Planning for a Home Design Project: Remember to Budget for the Finishing Touches

Planning for a renovation or new construction project can involve a lot of daunting numbers. Contractors and designers, materials and cabinetry, and appliances and fixtures all require wise choices when it comes creating and managing your budget. Often times we find that homeowners are great at budgeting for the build phase of the project, but then forget to plan for the final part – the finishing touches. It is this last step that truly transforms your home into the space you were envisioning in the first place. Instead of elevating your final design, underwhelming or inappropriate elements will detract from the look and leave you wondering why things just “don’t look right”.

Light Fixtures

Good lighting is expensive, so we find many people end up going to a big box store to save a bit of money. However, when do this in a custom space, you are essentially placing McDonald’s food on a St. Elmo’s plate. Remember, lighting is lit sculpture and is therefore highly noticeable. We have clients who will initially balk at the price of higher-end lighting, but since they trust us they move forward with it. We have never had a client regret that choice. They usually come back saying “We were skeptical, but we followed your advice and we are so glad we did because it is the first thing people mention when they come into the house.” Good quality materials and designs make a huge difference in lighting and therefore is not a place to skimp.

Blue master bedroom design

Window Treatments

Labor and fabric are the costly parts of window treatments, and the price tag can get expensive for custom work. Drapery takes a lot of fabric and then there is the hardware to consider as well. Fortunately, this investment is evident in a space, making a room feel more finished. Off the shelf window treatments usually do not have the same effect, appearing either too short, too narrow or too low. There are no in-between sizes in ready-made, so you end up with the “sort-of works” look. Linings that offer more body or light control, layering tricks that bring a more custom look and specialty tapes and trims that elevate the design are some other benefits of custom window treatments. They also bring the much-needed softness to a room that can be missing, particularly in today’s interior design schemes that call for hardwood flooring instead of carpeting.


The furniture you have may not fit the new scale or look of your newly designed home. For example, one of our clients remodeled a traditional spec home with a new sunroom and Nantucket style cottage kitchen. They knew they needed to replace window treatments and rugs, however, their current furniture also did not suit the new look. It’s easy to forget to consider how a remodel will affect the rest of your space. We tell our clients to approach their updated design scheme in one of two ways: create the new look around their current furniture or plan to buy furniture for the remodeled space. We can help them either edit out what they have that no longer works or supplement what does with new pieces. Having the wrong style or scale will keep the new space from meeting your expectations.


Accessories and Artwork

Similar to your existing furniture, you must consider whether your accessories and artwork will support the new style of your home as well. These small details can undermine the success of a design, looking out of place or just plain wrong. You may need to move your artwork to a different place in your home or reframe it. Accessories may need to be relocated as well, keeping only the really special or appropriate things for the new design.

Economies of Scale

Renovation is the perfect time to improve aspects of your home that were not right in the first place. Taking advantage of having a contractor already in your home can often time be more cost-effective than splitting up projects over time. For example, if you have always been bothered by funky details like bookcases that look cheap or trim that is too minimal, adding that project to your larger one might make sense. In addition, successfully remodeling an existing home requires you to think through how changing one space will affect the rest of it. Planning for the necessary changes in other areas may allow you to use your budget more wisely.

Balancing Budget and Scope

On the other hand, once you examine how each space correlates your project could end up snowballing into a larger project than you were expecting! If you find that your plans are moving far out of your budget, we suggest narrowing your scope rather than watering-down your design. If your budget does not support completing the whole project at once, start in one place and move in phases through the rest of the house. Begin by focusing on the areas you use all the time, and do other spaces at a different time. However, most times, spaces that are visible to one another tend to be better to do all at once.


In the end, what is the point of investing in a large renovation or new build project and not achieving the intended goal? The little details are central to the success of a space. Planning and budgeting for them ahead of time will ensure you get the look you are envisioning. Questions on how to go about preparing for a home project? Send us an email or give us a call at 317.253.8986.


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