Budget Breakdown: How to Create an Affordable Interior Design Plan

You don’t have to be an interior designer to have a nice living room. You don’t even have to hire one.

All you need is the imagination to think like an interior designer. Granted, it may take a little extra planning on your part, but it’s totally doable.

We’ll show you how to do it with this budget breakdown. This post is full of tips on creating spaces you love at prices you don’t hate.

Keep reading to see which of these suggestions you can put into action today.

DIY Interior Design Budget Breakdown

Anyone with a little bit of experience in the world of DIY home projects knows the double-edged sword of doing this kind of work.

On one hand, there’s an enormous amount of satisfaction that comes from living in a home you made yourself, at least in part. On the other hand, all of the work for these projects falls on you, and that can be a heavy burden.

When it comes to interior design, we want to alleviate that burden the best we can. Follow these suggestions, and you’ll come out the other side of the interior design process with a fuller wallet. 

Prioritize the Big Pieces

You’ve got to start your planning somewhere, and it makes sense to start with the pieces that are most important to you.

Hopefully, you already have a design aesthetic in mind, whether it’s the expiring mid-century modern or a more rustic, cabin-in-the-woods vibe. From that aesthetic, you should be able to determine the pieces of furniture or art that best exemplify it.

Once you’ve chosen what these pieces are, build your budget around them. You’ll get more “wow” factor out of a few eye-popping items combined with some more inexpensive furnishings than you will from a fully balanced collection of mid-range pieces.

Don’t Sweat the Accessories

Let’s talk about those inexpensive furnishings. What falls into this category? Light bulbs, linens, and other textile elements are all candidates.

The reason why it’s okay to scrimp on these items is that the difference between the highest end versions of these things and more generic models is smaller than the difference between a really nice table and a cheaper one.

It’s also easy to buy these items in bulk, and you can upgrade them easily without breaking the bank. You can’t say as much for a sectional couch.

Check Your Progress

Of course, you need to start with a budget, but you also need to reference that budget frequently throughout the process of making your purchases. You’ll inevitably spend slightly different amounts than you planned on various items, so it’s important to factor these variations into your decorating as it evolves.

Don’t be afraid to splurge for the things that are genuinely worth it. Then, once you’ve splurged, don’t be afraid to face and revise your budget to realistically address how much money you have left to spend.

Undershoot Your Targets

You know the maximum amount you’re willing to spend as well as the true maximum amount you’re able to spend above that.

Be conservative in how you allocate funds. You want to be able to add up the items on your list to a total that falls below your ideal budget. That way, you’re prepared for the unexpected, which always comes along.

Try to Think of Everything 

Just because you can’t anticipate every expense, it doesn’t mean you can’t try.

This advice seems almost like a zen koan, and it truly is a paradox. You need to be as thorough as possible in your planning, trying to uncover every little-hidden expense. But once you’ve searched every corner of your brain, you need to take action while trusting that when you do come upon those unforeseen expenses you’ll be able to handle them.

We’ll give your planning brain a jump start. Here’s a list of some of the easiest things to forget in the interior design planning process.

  • Ladders
  • Nails, screws, and other fasteners
  • Art hanging hooks
  • Paintbrushes, rollers, and paint trays
  • Painters’ tape
  • Power tools
  • Measuring tape
  • Any other tools your job requires

Avoid or Plan for Impulse Buys

This advice relates to the above, but it pertains directly to the experience of shopping. You’ll either need to steel yourself against any unplanned purchases, or you should accept that you’ll get distracted by something cool that all of a sudden seems essential.

Whichever strategy you choose, just make sure your budget allows for it. When there is something you decide you just can’t live without, pay with cash or a high-quality credit card like this one you can find at Bonsai Finance.

Include Delivery Charges

This applies to items all across the size and weight spectrum.

You’re likely aware of the delivery fees that apply to big-ticket items like couches and tables. You may even be able to look them up ahead of time on your retailer’s website. But there are shipping and delivery charges associated with smaller items too.

Try to combine shipments wherever you can, and make sure whatever charges you incur end up on your budget.

Hunt for Bargains

This is the name of the game throughout this process, but it bears calling out specifically. Don’t get sucked into shopping at only one store.

Take your time, explore the secondhand shops, and supplement all of your IRL shopping with online searches through sites like Craigslist and Overstock.

Consider Your Backup Options

This is especially helpful advice when it comes to flooring, where prices can really add up because of square footage calculations. You may have a specific type of wood in mind for your floor, but if that’s not one of your signature pieces, consider a particle board or other wood alternative.

Break Down Your Budget to Avoid Breaking Down Your Wallet

DIY interior design takes a lot of effort, but it’s mostly about putting in the legwork. When you follow the tips we’ve laid out in this budget breakdown, you’ll find the process relatively simple.

Check out our other interior design tips if you’re looking for advice about specific rooms.