Anytime I get a request to do a budget ______, (insert kitchen, bedroom, living room) I always ask, “Well, what’s the ‘budget’?” Because here’s the thing–“budget” now has almost become synonymous with “cheapest possible” and I’d love to correct that.
I don’t know anyone personally (although I am sure there are people, way above my class, that exist) that don’t have a dollar figure in mind at. all. when they are improving a space. The truth is, whether you have $1000 or $100,000 for a kitchen renovation, that’s your budget.
“Budget” is just a way to assign a dollar amount to a project and it’s actually so freeing! I think that’s the part people don’t understand–even when you’re on a tight budget. When you set aside $XX for a home improvement project, instead of just saying, “I want to improve this space,” It actually allows you the freedom and ability to tackle that project. “I want to improve this space and we have $50 to make it happen.” You GET to spend that $50. It’s been assigned for the task.
Here’s what I see happen often:
“We are going to makeover our bedroom, but don’t have a ton of money to do it.” They then proceed, with no plan, and no budget to spend a few hundred dollars getting rugs that are too small (that they don’t love) or ten tiny decor objects from Target and keep the same old fan that is really dating the room.
Instead, try this:
“We really want to update our bedroom, we have $500 to do it!” Set a goal and a dollar amount before you even start. Then think about what bothers you most about your bedroom currently, make a list of the trouble areas. Maybe it’s storage. Maybe it’s the dated carpet. Or the color of the walls. Maybe your bed is old. Or your ceiling fan is older. Order the list from what you dislike most to least. This is important because so often I see people trying to compromise and squeeze every inch of the room into the $500 budget–which often times ends up looking not much better and leaves the homeowner unsatisfied.
For $500 total, you probably can’t replace your whole floor, but you can purchase a great, large area rug to cover most of it with half of your money left over.
If you love a rug or a bed that’s $400 and you have $500 set aside to improve your space–that means you can get that thing! It also might mean that your whole room might not get a complete makeover for the money you have set aside right now, but wouldn’t you rather really love it? I would.
Start with the thing that is bothering you most and tackle that first! I remember when we were refreshing our bedroom last year, it was the paint color. I just needed something light and fresh. We took an afternoon and painted and while everything else still needed attention, I felt better in our bedroom already. I also love the idea of designing a whole room about something that excites or inspires me–for our bathroom, it was a vintage painting and the dark green tile. For our bedroom it was a rug!
(Here’s our bedroom almost a YEAR later when we finally felt like it was finished)
For the imaginary bedroom design below, I started with a $500 budget and this $279 rug. Don’t worry if it takes up more than half of your budget if you love it. You have the money set aside. It’s the right size (an 8×10–that’s what we have in our room with our king sized bed!) and it’s within your budget–You can buy it!
Here’s a very realistic $500 bedroom refresh I put together including the rug:
• Queen Headboard: $93 Puchasing a headboard instead of a full blown bed is a great way to get the look for less.
• Taupe Stripe Duvet set: If you have a queen, I’d recommend still getting the King size and it will feel so luxurious: $25
• 8×10 Area Rug: $279
• A gallon of paint: we always get our paint color matched at Lowe’s in their Valspar line because the quality is top notch. In a bedroom, you can go with a flat sheen which will be even less expensive. The greatest thing about paint is it’s so transformative and every color costs the same. Even this uber rich Sea Serpent tone: $33
• It’s no secret, I’m a sucker for art. While most people wouldn’t put this as a high priority on their list, these prints are just $20 each from Juniper Print Shop and you can print them any size you’d like!: (2 for) $40
Of course, there’s definitely missing pieces to this room–what about nightstands? Lighting? Curtains? In my opinion, if you are on a tighter budget, it’s better to do a room in phases rather than go for the cheapest thing in every category. The above pieces will have a big impact on your space and you’ll be well on your way. We’ve done most of our rooms in phases and very rarely do we improve a room COMPLETELY all at once and budget has a lot to do with that (also, I love to add something and let it simmer for a little :)
Let’s say you had a $1000 budget (or down the road were ready to add a little more!), Here’s what that could look like:
The same base pieces:
With an addition of:
• Wall-mounted Lamp: $83 Lighting! I like both of these options. The wall-mounted lamp is more traditional, with still modern lines
• Table Lamp: $69 And the table lamp is a completely modern option to bring into a more traditional room setting. Pick whichever suits you more!
• Nightstands: $89 each Hi, these are so good! (two were worked into the budget)
• Curtains: $88 each These panels are gray with a blue-ish hue so they will recede a little into the walls while still softening the room. I love them! (two panels were worked into the budget)
Now it’s really starting to feel fresh and complete. For the last installment, I spent $1000 more to complete the room. Maybe you don’t have that lump all at once? Make a list with prices next to it (like we did below) and purchase it as your budget allows. All in all, this complete room refresh, complete with a new chandelier, large 34″ mirror, designer throw pillows and greenery comes to UNDER $2000! Here’s how it shakes out:
All the original pieces
• Queen Headboard: $93
• Taupe Stripe Duvet set: (If you have a queen, still get the King size and it will feel so luxurious): $25
• 8×10 Area Rug: $279
• A gallon of paint $33
• These prints $40
• Wall Sconce: $83
• Table Lamp: $69
• Nightstands x 2: $89 each! (total reflects 2)
• Curtains x 2: $88 each (total reflects 2)
What we added this time:
• Pillows: $475 This might seem like a lot for 4 pillows, and there are definitely cheaper options! However, these are all designer fabrics that look great! I also love that this Etsy shop curates groupings together (like the one above!), discounts the bundle and you can be confident knowing they look great together.
• Vase: $19 but looks so much more expensive
• Faux Stem x 2: $38 (total reflects 2)
• Mirror: $169 This 34″ mirror will make a statement and fill your wall AND bounce light around.
• Light Fixture: $268
I hope this was helpful! My biggest tip when designing a room on any budget is to not necessarily look at individual prices, but instead focus on the budget AS A WHOLE. Maybe splurge on pillows and save on the headboard. Or splurge on curtains and save on an area rug! The mix is what is going to help your space look chic instead of cheap.
We designed the Charly line of sofas, chairs, and ottomans with perfect proportions for comfort — with wide arms, a loungey depth, and stylish and practical lumbar pillows. Available in 70 kid-friendly, pet-friendly fabrics, this line was created with families in mind.
Our wood grain Shaker cabinet fronts were designed for busy, high-traffic homes like ours. Clad with durable textured thermofoils, this line is compatible with Sektion, Akurum, Godmorgon, and Besta cabinets from IKEA. It's the perfect, practical way to add the warmth of wood to all the rooms of your home.
We have teamed up with Loloi to create a line of rugs that are as affordable as they are beautiful. This collection houses a great mix of traditional and modern rugs, in cottage-y colorways, as well as vintage-inspired beauties that you’ll want to roll out in every room.
We partnered with Stuga on a line of hardwood floors — The Ingrid is really livable, and the color is very neutral. It doesn’t lean warm or cool, it’s that just right in-between. We have really loved putting it everywhere in our house. It’s the best jumping-off point for design, no matter your interior style. In addition to being beautiful, Ingrid is really durable — we have three kids, and we always have a home construction project going on. Ingrid stands up to it all.
Looking for our favorite things? A place to shop our home room by room, or just catch up on what Julia's wearing / loving right now? Browse the CLJ shop.
Befores, afters, mood boards, plans, failures, wins. We’ve done a lot of projects, and they’re all here.
We have a long-standing relationship with DIY, and love rolling our sleeves up and making it happen.
Even when you don’t want to rip down a wall, you can make that space in your home better. Right now.
One of our biggest projects this year is building out an upstairs laundry room using borrowed space from the playroom. Chris and I have been drawing up and re-drawing floor plans and elevations that I can’t wait to share. The biggest hurdle we’re designing around is this great, big window which is a blessing and […]
Another way for us to stay in touch! Joining our weekly newsletter gives you access to exclusive content, never-before-seen photos, your questions answered, and our favorite DIYs. Sign up below!
Make yourself right at home