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Interior Design Budget – Living Room

What is a suitable interior design budget for a living room?    

That is one of the most frequently asked questions I get. For most people it’s an aspiration to work with an interior designer but we try to make it achievable.

The interior design process produces brilliant outcomes and it will be an experience you will thoroughly enjoy and never forget.  In comparison to other ‘high end’ studios, my belief in accessible design ensures working with us is affordable. 

So, let’s get to the figures.  The prices I’m about to share are averages for an interior styling project, not an interior design project. 

Interior Design or Interior Styling

What’s the difference between an interior style and an interior design project?  An interior styling project focuses on aesthetics and function.  An interior design project includes function, aesthetics, and structure. 

The key difference between the two services is whether the structure or layout is changing.  If structure is part of the project the overall costs are higher due to the level of complexity, skill, expertise, and time required for projects of this nature.

So, for this article I’m focusing on interior styling.  Let’s take a living room as an example.  Right up front our fee to style your living room will cost between $2,500 – $3,500 depending on the number of pieces required and the number of surfaces we are treating.

What does it mean to ‘treat’ a surface?  In any interior styling project we consider all the surfaces in the spaces, that is, floor, walls and ceilings.  If, you would like to treat all or any of the surfaces, for example, replace the flooring or add a feature wall, then the price is more.

However, if you have a couple of pieces of furniture that you’d like us to incorporate into the concept and there’s no change to any surfaces, then the overall price could be less.

Usual Pieces for a Living Room

In general, we specify the following products for a living room;

  1. Sofa
  2. Other misc items; eg: arm chair/s, ottomans
  3. Coffee table
  4. Rug
  5. Cushions
  6. Throw
  7. Lighting, floor, table, ceiling
  8. Possible feature wall eg: feature paint, wallpaper
  9. Possible art or use of existing
  10. Window treatments
  11. Accessories and décor.

Once we define a design strategy which includes your preferred style goal, your ideal colour scheme and the furniture layout, we then research and find suitable pieces to suit the design strategy, size of the space and your budget.  We present these pieces in a moodboard for your feedback.

Cost of Key Pieces for Living Room

Let’s look at the average cost of the items identified above, starting with a sofa.  In our vlog on how to choose the right sofa, we mention that the average cost of a good quality, comfortable sofa that you will have for a very long time will set you back approximately $3,000. 

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York 2 Seater Sofa

However, we have specified sofas for clients that cost $1,500.  There are cheaper sofas still, from retailers such as Amart Furniture and Fantastic Furniture.  Which suppliers we research and specify from, totally depends on your budget.

Of course, some clients have a much larger budget and can afford to and want to spend thousands more, check out the cost of sofas at Space, as an example.

The next important piece of furniture we research for a living room is the coffee table.  We have specified coffee tables that cost as little as $350, a mid range price is about $599, and a more expensive coffee table would be $1400. Again, depending on your budget you could spend a lot more.

With all the big pieces we also consider quality and value for money, based on the materials used, country of manufacture and warranty.

What about an ottoman/foot stool or armchair?  In an apartment setting you may not have the space for these pieces but for a house we usually add these items.  Ottomans range in price from about $100-$150 to $600 plus.  The size and material of this item impacts the price, for example, leather is more expensive than fabric.

The cost of armchairs ranges significantly too.  A larger armchair, finished in leather, classically styled can cost approximately $2000.  For our clients the average cost of an armchair is about $500.

For our most recent project, an apartment in St Kilda East, we specified the Maxen Coffen Table, which is currently $439.

Cost of Decor, Lighting & Art

Miscellaneous items such as cushions and throws (budget for at least $100 for good quality throw) are not cheap, especially if you want a cushion with a feather filling, like the Sloane breakfast cushion we recently specified for a client which is currently $61.95. 

But we have also found cushions from Kmart the client was happy with because they were perfect for the design strategy and her budget, given she spent a lot more than expected on other pieces such as a love seat, bookcase and custom desk.

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Which brings us to a valuable point, it’s rare for us to specify custom pieces for residential styling projects.  Primarily because custom making something is expensive, so we always like to exhaust our usual supplier list for items before going down this path.

Lighting, whether it’s a table lamp or a floor lamp, lighting is not cheap but there are low cost options and good discounts available during sales.  But for example, we specified table lamps for a bedroom styling project that were $185 each and mostly recently a floor lamp that was $386.

A feature wall could either be a paint colour or a wallpaper.  This exercise includes the cost of labour for someone to do the painting or applying the wallpaper and the cost of the materials.  The cost of painters varies, but on average a painter is $35-$45 p/hr, the cost for someone to install wallpaper is similar. 

We have specified a check wallpaper for as little as $16 a roll and beaded wallpaper for $150 a roll.  Again, what’s right for your space, budget and what’s available at the time all factor into our specifications.

Art – is really the icing on the cake and because we love it we always recommend art and firmly believe there is art for every budget.  Recently we specified downloadable prints from Etsy for $40 but our client instead chose to spend $1000 at Lumas Gallery.  One of our client has paid just over $6000 for a piece of art.

Art is such a personal choice.  We recommend a range of art suppliers appropriate to the design strategy, space and budget.  To learn more about how to buy or choose art, watch our vlog.

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Window treatments, that is blinds, curtains etc are also not cheap.  We will not use a supplier such as Spotlight because we’re not confident in the quality.  We have however, suggested Ikea and of course we have our own custom window treatment supplier based in Northcote, P & S Drapes.

Recently a client was quoted about $4000 for a blind and sheer curtain combination for 3 rooms.  On the other hand a client paid nearly $1500 for curtains for just one room.  Curtains are for life, so you want to invest in a good quality fabric, excellent construction and installation.

Décor and accessories can be costly too but there are good value items to be found.  We believe less is more with décor and accessories, a few choice pieces rather than a messy collection.  Most recently we specified an artificial flower and vase item that was over $400.  But then found a cute piece, this knot at Kmart for $5.50.

Budget Bottom Line

If you do the math, using a mid-range budget, it will cost approximately $5000-$7000 to furnish your living room.  Therefore, because styling for your space can be confusing, by working with us, you can rest assured that we are researching and recommending carefully curated items that suit you, your style, your space and your budget. 

We know value.  We know where to spend money and where you can make compromises.  My promise is that you will not be disappointed by working with us, not in our selections nor with the beautiful outcome.  Contact us today for a free initial no obligation chat.

Written by Trish Khoury, Founding Director, Grace Interior Designs.