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Designing on a Budget – Where is Your Hard-Earned Money Best Spent?

Satara Sales - Thursday, December 07, 2017

It can feel like everyone is designing or decorating their homes on huge budgets, especially when social media, television and magazines continually flaunt such beautiful and seemingly extravagant designs. Perhaps this is the case for some people, but it can be guaranteed that many also work within tight budgets too. Here are some of our favourite tips for designing and decorating on a budget.

Image by FlooringXtra featuring Satara Products [Aslak Sofa, Eden Cage Coffee Table, Sundial Dining Table etc.]


Sometimes it’s best to be realistic about what’s possible with the budget you have. Do you know what your budget is, or is it a vague amount you would like to stick to? Start a spreadsheet to track your costs, even placing estimates in as you get them to create a realistic budget. Somethings will be more expensive than you were expecting, while others may be a pleasant surprise. If you’re completing structural renovations or building, get your quotes happening so you can gain insight into how much things will cost. Remember to always allow for a buffer, things rarely go to plan!

If you’re working towards furnishings, accessories, art, surface treatments and soft furnishings (such as window treatments), start doing some research. Jump online and have a look at how much things cost. Are you willing to compromise on the items you really want, to get it all done at once, or would you prefer to stage the projects at different times to get what you really want albeit in a longer time frame? Once you know this, you can start allocating your money to various parts of the project. Remember to include estimates for furniture freight, installations and other extras.

Lastly, work out what’s the most important aspect of your project. If your kitchen is in dire straits, spend the money there, not on that artwork you’ve been eying off. As dull as it may sound, a functional home is money well spent. Anyways, functional can be beautiful too!

Use a Designer

Engaging a designer may seem like a strange suggestion when the pockets are not so deep, but sometimes it can be an excellent financial investment, particularly if you find a designer who is willing to work hard to ensure the budget is met. The wonderful things about designers, particularly ones who “get” your project budget, is they have their fingers on the pulse. They know who’s on sale, they can sometimes get discounts from places you never will and they also have a much wider net of suppliers to draw from.

They also can see things differently. Their solutions for things you see and live in everyday can save you money, breathing new life into existing pieces. And finally, doing something right and doing it once is far more cost effective than making mistakes and having to re-do it all a year down the track.

 Flat Lay by Sally Caroline

Re-imagine What’s Already There

Leading on from the above, think like a designer. Consider what that big old armchair would look like in a new part of the home. Or that big old armchair, how would it look with new fabric? Or even a new cushion and throw? Sometimes the simplest things really make everything feel different- and better.

Image via []

You may be thinking you need an entirely new living room setting. What would happen if you shuffle things around a little? Maybe keep the arm chair and the coffee table and bring a new sofa, lamp and coffee table in instead? A fresh lick of paint can change everything, so to can a new statement lamp, rug or artwork. Not everything has to be done from scratch.

Don’t Skimp on the Important Things

There are certain things which shouldn’t be driven entirely by price. In the interiors game, this would include quality appliances, tradespeople and furniture items like sofas, beds and chairs. Cheaper tiles, timber imitations and plastics also are inexpensive for a reason, you may be replacing them sooner than you would like. Smaller items, such as art, accessories, lesser used furniture pieces and anything decorative can be brought under the line. As mentioned previously, buying once is far cheaper than having to repeatedly replace something of inferior quality. Check warranties and work with suppliers and trades you trust will deliver an excellent product which will be worth the money spent.


Image by Satara via [] Featuring the Brooklyn Sofa & Noah Side Table

This can also be said for key pieces. Investing in one or two statement items in the home will have maximum impact, such as a beautiful sofa or dining table. Having these “hero” pieces will allow for other items to be more discrete and often less expensive. 

Old Made New Again

There are so many great ways to give new life to things in your home that already exist. Consider your art work, instead of buying new art, try reframing. Instead of buying new cushions, see if new feather inserts give them a new look. Hunt down bargain fabrics online to reupholster chairs, sofas, dining chair seats and ottomans. Re-stain the old timber chairs or even try it yourself (if it’s not a family heirloom!). For art, try framing maps, vintage posters and flags for instant appeal.

Mixing Old and New

One of the great current trends of interior design today is the mixing of old and new. It’s charming way to add character to your home in a meaningful way. Pairing new, practical and contemporary items (say, a sofa) with a vintage armchair or antique lamp equals instant appeal without any pretentiousness. It’s a fun way to create stories in your interior, collecting things as you go on your travels or grow as a family. Keep your eyes peeled for items your family may want to throw out, visit an auction house or flea market to find items which complement but contrast your more modern pieces. It’s also a cost-effective way of keeping the budget down. Invest in your key pieces, such as a new bed, but balance out the costs with mismatched bedsides, or vintage pieces.

Image by Vogue Living- Manhattan Townhouse

Get Creative

While getting creative is not going to help you with your dream kitchen or designer dining chairs, it can help if there is very little left over after making big purchases. These are the things like art, accessories and the smaller items in the home. Try dabbling in some abstract art, or, collate your children’s pieces into a creative arrangement. There are plenty of tutorials online for weaving, watercolours and other creative pursuits. Try plant holders, cushions and throws or baskets as a place to start. Pinterest is a wealth of knowledge and inspiration in this area too- have fun!

Image by Marij Hessel

Be Timeless

Classic interiors will never date. Or, if they do it will take a very long time to do so! Not being a stickler to trends will help your home to feel fresh and modern for a much longer time which in the end, relates closely to money. Avoid “on trend” colours or materials and stick to classic materials, colours and designs. Perhaps this is boring? No, we don’t think so! If you fall in love with this seasons colour, go for smaller, less expensive splashes, such as cushions or a print. Replacing these in a few years will not feel so bad, rather than replacing your whole dining area furnishings.

Classic items of furniture will remain classic for a long time; they’re named that for a reason. Enlisting a professional to help guide you through finding these pieces which will stand the test of time will always be a great way to go. Remember to always be open and honest with your designer, that way they can work for you successfully and in your parameters, no matter how tight those purse strings may be.


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