Budgeting Your Living Room Remodel

Get tips for figuring out how much you can spend on your living room renovation project.

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So, just how much is that living room renovation going to cost? The answer to that question ranges from a few thousand dollars for a paint job and new flooring to a few hundred thousand dollars for major construction and magazine-worthy interior design. But whether you are planning to give your space a minor facelift or a major overhaul, it's important to know how much things are going to cost before the first demolition sledgehammer is swung. Otherwise, you could run out of money midway through the project.

To start honing in on a realistic budget for the changes you have in mind, go back to the wish list you've created for your renovation and prioritize it into "musts," "maybes" and "someday down the line." Then do some research about how much each element — or at least the "musts" — might cost.

Consult the Pros

To find realistic numbers for architecture, construction and design services, talk to a few professionals you might consider working with. Share your ideas for the project and ask them how much their services for such a plan might run and how much you can expect to spend on materials and subcontractors' work, as well. Remember that after you've paid your designer to find the perfect fabric for your sofa, you'll have to pay for the fabric as well as the upholsterer's time and talent. Talk to a few different pros so that you have a sense of how prices might vary.

Remember the Rugs

As for decoration, says interior designer Lucie Ayres of 22 Interiors, "Create a spreadsheet and prioritize the 'must-have' items, like the sofa that is an investment or the chandelier you've been coveting, and then work around that. And be sure to put in a contingency line item in for those amazing finds or extras you forgot about (rug pads, storage baskets or vases for the console table)."

Leave Room for What You’ve Overlooked

You will forget something; everybody does. "I tell people to have a ten-percent contingency amount in the back of their mind for 'unknown' expenses such as possible city inspector requirements and hidden problems that can't be seen until walls are opened," says Bruce Graf, owner of Graf Developments. And put some money aside for a little "mission creep," too, he suggests: "You may decide you want to add a few things in other parts of the house, while the contractor is there and the house is dusty."

Think About Resale

If you are planning changes that will significantly increase the market value of your home when you sell it, consider using a home equity line of credit to pay for those changes. Just remember that the real estate market is unpredictable, and don't borrow more than you'll be able to pay back if prices are dipping when you need to move out.

Don’t Forget the Flourishes

"Always leave room in your budget for art and accessories," says Karen Soojian, ASID. "They are the finishing touches that add character and soul. You can acquire them over time, but do make sure that your long-range planning leaves room for them."

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