The Hidden Costs of a Design Project - Managing your budget

You are smart. You are a good planner. You know how to put together a budget and you happily populate your excel sheet or google spreadsheet with the cost of your sofa, your rug, or your kitchen tile. And yet, your project has somehow gotten out from under you with the actual costs on your credit card exceeding - by an uncomfortable margin - those tidy numbers you planned for. What happened? I mean, you are so GOOD at planning, right?

The big question is, what are the hidden costs that have crept into your project?

I thought I'd do this post as a case study: Here's a design board for a bedroom re-do. As you can see, there isn't a lot of furniture involved, just a few key pieces. Let's say you had put this together with your $6000 bedroom re-do budget. You put all the furniture pricing in your spreadsheet and you are right on target - just under 6g. 

CAVdesign Master Bedroom

You're on track, so you push the button and purchase the items.  Then the credit card bills roll in, and the stuff arrive and somehow it's not done AND it seems like it's costing a lot more than planned. 

Let's start with the most obvious cost we tend to ignore -- sales tax. In New York sales tax is 8.875%. That's pretty close to 9% which is pretty close to 10% in my book. But did you know that shipping is added on before tax is calculated? Yes it is, and that compounds things a bit. 

Here's how this room added up  - fortunately a few of the stores we sourced from don't charge shipping, and a couple don't even charge sales tax. Yay! (at least for now)...

Pre-tax, pre shipping cost: $5934

Shipping: $347

Taxes: $466

Total: $6747 - about $800 over the initial numbers -- or almost 12% over. 

But wait, there’s more...

The light fixtures need to be installed by an electrician, because they are hard wired (no cord) - $300

Then you'll likely need someone to repair the wall after the electrician is done - so let's say $300 for that. Then you need the wallpaper hanger to come in for $600. That’s another $1200 for labor, and your mirror still isn’t hung up…

Now, this is not meant to be depressing, but just a way to think about the budget. You thought you were coming in somewhere around $6000, but now, you are at about $8000. -- 20% over your intended budget. You can see where this heads with a larger initial budget. 

The takeaway? You should add at least 20% into your budget over the cost of your furniture. but if possible, I would bring that number up to 30%. So, plan to spend a third less than your total budget on the base furniture cost,  and save the rest to help with taxes, freight and installation. That way you’ll have a little left over to celebrate with a glass of champagne!

Interested in the items on the board? Here are the links:

Wallpaper | Bed | Wall Sconces |Mirror | Dresser | Bench | Pillows | Chair

What if I love the look but I need to cut back? There are some 'splurge' items here, like the dresser, but there are also a few well-designed pieces that are real bargains, like the sconces, the mirror and the chair. If you wanted to save a bit, you could substitute the 'non-leather' version of the bed, and find a lower priced seagrass bench. To save on the labor  you could source plug-in sconces instead. I think the wallpaper adds a lot to the space, so I would keep that.

TIP - if you are bringing in a wallpaper hanger for just a feature wall, ask yourself if there is anything else you want wallpapered? The back of cabinets? Another wall? A small powder room? The cost will likely not be much more since you are paying for them to get there in the first place, and you can get a big 'added value' from having more areas enhanced with wallpaper. 

Planning a room makeover? Want to give (or ask for!)  a truly special holiday gift? CAVdesign now offers a By-The-Room package! And, for a quick holiday refresh, a Design Coaching Session will help get your mantle pretty,  your bookshelf styled or your artwork hung -- use it for what you need the most. 

Have questions? Ask me!

 

 

 

Picking the perfect furniture for your room with Design Boards

If you've ever struggled over which chair (or table, or rug -- you fill in the blank) will work with your room and the rest of your furniture, then making a design board is the easy way to see how it will play. You may already have a Pinterest page or a Houzz book, but creating a dedicated board for your space that can be edited is key to getting the full benefits of this visualization tool. Here are a few tips for making it work:

1. ONE PAGE PER SPACE - Create a page for each room and if you need a reminder, put a small photo of the space on the board. 

2. USE WHITE BACKGROUND IMAGES If you have a choice of furniture images, always choose the one that doesn't have a background 

This

This

Not this

Not this

3. CREATE A WAREHOUSE -Don't put EVERYTHING on your primary room page. Create a second page for your image 'warehouse'. This is where you put other items so they don't clutter up your main page. Borrow items from your warehouse to try. 

4. KEEP IT CLEAN - Don't include any links or extra descriptions. These can also live on another page or in your 'warehouse'. 

5. DON'T LEARN A NEW PROGRAM TO DO THIS - Or you won't get it done! Use a program you are comfortable with - I use Pages, but I've seen some great boards with PowerPoint, Word, and of course Photoshop and Indesign. 

6. THIS IS ALL ABOUT EDITING - it costs you nothing to add and subtract pieces -on your board! Play around, reduce and add and you will see when it feels right. Ask yourself the age-old question from Sesame Street: Which one of these things is not like the other?

Here are a few boards I really liked...not all turned into final spaces so it's good to be able to go back and see the original plan.

Screenshot 2017-09-26 12.44.15.png
Screenshot 2017-09-26 12.47.03.png
OM Board CAVdesign.jpg
Screenshot 2017-09-26 13.11.23.png

Have any questions? Would love to hear what's on your mind when it comes to design! Want to work with me on a design for your space? Let's talk -- you can book a call here

 

 

 

Great new picks from West Elm

I can't believe we are already into March - Phew! This year has already been a whirlwind and I'm loving it, but haven't had much time to post on the blog. Here's the first of several round-ups I'll be sharing over the next few weeks. While working on some new projects I've been keeping my eye out for new pieces and trends from stores you may know and some sources that are a bit 'off the beaten track'. To start things off, I think West Elm is once again delivering on some great design value this season, so here are some of my new favorites from West Elm:

 

Winter Sunset - it's cocktail time!

I know everyone is busy, busy, busy. I've been taking stock of 2016 and doing a lot of writing, thinking and planning in addition to the regular activities. One thing I decided was that this coming year, I'm going to share a bit more about myself and my interests outside of interior design. To ease in I'm going to start with another passion of mine -- tequila. I fancy myself a bit of a mixologist, and every season I create a new tequila cocktail. I feel tequila gets short shrift when it comes to seasonal cocktails (other than margaritas in summer), and I'm here to make it right.

I'm starting with my latest creation for the holiday season, which I call "Winter Sunset". Unfortunately winter sunsets seem to be around 4:30 here which is just a bit early to start with a cocktail, but as they say, it's 5:00 somewhere...

Here's what you need:

2 oz. Gold Tequila

2 oz. Aperol

1 oz. Apple Cider

1 tbsp. Apple cider vinegar

two splashes Bitters

1/8 tsp. Ground Cardamom

Orange Peel

Cinnamon stick (optional)

Club Soda (plain or grapefruit)

Combine the first 5 ingredients and add the cardamom. Stir well. Serve over ice with a splash of soda or room temperature. Add the orange peel and cinnamon stick. 

I made a batch of this (4x the recipe) and kept it in the fridge, which worked great. Hope you like it!

Tips for furniture shopping online without making a mistake!

I know you've done it. I've done it. You've found the perfect thing, bought it, and finally it has arrived. But when you see it in person it's not what you thought!  Sound familiar? Yup, just like dating online. Pictures and profiles don't tell the whole story, so I decided to show you a funny example of a recent purchase that came with a big surprise -- and not the good kind. Take a look at "Size Matters: Tips for Online Shopping (and dating)."  

So, just to re-cap, here's what you need to check before you push that 'process order' button:

1. Pictures only show the good side. This is true for the descriptions as well. If you're not sure, take a few minutes to call the seller to find out more. 

2. Size Matters. Make sure you look closely at the dimensions and get a tape measure out to see how it will fit in your space. 

3. Check the assembly requirements. Most furniture comes unassembled when you buy it online. If you're not into spending a weekend putting it together, find out if you can get a 'white glove' delivery that includes assembly. Or, contact taskrabbit.com or your local handyman service to take care of that. 

4. Check the return policy. Even if you do a thorough job before you buy, you just might not love it. Things like color can be particularly hard to show accurately online. See if the seller will provide a Return Authorization by email, or better yet, include a return shipping label with the delivery. Most companies make you pay for return shipping, but see if you can find the same item at one that will pay for return shipping. 

Ready to start your room re-do and want some guidance? Get my comprehensive 10-step guide so you can get from start to finish without a hitch!

Having fun with a Retro Kitchen Design

I love my job, especially when a challenge comes along that really gets me to think more creatively. Truth is, I deal with a lot of logistics... chasing deliveries, sweet-talking cranky plumbers, returning damaged light fixtures...you get the idea. So I was really happy when appliance maker Big Chill asked if I could could put together a design board incorporating their line of gas stoves that come in AMAZING colors.  I have a beach shack fantasy so this was a perfect opportunity to engage in a bit of dreaming using their Beach Blue appliances. For the floors,  I knew right away I wanted to use these cement tiles I saw on a recent trip to Mosaic House  - and the color worked perfectly with the range.   Lately I've been thinking about using wallpaper in kitchens so I thought this would be a good opportunity to add a bit of wallpaper to the back of open cabinetry, and I liked the sweet yellow bird in this design by fellow Brooklynite Julia Rothman.  I thought this was just enough color to counter the blue, and the pendant light from Dot and Bo sealed the deal. I'm ready to pack up my towel, Coppertone and sunglasses and hop on my bike!

Want to add some of these elements without a full renovation?  You can wallpaper the back of cabinets after removing the doors, switch out light fixtures, and replace cabinet hardware -- it's a weekend makeover for your kitchen!

1. wallpaper from Spoonflower | 2.Range in Beach Blue from Big Chill  | 3.Cement floor tile from Mosaic House  | 4. Inset cabinets from Cliqstudio | 5. Glass handles from Rejuvenation  6. Pendants from Dot&Bo

1. Wallpaper from Design Public | 2.  Range from Big Chill |3. Cement floor tile from Mosaic House | 4.  Inset Cabinets from Cliqstudio| 5. Glass Pull from Rejuvenation| 6. Pendants from

 

Ready to create your OWN design board for your room redo project? Find out exactly how in my free e-book, which shows you how to do a complete room makeover in TEN EASY STEPS!

Entryway Design Ideas - Finding Solutions for all that Clutter

I’ve been struggling with pulling together my entry for a while now. Well, maybe struggling is not the right word -  I actually bought hooks but didn’t put them up, and I designed a bench but just haven’t gotten around to building it yet - a classic case of the cobbler’s kids having no shoes. And speaking of shoes, if you take off shoes at the door (yes I’m talking about you all of Brooklyn) the messiness just escalates. Here are some entryway design ideas that might work for you.

If you do a search for 'shoe storage', or 'shoe bench', the results are pretty limited and not particularly attractive. To find something a bit more interesting, you have to expand your search to other items. For closed cabinets that do the best job of hiding things, looking for ‘media consoles’, 'sideboards', or 'buffets' can do the trick nicely and actually add a design element instead of a compromise.

After years of using an Eames Hang It All hooks I noticed that things tended to pile on top of each other. So, in my own entryway I opted for the hooks below:

Wood and steel wall hook rack by Rejuvenation
Wood and steel wall hook rack by Rejuvenation

The hooks slide to accommodate different sized pieces and have a ‘double hook’ (top and bottom) which helps a lot.

Ceramic cleats by Delong ceramics
Ceramic cleats by Delong ceramics

These ceramic cleats come in beautiful colors and look fantastic - saving this one for my future beach house.

Wall rack by Scout Regalia
Wall rack by Scout Regalia

I love the small key shelf above this well-designed rack by Scout Regalia.

Umbra coat hooks
Umbra coat hooks

These look like a wall sculpture when they are not being used!

Mortys-Seven-Arm-Coat-Hook-5089
Mortys-Seven-Arm-Coat-Hook-5089

And this one has an industrial look that seems like it should cost a lot more.

For larger storage and shoes, here are a just a few ideas:

One client has a narrow but formal looking entry, and instead of a shoe bench which would look a bit out of place, I'm considering this piece, which is actually a media console.

Buffet by Mitchell Gold
Buffet by Mitchell Gold

A wallet-friendly solution that does a great job of keeping shoes out of sight.

Shoe storage cabinet at Wayfair
Shoe storage cabinet at Wayfair

While this is a bit high for a bench, it has some good open and closed storage.

West Elm storage bench
West Elm storage bench

And finally, there’s the ‘landing pad’ which we all need, but don’t always have much space for. Here are a few skinny consoles and other entryway design ideas that can make a home for keys, mail and those other small items that need a home right away.

Tried and true:

Room and Board slim console
Room and Board slim console

Petite, pretty and comes in three finishes

Mitchell Gold foyer storage piece
Mitchell Gold foyer storage piece

Long, lean and classy!

Long storage piece at One King's Lane
Long storage piece at One King's Lane

If you’ve found a unique solution for your entryway, please share it with me on my CAVdesign Facebook page. And please share your ideas for the #LoveYourHome365 project! Can’t wait to see how we all show our home some extra love. You can see the posts on Instagram, and share your own ideas on my Facebook page.

Renovating? 5 tips to a hassle-free renovation

OK, so I exaggerated. There's actually no such thing as a hassle FREE renovation because let's be honest, your home is getting shredded and rebuilt, you've likely moved out,  there's dust and debris, and quite frankly, there are always surprises (and I don't mean surprises like finding a $20 bill in your pants pocket). But there ARE some things you can do to reduce the chance of problems, and I learned all of these on the job. How? Let's just say I've been doing this long enough to make every mistake possible, and even when I think I've got it down pat I discover that there is yet another thing that I didn't think of.

#1.Communicate.  Ninety-Nine percent of problems are caused by breakdowns in communication. Don't overwhelm your contractor with bits of paper and random suggestions. Instead, organize your thoughts, schedule a time, and go over any questions point by point. Then send a line-item list of what was decided upon so there is a clear paper trail. 

#2 Be prepared with your design and be flexible with your design. You probably have an idea of what you want already.  The more planning you have done, the better, but be open to the idea that sometimes modifications need to be made, especially after walls are opened. 

#3 Measure before you make final choices. For example, measure your doors before you order your appliances.  Check for any tight turns, measure every opening, and leave room to spare before you get your heart set on that 36" range. Some retailers will do a site survey to double check - not a bad idea if you are not sure.

#4 Order, in order.  There are certain things you need to have on-site at the very start of a renovation, and others will just clutter the worksite making it difficult to move around. Speak to your contractor, but for kitchen and bath renovations, flooring and shower body valves (this is the part that goes inside the wall) come first, appliances would come later in the process. Also, be aware that lead times vary a lot. Some cabinets take 6-8 weeks for fabrication after you have signed off on the design. Plan your renovation calendar accordingly and don't leave all the details to last! Check order times for tile, fixtures, hardware, t/p holders and any other items that need to be installed by the contractor. 

#5 Changes take money AND time. Be aware that adding new elements to the design will add time and change orders/upcharges to the job. Trust me, your contractor wants to get in and out of the job so he/she can move on. Be understanding that they may not always be able to adjust their schedule to accommodate a large change to the scope of the project. 

Keep the end in mind - it's hard to keep your vision when your place is, well, a mess! But keep a picture of the final result in mind and know that it will be worth it. Could you use some guidance throughout this whole process? How can you know when it’s in your best interest to hire someone and when you should go for your redesign on your own? Take a look at my  Design Coach Tips Video  and I'll share the real-life pros and cons of working with a designer on a project.

Inspired by Emily Henderson - 5 tips to great style

I'm a big, and I mean BIG fan of Emily Henderson. In case you don't know who she is, she was the winner of HGTV's Design Star, hosted her own show, and is now a partner with Target and others on her fantastic blog, stylebyemily.com. Now to be honest, I didn't always love Emily as much as I do now. In fact I have a confession to make… I thought she won Design Star because she was blond and pretty. So shallow of me (um, a little envy do you think?).  Truth is, Emily is a pro stylist, her background is in prepping photo shoots so they look lived in, natural, and of course super stylish.  She's expanded to other aspects of interior design, but her roots are in making spaces look great with the placement and choice of accessories and furniture.

The reason I'm a fan is because Emily SHARES and she shares big. Her blog is full of great tips and sources. A book was a natural step and STYLED: Secrets for Arranging Rooms, from Tabletops to Bookshelves by Emily Henderson came out last month. I snapped it up and did some studying so I could apply some of her great tips to my next project photo shoot.

Screenshot 2015-11-06 09.43.43
Screenshot 2015-11-06 09.43.43

This project was a townhouse, and the living room before I touched it looked like this:

DSCF7629
DSCF7629
DSCF7636
DSCF7636

There were some obvious things, like the painting, and some less obvious things to bring it around to where it would be a good starting point for decorating.

Redesigning a space comes a lot easier to me than the styling so first I tackled the following architectural elements:

  • The fireplace (yikes!) was replaced with a vintage marble fireplace from Demolition Depot
  • The wall on the left (in the “before” top photo, you can see that it goes in and out) was filled in so it was all one level. I frequently do this in brownstones which often walls that jog in and out (usually due to unused fireplaces), making it hard to place furniture.
  • The radiator was awkwardly located so I designed a built -in to house a smaller radiator as well as a media cabinet. The key was to create a solution that integrated their needs with the reality of the radiator (which they also needed). I surrounded the TV with floating shelves so the TV was not the focal point on that wall.

Then we dealt with paint and furniture: Lighter colors, a furniture plan including a cozy sectional for the living room, and a generous dining area satisfied the clients needs and created a multi-use space.

After the redesign and renovation here's where we landed:

_MG_1652
_MG_1652

Not bad, and definitely a big improvement on the bones of the space, but...my original idea had included a coffee table and a rug like the one below, which was nixed because the homeowners have 3 kids under the age of 5 and it just didn't seem practical.

Diamond Wool Rug

Now, it was time to style the room for the photo shoot. Fortunately, the homeowners had purchased a similar rug for another room and I moved it into the living room for the photo shoot (which they liked so much they kept it there). Here's what it looked like after:

livingroom numbered
livingroom numbered

See how the small details make such a big difference? Here were some of Emily Henderson’s tips I implemented from her book, “Styled”, I include page number for easy reference.

  1. Oddball sculptures (p 103):  I love this idea of working in little sculptures and 3D art to break it up a bit. For the bookshelves, I used these budget-friendly cubes from CB2. From now on I will keep an eye out at flea markets for unusual small sculptural pieces as they really do a great job of adding interest.
  2. Layering items (p 72): The space needed a coffee table, and this this West Elm Clover table had it's own layered, dynamic shape. Pillows with varying textures were added to the mix as well. An existing side table was relocated to the other side of the chair so it breaks up the view of the side of the chair. The shelves got a mix of books and objects, and books were arranged in a more random way on the shelves.
  3. Add depth with bright colors (p 219): The throw and the multicolored corner pillow pulled together a brighter color palette to complement the textured neutrals.
  4. Use plants (p 192 and throughout the book): While this seems kind of obvious, adding a couple of plants to the space brings life in, and that feels cozy and inviting.  For low light situations, a bowl of succulents looks fabulous - which is what I used in the living room on the coffee table (which by the way the owners also kept after the shoot).
  5. Contrast (this is something that comes up throughout the book): The original rug was close in tone to the sofa. When we put the brighter rug down, the sofa looked so much better as well as the other furniture. It just brought additional light into the room that helps the furniture separate more.

I learned a lot from this process - and here are my suggestions for applying it to your space:

  • take a photo of the space you are styling and print it on regular paper, then draw your notes in on it, including sketching in plants, tables, and additional furniture items
  • make a list of what you need including size notes (for example, 30" round table, 18-24" high potted plant, 60-70" floor lamp)
  • get out of the house and do some shopping/propping in person with your photo (and a tapemeasure)  in hand to help with visualizing
  • get more than you need (especially with pillows) and be ready to return what you don't use

Happy Designing!

Want my fabulous pillow resource cheat sheet so you can save loads of time? click below!

Great stores for furniture shopping in Chelsea, NYC

This week I was so excited to find that two of my favorite online resources have opened actual stores in New York City. World Market is a go-to resource for fantastically priced furniture, accessories and pillows with a bit of a global feel. France & Son is a budget minded alternative to some of the high end designs we see around —and for those of us who cannot afford 15,000 for a designer chandelier, it’s nice to know that there are great-looking options available (until we can buy the genuine article!)

Like most of us,I love the convenience of shopping online- its a great way to look at a whole lot of things, and hopefully find the perfect match. but I also know there are times when you really want to see, feel,touch, or sit on the piece you might be buying. There's just something about seeing things in person that really helps you get a much better sense of how it might look and feel in your space. But the most fun part of looking in person is the sense of discovery when you stumble across something that surprises or delights you.

When I went to world market yesterday (I cannot tell you how excited I was about this!) I noticed this super painting - only 99 bucks!

Back at home I circled back to find it online so I could show it to a client, and it didn’t look as amazing…I probably wouldn’t have noticed it if it had just been an online search. And we all know the reverse is often true - things look great online and sometime are kind of disappointing in person.

Here’s my not-great iPhone picture:

IMG_8576
IMG_8576

and here’s the online picture:

Screenshot 2015-09-24 15.15.33
Screenshot 2015-09-24 15.15.33

Not that the iphone pic is so great, but I can see why the online pic wouldn't have grabbed me.

I also found this gilded piece which I fell in love with and am thinking of sneaking into my house…(will he notice??).

IMG_8580
IMG_8580

What the heck, I’ll just buy both. At $99 and $129 respectively If they don’t work I’ll bring them back to the store…no trip to the post office,no repacking things for shipping. --Another reason I like good old brick and mortar stores.

At France & Sons I got to see these great pieces in person:

Screenshot 2015-09-24 15.52.40
Screenshot 2015-09-24 15.52.40

and:

Screenshot 2015-09-24 15.55.13
Screenshot 2015-09-24 15.55.13

The Manhattan Chelsea neighborhood is becoming a great area for furniture shopping, in fact I’m doing most of my ‘offline’ shopping there. And walking down 18th street yesterday was amazing…From World Market, to West Elm, to Room and Board, to France & Sons, to Organic Modernism…not to even mention ABC Home, BoConcept and others.

So if you find yourself in the area, here’s my ‘walking tour’ of Chelsea stores to visit, in loose order of location from East to West:

ABC Home

888 Broadway, bet. 18th and 19th st.

Restoration Hardware

935 Broadway at 22nd Street

World Market (and Bed Bath Beyond in the same building)

620 Sixth Avenue, bet. 18th and 19th st.

West Elm

112 West 18th Street, bet. 6th and 7th

France and Son

122 W 18th

Organic Modernism

124 W. 18th Street

Room and Board

236 West 18th Street, bet. 7th and 8th

And of course you can always click on the links  above for a sneak peek or if you're not close by...

Happy Shopping!