Interior Project Budget: Expectations and Reality.

For those of you who have dealt with home refurbishment at least once, one thing is known for sure: resources play a major role in the entire process. Aspects like interior vision, qualification and performance of the team, availability of materials  and others are undoubtedly of no small importance. However, at the end of the day, successful implementation of our interior design ideas solely depends on the budget we have in place. 

How to plan the interior design budget? What requires significant investment, and where is it possible to save? We have decided to launch a special series of articles to help you get clear answers to these critical questions. In this post, we will cover the basics and take a look at a real-life example from our studio to find out what parts the typical interior design budget consists of. So, let's get started!

Budget Planning: Main Cost Items

It may sound obvious, but to make your budget predictable you should plan it in detail prior to commencing any construction or refurbishment works. A situation when people are forced to extend the budget is common regardless of who implements the project: a customer himself or a team of professionals. So understanding of key cost items is a cornerstone of calculating a proper budget. 

The main cost items for the interior project implementation can be split into 5 groups: 

  • Finishing (walls, ceiling, floor, doors)
  • Equipment (bathroom fixtures, engineering equipment)
  • Lighting (lamps, sockets, switches)
  • Furniture
  • Appliances

The above-mentioned groups form the foundation of any interior regardless of the project’s complexity, style, and budget. Finishing, lightning, furniture and other expenses are inevitable, the only question is how much you’re ready to spend on them.

Cost Correlation

The percentage ratio of the cost items may vary depending on multiple factors, however, from our own experience, the average figures for a typical apartment will be as follows:

In case you’re looking to implement a “smart home” concept, the cost correlation will change correspondingly:

As mentioned earlier, the ratio of item costs may vary from project to project, however, the fluctuations will be minor in most cases. For example, the initial project budget is rather restricted, but a customer is willing to install more expensive flooring. With the help of the chart, he or she can determine where it is possible to save to compensate for the lacking ‘percentage’ so that to stay within the budget.


Real-life Example

To help you get a clear picture, let’s have a look at the budget details of one of our projects - AMUR. We have implemented the interior for this one-bedroom apartment located in a new building from scratch. Following the demand of our customers - a young couple working in the IT field - the Scandinavian style was chosen as a base for the project. Sticking to the agreed budget, we didn’t plan to use any expensive Italian furniture, lighting or equipment. Our task was to create a cozy, homely atmosphere, where our clients would enjoy returning to after a hard working day.

In the apartment, the open-plan living space combines a living room, a dining area and a kitchen. Here’s how the diagram of the cost items for this part of the project looks like:

The total cost estimates for each item are outlined below:


Room finishing, flooring and windows in particular, made the largest part of the total cost of the project. At our studio, we believe that it is worth going for reliable, proven materials for finishing, as, ultimately, their quality is what makes the interior last. To our delight, our clients supported this vision. Therefore, fine parquet board by a local manufacturer was chosen as the flooring material. This allowed creating an atmosphere of comfort and home warmth we were looking for. Unfortunately, even high-class exclusive laminate will never be able to give the feeling of a real wooden floor. Modern parquet, in turn, can be used even in the bathroom, and also can be installed with underfloor heating. But, of course, the cost of such an option would be higher.

There’s no question that a plethora of flooring options are available today, ranging from tile to micro-concrete and natural materials. However, one should keep in mind that high-quality materials won’t be cheap in most cases. Good news is that it is always possible to find a suitable alternative for a reasonable price. Therefore, we highly recommend using quality products for decorating the main premises, and on this project the parquet board was the best choice.

Window costs also made a considerable part in the overall budget. The customers decided to install wooden windows, and we gladly supported the idea. Despite the choice of plastic windows available today, they can never beat wooden frames in terms of reliability. The visual aspect is another advantage of wooden windows, since the Scandinavian style usually implies the usage of natural materials. According to the design project, window paneling was to be installed. Decorative plastic linings in this case would not look as neat and beautiful as the frames made of real wood.

As for the rest of the finishing, we used quite simple and affordable materials. However, when implementing the interior, the customers followed a well-thought-out approach: choosing the most reliable and durable materials within the acceptable budget rather than purchasing the cheapest ones in order to save. For instance, one of the walls was to be covered in brick. Though low-budget, the option of using artificial material was out of the question - both the homeowners and our team wanted to achieve the real look and feel of a brick wall. So, we found a workshop that produced the required number of tiles of the necessary texture by cutting old bricks. Upon installation, a part of the wall was painted white, whilst another part was covered with matte varnish, preserving the natural color.

Aged wooden panelling on the walls was another element accounting for a significant part of the budget. To achieve the effect of old, rustic, shabby panels, we used solid natural wood. Such option will never be low-cost, however it was definitely worth it on our project!

And last, but not least, the custom partition made of oak based on our drawings. The cost of the partition was quite considerable - $1,770. The rest of the walls were covered with paint.


As a rule, furniture costs constitute one of the largest cost items. Kitchen, living room, hallway, bedroom - even if only the low-budget pieces are considered, their share in the total project cost will be significant, and this should be taken into account when planning your own budget.

On this project, we chose an affordable kitchen set from IKEA, which became a perfect fit for the style of the interior. However, any interior features custom-made furniture pieces, which cost more, as a rule. So, for this particular apartment, we have ordered a custom sofa, wooden shelves, a worktop for the working area and a table for the kitchen from local manufacturers.

Chairs and the carpet, as well as some lamps were ordered from Europe. Although we had to pay for the delivery, the overall savings were quite considerable, as the prices at European online stores are much lower.

Taking all things together, when implementing the project, we tried to get the value for money and choose the interior pieces that would fit the design, whilst remaining within the budget. 


It may seem that such items as lighting have little impact on the overall project cost. However, they should never be ignored when planning the budget and should be calculated from the very start, as bulb and pendants here and there will make you spend quite a lot. 

When it comes to lighting, we adhere to the following principle. We divide all lighting into two main parts: technical light, which should be as ergonomic as possible for each zone, and decorative light, which complements the interior, also partially fulfilling the main function - lighting. On this project, we used budget-friendly, yet reliable LED lamps as technical light, diluting them with wall sconces and pendant lights in the kitchen area. Decorative light, as mentioned above, was ordered online at a reasonable price. Thanks to the European design, the chosen items matched the design in the best way.

Bottom Line

So, in order to implement an interior project of a similar complexity, you should plan a budget of at least $ 950 per 1 sq. m. It is important to note that shell & core fit-out is not taken into account in this estimation! We will tell you more about the cost of preliminary work, as well as design supervision in the following articles of this series.

Summing Up

Thus, when estimating the budget for your interior project, we highly recommend considering the distribution of costs by item. By compiling a list of expense items and determining their approximate share in the total cost, you will get a solid foundation for planning an accurate final budget. 

Of course, if you plan to create and implement an interior design project on your own, the total sum will be lower. Needless to say, that in order to keep within the budget frames, we might simplify our ideas and go for more affordable materials or interior items.

However, it is important to understand one thing: if you have decided to engage a professional designer, the unique solution you will work out together should be fully implemented, so that you enjoy the final result for many years to come.