Decorating can be expensive, particularly if you have to do a whole room or a whole house all at once. A decorating budget will be your most important tool in making sure you don't empty your wallet while filling your house.
Make a Wishlist
The first thing to do is to let your imagination run wild. Think about all the things you would love to have, whether you think it will fit within your decorating budget or not. Collect inspiration photos and write down all the things that stick out to you. Are you in love with wallpaper? Do you love the look of wainscotting? Are you attracted to specific statement pieces? Having a list of items you want to include will help you when it comes time to make a decorating plan.
Determine Your Budget
Put your wishlist aside for the moment and create a budget for the room(s) you need to decorate. Be honest about your regular expenses and really figure out how much you have to spend on this project. No decor item is worth having if it's going to make you feel guilty or compromise the rest of your lifestyle. So figure out what you have to spend—what exactly you spend it on will be decided later.
Make a Decorating Plan
A decorating plan includes everything from creating an overall look, determining the floor plan, and adding any extras like wallpaper, light fixtures, and artwork. This is pretty much everything that will go into the room. This is where you want to work from your wishlist. Take all the things you wrote down and figure out what you actually want to put in your room while keeping your budget in the back of your head.
Comparison shopping before you buy is very important. You need to familiarize yourself with what things really cost. Remember to include things like labor costs for custom work, shipping and delivery, and any other extras that may not be on an item's original price tag. And don't let yourself get discouraged during this process. While the prices quickly add up there are often ways to get what you want for the price you can afford—you just need to be willing to compromise. It's not as hard as it seems to decorate a room on a budget.
Narrow Things Down
Chances are that you can't fit everything on your wishlist into your budget. Once you've done some comparison shopping you should have a good idea of what things cost. Now is the time to narrow things down. Cut out the things that aren't practical for your budget, and make adjustments where you can. This may mean opting for pre-fab bookshelves instead of built-in cabinets, or store-bought curtains instead of custom window treatments. In some cases, it's a matter of making minor adjustments to still get the same look. For instance, if you fall in love with a $5,000 sofa look around for something in a similar shape but perhaps with a different type of filling. Chances are good that you can find something you like just as much for a smaller price.
Prioritize Your Purchases
Prioritizing your purchases is important because no matter what your budget is you might not be able to pay for everything all at once, so you need to decide what you need first. For instance, in many cases, a sofa will be a priority before accessories like artwork and mirrors. Or you may want to get things like rugs and wallpaper in place before you bring in furniture. This is unique to every person and every home so it's up to you to decide what to do first.
Stick to Your Decorating Budget
The hardest part of this whole process is actually sticking to the budget once you've made it. It's very easy to lose track so make it a priority to stay organized and write down each and everything you pay for during the decorating process. And remember that if you overspend in one area you'll have to make up for it in another.