Interior Designer Cost: Fees & Prices (Examples Explained)

In Apartmentsby Maria Fredgaard

With all the chaos, dust and excitement involved in re-designing your home, you will need to still keep an eagle eye on your budget.  Even though it can turn out to be much more affordable than you originally thought, that could change very quickly if you are not vigilant about the budget.

What’s the cost of an interior designer?
The hourly fee of an interior designer varies from $50-$500 per hour. On average you can expect to pay around $150 per hour with an established interior designer.

Quick number examples

Here are some average numbers on how much interior designers charge:

Charge Type Cost Range Average
1 Hour Consult (In-Home) $50 – $450 $200
Per Hour $50 – $450 $150
Per Square Foot $5 – $17 $9
Per Room ( + Furnishings) $1,000 – $12,000 $3,200
Per Room (Design Only) $449 – $1499 $975
Cost Plus (Designer’s Markup) 17% – 45% 30%
Markup on Retail 10% – 35% 22%
% of Construction Cost 10% – 35% 20%
Average Total Cost $1,893 – $11,180 $5,406

Here’s everything you need to know about the cost of working with an interior designer.

Average Price Range for Interior Designers

On average, you could be charged anywhere from $2,000-$5,000 for your design cost.  A lot would depend on the scope of the project you want to be done.

There are also the extra fees to consider, which I will elaborate on shortly.

Hours can add up rather rapidly, so keep the following points in mind when estimating your budget:

(Example is based on a single room)

TIME UTILIZED TO DESIGN (part of hours charged)

  • Site Measurements: 1–2 Hours
  • Space Planning: 2–3 Hours
  • Conceptual Designs: 8–10 Hours
  • Sourcing: 7–10 Hours
  • Purchasing & Installation: 15–25 Hours

Total Hours to be billed: 33–50 Hours!

Kitchen – Estimated time/hours: 25–30 Hours

Bathroom – Estimated time/hours: 16–25 Hours

What could help with budgeting is to know what kind of rates would be applicable in your state?  Firms that pay higher salaries would logically be charging higher fees for their services.

Washington D.C, Rhode Island, New York City, Texas, and California are amongst the top 10 highest paid Interior Designers in America.

More about what Interior Designer earn per annum per state can be found in our article here.

What are some Typical Pricing Packages?

PRICING STRUCTURES

  • Flat / Fixed Design Free
    This would be the price for the entire project, but excluding items such as your furniture, lighting, flooring, to mention a few. The fee charged is only for the designer’s work and time
  • Cost-Plus / Markup
    The designer adds their markup on the cost of items bought for the project
  • Retail
    This is when the designer fee is built into the Cost-plus model. Retails minus the discount is what the designer pays for merchandise, which means that the discount is the designer’s fee/profit
  • Hourly Fee
    As mentioned, the hourly rate will vary on account of many factors such as location, talent, and experience of the designer.

** Bear in mind, it might be wiser to pay the $100 per hour rate and get the job done quicker (i.e. fewer hours billed), than the $75 designer that is less experienced (i.e. more hours taken to complete the job)!

  • Percentage of Budget / Amount Spent
    This is similar to the Flat / Fixed Design Fee, with the main difference is that it is not capped. With this fee, you will be charged a percentage of the total amount spent to complete the job.

More often than not, fees charged will be a combination of all of the above, so it would be very advisable to sign an Agreement Contract stating EXACTLY how and what will be charged.

Typically you will be charged a combination of Cost plus 30%, along with the ‘per hour’ billing rate.

Examples of charges (Florida)

  • Initial designer fee ($1,500 per room), plus 1/3 over the net on all orders – Supervision and any alterations will be charged per hour
  • Net plus 25% on Antiques
  • Pay per hour for consultations with your Architects
  • Typically cost plus 30% plus hourly billing
  • Designer fee can range between $25000 – $150000, depending on the size of the job
  • Plus 35% on Décor Items
  • Plus 15% on Antiques
  • Plus 10% on Auction Pieces
  • Plus 35% Commission on all goods and services
  • Payment of 50% upfront for the designer fee, with the remaining balance due when the final design is presented
  • Prices exclude Taxes and Shipping

Other States

  • Retainer plus hourly billing per month
  • Plus 35% on all products on the Proposal Package – i.e. Hour rate plus commission (hourly rate depends on the seniority of the designer)
  • Plus 25% commission on the net.

Online Interior Designers pricing can range from $75 to $1,599, but then you only get the design and a shopping list to proceed with everything else yourself.

More Examples:

  • Visions of Variation with Victoria in Surprise, Arizona:
    $75 per hour for shopping and consulting, and $95 per hour for physically staging and moving and using clients’ furniture and accessories.
  • 13 Design Lane Interiors in Portland, Oregon:
    $100 per hour for consultations and drawings, and $50 per hour for project management (i.e. shopping, administration, travel time, etc.)
  • InFocus Design in Crete, Illinois:
    $175 – $225 for a New Client Consultation (price depends on travel), and $50 per hour for project management after intake. Hourly rates may vary, depending on the task at hand.

Will the Designer Charge for the Initial Meeting?

Design consultation fees vary from State to State, and from Firm to Firm.

An example of a Design Consultation Fee will be $300 for an hour meeting.  In this meeting, the designer will view and discuss your vision, along with preferred colors, design styles, and priorities.

Normally the initial consultation will be in the region of $200-$300 per hour.

You do, however, get design packages which include the initial consultation.

Example:

  • Remodel from $2,700
  • Design from $3,500 – minimum fee, unless you have selected the Hourly Designer Services
  • Hourly design – $225 per hour. With this option, you can purchase the hours you need when you just need a bit of guidance on a project you are doing yourself – ** MINIMUM 2 hours  **

15 (possible) Hidden Costs to be aware of

There are quite a few costs that might not be in your initial quote received from the Interior Designer.

This would be one of the reasons that it is SO important to read your contract to see what other charges can (and will) be added as the project progresses.

In defense of the Interior Designer, it would be near impossible to foresee some of the extra costs that could arise, like unexpected delays due to weather, errors, vendor vacations, etc.

  1. Shipping – Cost depends on the weight of the item, and distance it needs to travel
  2. Storage – Most designers buy all items needed to complete the project, which means they will need to store it in a secure, weatherproof warehouse
  3. Insurance – Insurance for the warehousing, and on expensive items
  4. Extra Insurance – You will need extra coverage insurance for all furnishings and materials during handling and moving, storage and installation – Make sure your Interior Design also has Coverage Insurance
  5. Unexpected labor – Especially when remodeling your home/room/kitchen, etc.
  6. Expected labor – Certain jobs might take longer than anticipated – like with restorations items
  7. Minimum Fees – Some items have a ‘Minimum Order’ quantity from the wholesaler – e.g. material for upholstering
  8. Over-time – Overtime will be charged when you want to hurry the job on to complete quicker, which means that all labor will continue beyond normal working hours
  9. Cancellations & Refunds (if permitted) – You will be charged per hour for your designer to arrange cancellations and refunds if necessary
  10. Cancel Job – Should you cancel the entire project, you will still be liable for hours already worked, as well as any expenses already incurred by the Interior Designer
  11. Price Increases – Prices can change for merchandise, interior installations, and other services, between the time of receiving the quotation and the actual ordering of the merchandise and need for the installation process
  12. You will be expected to reimburse expenses such as Postage and Handling, Delivery Costs, Travel, Meals and Lodging of the Interior Designer (and their staff where applicable)
  13. Designer drawings do not include structural modifications, heating, air-conditioning, plumbing, electrical, ventilation or any other mechanical systems – so that will be a different fee
  14. Permits – Should you require any permits required by any Government Agency, you will need to pay for them. Your Contractor will assist you in obtaining any permits
  15. I.T.A Fee – This one would be an Interior Designer inside joke – which they will disguise as a delivery fee or something in that line.

What to look out for in your Agreement Contract 

  • Design services do not include Contractor Services, Landscape Design or Architecture – Important to get these details if you want to cap the hours charged, or if you are not paying hourly
  • Check what your Interior Design does or does not do when charged a Fixed / Flat Rate
  • Hourly Fees will be considered Designer Fees – check your payment intervals so that you can budget your cash flow accordingly, e.g. you will probably need to pay immediately after every 10 x hours completed – Expenses could be due every 14 days as well!
  • Most designers charge a Non-refundable initial advance $rate, which will be the minimum fee charged for their services.
  • Purchasing – you will be charged their rate per hour – do keep in mind that you will be required to pay at least a deposit (e.g. 50% of the value of the purchased item) before any furniture, etc. is ordered, delivered and installed
  • Check you agreement contract whether you and your designer are going to share the trade discount, as this could in effect be off-set against the designer fees you will be paying
  • If your designer charges you for items plus a mark-up – check his mark-up structure as some may vary according to the item
  • Check refund policy on items ordered. If your furniture (like kitchen cupboards) was custom-built, then there will be no refunds allowed, but possibly will be allowed on a carpet, etc.
  • Check additional Terms like Site Visit Limitations as you will be charged for over that amount
  • Check the clause about Damages – who is liable for extra costs, etc.
  • Should you be unhappy with the job and want to take the legal route, WHO pays for the lawyers

Note:  Designs ownership remains the property of the Interior Designer – Copyrights, Trade Marks, Intellectual Property and Patents – so you will need permission from them to advertise, etc.

Do Interior Designers Charge for Travel?

The short answer, YES.

You will be expected to reimburse for any travel time incurred by the Interior Designer.  Usually, they will charge ½ of their hour rate per hour traveled.

While I am on the topic of “time”, here are some averages that you can expect to complete a project.

Examples of project timelines

Full Kitchen Renovation (timeline)

  • Plan & Design: 1–3 weeks
  • Floor Plans: 1–2 weeks
  • Designs Presented: 1 week
  • Approval Process: 1–2 weeks (required changes)
  • Hiring Contractors: 1 week
  • Ordering Materials: 1 week
  • Permits: 3–4 weeks
  • Installation: 4–8 weeks (depends on the size of the project, demolition, etc.)
  • Final Lighting, Furnishings, and Accessories: 1 – 2 weeks

Total:  8–12 weeks or longer depending on the scope of the job and the extent of structural changes

Family Room With No Structural changes (timeline)

  • Plan & Design: 1 week
  • Designs Presented: 1 week
  • Approval: 1 week
  • Hire Contractors (if needed): 1 week
  • Order Materials: 1 week
  • Installation (flooring, etc.): 1–2 weeks (depends on the size of the project)
  • Final Design (Accessories, lighting, furniture, etc.): 1 week

Total:  7–8 weeks (approximately 4 weeks without flooring)

An entire house can take up to 10-12 months to complete, so time planning needs to be considered, especially since you will be paying for every little thing.

Do Interior Designers Charge per Square Foot, per Room, etc.?  (and how much?)

Square footage is usually charged for Hospitality and Commercial spaces at $50 / square.  There are designers who charge per square footage as a flat rate, then adds a mark-up on all purchases/costs – e.g. 10% on construction budget or 15% of construction budget with engineering.

They may charge you extra for installation (if they do it), or a buffer of 20 – 40 hours expected time spent on your project.

Designers prefer not to charge a Flat Rate, as there are just too many variables to consider – of which the main one being TIME.

Square Foot Average Rates – $10 – $17 – which covers the designer’s services, Plus a percentage on purchases, AND/OR a percentage to oversee contractors

Online – $69 – $1250 / room (depending on Square Footage)

Smaller areas are not usually considered for Square Foot Pricing – e.g. a 6 x 6 foot would only calculate to $480 – S816 – hardly enough to pay for the consultation and drawings, let alone anything else ;)

Estimate Pricing for complete Remodeling

Area Mid-modest Range Luxury
Kitchen $40,000 – $75,000 Over $100,000
Bathroom $20,000 – $40,000 $50,000 – $100,000
Whole House $10,000 – $15,000 / room Over $30,000 / room

How do I Hire an Interior Designer on a Budget?

There are many options like hiring a Freelancer at a ‘Day Rate’ from $632-$2,152 for an 8 hour day.  This will only entail the designing though.

There are also many online designers to choose from:

Here is an example of how much a 100% online video consultation may cost you:

Charges $275 per hour and a one-room makeover can cost you around $1,675.

Terms:  50% payable upfront, balance on completion of designs.

Ideas on how to save money when hiring an interior designer

  • Decide beforehand EXACTLY what you want before consulting with your Interior Designer to minimize hours spent in discussions
  • Cut out pictures to show your designer what you would like, as well as the design style, to minimize the time (hours billed) on revisions of designs
  • If you intend redesigning more than one area of your home – opt to do them all together as opposed to single areas at a time to save on Initial Consultation Fees
  • Try some of these software’s to try and do some of your own designing: Planner 5D, IKEA, HGTV, Google Sketchup.
  • Ask your Interior Designer about ‘Split Discounting’ on their trade discount, as this could very well cover your designer fees
  • Buy second-hand furniture, etc. and do DIY projects on them
  • Shop Online – there are many bargains whereby you do not need to pay those exorbitant prices for your accessories, etc.
  • Get quotes before your designer buys items needed for the project
  • Give your Interior Designer a budget of what you can afford, or are expecting to pay so that they can (hopefully) keep within that range
  • Get at least 3 x quotes to compare pricing.
  • And last, but not the least, remember to check the Credentials of your Interior Designer – They need to be certified with the American Society of Interior Designers – and in some states, there are more regulations required.

Decide whether you need an Interior Designer or an Interior Decorator as one is substantially more expensive than the other

Interior Decorators

Don’t need formal training so are not able, or allowed, to remove existing structures, build new structures or give advice on changing or updating the wiring in your home, etc.

Interior Designers

Has knowledge of building codes such as Government Regulations, so will be able to change what a Decorator cannot change.

One thing to keep in mind when looking at all these overwhelming costs is that in the end, it will increase your property value.  Consider this along with the area in which you live so that you do not overcapitalize on your property.

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