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Finding your dream home is one thing, but it’s only the start of a long process of designing and decorating to take your house from an empty canvas to the home of your dreams. Some you can DIY, but other pieces — like interior design — you might want to get the professionals in to help.
While we all want to believe in our design sensibilities, there’s no competing with the abilities, talent, and experience of an expert interior designer. Often, the investment is worth it. They can help turn your vision into a reality, allowing you to achieve your dream of a home that looks and feels exactly how you want it to.
But, of course, this comes with a price for homeowners. So what does interior design cost? That will depend - on quite a few factors. Understanding how much to expect to pay for an interior designer to update remodel or update your home design can be a bit tricky and confusing. That’s why we created this article: to help you achieve a better understanding of how interior design pricing works and how much one would cost for your project. We’ll go over all of the different options out there and the considerations you’ll want to keep in mind. Sound good? Keep on reading.
Meet the Experts
To help us create this comprehensive guide, we’ve enlisted the knowledge of two interior design experts and entrepreneurs. Weighing in throughout the article will be:
What does the average interior designer cost in 2022?
As you can imagine, interior design costs vary greatly depending on a number of factors. For example, the cost of an interior designer in 2022 is not the same as it was 20 or even 2 years ago. Further, it is different depending on location. Like with most things, you can expect to pay more in large metropolitan areas like New York, Los Angeles, and Miami.
One more factor worth considering, explains Burrill, is that cost “depends on the level of service you want and on the designer's experience and qualifications. Essentially, if you go with an hourly fee structure, an interior designer can cost as much as you're willing to spend. If you commit to doing a lot of the leg work, like sourcing and searching yourself, then the interior designer might be there just for the 3D renderings or tips. It depends on the room (or rooms), too.”
All of that being said, a general figure that we can offer as a rule of thumb is that a contract with an interior designer in 2022 will cost you between $1,000 and $5,000 per room.
"It can be hard to narrow down in a general way, but looking at it as $5,500 for an average project or $50 to $400 an hour may give you a basic idea."
"Interior designers can have different specialities and different ways of working, which can mean that they charge different rates and in different ways," says Cristina Miguelez from fixr.com. "If they shop for you, this will have different costs than if you do the shopping based on their suggestions. If they make drawings or create any type of visual, this will have a different cost as well. It can be hard to narrow down in a general way, but looking at it as $5,500 for an average project or $50 to $400 an hour may give you a basic idea," she adds.
Online interior design services
It’s worth bringing to your attention another option for interior designer services that is worth considering if you'd like design plans on a budget. Thanks to the internet, you now have the ability to use an online interior designer service like Havenly or Modsy, which have a much lower average cost than traditional interior designers who will work with you in person.
For Havenly, the pricing plans range from $79 to $129. The cheaper plan buys you one-on-one time with a personal designer over messaging and phone calls, three initial design ideas, a final design concept and shopping list, and revisions until you’re happy. The extra $50 you can choose to pay will get you 3D renderings and a custom floor plan.
Modsy is a bit more expensive with plans ranging from $159 to $499 per room. The most affordable plan includes collaborating with a designer online, 3D designs, and unlimited revisions, while the most expensive plan also comes with unlimited video calls and the ability to work with the same designer across all of your rooms for a more cohesive look.
Both services also help you shop for design pieces and get you a discount on a variety of items. As you can see, they are much more affordable than traditional interior designers. And although the experience may not feel quite as personal, it may be a great option if you’re on a budget.
What does an interior designer do?
So what exactly does all of this money go toward, anyway? What is it that an interior designer does? Interior designers may be responsible for a number of tasks including:
Evaluating the floor plan of interior spaces
Picking color schemes
Selecting design styles
Picking out decor like artwork and other touches
Assuring that your space is as functional as it is beautiful
Aligning everything with the client’s preferences and needs
Ultimately, interior design is a service industry and a good interior designer will do everything that they can to make sure that you are happy with the final result and that your space comes together in a way that perfectly fits your needs and desires.
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How interior designers price their services
As we’ve alluded to above, there are multiple factors that go into interior design pricing schemes, with different designers choosing to set their pricing in different ways.
Some have an hourly rate, others charge per square foot, many charge per room, and a few will also take a percentage fee. Below, we’ll explain how each of these pricing options works. Note: Many interior designers will also charge a one-time consultation fee, which tends to cover an hour or two of a designer's time to learn more about your project. For a larger project, they may roll this into the total.
You can also check out the below list for at-a-glance answers:
Hourly Rate: $150 - $500 per hour (average $325)
Per Square Foot: $5 to $12 per square foot
Per Room: $450 to $12,000 per room
Day Rate: $600 - $1,200 per day
Percentage Fee: 10 to 30%
Interior designer fees by hourly rate
The easiest pricing plan for most clients to understand is when interior designer charge per hour. This is essentially exactly what it sounds like: the designer will charge you a flat rate per hour that they work on your project. Explains Burrill, hourly interior design costs “can range from $150-$500 an hour, meaning it's easier to shop for an interior designer who fits your budget.”
"Working hourly gives the client more control over their design costs and can be a cost-effective path for certain types of projects.”
There are also other benefits to this pricing scheme other than it being easiest to understand. According to Kaper, “Working hourly gives the client more control over their design costs and can be a cost-effective path for certain types of projects.”
That being said, it will require you to be proactive about making sure that the cost doesn’t come out much higher than you initially planned for. “It is important to get a detailed estimate of hours for your project and have a process in place for when the designer will exceed the hours estimated for the project,” clarifies Kaper.
Interior designer fees per square foot
Another option for how an interior designer might choose to set their rate is per square foot of your space that they are working on. This means that you will calculate the size of the space that your interior designer is working on and multiply that by a flat per foot rate that you agree upon ahead of time. The average rate for interior design services ranges from $5 to $12 per square foot. This means that if you have 5,000 square feet of space to work with, your cost will probably be somewhere between $25,000 and $60,000.
Interior designer dees per room
Another common pricing scheme is charging per room, which is exactly as it sounds: your designer will charge you for every room of your house that they’re working on. Typical rates per room range from $450 to $1,500 for design only or $2,000 to $12,000 if furnishing are included. The main benefit to this pricing style is that you will know ahead of time exactly how much you should expect to be charged, including allowances for revisions.
“Take the time to fully understand what you will be getting. Any additional work outside of the agreed-upon services can result in multiple change orders and add-ons."
Cautions Kaper, “Take the time to fully understand what you will be getting. Any additional work outside of the agreed-upon services can result in multiple change orders and add-ons. This type of agreement removes a lot of potential uncertainties from the design process and overall cost.”
Interior designer fees per day
One more pricing strategy you might come across is the per day option. Here, a designer will charge you based on the time they spend working on your project but instead of per hour, they’ll give you a quote per day. The average per day rate for interior design services ranges from $600 - $1,200, and you can expect a project to take between 14 to 30 days. Note that this is a much less common way for interior designers to set their rates. Sometimes this structure can also be set up as a flat fee once you decide on the amount of time you'll need the design firm to help.
Percentage fee structure
One final pricing strategy that you might run into when looking for interior designers is the percentage fee structure, which is not the most popular. Explains Burrill, “A percentage fee structure simply builds a charge into the project cost based on a percent of the total project.” You can expect your percentage fee to come out to be anywhere between 10 to 30%. The exact number will obviously depend on how much your project comes out to, probably somewhere between $2,000 and $1,500.
“A percentage fee structure simply builds a charge into the project cost based on a percent of the total project.”
This pricing style means no upfront fees, however, cautions Burrill, “it also gives designers an incentive to rack up the total price of your project so their cut comes to a bigger bottom dollar. Registered interior designers with an ounce of ethics won't go that route, but knowing the incentive is there can leave some folks uneasy.”
How to prepare for an interior design project
If you’re planning to work with an interior designer, there are certain steps that you can take to prepare that will not only help the project go as smoothly as possible but also help you avoid excessive costs. Here are the recommended steps to take in preparation for starting your work with an interior designer.
Decide the scope of the project
The first thing you’ll need to decide is to determine exactly what you want the outcome of your interior design project to be. This will involve answering a few questions, including:
Do you want to completely revamp your space? Or do you want to make minor changes?
Which rooms do you want to work on?
How much guidance do you need for the project?
The answers to these questions will be a big help in allowing you to pre-estimate about how much your interior design fees will end up running you.
Decide your budget
Another incredibly important step in planning your interior design project is determining what your budget will be. You can do a bit of research (ie read the information we’ve listed above) to help you understand approximately how much you can expect to spend. Then, decide on what your ideal cost would be and what your absolute maximum budget is. Be sure to include any project management fees and consultancy fees in your total cost plans so you don't go over budget.
Once you have your project scope and your budget, you will be much better equipped to figure out what type of design service you should go for. For example, if your budget is under $1,000 you might prefer to work with an online interior design service rather than a high-end designer with 10+ years of experience.
Assess your project space
There are also a few things that you’ll want to understand about your space as part of the process of preparing for working with an interior design. Mainly, how large is your space? And how many rooms do you have? This question is important because larger rooms are more expensive to design. Knowing upfront what your square footage is will help you estimate pricing and also find the right designer for you.
Know your style
The final thing that you should have thought about before contacting an interior designer is what interior design style you think you’ll want. Of course, an experienced designer will customize the final design to your tastes, but it will be incredibly helpful to both you and your designer if you come into the process with at least a rough idea of the kind of colors and styles that you’re drawn to.
It can be helpful to familiarize yourself with different design styles such as modern, mid-century, eclectic, minimalist, bohemian, shabby chic, and modern farmhouse, just to list a few. Look at photos of the key elements of each of these styles and see what you you respond to. Using a Pinterest board can be very helpful in allowing you to browse and save photos of interior design inspiration that you can later share with your designer.
Questions you should be asking interior designers when looking for a quote
When you first begin conversations with professional interior designers about potentially working together, one of the main issues you’ll want to discuss is how much they will charge you for your project. It would be to your benefit to take an active role in this process rather than just sitting back and letting your interior designer take over. This is the best way to assure you’ll be quoted a fair price.
“I recommend asking about how each designer will present ideas, how many selections meetings there will be, and how long the process might take."
As Burrill says, “I recommend asking about how each designer will present ideas (e.g., 3D renderings), how many selections meetings there will be (to revise your choices and re-do renderings), and how long the process might take. It's also important to ask what the designer's own style is; any professional designer will be able to create beautiful spaces of any style, but it's an added bonus if you connect with a designer who shares some of your likes and instincts.”
Here is the list of questions we recommend you come in armed with, including suggestions made by Caper.
What is your design process like?
How long does the design process take?
How will you present your ideas?
How and how often will we meet?
Are you limited to certain brands and suppliers for material specifications?
What are the deliverables at the end of the process?
What is your personal style?
What is your fee/pricing structure?
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How to choose/find an interior designer
Another question you might be wondering is how you can find a good interior designer to work with who will offer fair prices but also give you the professionalism and experience you desire. After all, this is your home we’re talking about. You want somebody you can trust to really deliver a great final product that meets your needs.
“The most comfortable and trusted source will always be friends and family. Asking for recommendations is a great start. However, for the best referrals, ask people with homes similar to yours in age or value."
According to Burrill, “The most comfortable and trusted source will always be friends and family. Asking for recommendations is a great start. However, for the best referrals, ask people with homes similar to yours in age or value. Also ask what people liked the most about each designer - because if one person loved the hands-off experience where the designer took care of everything, but you want to be more involved, then that person's referrals might not be for you.”
Although that isn’t your only option. If you’re short on time, you can always start with a quick online search. “See if there are any designers who offer quotes after an initial consultation. Do note that any designer offering a quote without that initial design consultation is likely working with canned project ideas, so the experience you get won't be personalized with precision to your styles, likes, wants, and desires,” cautions Burrill.
Is there a difference between an interior designer and an interior decorator?
Before we let you go, there’s one final thing to clear up that will help you in your search: what’s the difference between an interior designer and an interior decorator?
To put it simply, the work of an interior designer involves a lot more than simply decorating. Interior designers will often also have a hand in design work, floor plans and structural changes. Decorators, however, focus on exclusively aesthetics like paint colors. So while interior designers may also decorate, interior decorators usually do not design — as such, interior decorator costs tend to be a little less than an interior designer.
Ash is the founder of Living Cozy. He's been featured by publishers like MyDomaine, Realtor, Real Homes, Architectural Digest, The Spruce, Homes and Gardens, and more. As a writer his work has appeared in publications like FastCompany, TNW, and Entrepreneur.
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