Design Driven Column: Ten (10) tips to stay on budget!

The first and the continuing challenge when renovating or redecorating is to balance expectations against the limitations of a budget. Regardless of how generous a budget may be, strategies to save money must be made before the first decision on fabrics or floorings is made, and long before furnishings and decor items make their way into a space.
After the rigours of the holiday season – the sheer expenditure of time, energy and, yes, treasure required to get through it all – it usually isn’t until late January that anyone finds the wherewithal to seriously consider taking up those potential makeovers and redo’s one might have been pondering way back before Santa laid claim to one’s psychic calendar.
Caption:  A remarkable before and after featured on Design Sponge website showing how switching out fabrics can re-invent a dated and tired sofa. (Submitted:  Design Sponge)
Since this is the month when December’s Visa bills are starting to appear in earnest, here are five guiding principles I find useful for my own projects and my clients …

1.      Always consider what you currently have in your possession before running out and purchasing new items.  Can something be switched out from a different room?  Would that particular table take on a new life with simply a new coat of paint?  What could be upcyled and recycled from the basement or garage?

2.      If you can do-it-yourself, then DO!  There is no shortage of websites, blogs and Pinterest sites to whet your visual appetite for creativity and inspiration.  Don’t reinvent the wheel; learn from others who are more than willing to provide step-by-step instructions on virtually anything you can imagine doing, from refinishing a piece of furniture to taking down a wall.

3.      The best piece of advice my husband ever gave me is ‘Simply do the next thing,’ advice that applies in life just as it does in design.  So often in designing a space, in our excitement to get to the end (with all those beautiful furnishings, cushions and lamps), we direct attention away from the task at hand; we start to rush which leads to mistakes.  In terms of what to buy and when, start with the major things first, the large pieces of furnishings that inevitably set the tone for a room and hold off on everything else.  Slowly adding pieces into the space one step at a time will eliminate a lot of ‘returns’ and regrets.

4.      Never underestimate the power of paint.  It’s highly impactful and inexpensive.

5.      This last piece of advice may be the most problematic:  Honour your own vision for your makeovers/renovations.  This isn’t to suggest that you don’t seek out advice or inspiration from wherever it’s available – televison shows, websites or magazines – but while you’re having your vision upgraded make sure you don’t lose sight of what matters most to you.


Here are five online DIY and BEFORE / AFTER resources for you to look over before diving into your renos!  The last two sites in particular are extremely well laid out with fabulous instructions for everything  from editing your fridge (talk about a challenge!) to building a bathroom vanity, step by step:

1.  A simple Pinterest search such as:  “Before and After Renovations” and “Before and After Decorating” opens up a world of possibilities for home deocor.

2.  Design Sponge 

3.  Apartment Therapy 

4.  The Art of Doing Stuff 

5.  Ana White 


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