Decorate Smarter! How To Create Your Decorating Project Game Plan (Part 2)

A project management tutorial for starting and staying on track with your redecorating projects


In Part 1 of Decorate Smarter! How To Create Your Decorating Project Game Plan I discussed how to start your project by creating three useful tools: a Style Guide, a Have/Have-not list, and a Floor Plan. Now I’ll move on to probably the most important tool you’ll need for your project, and that’s a budget.

Determine and Set-up your Budget

Facing the realities of your budget can be one of the scariest aspects of an impending redecorating project. But by being honest with yourself and figuring out a monetary Game Plan that works best for you, setting up a budget can actually help you stretch your dollar and get the most out of your purchases. So let’s begin!


1. Consider your time frame for completing your project

  • ALL AT ONCE – If you are looking to “get ‘er done” and complete your project in one fell swoop, then you will need to budget for the amount of money you can spend NOW
  • PHASED – if you need the downstairs, public areas redone by Grandma’s birthday, but the master bedroom can wait then you will need to make a phased budget. Or if you have an allotted monthly amount you are working with (instead of one lump sum) this budget plan will work as well. In both cases you will need to prioritize what you want and need done short-term vs. long-term or month-to-month.
  • LONG TERM – If you have no time limits and are willing to wait patiently while you save up for that perfect dining table (while you currently make due with a covered card table) make one budget for what you have now. Do only the projects that fit within that budget amount – perhaps recovering the couch or buying a new mirror for the Entryway. Make a second “wish-list” budget for the items that you will have to save for, and think about the amount you want to spend overall. I also suggest making a separate, designated savings account so you can track your progress and keep yourself motivated to reach your monetary goals.

2. Decide if you are using an interior designer or color consultant – this will obviously affect your budget as you will need to factor in the designer’s fees.

  • If you still feel you might need some help pulling your redecorating project together, then start “shopping” for consultants – research rates and interview designers you might potentially work with to determine if their work style is a good “fit”.
  • Paint color is the one area I would highly suggest consulting a professional unless you are 100% confident in your selections. The paint color can make or break a successful redecorating project. Get this one element wrong and the whole space will be affected – guaranteed. And on the flip side – the right paint color can do wonders in camouflaging the elements of your home that you don’t like, but can’t afford to change right now (like the icky 90’s tile in your bathroom). **Shameless self-promotion time – if you are in the Chicago-land area I can help you!**


1. Create your Budget Spreadsheet

  • Excel – I prefer to use Excel for my spreadsheets, so if you are familiar with the program I suggest setting up your budget worksheet like this example: Spreadsheet
  • If you are phasing your budget set up a sheet for each budget allotment (so by month, or by project as discussed above)
  • If you do not use Excel, you can use any other spreadsheet program you have access to and are familiar with. If you are looking for free spreadsheet software read this article for some good options.
  • If you aren’t very comfortable using spreadsheet software set up the same table shown above on ruled notebook paper. Make copies so that you have extras. As with Excel, use a separate budget sheet for each phase of your project.

2. Fill in your Budget Spreadsheet – list everything you think you are going to purchase, change, or make.


1. Start shopping! Now is the time to start filling in your budget with some cost estimates. Price out that leather Chippendale sofa you’ve been eyeing. Figure out how much material costs for the chair you want to reupholster (and how much you will need).  Get quotes for hanging the wallpaper and installing new carpet. You aren’t necessarily shopping for the exact purchases you might be making, but instead for an idea of what actual costs are.

2. As you are shopping think of everything in terms of the following costs (notice these are the columns you set up in your spreadsheet):

  • MATERIAL – Any purchased product (a piece of furniture, fabric for a DIY project, paint and supplies for the dresser you are painting, etc)
  • DELIVERY – Delivery and shipping fees. Just a note, if you order something on-line and the shipping fees are minimal, roll the cost into the total sum (with taxes) and include the purchase as one total sum under Material. However, let’s say you order something from Ikea and the cost is $100 for delivery, I would separate this charge out. It allows you to see the real cost of this and will help you to make an informed decision when it comes time to purchase – for instance you might decide to pick up your item or go with a different store that doesn’t charge delivery.
  • LABOR – anything you hire someone to do (a.k.a. contractors) – so the re-upholsterer’s charge, the painter’s fee, etc.

3. Now assign a value to each line item. Do the larger items (like purchasing a new couch and replacing the carpet) first and then fill in estimates or budget amounts for smaller items (like new bed linens and throw pillows). Remember that even DIY projects have costs – you will need to gather the materials and tools necessary to complete the labor yourself.


Your goal is to end up with a guideline that will inform your actual purchases, so after filling in a cost for each line item, assess where you are with your budget. If you are over budget determine what you are willing to change – paint instead of wallpaper? Less expensive couch – perhaps fabric instead of leather? Or maybe you need to change your time frame and be willing to save up for that must-have piece that is out of budget right now.

I know it sounds like a lot of work, but in the end you will be so happy you took this step in preparation for your redecorating project. Knowing what your budget is and being able to stay on track with your monetary goals definitely means one less thing to worry about. Now you can focus on creating the beautiful home you want and deserve!

Well, congrats again on making it through another step towards creating your decorating Game Plan. Up next – using all the tools you’ve acquired so far to follow through with and complete your decorating project. If you’d like to be notified via email as soon as this post is available, sign up to follow my blog!


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5 thoughts on “Decorate Smarter! How To Create Your Decorating Project Game Plan (Part 2)

  1. essenziale-hd

    Great post, Taryn! Very useful and thorough tips for people who want to redecorate their house. Budgeting is an essential part for any project and I really like the layout of the spreadsheet you have offered – very straightforward and clear!

  2. Pingback: Decorate Smarter! How To Create Your Decorating Project Game Plan (Part 3) | Chicago ReDesign

  3. Pingback: Decorate Smarter! How To Create Your Decorating Project Game Plan (Part 1) | Chicago ReDesign

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