When one of our clients walks into a room and gasps, saying, “I feel like I’m in a magazine!” — we know we’ve done our job. But the journey to get there — while fun and exciting — requires a unique methodology.
The topic of budgets is one of the most important parts of a project, and for us, much of the initial groundwork is about educating people about the typical costs. Full room designs aren’t for everyone, but for those who want to walk into a finished, picture-perfect room after a day out running errands, room designs can be worth every single penny.
Since it’s such a frequent topic for us, we’ve compiled this handy list that answers frequently asked questions, and adds a few pieces of advice we’ve collected over the years.
1. TAKE IT ONE ROOM AT A TIME.
We know, we know… you’ve been Pinteresting like crazy, and you have followed every amazing Instagram account in design world (including us!) You are SO excited, and you want to have everything done… NOW!
While you might have a Pinterest board for every room of your house — and full shopping carts in your browsing history — it’s always better to chip away at your project, one room at a time. This is particularly true if you’re working within a specific budget.
For example, if you’re working on a budget within, say, $10,000, and you’re dreaming of a luxury couch, handmade rug and new lighting fixtures to boot, it will be tough to tackle the bedroom at the same time. We often see people try to spread out a budget over a few rooms, with small changes here and there, but the result is far from magazine ready: the work (and investment), ends up disappearing amongst each room, and you won’t see that breathtaking finished product.
So, step back from your computer for a moment, and get out a pen-and-paper (or excel sheet). Define your priorities: what is your budget? What room is most important to you right now? What do you want to see changed immediately? What can wait? Once you start to compartmentalize your decor priorities, you put yourself in a much better position to get magazine-ready results, one page at a time.
Sun Ah’s pro tip: I recommend focusing on those grand “first impression” rooms, where you spend the most time with friends and family. Even for a quick facelift with a few new accessories and furnishings, if you want that “wow!” look for your friends and family as soon as they open your door, think living room and dining room first.
2. HIRING A DESIGN TEAM CAN BE MORE COST EFFECTIVE THAN DOING IT ON YOUR OWN: AKA: THE “…MAYBE IT CAN GO IN THE BASEMENT?” SCENARIO
You might be starting the design process on your own because completely letting go isn’t always easy. Perhaps you watched too many episodes of Trading Spaces back in the day, and saw a not-so-pretty reveal of a room, met with a disappointing expression from the homeowner. Suffice to say, this isn’t what happens in real life. Working with a professional is a process where you exchange your ideas and vision well in advance to ensure the finish product is just what you imagined.
We can’t stress this enough: doing it “right” the first time will not only save you time and stress (and likely a couple of arguments on a busy Saturday at the mall…), it can save you money down the road as well.
We often go into a space where an attempt to achieve the perfect look was made, but it has been thrown off by a few impulse buys, or perhaps textures that don’t fit and a colour scheme that’s just not working. Coffee and end tables may end up being cast to the basement; curtains to the spare bedroom.
Getting a proper floor plan for your room will save you from making these mistakes in the first place. And, just because design services offer high-end results, not every piece has to have a luxury price tag. We’re big believers in an adaptable model that allows for a glossy, finished look with a blend of items. Our team will recommend an IKEA Hemnes side table paired with Robert Abbey Lamp — and we’re not ashamed of it!
The key? Trust the process!
3. LOOK AT THE FULL PICTURE, NOT THE COST OF INDIVIDUAL ITEMS!
This falls in line with the “letting go” and “trusting the process” aspects of #2.
“A throw pillow for $100? No way!”
This is a big one! When you have a vision you want to see come to life, let go of the fact that those finishing-touch items may be more pricy than you thought. At the same time, you might save costs by jazzing up a dresser or bookshelf from Structube with stunning hardware, or a punchy accessory, like fake flowers in a stunning vase.
All in all, you might be surprised by the items that seem crazy when you look at the spreadsheet — but are, in fact, what really pulls the room together. Giving your designer the opportunity to work their magic within a specific budget will get you the finishing product you dream of.
4. DOING BIG RENOS? BUILDING A NEW HOME? SAVE BUDGET FOR FURNISHINGS IN ADVANCE!
When you’re going through a huge renovation project, it’s hard to say no to the fancier tiles, stunning trims or the added dash of glamour in your walk-in-closet, especially when you’re really in the heat of it.
But it’s key to save some budget for a couple of key rooms, for example, your living room and bedrooms. Plan ahead and factor this into your overall cost of the reno or new home. And, most importantly, be realistic: create a roadmap with priorities, and consider focusing on one floor per year, or even one room.
Think of it this way: if you’re building an incredible fireplace in your living room, you’re going to want the stunning sofa to sit and enjoy the crackling fire in the winter. Likewise, that amazing bedroom view simply won’t be as enjoyed as much if you don’t wake up in the bed of your dreams: say no to the tile upgrade, and yes to the bed you will sleep in every night — because that’s what you’re going to live in!
Building or completely renovating a home and not factoring in design and furnishings costs is like baking a cake, and forgetting about the icing. Save your pennies for the icing on the cake, because that’s the best part.
5. TIME IS ALWAYS OF THE ESSENCE
Ah, Saturdays spent looking for that perfect couch. When you factor in the drive to the store (30 minutes), plus the time in the store (2 hours), the time mulling over whether the couch is actually the right one (2 weeks), the next Saturday looking at comparative options (10 hours), then the time after that comparing all options (another 2 weeks), you’ve just gone one month into your project — for one single item for the room. We’re not even counting the strip-mall food and more-often-than-not arguments with your S.O.
It can be extremely frustrating having a vague idea of what you want, but not knowing if it’s the right fit, and sunny Saturdays spent at a huge retail store can turn anyone off of the idea of redecorating. Then, when you finally get the couch and you realize it doesn’t quite fit what you are looking for — the cycle starts all over again.
When you hire a design service, the work is done for you faster than you can say “reveal.” First thing’s first: the team will visit your home to get a better understanding of the space, and you’ll exchange ideas and visions. After that, the designers will get to work for about 1-2 weeks to come up with decor and design choices, discerning how every piece can fit together (and within budget!) to achieve your #RoomGoals. Once all of the items are selected, it’s about 6-12 weeks until all pieces have arrived in Montreal, ready to go to their new owner.
Though the projects can be done in a snap, keep mind that there can be a waiting list; if you’re dreaming of a quick facelift to impress your family before you host for Easter; starting this week won’t cut it. You need to get your ducks in a row about three to five months before you hope the project is complete.
- Tackle one room at a time
- Do it right the first time around and trust the process with your designer
- Look at the full picture, not individual item costs
- Save budget for your furniture! It’s what you live on, after all!
- Know that design services take around three months from beginning to end
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