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Don't Forget Your Furnishing

Over the years, I’ve been asked many times, “How much does it cost to furnish a new home?” I always say the same thing: It all depends on you, your taste and your budget.

It’s like asking how much a car costs — you’ll get a very different answer from my husband Darrell, who’s a “car nut,” and from my mom, who could care less what she drives ,as long as it gets her from point A to point B.

Many people budget to buy or build a new home, without really thinking about the furnishings. They simply take what was in the old place and plop it into the new, and wonder why their amazing new home doesn’t look as good as the ones in the magazines.

So, what I would recommend is — just as you budget for light fixtures, landscaping and swimming pool — you also should factor in a budget for window treatments, rugs and furniture.


Doing this at the outset will be much less painful than having no budget in the end, and seeing furnishings and décor as an added expense. I tell people all the time that you can have an architecturally stunning new home, but if the furnishings don’t fit, are mismatched and underwhelming, even an average home, filled with furnishings and décor that suit it, can outshine your home.


So, how much should you budget to decorate? Of course, it should be what you can afford. However, a very general rule of thumb would be 10 percent of the cost of the property. So for example, for a $700,000 house, set aside $70,000 for window treatments, area rugs and furniture. If you’re building a luxury house for $1.5 million, set aside $150,000 and plan on higherend pieces and artwork.

There are lots of ways to stretch those dollars. You can collect things to put on your walls, buy quality furniture pieces and higher-end secondhand pieces. You can get bargain-priced pieces, but they may not hold up as well. Think about it, if you put the time and investment into purchasing or building a new home, why not go into it planning to find the right pieces to complement the space you so lovingly created?

Cathy Lee is a home style expert, speaker, president and designer of Cathy Lee Style. Her redesigns of residential and business spaces have been featured in local and national publications and on HGTV.

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