Formal Living Room Budget Breakdown

Formal Living Room Budget Breakdown - roomfortuesday.comA bunch of you asked for this post, and these days I share budget breakdowns for every room renovation I share anyway… so yay! Here it is- the complete budget breakdown for the formal living room. Quick disclaimer (I say this at the beginning of every budget post)… if you’re not into budgeting or think the numbers behind a renovation is a boring topic (I totally understand just showing up for the pretty stuff!), consider this your cue to skip this post! No hard feelings. Hopefully budgeting posts are helpful and shed light on how much certain things cost if you’re considering a renovation of a similar caliber. Of course costs vary depending on your location, room size, and home. Click through for the itemized budget list, and in case you missed the living room reveal, click here to check it out!

For reference, our living room is around 18 feet long by 14 feet wide, which equals 252 square feet. It’s a good size room! We also took the space down to the studs, so part of the budget went into rebuilding and reworking the boring (non cosmetic) things. You can see the before images in this post.

Formal Living Room Budget Breakdown - roomfortuesday.comI do think its worth noting, we used and repurposed many items we already had on hand… like the abstract artwork, leftover soapstone from our kitchen countertops, and millwork (crown moulding, etc). I like to make use of things we have prior to purchasing new items! Ready for the breakdown?

For all of the source links, please refer to the linked items in the reveal post.

Here is the final number crunching…


  • Sconces (2) – $628
  • Picture Lights (2) – $768
  • Floor Lamp – $550
  • Table Lamp – $279


  • Entry Door Hardware – $676
  • Cabinet Hardware – $39


  • Mantel – $2,100
  • Gas Insert (+ Installation) – $7,500


  • Wallpaper (2 rolls) – $250
  • Area Rug – $609
  • Sheepskin Rug – $65
  • Entry Door Runner – $264
  • Drapery / Curtains (Fabric, Hardware, Seamstress Labor) – $1,700
  • Woven Roman Shades (2) – $90
  • Pillows – $700
  • Throws – $378


  • Millwork (Built-in Materials, Crown, Casing, Base, Panel, etc) – $2,000
  • Beams & Brackets – $1,985

Building Materials:

  • Lumber, Drywall, Insulation, Nails, etc. – $2,250
  • Paint + Primer – $350
  • Electrical Materials – $50

Unexpected Replacements From Renovation (Chain Reaction Items):

  • Updated Plumbing Materials – $1,000
  • New Hot Water Heaters + Installation Labor (2) -$3,500


  • Herringbone Hardwoods (see this post for the tutorial) – $2,000


  • Sofa – $2,335
  • Swivel Chairs (2) – $928
  • Coffee Table – $100
  • Side Tables – $510
  • Zebra Ottomans – $746
  • Woven Ottoman – $869
  • Console Table – $1,385


  • Artwork, Books, Objects, Plants, Florals, etc. – $1,476


  • Obviously we did all the labor ourselves, so that cost was basically our time spent working on the living room- rather than a dollar amount (which was a LOT of hours).

TOTAL= $38,080

Formal Living Room Budget Breakdown - roomfortuesday.comI do want to say, finance and budgeting posts are a very personal thing to share, BUT- I know that numbers are incredibly helpful in planning a realistic renovation and setting expectations, so I’m happy to share our records. With that in mind, I’d appreciate if comments are kept friendly, positive, and constructive. You guys know I’m always happy to answer any questions about our renovations, my line of work, or our timeline. I try to be an open book for educational purposes!

Formal Living Room Budget Breakdown - roomfortuesday.comIf you have any questions, please let me know in the comment section below! This renovation seemed never-ending and nearly sucked the life out of us. Ha! We ran into one issue after another, spent more money than planned, and of course it took far longer than we intended. That’s just reality when you’re remodeling though. Sometimes things don’t always go accordingly to the plan, and that’s ok. This one was definitely a doozy, but we’re finally enjoying the space and think it was worth it! Who is ready to follow along with the basement bathroom renovation next? It’s currently underway!

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  1. Well, it certainly looks like a million bucks! Do you think a mid-range labor cost might double that amount? You guys certainly put in a TON of work. I appreciate more bloggers honestly sharing project costs, especially since it makes them vulnerable to all the snark the internet has to offer. For me, these posts are about setting (adjusting?) expectations. “Look for less” posts are great, but…the look really isn’t the same. I have a question that I wonder about as I see amazing renovations. I’m thinking of the recent House Beautiful where renovations cost half a million dollars (or more!). How could something like that make financial sense? Sorry. I know money is a weird, uncomfortable subject. (Maybe this is one of those times where I shouldn’t say everything that is in my head.😀 I tell my students that…) Regardless of my awkward blather, your room is stunning. And the way the pups have been working that fireplace, your cost-per-use is dropping by the day! Happy Wednesday, Sarah!😘

    1. Thank you, thank you!! I’d say yes to your question about labor. We put in a TON of hours, but we also ran into a lot of big issues behind the walls. I agree on the “Look for Less” posts… I think they’re great, but the quality and overall feel isn’t entirely the same, BUT- everyone values different things. We don’t mind spending money on our home because we love being home and we enjoy these things. Budgets are an interesting thing because of what different people value, in my opinion. Maybe a less expensive sofa in a “Look for Less” post works great for some families without pets, who don’t mind replacing it in 5 years.

      Our fireplace insert was the most expensive thing in the room, but we wanted a really nice one (because I use it everyday in the winter), and we also had the installers re-run our gas line to bring it up to code (for safety). While we were doing that, we also had them run the gas to the exterior patio for a future outdoor kitchen (YAY!!). So while it was expensive, there were a lot of components and moving parts that will benefit other elements of our home in the future.

      Great question on the super expensive magazine renovations. It really depends on the location and value of the home- surrounding neighborhood, real estate market, etc. Lots of people in our area are putting a similar dollar amount ($600k) into their homes and are getting the return on investment (crazy, I know). I still encourage homeowners to know the value of their home, figure out a number that makes sense from an ROI point-of-view (math is Emmett’s job in this house), then stick to a budget when renovating. Otherwise, you’re right- you’ll end up over-renovating and losing money in the end. Or maybe those extravagant renovations are forever homes and it doesn’t matter anyway? Who knows!! :)

    2. Peggi, I had the same thought when reading House Beautiful last month!

      And Sarah, the living room really looks amazing, Thank you for your transparency with the budget – it’s so helpful and very much appreciated.

      1. Thank you so much, Betsy! I’m really glad it was helpful :) xox

  2. Thank you!!! I have seldom seen a real budget breakdown on a design blog- this is real and excellent information. I discovered your site through the ORC and look forward to reading your posts everyday. The room is lovely and you. Looking forward to more from you and Emmett!

    1. Thank you so much, Kari! I really appreciate that. So happy you’re here and are enjoying the blog and finding it helpful :) xo

  3. Ann Heltzel says:

    Beautiful Sarah! The HORSES! Where did you get the horses??!!

  4. No criticism here. It looks amazing!! Worth every penny just from my side of the screen! Thank you for being honest and open about what the cost to renovate your living room. It is a personal decision between you and your husband how much you spend so again thank you for being vulnerable to share.
    Speaking of rooms, I have tried several times to find your Amazon page to look at several things and cannot locate it. I have searched in search bar on my Amazon prime account but it gives me random weird things. I end up coming to your blog then clicking from your post. What are the steps to see your page? Thanks in advance.
    Happy Wednesday!

    1. Thank you, Danna! Great question on the Amazon page :) I have it linked on the homepage of my blog for easy reference… just scroll to the center section (before the daily post) and click on “Amazon Finds”. That should direct you to my Amazon Storefront. Or if you want to bookmark the link, here it is: Thanks again for your support! Hope you’re having a great week :)

  5. Thank you, this is SO helpful! We’re in the midst of building and will essentially have a blank slate of white walls when we move in. This is such a great reminder that it takes a good amount of time and money to get everything to where we envisioned it. Now, I just need to find the patience. :) Thanks again!

    1. I’m so happy to hear this post was helpful, Kelly. Congrats on your new build- that is so exciting! :)

  6. Thanks for sharing your real numbers! This room came out amazing! Looking forward to the basement bath!

    1. Of course, Liz! Thank you :) Onto the basement bath!

  7. It really is a beautiful space! I love how you balance more formal items with comfortable items. Being a homebody myself who appreciates quality that will last for years (and knows what dogs can do to a home), I’m encouraged by your choices and willingness to share the costs. I’m curious how the One Room Challenge played into your budget. Does this budget reflect prices after any discounts with the sponsors? Are there things you went higher on because there were sponsors involved? I might not fully understand how ORC works, but I gathered participants received some discounts with the sponsoring brands. If that’s incorrect, please set me straight. :) In any event, it’s awesome that the market in your area supports this kind of investment. It’s inspiring and I’m glad you share the reality of it too. I can’t wait to see the bathroom!

    1. Thank you, Darcie! I have the same mindset- I’m willing to spend on quality items and materials that will withstand the test of time (and our dogs, haha)!

      Great question about the One Room Challenge influencing the budget. This budget and blog post reflects retail prices (no discounts). In terms of my design plan, I would’ve designed this room as is- with or without sponsors. I don’t let that influence my design decisions, aesthetic, or the quality of the items I bring into our home. In the ORC, featured designers choose products from the official sponsors to implement into their spaces. You can use as little or as much as you’d like. Most sponsors have a budget, so it’s not unlimited, but certainly very helpful.. kind of a first come, first serve basis! A quick example- we paid for the fireplace (the most expensive item on the list) out of pocket because that was the model we wanted. We knew a local company we wanted to use and went in that direction. We purchased the sofa ourselves, but the swivel chairs came from Overstock (an official ORC sponsor). For the formal living room, I’d guess we paid for around 50% out of pocket. I’ll touch more on my own process & business below…

      Design blogging is my full-time job, so that’s how I make my annual income (working with brands & products we believe in that align with our aesthetic and values). Emmett and I always plan and save as if we’re paying for the entire renovation ourselves (because we plan to renovate anyway), and if the brands of the products I’ve included in the design plan would like to jump in and be apart of it (promoted), that’s an added bonus for us. Sometimes that means discounted or “free” product, plus payment. I use the word “free” loosely because we work really hard for our brand partners (renovating, styling, photographing, sharing, etc). I only try to align or accept products from brands that I have outlined in my initial design plan. I’m pretty picky about that stuff, which is why we always budget as if we will pay for the entire thing. Each post that includes sponsored content is always notated in the intro of a blog post (or outlined as #sponsored on social media), but as always- feel free to ask if you have additional questions about the budget or blogging biz. You already know I’m all about education and learning together. Hope this helps to clarify! I can’t wait to share more about the basement bathroom- I’m REALLY excited about that space. xo

  8. Nedra Davis says:

    I was waiting for this post! It’s so educational to learn what the real costs of renovations and design are at all price points. Thanks for your transparency and I look forward to seeing more of your work. BTW, I am still blown away by your basement refresh with SW Naval!

    1. Thank you, Nedra! I’m happy it’s educational. I feel like some home improvement channels make renovating seem so quick, easy, and budget-friendly, when in reality… that’s not always the case. We’re still loving the basement!! That color is my favorite :) I’ve got a basement update post planned for February, so check back to see how it currently looks. xox

  9. Alexandra Johansen says:

    Love! Love! Love!
    Timeless classic but so fresh and modern.
    Is the wall paint Aesthetic White from SW?
    I couldn’t remember I’d I saw that somewhere..

  10. So, to help me understand the participation of the ORC sponsors would you say a discount on your total cost would be 25% or more? Essentially what of that total was your out of pocket costs? You did an amazing job on your living room!

    1. Thank you, Teri! I explained that in another comment- check that response out.

  11. Thank you for sharing the reality of renovation and the cost of not settling for anything less than what you truly want. Absolutely refreshing!

    1. Absolutely, Traci! Thanks so much- I tend to play by my own rules over here and am happy to share :) xo

  12. This is great! I love the transparent budget! As someone going through a renovation now – using only sweat equity! – it can be hard to see people do top-of-the-line renovations with beautiful details and,
    honestly, makes me feel a little jealous. But when I see the total budget I can completely reassess because that’s no where near the budget I can afford! It helps to keep me in check and dream of the future when I can afford a reno or house of this kind. On another note: Your work continues to amaze me! It seems like you and Emmett really take your time to make the space so beautiful with all of the little details and it really shows. Your a constant source of inspiration! :)

  13. Wow, thank you so much for your openness and honesty! It is *so* helpful to see real-life numbers. Your room is gorgeous, and it looks like every penny was thoughtfully considered. Loved your breakdown in the other comments too—I was wondering how much the sponsorships factored into your decision-making. Also, I didn’t know you’d made the jump to full-time blogging! Congrats on your success! That’s great news :)

    1. Glad to hear it, Madeline :) Thank you for your kind words! Yes- full time blogging over here now, which I’m really happy about… however, I’ve had more “client” projects this month than I’ve had in years. Haha! I’ll be sharing the office I designed for Emmett’s place of employment soon. Hope you’re having a great day. xo

  14. Your rooms amaze me in every way. From the large details that catch your eye off the bat, to the subtle details that I continue to find as you post…(there’s always something new I notice that I didn’t see before, aka the horses). I appreciate that about your design. There is so much depth, detail, and carefully thought out placements. While I know this type of budget is totally out of the question for me, I also appreciate that you share the true numbers. It shows me where I need to adjust my own expectations and helps prioritize what is important. Thanks Sarah!! And thank you Emmett, for helping to create such beautiful spaces!!

    1. Thank you! I really appreciate you noticing those things :) Emmett also says thanks! You made our day with this comment. xo

  15. I did a powder room renovation piecemeal due to both finances and the different contractors involved. I did not keep a full budget beforehand — I just figured I could afford $X to re-tile; then a few weeks later figured I had $x amount to buy the vanity and plumbing fixtures, etc. etc. When I finally sat down when it was all done, I was amazed at how much more it cost me then I thought it was going to for such a small space (close to $5,000 for a tiny powder room).

    I really appreciate your candor with this budget. It is a gorgeous space from the herringbone floors to the beams on the ceiling.

    Your herringbone floors are beyond STUNNING and I know that was both pricey and labor-intensive.

    1. Thank you, Kate! It’s crazy how quickly home improvement things add up! When we first started renovating our first home, I was shocked. We’re so excited with how the living room came together. All of the hard work was well worth it :) xox

  16. I just wanted to say that your home is beautiful, the perfect balance between elegant, classy but with accents that are showing it’s your place (great collection of horses). I waited patiently for the reveal and it’s stunning, your are a great team, so bravo to both of you.
    Thank you for your honesty about budget, it’s so refreshing and helpful. We have been renting an apartment (in a foreign country) for the last year, which is new to us and I’m still trying to get used to this and looking at your home I’m tempted to change something here 😉
    Greetings from Paris

    1. Thank you so much, Kinga! I really appreciate your kind words. Enjoy Paris- that sounds like a dream come true :) xo

  17. I was so overwhelmingly busy this week I’m finally playing catch up to the blog. THANK YOU for this post!!! We are 230k into our entire house renovation and it’s 80% finished. Everything is slowly coming together but not one room is complete yet. It’s so hard to explain to people how we spent that much and still have an unfinished house with hardly any furniture. Most people simply don’t understand or see underneath it all. You being so transparent with your budgets have helped me realize that my vision will come to life and be beautiful but also helped me silence the noise of the great budget debate I have with everyone. Everyone’s taste and expectations with their remodels are different. I love how your house is coming along, I have adored everything you have done, I appreciate the thoughtfulness you put into these post. Well done you two! You both worked so hard! Hats off to Emmett his carpentry skill is top notch, the attention to detail is fabulous. Your reveal was so worth the extra time, I’m glad you didn’t rush it.

    1. So happy this budget post was helpful, Rose! Thanks for your kind words. It is a difficult conversation and it’s really your private / personal business. You’re exactly right though- everyone has a different aesthetic, budget, and idea of what they want in terms of quality at a certain price point. It’s a tricky thing to talk about! Congrats on your home renovation, and know that it will be well worth it in the end :) xo

  18. So beautiful! Where are the white/light paintings from??

  19. Hi Sarah,
    Beautiful, as always! I’m curious to know what the rug is called and where you purchased it.
    Thanks, Heather

  20. Thank you for being so honest with the numbers. It is a blessing and a curse with renovations being everywhere you look: online, print, TV. But you have no idea what that room you “like” is going to cost. Thanks for also explaining how the ORC works. This is the 1st time I have followed along and I was wondering how it worked with sponsors and the homeowners decision making. The room is stunning especially the herringbone floors. Yall do such a wonderful job.

    1. Of course, Amy! You share a great point- it’s so tough to know how much the “room you see and like” actually costs. The One Room Challenge is really fun and a cool concept- did you enjoy following along? Thanks so much for your sweet compliment :) xo

  21. Hi Sarah, I love the look you’ve created here! I love the wall colour can I ask what is it so I can re create this?


    1. Thank you so much, Harriet! The wall color is Aesthetic White by Sherwin-Williams. Have a great day! xo