How to plan a home makeover budget

We offer tips on how to plan, stretch and conserve your budget for a home makeover project

Pick real wood floors versus cheap laminates. Getty 
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If you're planning a home makeover project, no matter how large or small, things can easily go out of hand price-wise. From material and labour to those added extras that personalise a space, it is worth going over the costs that are likely to be involved before you start.

Here are some ways to plan your budget and tips on how to stretch it, so you can have a little bit more of what you fancy.

Draw up a plan

Budgets can be as simple or as complex as you like, but we suggest keeping it relatively straightforward unless you're getting some serious renovation or building work done. Start by planning for the absolute essentials, the things you don't have a choice but to buy. For example, if you're thinking of replacing wallpaper, you'll almost certainly need paste, a brush and perhaps a wallpapering table. These don't have to be fancy or expensive, but you'll need to factor them in.

Next, think about the items that you'll need but can offer some flexibility – the wallpaper itself, for example. Explore the range available within various price brackets, and compare the costs of the brands or types that appeal to you or suit your space. For this category, you might want to put two columns into your budget, one with a minimum and the other with a maximum price. That way you can weigh up where and how much you can save.

Then look at labour costs and any tools you'll need to buy or hire. Get multiple quotes to ensure you're getting good value for your money. And don't forget to account for delivery charges for large furniture items.

Finally, add in the nice-to-have items. These are the pieces you'll include if you can afford them – a painting, perhaps, or a fancy framed mirror to hang on your freshly wallpapered wall. You might also want to include a buffer zone, in case anything unexpected comes up, especially in larger projects.

Once you have all these factors written down in black and white, you’ll find it is much easier to work out what you can and cannot realistically afford.

Spend versus save

Of course, there are some items where it just doesn't pay to go for the cheap option. If a piece of furniture will be getting a lot of use, you need it to last long. Investing in something that is made well will pay off in the long run because you won't have to keep replacing it.

Some items can actually impact our physical health and mental well-­being, too. A mattress is a good example. Resist settling for cheap bedding that will give you a backache or disturb your sleep each time your partner turns over. The same goes for a sofa, as well as paint. For example, opt for a slightly costlier organic, volatile organic compounds (VOC)-free paint option over one that may contain harmful chemicals.

Don't skimp when it comes to items that will impact your health, such as toxin-free paints. Courtesy Annie Sloan

Also, while you might be tempted to snare a steal deal, spare a thought for your personal likes and dislikes, as these will come into play in the long run. If you hate laminate flooring, it might be worth investing in solid wood floorboards rather than feeling put off each time you enter that room. If you absolutely can't afford something at the moment, wait and save up until you can, rather than waste money on a cheap alternative that will bring you no joy.

There are times when it makes sense to go with a budget option if you're trying to save money. For example, if you're doing up the nursery, it will likely be redecorated in a few years, so don't blow the budget on luxury items.

Children's rooms, too, fall under this category, especially if you have young ones and will have to deal with spilt food and crayon marks on the wall.

Refrain from luxury investments in your children's bedroom - they will outgrow the furniture as well as the themed decor they may have once insisted on. Courtesy PaperBoy Interiors Ltd  

Other spend versus save tactics include keeping your base palette nude, especially if you like to regularly update your interiors. Then introduce colour through low-cost accessories, such as cushions, throws and vases, which can then be replaced without spending a fortune whenever you're bored of the decor.

When making such decisions, it can help to think about the cost "per use". For example, if something costs Dh1,000 and you'll only need it once a week, over a year the item will cost you about Dh20 each time. Using an item daily, on the other hand, brings its cost per use down to Dh3 over the same period.

Money-saving tips

If you're still struggling to make your budget work, here are a few extra money-saving exercises that won't require you to compromise on your interior design …

Comparison shop

The first thing to do is research, research, research. The internet is your friend, giving you access to hundreds of retailers whose different items you can compare. This is a time-consuming exercise, but it will be worth it when you find that perfect accent chair for 25 per cent less than what you thought it was going to cost.

Go sale-hunting

Assuming you're not in a particular rush to get your makeover project finished, play the long game and use your plan as a shopping list for the sales. Pop online every few days to see where the best discounts are, or to check whether an item you've got your eye on has gone on sale.

Source second-hand

From eBay and Facebook marketplace to vintage stores and flea markets, second-hand items are a great way to bag a bargain as well as acquire something a little bit different. If you're buying online, make sure there is a way to check the condition of the item before you part with your cash or that there is a robust returns policy in case you're not happy.

Use what you have

A great way to give your home a new look is to rethink the items you already own. Could that bureau in your study make a lovely feature in the living room? Would the bookshelf in the hall work better in your bedroom? You may need to repaint an item in order to repurpose it, but you'll save yourself having to buy a new piece.

Old bicycle wheels can be upcycled to make for a stylish decor piece. Courtesy Smithers of Stamford

Whatever your budget, starting with a plan is an effective way to make sure you get what you want from it. It will also help you organise the project better and ultimately ensure that your dream-home outcome comes true.