Eryn’s husband is in the software industry…Amanda’s in the medical world.  Yet, neither of us would even begin to know what a “simple” tonsilectomy would run these days…or how much a software program would set you back…those are not our areas of expertise.  We haven’t priced those things recently.  So, really, it should come as no surprise when a client has no earthly idea what a realistic budget would be for their given project.  Remodeling or buying furniture is not an every day occurrence for most people! (And all of the husbands said, “Thank goodness!”)

As part of our initial conversation with a prospective client the topic of budget is of great importance…there is often alot of education that needs to be done.  Many clients are nervous that if they give a specific number, we will spend every last dime of that amount…and then some!!  However, what we have found is that those fears are relieved when we cover just a few key points…

1. (Most of the time) You get what you pay for…our goal is always to recommend furnishings and finishes that are the best quality you can afford with the budget that is comfortable for you.  (In the areas where more is not necessarily more, we will be quick to say, “That is not worth the additional cost”…)  We have had clients share their desired budget with us, and when we go over the quality of furnishing that budget will afford, they have decided to adjust their numbers.  A space can be built with almost anything, but the end results, specifically the quality level and the unique finishes will vary based on the budget.

2.  Layers add upwhile a rich stained wood bookcase is lovely…it doesn’t add warmth and character until something is placed inside.  And each relatively inexpensive item adds up to a larger total cost…however, without those accessories the space feels very “unfinished” and flat.


…an upholstered arm chair serves as a comfy landing spot…but it is the pillow and throw over the arm that says “This is home!”



3. Our not-really-all-that-secret weapon...the High-Low principle…we live in a world of “Million Dollar Designer”,  “House Hunters” and “Dear Genevieve”…we see beautiful things, expensive things everywhere we look…the movies we watch, the magazines we see…and we want “that” look!  And yet we (read-you and me!) don’t have that budget…no worries.  Not every item needs to be designer or custom or high-end to produce a great look!  The AsterHouse team loves a good bargain…and we are constantly on the hunt for them…those great vintage pieces that add a unique “I’ve-never-seen-anything-like-that” response.  The deals on fun accessories or great basic furnishings that can be layered with a few high notes that make the whole space read complete and well-done!  Our approach is to help clients zero in on the pieces that can go low…and decide which crucial ones are worth the splurge!!

4.  Even “Cheap” Furniture can be Expensive…If you haven’t priced a good sofa lately, you might want to sit down for this…if long-term quality is what you are after, you might need more from your piggy bank…we put together a handout for our clients to help as they ponder what their needs are in terms of budget…take a look…

defining budget


You might have noticed we didn’t even touch “high-end”…we have found in our community the $40,000 custom rugs and $17,000 bedside tables aren’t big sellers!  However you will see a distinct budget difference with the addition of those “unique only to your home pieces” and the off the shelf options that you might find anywhere! (This handout was inspired by a blog done awhile back by one of my favorite designers…Lauren Liess)

5.  Everyone has a number…even our clients who have said, “We just want it done right, there is no budget” have a number in their minds.  We have seen it time and again…and to quote Lauren, “There are times when clients tell me what they want and then tell me their budgets and I have to be honest and say, ‘For that amount, you’re not going to be happy with what you get’  because what they want and what they want to spend are so far off.”  In those situations, our team would talk about our “Inspiration Board” service..where we design the look and you, the client, implements it all!

6.  “Great deals” don’t always stretch the budget.  In our own homes, with matching missions to create our own unique looks, we have lost track of the number of hours and days and blood and sweat and tears  we have spent creating, scouring flea markets, doing projects, painting, shopping, waiting for hours on a sweltering day for that one item to go up at an estate sale, wallpapering (we love wallpaper, btw!!).  This approach doesn’t translate well for clients…by the time they would pay us to spend those same hours the “great deal of a chair” plus hours scouring the flea markets, hunting for the treasures at market, the designer deals we come across,  delivering the worn out chair to the upholsterer, hunting down the perfect fabric at the perfect closeout sale would equal a chair that is now 10x as expensive as a new one!!

In our own homes and in our design projects, we love layers!  We love using vintage and flea market finds to stretch the budget and create to look you just can’t get with all new items.  For those of you who have the vision and love a great DIY project…we say, “Go for it”!!  Find those amazing pieces, re-purpose that amazing find…it will do wonders to your budget.  If you need a jumping off point we can help with an “Inspiration Board” and you can run with it!!  And for those of you that are more of a hands-off type…we can also help you out!!  Although it isn’t going to help your budget…it will assist you in creating the results you want and we highly recommend it!!  Our clients have found our “Full-Design Services” to be a highly valuable process…well worth the money.  The lack of stress, the ease of the project, the finished product!!  Like us, they love when we uncover that amazing vintage piece, or unique work of art that is so “them”…most often we hear…”I never would have picked that but it is so perfect!!”

labels: Inspiration