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Budget: An Ill-Fated Interior Design Question

Over the years, I’ve learned not to make sweeping generalizations or assumptions about how clients will behave or what they will or will not like but in all my years of experience I have yet to ask a prospective client, “what’s your budget?” and not be met with some form of resistance. This is always quite puzzling to me as it is a legitimate question. Answering the budget question honestly, helps your designer to help you. It gives your designer an idea of whether you have a realistic vision of what your project will cost and if you can actually complete it in a timely fashion.

I’m of the opinion most don’t want to answer this question because they are afraid the designer is going to take this information and proceed to fleece them for every drop of the allotted budget. But for a good designer, this could not be further from the case. A good designer wants to complete your project on time and under budget. The budget question is extremely important for this and a multitude of other reasons. It gives the designer important information such as where to shop and what type of materials to specify. Shopping for higher end custom fixtures on a small budget is a waste of time for both you and your designer because typically the costs associated with fabrication are going to exceed your budget and leave you and your designer feeling a bit dissatisfied.

Don’t be afraid to talk budget with your designer. Be open and be honest. Giving your designer a truthful idea about how much you have to spend allows him or her to make recommendations for your space that can really be visualized. It allows the designer to use their and your time efficiently and in the long run it causes you less stress. For the design client that says, “I don’t know my budget”, it leaves the designer with the almost impossible task of trying to hit a bullseye in the dark. My suggestion to other designers is to ask for a price range for the project, a high and a low cost. For those design clients who are still leery of giving a budget, decide on how much you have to allot to the project and then shave a bit off the bottom line before giving your designer the budget price. In this case should the project go over budget, it should fall closer to your real spending budget.

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