Every week, we're asking designer Scot Meacham Wood, formerly of Ralph Lauren and now owner of his eponymous design firm,
a question from our readers. This week's topic is all about the costs of
Q: How much should I expect to spend to remodel and redecorate my house? —Krista C.
A: Krista, as we move into the new year, very often we
start planning changes to our homes. The holiday season is usually quite busy,
and our homes play a huge part in the activity. But, all that
"activity" can also highlight changes that might need to be made.
Thoughts that could come up include, "We could really use a bathroom
on the main floor," or "We just can't get enough people around the
dining table," or "We should really update that guest bedroom!"
Any project in your home is going to require a certain
amount of spending on your part, so let's take this in two parts. First, let's
look at options for decorative changes to the house this week, and then talk
about construction pricing in next week's column.
1. Envelope vs. Contents
When we start looking at new spaces here in the office we usually separate
costs into "envelope" and “contents" categories. The
"envelope" is the part of a room that creates, well...the
envelope, such as paintings, window treatments, hardware, flooring, recessed
lighting and sconces. The "contents" are the furniture pieces,
decorative lighting, and accessories. We try to keep "envelope"
costs at around 25-35% of the entire budget for each room. There are
always exceptions to this rule — such as upholstered walls and other high-end
materials — but, it's a good place to check-in price-wise as you begin.
2. Identify Costs
Very often it's hard to wrap your mind around the entire budget for a project,
so sometimes it’s easier to break it down into its smallest parts and start
working from there. Here in our office, we always start by placing everything
on a floor plan and looking at the prices for each piece. Having items placed
on a floor plan can also help you see which items are being reused, and which
items are going to be new purchases that will truly affect the budget. A little
bit of research can let you know what the price for something like a sofa could
be. Let me assure you, prices can vary over an extraordinary range, but the
most important part is to determine what you would be willing to pay.
3. Budget Killers
As you're assessing your budget, keep a close eye on a few aspects of the
project. Window treatments can really add up fast, especially if
you're having pieces custom-made. You can often save here if you use
either retail-available drapes or hardware. I would strongly recommend if
you're using retail draperies that you still have them custom-hemmed or even
add decorative trim to truly make them your "own." Another budget
worry is dining chairs. Even if you're able to find a reasonably-priced
option, after you purchase eight or 10 of them it's still going to add up.
Floor coverings can also take a serious bite out of the budget, but, I would
advise you to spend the money and get the proper rugs in place. Nothing
brings down the feeling of a room quicker than a tiny rug in a large space.
4. Time vs. Budget vs. Design
As you get ready to start your project, take a close look at your goals for
your room. Think of "time," "budget," and "design"
as three parts of a pie chart for your room. As you focus more energy on one,
the other two are likely to suffer. If everything is all about
"time" (such as a looming deadline for completion), you may need to
spend more money in rush fees and not get the exact design you're looking for.
If you're going to focus strictly on "budget," it might take a little
more time as you wait for pieces to go on sale, or if you need to continue
shopping until the "budget-friendly" items come along. If you're
really dead-set on a specific design, you may be working on the upper end of
the price market, or need to wait for custom-made pieces to be delivered.
There's not a right answer for this, but, it's good to determine your
5. You're Not Done
With any design project, it's not done until it's "DONE." Be sure to
set aside time, energy, and budget to truly complete the space — all the way
down to that last decorative pillow and picture frame.
So at the end of the day, I don't actually have a
specific answer for you. As with any client that we work with, it;s up to you
to decide what spending threshold you're comfortable with. As designers, it's
our job to manage those funds and be sure that you're getting the most for your
investment. Many design projects can be quite lengthy and somewhat
exhausting, so I always recommend that you keep those inspiration images close
at hand — if for no other reason than to keep your "eye on the prize"
in the midst of the chaos. This lovely room pictured above from Ashley Whittaker
would certainly keep me motivated!
Happy New Year!