Time for another beautiful budget makeover, and more exciting adventures in decorating!
This project was the product of desperate necessity, and a painfully short time frame. Anybody out there know what that feels like?? Me too. Well, here’s proof that it really IS possible to pull it off… but not necessarily without mishap.
Let’s set the scene…
Challenge #1: It’s mid-October. My client has 20+ people coming for Thanksgiving. Contrary to what the frightening “before” picture might lead you to believe, this room was actually EMPTY when we began. (That was the furniture that was in the space when they first moved in, which they had immediately gotten rid of.) SO… 20+ people, and an empty room. If this was a cocktail party, and NOT, say, a major holiday, that might not be a problem, but under the circumstances…
Solution: We were buying “off the shelf.” NO custom. Custom takes 12-16 weeks, and we have 6.
Challenge #2: Eeeeny–weeny budget. I don’t know how well you can tell from the pictures, but this is quite a large room. Our goal was to stick to around $3000. Filling this much space for that many dollars is no simple task.
Challenge #3: Knowing that budget was going to be an issue, they still wanted some semblance of quality. As my client said, “I’m being forced to do this when I’m not really ready, but that doesn’t mean I want to turn around and have to do it again next year because it fell apart.” Good philosophy.
Solution to both challenges: The inter-webs are my friend.
Fact: It is very, very, VERY difficult to get the kind of pricing in a store that you can find online. Websites just don’t have the overhead that a brick-and-mortar store has to deal with, and consequently can offer lower prices. Add to that that you usually don’t have to pay sales tax, and might be able to get free shipping, and it’s pretty much a no-brainer.
Also, it DEFINITELY helped that not only were my clients realists about how far their budget would go, but what they really wanted was something traditional, but clean, simple, and airy.
I whipped up the design plan in record time: three days. That left me with 5 weeks and 4 days to get this stuff in the house. As a point of interest, would you like to guess what my inspiration was? Not the rug. Not the sofas. Actually, it was the lamps! I found them at Marshall’s and HAD. TO. HAVE. THEM. (I pretty much told my client that if she didn’t like them I might be forced to throw a tantrum. Luckily, that wasn’t necessary. :) Just goes to show, there is no right or wrong way to begin a design!
The large metal wall sculpture, the art behind the chair, and the ficus were pieces my clients already owned. The table lamps, floor lamp, giant pillow on the sofa, and small accessories were all purchased locally at places like Marshall’s and Hobby Lobby.
*E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G* else was bought online. Was there a lot of praying-that-things-will-be-the right-color going on? You betcha! (Don’t try this at home.)
The sofas were quite a coup, actually. They are made by a company called Craftmaster, who makes a very decent product. Handcrafted, solid hardwood frames, sinuous springs, and high-density foam cushions… for $630. Seriously. Go to a local furniture store and tell me what kind of sofa you can get for $630 (not on clearance… that’s cheating.) I’ll give you a hint… it starts with C-R and rhymes with “flappy.” Better still, Craftmaster turns around in about 4 weeks.
Ok, I admit that was cutting it close, but it’s not like this is my first rodeo. I called the vendor, and asked them to contact the manufacturer to VERIFY that all necessary materials were in stock, and that the order would ship in 4 weeks. They did, they were, and they would. I called the delivery company to VERIFY that if the sofas arrived at distribution 1 week before Thanksgiving, they would still be able to deliver on time. They would. And in this business boys and girls, that is quite literally as close to a delivery guarantee as you can get.
The rug, the tables, and the leather chair and ottoman all arrived on my clients’ doorstep in about two weeks. We were cooking with gas. At the two-week point, I called for status on the sofas, and they were on track.
Who wants to guess what happened next?
A week later, I get an email from the sofa vendor… the fabric was suddenly out of stock. GAH!!! Fortunately, there were no tall buildings nearby from which to throw myself… or someone else.
Well, long story short, I gave my clients the only two options available: 1) to reselect something in stock at a local store, with the understanding that it would either not be as attractive and well-made, or that it would cost considerably more, or 2) to just wait for the original selection, even though it would NOT make it in time for Thanksgiving. They decided to wait. In my opinion, that was absolutely the right choice.
Here’s the thing, and I really hope you all take this to heart: I KNOW that when an event is coming, you want everything to be perfect. I’ve been there plenty of times myself (maybe one day I’ll even tell you the bathroom remodel story). But the fact is, there are going to be LOTS of events. The holidays come every year, and there are even several of them right in a row! If “furniture” ever equals “crisis” in your life, honestly, you need to reevaluate your priorities. (And maybe drink less coffee.)
On Thanksgiving, my clients’ family came, and we had set up the room exactly as it should be, except there were two blank holes where the sofas would be. Everyone ooh’d and ahh’d, and couldn’t wait to see what the finished room would look like. After dinner, the kids (and their parents) romped, rolled, and ran around the empty space like wild monkeys, and everyone had a generally great time. By Christmas, the sofas had arrived, and everyone ooh’d and ahh’d all over again. It was like they got to have a double reveal!
That’s a happy ending in my book.
For those who are wondering, the finished price of this room was $3336.96, which included
a giant accent pillow
coffee table with inlaid marquetry top
round end table
set of rectangular nesting tables from Stanley
8×10 hand-woven wool area rug
leather chair and ottoman
hand-painted accent table
2 table lamps
cream faux-fur throw
Fyi, I’d like a bigger shade on the floor lamp, and that ficus needs a serious upgrade. We do plan to add decorative drapery panels at a future time, but for now, just taking down the horrid verticals was a major improvement. Let’s close with another quick design lesson: horrid verticals are NEVER the right answer. No, never.
As always, remember that my rules for thrifty design are these:
1. Always buy the best you can afford.
2. It’s not about the size of your budget, it’s what you do with what you’ve got.