Design Mistakes While Trying to Save Money

Home remodeling, quality furniture and lighting, good window treatments – these are all expensive undertakings. I get it. And I understand the desire to stretch your Interior design investment as far as possible. However, I see some common mistakes or false assumptions that clients make in an effort to save money. 

When it comes to these mistakes, I’m not up on my professional designer pedestal to lecture you. I have made each of these mistakes or assumptions in my own homes, as well as watching clients. I’m here to help you avoid these. 



1. Spending all the budget on the remodel  

Colorado loves the open floorplan, with the kitchen fully open to the family room. You can’t really remodel the kitchen without addressing the fireplace. Then the powder bathroom has the same cabinets, and while we’re at it, we are replacing the chopped up flooring with all wood floors. As a result, many Kitchen remodels necessarily have to become a remodel of the whole main floor. And when this happens, it often requires the entire planned budget, leaving nothing for the new furnishings, art, or window treatments. 

Then our clients feel tempted to go with cheap furniture so that they have something “new” to go with the newly remodeled space. I’ve already written about the Real Costs of Cheap Furniture, so I won’t repeat it.  

But what other options are available? I recommend one of 2 options.

  1. That the clients either hold on the entire project to save additional funds to cover the furniture. Or,
  2. to complete the remodel and live with the old furniture for another year until they can purchase the quality they deserve. 

Before you fall into this trap, learn how to plan your interior design budget 


2. Save money by reupholstering 

Clients will tell me they want to save money by having an existing piece reupholstered. And this, my friends, is pure fantasy. Upholstery work is labor intensive. But when it is done in a furniture factory, they have put in systems, and machines to make this as efficient as possible.  


Interior Decorator Denver Colorado

via Beautiful Habitat

Reupholstery, on the other hand, is a one-off project, completed by a smaller team or an individual. It also requires deconstructing and fixing the original piece of furniture. Plus, you need to purchase several yards of new upholstery grade fabric. The labor and the fabric always add up to more than they spent on the chair in the first place. And often it’s going to cost the same or more than a new quality piece of furniture.

In addition, the pieces people most often say they want to recover were cheap imports to begin with, so they spend $700 on a chair that will now cost $600 in labor and $400 in fabric to reupholster. 



Interior Design and Decor Boulder Colorado

via Beautiful Habitat

When does reupholster make sense?

When the original piece was high quality furniture to begin with. A high quality piece is worth the money to keep it. Also unique, antique and custom pieces for which you could not find a replacement.  In the room above, our clients had high quality and unique swivel chairs that made sense to reupholster.

3. Piecemeal  renovation 

I also call this the “band aid” approach. 

For Example: the idea to replace the bathroom vanity and countertops now and replace the rest of the bathroom later. In theory this sounds fine. But in reality, this can impact other parts of the room like the floor or the backsplash tile. Or down the road you fall in love with a new shower tile, but it doesn’t work with the vanity countertop you selected 3 years earlier.  You’ve pigeon holed yourself with the vanity. 

Sometimes it is worth trying the save an existing element in the room. And I’m all for reducing waste in the landfill. But the conditions need to be right in the short and long term. Instead, often times, these piecemeal designs backfire, the homeowner is unhappy, and the whole room ends up in a landfill before it would have if it had been done “correctly” and holistically. 

If you’ve been with me for a while, you will know that we advocate for a holistic and thorough design before any purchases are made. This ensures that the whole room and whole home will work together. 

Full disclosure – I did a band aid update to my kitchen 10 years ago. It needed the update and I liked my reasons 10 years ago. The problem – I spent too much on the band aid, so that 10 years later, I still can’t justify doing the full kitchen remodel that I dream of. I wish I had thought longer term about my goals… 

Now I just get to design my dream kitchen for other people.


Modern Kitchen Designer Denver Colorado

via Beautiful Habitat

Do you need help planning a design or furnishing project, but you’re worried about saving money or making mistakes? We start with a design consultation to help you understand what’s achievable before we even begin. Schedule yours today! 


More advice on Interior Design mistakes and how to avoid them 

5 Mistakes in Bathroom Design 

4 Common Decorative Mistakes 

Mistakes in Choosing the Right Paint Color