Have you ever wanted to start a new design renovation project but hesitated because you thought it would cost too much?  Does the thought of putting a budget together send you into a panic?  If you’ve struggled with the budget for your design project, maybe you’ve been making things too complicated.

I find that if you start by breaking down your dream design project into room areas, suddenly the task is easier.  One of the best ways to do this is by creating a simple Excel spreadsheet.  And for those of you who find that too overwhelming, then follow these same steps using graph paper or a ledger.

Think of all the rooms in your home, and make a list.  The ones below are just some of the room possibilities.  Since your home is unique to you and your family, create your list based on YOUR needs.  It is often most helpful to have a separate sheet for each room to get the best results.  If you’re using excel, label each tab with one of your rooms.

master bath
master bedroom
guest bedroom
secondary bathrooms
powder room
great room
living room
dining room
keeping room
laundry room

1) The next step is to make a column for all the products needed/wanted for the project. The easiest, and most organized way, is to group the products by categories. For example, in a kitchen budget, it’s a good idea to cluster all the appliances together, the cabinets, the tile, paint, window treatments, etc.

2) The second column is reserved for model numbers and descriptions. As you make your dream list of products, start filling in this information.

3) Once that is complete, create a column for the budgeted price. For this, go on line to get price ranges for items you’re interested in and add it to your spreadsheet. This way you can start out with a running total of where your wish list is leading you. (Don’t forget to plan for delivery, freight, removal or installation charges)

4) Finally, add a column for the actual purchase price once you’ve found the perfect item.

With this method, you’ll always have a running total, and you’ll always be able to stay on top of your spending so it won’t run out of control. This will help keep things calm at home when you want one thing and your spouse wants something else. Does this ever happen to you?


One insider tip to keep in mind on a kitchen remodel is to allow:

  • 40% for cabinets
  • 20% for appliances
  • 15% for countertops
  • 10% for flooring
  • 15% for other details (plumbing fixtures, backsplash, knobs, etc.)

You may be surprised to find that these simple organizational tips can not only help you easily create a design project budget, but it can also help you fill in any holes for items you may have initially forgotten.

Once you see the actual price of each item, suddenly your “I’ve just got to have it” list gets moved to your wish list. And now you see where you can save money and where you can splurge.


Always remember that planning your budget by listing out everything that you need needs to be done at the beginning of the project. These steps will help you whether you’re tackling the project on your own or working with a design professional.