Whenever I get together with friends and am introduced to new people, they are usually very excited when they find out what I do. They automatically launch into their ideas for redoing their bedroom, or want to discuss that show on HGTV that they love and how they wish they could remodel their bathroom. I always ask, “well what’s stopping you?” and 9 times out of ten it’s the fear that they are going to get in over their heads and the project will turn into a remake of the 80s movie The Money Pit. So instead of turning their space into something they actually want to spend time in, they end up keeping the room that is driving them crazy as-is, and settle for having home envy while watching Chip & Joanna.

Here’s the thing: It doesn’t need to be scary if you’re doing it on your own! Renovations and redesigns can absolutely go smoothly and not bleed you dry. You just need to plan. And to do this, a decorating budget is the most important tool to achieving your dream without emptying your wallet. Follow these steps and you’ll reach your goals:


1. Have Fun

Be the Boss of your Budget


First things first-let yourself have fun. If money were no object, what would you change about the room? Look at Pinterest, buy design magazines, take screenshots. Chances are, there are ways to achieve the looks without breaking the bank (more on that later). Do you want to paint? Have you always thought about trying wallpaper? Is there a bed that you keep seeing in your dreams? Make your list. It will help you narrow down what it really is that will truly make you happy.


2. Be Honest

Saving Money Budgeting

Now put your wishlist to the side for a moment and take an honest look at your finances. Do you have money saved that you can use on a room(s)? Always remember, no space, no matter how beautiful, is worth going into debt for. So if the answer is yes, then that’s great. If not, then start setting aside a little bit every month that will become your design fund.


3. Make a Plan

Be the Boss of your Budget

Next, make a decorating plan with your wishlist while keeping your budget next to you. This means, take into consideration everything that will go into the new room (wall color, window treatments, furniture, lighting, floors, artwork), while figuring out what you can actually afford.


4. Get Real

Budgeting when furniture shopping

But what, you say, if I don’t know how much any of these things actually cost??? Then it’s time for you to take a good hard look at some real numbers. This used to be an extremely daunting, time consuming pain in the you-know-what to undertake, but nowadays everything is online and it’s so easy to comparison shop. Write down the numbers. Don’t ballpark. Don’t guesstimate.


5. Don’t Get Discouraged

ikea on a budget

And DON’T GET DISCOURAGED. Yes, the total will start to grow, but there are ways to deal with this. I’m also a huge fan of IKEA hacks: pre-fab bookshelves, wardrobes, sideboards etc. tweaked just a little bit can turn into AMAZING pieces that people will oooh and ahhh over. Don’t believe me? Have a look at this: superfront.com.


6. Check off That List

Be the Boss of your Budget

Once you’ve made your list, then it’s time to prioritize your purchases and keep good track of what you’ve spent and how much you have left. This will give you piece of mind and remind you that you are the boss of your budget! You may not be able to buy every single thing at once, but that’s ok. Take your time-there is no rush. For example, start with the rugs and walls. Then when you can, move on to the furniture; or vice-versa. Do what works for you in the order that makes the most sense. There is no right or wrong order to setting up your room.

Before you know it, you will be walking into the space you’ve created, looking around and loving every inch of it, and knowing that you still have money left for that champagne to toast yourself for all your hard work. Now get to it!

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