ORC Week 4: Let's Talk Finances!


How much is that doggie in the window?

Well, before I tell you the price of the pup, I need to tell you that you’ve asked the wrong question. The leash is $40. The food is $60. The vet bills are $75, $50, $135. Surprise! Here’s another (random) $200 vet bill. You’ll need to get an electric fence which could run you $1500. Your new best friend will inevitably chew your brand new rug, so you’ll need to replace that $1800 purchase. The dog walker will run you $225 a week and then there’s the boarding fee every time you go on vacation. Oh the dog? Just $300.

Things are expensive and with most items you purchase, there are hidden fees. On that note, I want to talk about sponsorships. Let me start off by saying that I am SO SO grateful to have the sponsors that I do for my dining room makeover. The room would not happen without them (or Linda) and they have all been truly wonderful to work with. THANK YOU!!

That said, in addition to Alex and I both putting in countless hours to make this project happen, we’re footing the bill on a lot of what you might not “see” aka “the hidden fees.”

Michelle Gage // ORC Week 4: Let's Talk Finances!

For example, I received a discount on the amazing wallpaper in this room. While wonderful, I paid a portion of it and also am paying for the installation. (Wallpaper, we don’t do). The trim and moldings certainly take this room to a whole other level. I am lucky that Alex can manage that install himself, but they needed to be painted. We hired that out. I know a lot of people think painting is one of the easiest tasks for them to do on their own - and they aren’t wrong in thinking this. However, our house is really old and was uncared for when we purchased it. It would be easy to slap some paint on well-maintained walls, but we didn’t have those. They needed so much prep work before they were ready to receive paint. We hired our tried and true paint crew to tackle the job of patching and painting.

As we become busier and put more on our proverbial plates (aka buy a fixer upper for fun, running a design business), we are more and more careful with the work we (cough * Alex * cough) do versus the work we hire out. We knew our painters would do a better job than we would caulking, spackling, puttying, etc. so we left that job in their very capable hands. Given that we only have 6 weeks (and we really stick to that timeline), it wouldn’t have been possible to do a project of this size ourselves and still keep our sanity.

I guess where I’m going with this is to a place of understanding. Reality TV is not real. Television has you believing that you can renovate an entire home in 48 hours for $5k. What you pay to your local trades people is totally dependent on your market - and unless you are doing every last little task yourself, you’re paying trades. What I can tell you about where I live - hold onto your hat - is that it is taking my painters two weeks to do the dining room and I’m shelling out more than $5k for that. Time is money people. Yes, I could’ve likely gotten someone out here to do the job for a thousand bucks, but they would’ve been done in a day when the room really needed more attention than that. You get what you pay for, which is why it’s important to be open-minded when hiring the RIGHT professional for the job.

Michelle Gage // ORC Week 4: Let's Talk Finances!

So screw it, I’m just going to break it down for you. I was hoping to avoid talking specifics (because I’m too lazy to write it all out), but I want to drive my point home that things take time and cost money. Money makes people funny, but does anyone out there really think I’m outfitting this space for a few hundred bucks?

Let me address the time first; that one is going to be a shorter topic, as it is much harder to quantify. Alex has/will be spending every day of every weekend of the 6 week challenge working on our dining room. He has also spent many nights after work ordering, installing, etc. to get this room to the state it is in now (and eventually will be).

I started pulling the design together a bit before the challenge started, but we don’t touch the room until that first week. However, with the way the sponsors trickle in, I wound up revising said design numerous times. I then spoke with all the brands, placed orders and scheduled deliveries. I found a photographer - and when the photoshoot date gets closer - I will style out the space. Once styled and shot, I will be amping up the social media and press promotions. Oh, I’m cataloging and blogging about it all along the way too!

Michelle Gage // ORC Week 4: Let's Talk Finances!

Money. Yikes! I love talking money, but it is always scary when you don’t know how it will be received. I don’t want to come off as ungrateful. I’m SO grateful. I just want you to know that this challenge costs me money and time - even if it looks free and fast. This is something I do within my business. It’s work. I work for money (or in this case furniture). So, money! I like money. I like talking about money. I like telling other people how to make the most of their money. Let’s talk about it!

So back to your burning question. How much does the dog cost? Let me break it down for you (in round numbers). Know that, as a featured designer, much of the product is provided in exchange for exposure. These rooms would not happen if these partnerships weren’t in place. I will denote which items are provided to me, but share their full cost with you.

Base cabinets for built in - $3100

Upper shelves for built in (material only) - $400

Latch hardware - $180 (sponsored)

Ceiling Medallions (2) - $100

All trim + moldings - $450 (sponsored)

Wallpaper - $1600 (provided at a discount)

Rug (+ pad) - $1050 (sponsored)

Dining table - $1200 (sponsored)

S/8 white dining chairs - $600

S/2 white head chairs - $3100 (I paid freight).

White bar cart - $1700 (I paid freight).

Black bar cabinet - $900 (sponsored)

Chandeliers (2) - $5500 (sponsored)

Sconces (4) - $1100 (sponsored)

Table lamp - $200 (sponsored)

Window Treatments (2) - $325 (sponsored)

Labor (anything not done by Alex) - $7000

TOTAL: $28,505

And that’s excluding the accessories and art selections.

I hope that sheds some light on what all goes into these challenges. They’re never easy - but super rewarding to have a completely finished room when they are done. There’s a lot of work (and money) that goes on behind the scenes. I’d love to see other featured designers (linked below) follow suit and speak to their expenses. I’m genuinely interested in the spending habits of others, especially when it comes to interior design.

At Home with Ashley | Bre Purposed | Dabito | The English Room | Erin Kestenbaum

Harlow & Thistle | House of Brinson | J & J Design | Kelly Golightly | Linda Holt

Megan Bachmann | Michelle Gage | Mimosa Lane | Murphy Deesign | Nicole Cole

Old Home Love | SG Style | Shay Geyer | Sita Montgomery | Style MPL

Media Partner Better Homes & Gardens | TM by ORC