Home sizer

If I had a dollar, (no let’s make it twenty dollars) for every person that came to me with an incorrect budget, ( thanks home decorating shows!) I’d be a gazillionaire. Now, I realize that I am in the design business and eat, sleep and breathe design, but when I want to buy a new set of tires for my car I don’t show up at the store and scream at the technician because I only want to spend a hundred dollars on four beautiful new tires. I know and understand that everything has an average cost, so before I head out the door, I do my research. I look online, I look in the paper and I go out to stores that sell tires, that way I have a solid foundation of tire knowledge before I buy. Unfortunately, most homeowners turn on the trusted home decorating show, and armed with nothing more than an idea and false numbers they decide they are ready to start a project. Perfectly innocent, right? Well not exactly. Call me crazy, but if I am going to make an investment on something, I’d like to be prepared for the cost, ALL OF IT,  and budget accordingly.


Remodeling, renovations, new builds, and room redo’s are no different. In fact, my staff and I do a wonderful FREE seminar twice a year at the local Brentwood library discussing this very topic; and most likely so do other professionals in your area. But despite all the information that is out there,  I have had one homeowner after another overzealous about wanting to remodel or redo a room, not realizing that their excitement is really a misconception with unrealistic funds….. Great, we are experts in remodeling and design but we are not experts in fairy dust and black magic, otherwise known as Home decorating shows. humph!

Due to our wonderful economy it is difficult for many homeowners to sell or buy a new home, so many homeowners opt to redo their existing home. However, don’t expect to remodel your entire house for twenty thousand dollars. Yes, that is a lot of money. According to HGTV it’s like a million. But the average bathroom remodel costs $17,000. The average Kitchen remodel is $15,000-$25,000 (a larger kitchen can easily be $30,000-$45,000) and the average room redo starts at $15,000. Yup you read that correctly! And your trusted decorating show never includes the cost of labor, which can easily be half of the overall budget.

Home remodel

Most homeowners don’t realize the process of a remodel or room redo. There are a lot of trades, product and people involved in that process, and all of it costs $MONEY$. And lord knows it adds up quickly!  I have this conversation with homeowners time and time again and I sense they think I am crazy. I mean who is HGTV or DIY network to lie. Right? Well Karen over at Strictly Simple Style , an amateur DIY’er herself, just wrote a lovely post, Home decorating shows may be hazardous to your budget. And Lauren Liess of Pure Style home eloquently examined and explained home decorating costs in her article, Reality check: What it really costs to furnish a home. (Both are terrific resources if you’re planning a project.)

Everything has an average cost, and we professionals don’t have the ability to change those costs in order to squeeze everything in that you need. (although for years I certainly tried!) In fact what would generally happen in my case, is that I would cut my self short, work ridiculous hours, utilize my resources, office paraphernalia and staff trying to make things happen for a project, and despite all my efforts what was my reward? Thousands of dollars lost, no profit, and angry clients who didn’t get what they wanted. (And they could care less about the efforts my team put forward to TRY to make it happen. All my client would see was that WE fell SHORT, not the budget) Why? Because we mistakenly gave them a glimmer of hope that it could be done. It took a long time, a very bad economy, and Mr Burdge getting laid off five times between 2008 and 2009 for me to finally realize that my desperate need to make  everyone happy and thinking everyone deserves good design was NOT good for business. I had serious bills to pay and obligations to meet. I almost had to file for bankruptcy because we kept giving it away and often times we were so far in the negative on a project, essentially we were paying the client for their project.  NOT GOOD FOR BUSINESS. Yes there are varying costs and always competition, but at the end of the day most items are within an average price range, true story!

Here are a few examples of jobs we have done to help give you some guidelines on job costs:


Bathroom by Gates Interior Design


Undermount sinks-$350

Widespread Faucets-$639

Granite Counters-$1000

Solid wood doors- $1500


Shower tile-$1500


Shower fixtures-$1500





With just the items listed we are already at $12K and we haven’t even gotten to the labor costs-which most shows on TV never disclose. They apparently have untapped resources of hard working fairies and trolls that like to work for free.Depending on the area you live in a general contractor will charge between $6,000-$12,000 for labor. What does that include? They are in charge of tearing out your 23 year old bathroom and replacing it with a brand new one that works properly, and passes codes for you and your family’s safety. And don’t ask your contractor his opinion on the faucet finish or which granite looks best. That’s not their job, and most contractors get fidgety when you put them on the spot with a design question. That’s where I come in. It’s my job to help you make all the right selections and turn your ordinary bathroom into something incredible; unfortunately I can’t work for free (Harley eats a lot of kitty food, and needs a lot, and Im mean a lot of toys!). Now I am known for doing some pretty fuzzy math, ( I mean let’s face it, I’m a designer not a calculator) but by the looks of things…um, we are already at $20,000+. So it doesn’t look like we will be able to s-q-u-e-e-z-e that kitchen in after all….

Large Kitchen:

Kitchen by Gates Interior Design


Stainless sink-$1500


Island faucet-$350







Custom Barstools-$4300


This is considered a larger kitchen than most. But already we are at $55,000.  Add in the cost of trades, contractor and myself and this remodel could easily get upwards to $75,000. Yup, you read that correctly! So that indigenous $20,000 can’t even get us started.

Room redo:

Room redo of a living room, Gates Interior Design

Chairs: $2400

Side table: $350

Lamp: $340

Art: $399

Cocktail table: $1500

Sofa: $2600

Area rug: $999

Corner leather Chair (not shown): $1500

Drapes not shown: $1700

Drapery hardware: $476

Console not shown: $1299

Retile fireplace with glass: $600

Labor for tear out and install: $500

Accessories: $750


This room was a simple redo. No major remodel other than the fireplace. The gentleman (a bachelor) just wanted the place to feel homey and less like a dude lived there. We got rid of all his furniture, replaced it with new furniture, added drapes to soften the window and easy accessories that he could live with. We ordered a few things from our own sources and purchased others at local furniture stores. Most of the items listed above are true average costs of those items. This is not high end by any means. And yes we could certainly find several of these items for a lower dollar amount…but when working with a professional you must remember the AVERAGE COST of things. Average equals EASY TO FIND. Deals and steals take time to find. Lots of it. If we are working on a project with little to no budget, it can take us three to four months to get the room complete because that is how long it takes us to find things at a price point that suits the client. And guess what? That is three to four months of our time that you are paying us to find an item that could have gone towards the sofa you really wanted at an AVERAGE cost. By the time we add in my design fee, tax and shipping costs we are now right around $20k.

So what is it about $20,000? I can’t say exactly, but it seems to be the magic number that everyone comes in with, that they’re prepared to spend, and I suppose they hope it will be enough to get the whole house done. I like to call it the stretchies. Hold your breath, and hope on a wing and a prayer that it  s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-s as large as panty hose on a fence, or in this case an entire house remodel.


Think it’s not worth it to remodel? Well if your home is more than 15 years old, it’s time for some updating. Why? Because the longer you wait, the more expensive the changes in your future will cost. Think you don’t need to? Think again. On average most homeowners do some type of home improvement project every two years. If procrastination and lack of skill are keeping you out of the sawdust, hire someone who can help. Otherwise, you’ll be in a world of hurt in 25 years when your house looks like 1976 and the rest of the neighborhood doesn’t. Those buyers will pass up your house and go straight to the ones that require the least amount of work. People have busy lives and little funds after buying a home, so remodeling is not high on the priority list after their purchase. If you are thinking about a remodel or room redo, study up, do research on costs in your area, and familiarize yourself with the average costs of the items you need. That way you’ll be better prepared, and know exactly what you are gettin’ into-and I can avoid the sad pitiful eyes you give me because I’m not stocked up on magical pixie dust to make your dreams come true.

Here are a few more examples to help you prepare for your next project:


Kitchen before remodel, by Gates Interior Design

Kitchen remodel after, by 

Gates Interior Design


This kitchen is more of a lipstick job. What does that mean exactly? The client didn’t have the money to rip out all the cabinets and replace them. So we bought inexpensive appliances, purchased granite counters, replaced the floors, repainted, updated the hardware, and ripped out the exisiting island and replaced it with a more decorative option to make the kitchen feel larger. Total cost for this lipstick job: $12,387

Master Bathroom:

Bathroom before remodel by Gates Interior Design

Bathroom remodel after, by Gates Interior Design

This was a complete gut job. The original bathroom was 20 years old, and visibly tired. We kept the original footprint but bought all new surfaces, and angled the shower for visual interest and easier usage. With the new bathroom came better storage, and more function for the homeowners busy lives. Cost of this remodel? $24,665

Dining room:

Dining room before

Dining room after

This homeowner hired me to help select all the finishes. Lighting, paint, tile, counters, cabinets etc. When the house was complete he decided that he wanted to hire us to furnish it. The table conceals a poker table. The chairs, draperies and console are custom. And we hired a special art team to come in and professionally hang all the art. Total cost of this dining room: $17,800

Remodeling or redoing a room is a very exciting process. It allows you to customize your home to your exact specifications, and make selections preferable to you. While the infinite details can seem daunting, the end results far out weigh the construction process and applicable costs. But it breaks my heart when I have a homeowner in front of me ready to get started on ten rooms, knowing full well when I hear what they want to spend, ( ~we have $20,000!!!~) isn’t any where close to what they will have to spend on those ten rooms. And the same goes for a room redo. Furniture is expensive, and so are the 100 other items that go into that room to make it complete. Twenty thousand can cover the cost of ONE room redo, but not three rooms, and rarely covers the cost of a full blown remodel. So what on earth are you suppose to do? Plan, research, do your homework and get familiar with the items you want to use in your project. Get the lay of the land before you jump on the idea of doing your whole house for a few thousand dollars. Trust me it will always be disappointing if you don’t. Aside from many great seminars that are out there, look online and if you have a smart phone look through the available apps!

Homesizer by Armchair design

There are hundreds to choose from but you can only imagine my excitement when I discovered a brand new app by Arm Chair design called homesizer.  This app helps you determine an accurate budget for your next project by allowing you to put in the precise dimensions of your room, and you can select the room to be remodeled or redone!! I put in some of the projects listed above and homesizer was within a few thousand dollars on all of them.  If you are looking to remodel, or revamp a room I would highly recommend using this app to help get a guideline of cost. It’s quick and easy and when you start researching products, you won’t be dumbfounded by the costs of things. Do research online, consult with a professional and do your homework. The better prepared you are the smoother and more enjoyable the process.


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images by: home sizer, bodie and fou,buck brothers