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How Much Does an Interior Designer Cost? Expectations and Examples

Employing an interior designer is within your reach. Take a look at the level of services they provide and get an idea of the costs.

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If you’re just not feeling the DIY bug and don’t have time to oversee your own remodel, you could benefit from hiring a designer for your soon-to-be interior design project. Don’t let myths about the cost of hiring an interior designer put you off. Instead, look at the levels of service a designer can offer and what you can expect those services to cost. In the spirit of not gatekeeping valuable information, let’s get into all there is to know about hiring an interior designer and what it costs!

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Which Costs More: An Interior Designer or an Interior Decorator?

We need to clear this misconception up right away: interior designers and interior decorators do some of those same things, but designers can do much more.

An interior designer can plan new construction and structural changes, while interior decorators handle surface decor. An interior decorator costs less because they can’t walk you through the entire process the way a designer can. 

If you are open to removing that load-bearing wall in your kitchen remodel, it makes sense to start with an interior designer. They can manage all the architects, contractors, and suppliers needed for the job. 

Interior Designer Fee Structure

Once you’ve decided to go the interior design route, you can get an idea of what this will cost by looking at the national average of interior design fees per project, which ranges from $1,982 to $13,901, with the median being $7,779. Each designer or firm will likely apply a different fee structure, so the price will fluctuate. 

Pay an Hourly Rate

Many designers estimate the amount of time it will take to complete a job and then charge per hour. These hourly fees are generally competitive rates for the area you live in but may increase if you hire a more experienced professional. 

For big jobs, a firm may hire a team of professional interior designers to work on your home. Senior designers at the top of their field can make around an estimated $47.63 an hour, while newer designers can start at roughly $15 an hour on the low end. 

Keep in mind these numbers can be much higher depending on the designer’s experience level, name recognition, and cost of living in your area. So if you live in a high-cost-of-living area like New York, you can expect to pay more for services.

Using the Cost-Plus Method

The cost-plus method adds together all of the projected total costs of the project and then factors in a small percentage extra — just in case things go over budget. Unforeseen events, like supply chain shortages or hiccups, can (and usually will) happen! 

Pay Commission-Based Wages 

Some charge a percentage of the entire project cost as a commission. Rates can be anywhere from 10% to 45%, but the norm is between 15% and 30%. 

Pay Per Square Foot

Your designer may charge based on square footage, but even if they don’t, most jobs cost from $5 to $15 per square foot. This is a good rule of thumb to keep in mind as you discuss hourly rates or commissions. 

Pay a Flat Fee for Smaller Projects

If the scope of the project is narrow, your designer may opt to charge a flat fee for their services. For instance, if you only want a single room (like that outdated dining room) remodeled, you might appreciate getting the upgrade for a simple flat rate. 

The more complex the room layout is, the higher that flat rate will climb, with entryways running from $449 to $699 and kitchens ringing up between $599 and $1499. 

Pay Only Management and Consultation Fees

Suppose your project doesn’t require your designer to be hands-on and present through the entire process. In that case, opt to pay for a design consultation fee to your designer of choice. They will likely draw up a plan and potentially help you source furnishings and contractor services. 

If they are managing the project from start to finish from afar, they will charge a project management fee, which is often 25% of the cost of the project. You will be paying contractors and suppliers directly so that all stages of the home design process are as transparent as possible. 

Pay Online Interior Design Service Fees

To make consultations even easier, consider an online interior design consultation company. Similar to traditional design consultations, these consultants discover your needs via email surveys and messages and then send several plans to you to choose from. 

The design plan will come with a shopping list from various suppliers with discounts included. This option is great for homeowners who want to be involved but still feel they could use a little guidance. 

Other Factors That Affect Interior Design Costs

Beyond basic fees for design work, other factors of your particular project may further alter your costs. 

Markup and Referral Fees

When designers buy goods or services from suppliers at a discount, they often pass a portion of the discount on to the client but keep most of it as a markup fee. So keep in mind that the prices factored into your budget may reflect the markup. (This can still be a better price for you than if you bought the goods yourself.)

When goods and services aren’t marked up, they may have a referral fee attached that is paid to the designer for locating the appropriate contractors or suppliers for your job.

CAD Drawings 

Computer-generated graphics or architects' renderings typically cost an average of $100 to $120 per hour, with revisions costing less than the original budget. 

Programs like CAD or Photoshop can be difficult to learn. To create everything from a floor plan to a gallery wall, rely on our user-friendly interior design visualization tool at Spoak. The renders of your space can inspire your interior design — or allow you to design the whole place yourself. 

Travel Fees

Travel expenses may be figured as one-half of the designer’s hourly rate to cover all the travel to the job site and between various suppliers and contractors' businesses.

Project Time

Typically, a longer-running project involves more work and is more costly. However, if you are desperate to get the guest bedroom up and running before your in-laws visit, you can probably get your designer to rush your project by paying more. 

Material Costs

Using high-end materials will naturally raise the project cost. However, a quick chat with your designer may allow you to splurge on the Carrara marble in the kitchen by using brick on the fireplace. 

Payment Structure

Once you know how much your designer will be charging, you’ll need to navigate the method of payment: 

  • An upfront retainer feeis anywhere from 10 % to 40% of the project cost and acts as a deposit to get your project going and give the designer a level of insurance. It is followed by pre-arranged regular payments. 
  • Installment payments start at 40- 50% of the projected costs, and each successive payment is much less until the project is completed.
  • Product deposits may be required in the amount of 50% upfront.
  • Late fees are agreed upon in your contract and involve a percentage of the project cost per day, week, or month that payment is overdue.

The Help You Need, When You Need It 

The power is in your hands: You decide how you will use an interior designer’s services and control the costs. Perhaps you want a full-service firm to swoop in and run the whole home reno project for you. Maybe you want an initial consultation and blueprint to give you confidence about your paint color choices for the living room, and do the rest yourself. Either path is valid!

Photo Credit: (Left) Domino


How Much Does An Interior Designer Cost 2022? | Forbes Home

Retainer Fee Meaning, Uses, Example, and How It Works | Investopedia

What is CAD (Computer-Aided Design)? | TechTarget

27-1025 Interior Designers | BLS

Defining and Calculating Cost-Plus Pricing | The Balance

If you decide to take matters into your own hands, join Spoak for a suite of easy-to-use design tools. Or, get inspiration for your project from Spoak’s creative community and find a designer whose services will meet your needs.

Date Posted
April 20, 2023



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