2 Clients - 2 Budgets - 2 Outcomes

Client A:         

We bought a small condo in the heart of the city. It hasn’t been renovated in years – actually decades! Everything pretty much needs updating. The kitchen is a mess. Let’s not even talk about the bathroom! The general contractor has the budget. He will do the purchasing. We need a design concept from you.

A Reluctance To Share

For a great interior design concept, you need a budget. I asked the general contractor…..several times. Each time, it was a convoluted answer. Something about x3, free and allowances, but no number. This made my head spin. A ‘cost effective’ home renovation was the word of the day. 

So…. Kalli George Interiors spent 6 weeks, working and reworking the drawings and swapping materials in and out to fit a closely guarded and mysterious budget number. Just when we all thought it was done, a change in flooring (pricing concern) on their end caused a conflict between flooring colour and everything else.

Working The Interior Design Concept

You see…..it’s those pesky colours and undertones. The original flooring had a warm grey undertone. The new one, selected on price alone, was a glaringly blue-ish cool grey. Now….the original cabinet and wall colours were no longer appropriate. Thankfully, we had physical product samples in our office so we were able to quickly turn the design concept around and submit the changes.

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Computer images never really capture the real colour, so we prefer to work with the actual product. While trying to create the original design concept, we had picked up several samples of flooring, tile and tested multiple wall colours. In turn, the general contractor provided a small sample of the new flooring.

It never ceases to amaze me how cavalier people can be with making changes during a renovation. It’s just flooring! Or it’s just wall colour! And yet……once back in the office, the new floor was …...well…..let’s just say it didn’t work. At all! The subsequent changes were quick. Simply because we had the samples in the office. Had this change been done on the fly without a vetting process…..well….let’s just leave it at that.

Sharing 'Information' Is Caring

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Home renovations are stressful and can get expensive pretty quickly. Add in new kitchen appliances, bathtub, vanities….etc and unless you’ve costed everything out, you’ll be freaking out from start to finish. The process doesn’t need to be so convoluted or the budget guarded like a state secret. If you’re going to assemble a team, make sure everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet.

Providing the budget to everyone involved isn’t an invitation for rising costs.

Quite the opposite – everyone is on the same page. A healthy balance can be established between labour and materials ahead of time. This ensures the end result is worth the trouble of the renovation.

How many times have you seen a renovation and wondered…..”Hmmmm. They renovated the bathroom? Really?”

Client B:          

We’d like to furnish 3 public areas. We have not done this before so we don’t know the costs. We are thinking $40 000.00 all in.

A Willingness To Explore

We had reservations about the client’s budget and we immediately let them know. They asked us to complete our ‘Research, Planning & Presentation Phase’ anyway. It did not take long to realize these areas required more work than originally anticipated. We could have easily completed the client’s brief and furnished them. However, the client would always wonder why they looked………….‘unfinished’.

‘Public areas’ – as you’ve probably realized this wasn’t a regular home. More like condo public areas. Nevertheless, the process is pretty much the same. Everything is costed out to determine a budget. We sourced products & materials according to the design brief. We specified the finishes. The trades provided quotes.

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Since these areas are public and will be used 24x7, we sourced commercial grade furniture and finishes. These aren’t necessarily more expensive than good quality home products. Fortunately, they are built to withstand constant use and abuse from the public.


Within 4 weeks, we had an actual budget – a real one! Truth is, it blows the original $40 000.00 out of the water. In case, you’re wondering – NO! We didn’t specify the most expensive items or finishes available. Nor did we contract for unnecessary work. As always, we tried to stretch the budget as far as we could.

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While measuring the space, we noted the nicks and scratches on the walls. Regretfully, the beautiful wood accents no longer looked as good as they used to. Only a general contractor could fix these – not furniture and accessories. Oftentimes, it’s the details. Just as pesky as colour and undertones, they can make or break a design.

Providing the client with one proposal and a cost beyond their brief served no purpose. So, we created 3 proposals – one for each area. Now, the client can see the cost allocation and make real decisions.

Based on their budget, they can:

  • Completely finish 1 of 3 areas and have money left over

  • Up the budget by 42% and finish 2 of 3 areas

  • Bite the bullet, up the budget and finish all 3 areas

This is a great example of a situation we see way too often. The client would have run out of money and left the work unfinished. Alternatively, they would have completed it to their allocated budget and specific brief, but always wonder why it didn’t look…………….. ‘finished’.

You’re curious…..aren’t you?

$111, 651.01

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