How we stay ON BUDGET!!!

We’ve been talking about the budget in every blog post.  It’s imperative to review the budget with every decision you make.  Why?  Consider what aspects of the project the funding impacts:

  • Products and Materials
  • Labor costs
  • Shipping and Charges
  • Timeline
  • Debris Disposal Charges
  • Interest Charges
  • Permit Costs
  • Architectural or Engineering Plans

It’s fair to say that the budget affects everything in a project.  Therefore, it should be reviewed with every decision.  The budget is your friend; it keeps you focused on what’s important.  Further, if you focus on the budget in decision-making, you will make decisions that impact your results the most.  You will prioritize your “needs” versus your “wants.”  It makes you think creatively.

Unfortunately, most people don’t give the budget the necessary attention, whether they DIY or hire contract professionals.  Check out “Common budget MISTAKES people make” at the end of this blog.

We prioritized our must-purchase big-ticket items and sourced them for the best prices.  It’s also important to factor in ALL resources we have to help us on the project.  In my case, I have considerable skills in DIYing – painting, furniture refinishing, electrical wiring, plumbing, sewing, etc.  These skills save a LOT.  

On most kitchen and bathroom renovation projects I’ve worked on in the past 25 years, the project material costs are relatively equal to the labor costs.  Although this is not a kitchen or bath, the budget is very small, which requires a lot of DIYing (labor).  Since I am not purchasing many new items for this project due to budget restrictions, it requires more work (labor) to transform the things we do have.  And I need to be the laborer.

I could not meet the budget of $1000.00 for this transformation without performing the work needed myself.  Also, as a designer who has worked on many projects, I have a significant stockpile of unused materials from past projects that I can source from.  It pays off for my future clients or myself, and I hate sending usable new items to the landfill.

What I've purchased so far, and why ...


This is the one big purchase item I need to make for the room.  The old fan is a complete eyesore in the center of the room, and it doesn’t fit the overall theme we desire.  I anticipate this being the most significant purchase, so I want to nail down this expense to determine my remaining budget.

I found a fan on Amazon for $273.00 and loved it.  Two less expensive fans would work in plan, but they were shipped from China, and delivery was early June, so I nixed those options.

Luckily, I found the exact fan on Wayfair during “Way Day” for $187.00!!!!  It pays to keep looking and to shop these big sales.  So with tax, it costs $200.09 (free shipping).

Remaining Budget $799.99.

HACK:    The original ceiling fan had a seperate wall switch for the light and fan, but the new ceiling fan only requires one wall switch with a remote that operates the fan/speed/light/brightness.  I disconnected the unnecessary wall switch and convered with a blank plate, which is drilled holes into to attach the remote control holder.


Curtains are a vital feature to complete the look I am going for, and I need six panels, plus rods and rings.  I found inexpensive options on Amazon and Wayfair for unlined basic curtains in a sheer fabric.  Not the perfect choice for my look, but what I can afford at $19.99 per panel ($120.)

Then I found an ad on Craigslist for seven panels of Pottery Barn Canvas, lined curtains in an ivory color at 96″ length.  They were $25/per panel ($175.)  I contacted the seller and asked if she would consider selling only six panels. 

She said no, but when I explained it was for the One Room Challenge, and I was on a tight budget and could not afford these, her interest peaked.  After explaining I was a designer and what this was for, she offered me the panels for  $10.00 each! 

These curtains are just basic panels with swift tabs to add curtain hooks, but no pleating, which I hate the way they hang … basically it’s a sloppy look that looks like a thick sheet hanging on your windows.  They don’t hang anything like the styled photo above.

But not to worry, I know how to sew, so I added a simple euro pleat at the top.  You can see in the pictures how I did it.

I got a bargain on these, and the extra work for adding the pleats and hemming them is a small price to pay for quality lined curtains.  I checked, and these new panels are $169 each!  That’s $1014.00 plus tax!  

Granted, these curtains are six years old – but they are in perfect condition.  12-year-old quality is much better than brand new cheaply made. 

When I went to hem these curtain panels, I discovered that none of the panels were the same length.  The shortest was 94.25,” and the longest was 97.5″:  a variance of 3.25″!  I know this is a common issue with Pottery Barn curtains.  ALWAYS measure your new curtain panels individually before selecting rod height or hemming; otherwise, you might be making time-consuming mistakes.

$70.00 (no tax) out of my budget for a budget balance of $729.99

Wall Paint 

Once I had my curtains, I revisited the wall color options.  I chose the color “Midsummer White,” slightly more red and green than the ivory curtains.  I want there to be a slight contrast between the two.

I purchased 2 gallons of Ovation Plus by Sherwin Williams from Lowes for $72.71

Remaining Budget $657.28

Pendant Lights

I wanted to bring in the woven raffia aspect from the mood board, and pendants are a great place to do that.  Fish Basket-inspired Pendant Shades have gained popularity and are a great way to warm up space by not going dark and warm.  They have a clean natural feel to them.

These are from Amazon and came in a pack of 2 for $52.99.  They are plug-ins, but I have leftover canopies from another project that I can use to convert them to direct wire and use the leftover cords with dimmers for a project down the road.

Remaining budget $604.29.

HACK:     I hardwired the plug-in pendants by cutting the cord and threading through a ceiling canopy I saved from a previous project.  (The canopies were antique bronze, so I spray painted them black.)  I made sure to strip the raffia wrap on the inside portion of the canopy not to cause a fire hazard.  I love the way the raffia cord coordinates with the color of the bleached wood tops of my refinished pictures, as you can see in the first two images below.

Furniture and Door Pulls

I visited a local Builders Salvage Company for the first time, amazed at what I found there.  Great prices on a variety of building supplies of all qualities. 

I stumbled across the furniture pulls I was hoping to purchase from Lowe’s.  They cost $10.58 each, and I need 8, which is $84.64.  Quite a chunk out of my small budget. 

Luckily I held off buying them until I was more confident in the budget.  ALL cabinetry pulls, and knobs here are $2.00 each!

I ended up getting the eight pulls for the furniture plus four more for the small built-in cabinets in the room. If purchased from Lowe’s, these pulls would have totaled $116.60. 

At Builders Salvage, twelve beautiful “Liberty” Brand pulls for $14.98.  A Savings of $101.62 !!

Remaining Budget $589.31

Curtain Rods – How I saved $13.00 by thinking clever

I needed two 50″ rods for the single windows and one 110″ rod for the large window.  After searching all the options, I decided on these Oneach rods from Amazon due to the look and the price.

These rods came in packs of two. I would get the two 50″ rods for $39.99, and I would have to receive two of the 110″ rods for $52.99 when I only needed one.  The total cost of these rods is $92.98.

Due to this, instead of ordering the pack of two for the 110″ rods, I opted to purchase another pack of the 50″ rod and then piece the 2 rods into a single rod to give me the 110″ rod I needed.  So my new cost for the rods is $79.98 for a savings of  $13.00.

This may seem like a small amount but remember the deals I got on the furniture pulls above??  This $13.00 can buy 6 of those pulls.  When it comes to budget, EVERYTHING counts.  The little things add up to a lot by the end of your project.

Remaining budget $489.81

Furniture Paint and supplies

For the refinishing of furniture which I detailed in the Week Four Post, I purchased paint and peel and stick carpet tiles.  The total I spent on these supplies was $69.58.

Remaining budget $420.23.

$420.23 left to spend -- check out next weeks blog to find out how we spent it!

Common budget MISTAKES

  • Not creating a budget
  • Not paying attention to it
  • Creating a budget without researching actual product costs
  • Setting a budget at maximum one can spend
  • Setting a budget without a reserve fund  for unexpected costs
  • Overspending on certain items without compensating  elsewhere
  • Hiring the cheapest labor one can find
  • Purchasing the cheapest products one can find
  • Thinking they can or will do more than they can
  • Not factoring in the small costs … incidentals, etc.
  • Maxing out no interest payment plans and not paying them off on time … *** This can cost thousands in compounded interest!!! **  NEVER DO THIS!!!

To see rooms for other participants, click here:

3 thoughts on “One Room Challenge – WEEK FIVE”

  1. Fantastic work, and I just love the bed transformation especially. It was interesting to read how you were able to work around the small budget and how you utilized your skills and talents to make it happen. So the one thing barely touched on in both the article and your blog post is the desk. I’ve been using a small Hitchcock dining table as my home office “desk” and have been looking for just the right desk for quite some time, and I’m very interested in the desk you added to the room, but you don’t mention where it came from. It looks handmade, but the way the article reads I’m thinking you purchased it? Any information would be greatly appreciated – if you purchased it, where from? If it’s second hand, is there any information on the desk itself as to the maker? My husband is a talented craftsman and may be able to make it if he can “make” the time. So if you did make it and have any useful information, that you can share, i.e. the type of wood used, the dimensions of the desk and it’s legs, did you use a plan, etc? Thank you for the detailed information and the emphasis on budget in the article and blog post!! My husband and I have renovated a couple of houses on the side (in Connecticut) and the budget gets very tight nearing the end of a project!!! Your comments were helpful and a good reminder, for any size job, of what you can do to keep on track from the beginning.

    1. Hi Katie, Thanks for the lovely comments. I made this table about 12 years ago…I’m always making things. I found the three wood pieces of lumber that are the top during a renovation in Woodstock, NY. I’m pretty sure it is pressure-treated pine, but it was buried in the dirt. I power-washed it and loved the character from the cracks and rotted sections. I made the legs and braces from fallen trees I found in the woods. I just attached them with screws through the top, which I later covered with plugs – I liked the plugs showing as I liked the rustic feel. Then I used Rubio Monocoat oil (which I LOVE) as a finish. It keeps it nice and matte, and you still feel the wood texture instead of poly or other top finish. I have had this table in one of my storage buildings for about six years, so I decided to donate it to the project. I’ll try to go over to the owner’s home this week, take close-up pictures of the details, and email you. I’m sure your husband can replicate it with some reclaimed wood.
      I’m so grateful for your interest! And thanks so much for taking the time to comment.

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