feel of the room, the design or the house. However, he has a wingback and a coffee table and side table set. The wing back can be reupholstered along with a second wingback and a couch I inherited for about 10% of the cost to replace them.
Grade A versus Grade B
Sometimes when I dream, I dream Grade A big. However, when it comes to working on a budget sometimes the Grade B will do. Rugs are a perfect example. If I opt for wool or natural fibers, I am often more likely to pay more. However, if I opt for a synthetic or mass produced rug, I can get it at a fraction of the cost.
Between Habitat for Humanity, Thrift Stores, Yard Sales and Closeout Specials who needs retail. I have had this happen so many times. I see something I love at Macy’s and then spot it for a fraction at Home Goods. The furniture in my family room was the exact set I had seen at Ashley’s Furniture and Living Spaces, only living spaces was half the cost.
I remember pricing granite for one of the bathroom remodels I was doing and for what I was wanting it was a good $500 plus dollars. I went to Habitat for Humanity and saw a similar but not the exact same in precut 6 foot double bull-nosed slabs for $30 each and no that is not a typo. Because I was willing to compromise slightly on color, I got a much better deal and my budget was happy.
Can’t Live Without Versus It Can Change
Its important when working with a budget that you account for items that your really wouldn’t be happy without. These items need to just become line items in the budget. But that means there needs to be compromise on the other items. Can you eliminate anything or at least postpone it until its on sale?
In doing my scale down, I was able to cut my cost in half, which is not bad at all. I feel extremely confident that I can accomplish everything on the list at the prices I have. That said, that’s still more than I wanted to spend NOW. So, another budget trick:
Phasing is simply prioritizing what needs to be done as a top priority, next top, then next top to the least priority. You can decide this based on what needs to be done for comfort or aesthetic appeal or biggest bang for your buck or what’s on sale now.
For our living room, I am thinking of three phase. Phase one would be paint, all the reupholstered items, the rugs and the cabinetry without the fireplace. This gives me not only the biggest visual impact but also meets the needs of providing needed storage. Phase two would be the sofa daybed and small chair. I’m mainly postponing these for a major sale. Most stores have major sales around popular holidays. Typically 4th of July and Thanksgiving are the best times but there are also other sales on Memorial Day, Labor Day, etc. Phase three is the fireplace and curtain. These are the least important to get done. Neither is an absolute needed item so they can wait.
By phasing them out, I give myself the opportunity to get what I want with minimal compromise and without a huge hit to the budget all at one time.