Table of Contents
- Interior Designer Costs
- Interior Designer Cost Structures
- Cost Factors Of Interior Designers
- Interior Design Discounts
- Interior Designer Vs. Decorator
- Benefits Of Interior Designers
- Interior Design Associations
- Working With An Interior Designer
- Interior Design Preparation
- DIY Or Hire A Pro?
- Color Wheel Of Interior Design
- Interior Design Software & Apps
- Find An Interior Designer
Interior Designer Cost
Hiring an interior designer can be a serious investment, but many homeowners feel that the interior designer cost is well worth a beautiful and tastefully-decorated home. Sadly, the cost to hire an interior designer varies based on numerous factors (discussed later). However, looking at more than 1,500 interior design projects across the country, the average interior design cost is $4,776, with most homeowners paying somewhere between $3,407 and $5,143.
Interior Designer Cost Structures
One of the reasons prices change from designer to designer is their cost structure. Unlike other pros who only charge an hourly rate, interior designers and decorators can charge by the hourly, by a fixed rate, by square footage or by room. To determine an accurate interior design price, you should consider all interior designer cost structures:
The most common way to hire an interior designer is via an hourly wage. Prices range from $50 to $150 per hour, but you are not locked into any contract. You can halt the deal whenever you want.
The hourly cost structure is often considered the best option if you’re working with a new designer because it allows you to get a feel for their work slowly, rather than spending a lot for a look you don’t like.
To keep things simple, other homeowners go with a flat rate for interior design projects. This fixed rate covers the entire project, including labor, materials and other various expenses. If you’ve worked with a specific interior designer in the past, we recommend this structure since you know their level of expertise.
This structure also works for those worried about budget. Unlike hourly wage, you know exactly how much you’re going to pay. The price should not change once agreed on.
Very similar to a flat rate, some designers charge by the square footage. Once they see your project, they will provide a cost per square foot. This interior designer cost should include all cost variables such as labor, time and materials. If you’re working on a small interior design project, some designers may charge a minimum fee to meet their requirements.
Whole-Room or Whole-Home
The final way to hire an interior decorator is by room or by home. You pay an agreed-upon price, give some suggestions and also give a deadline. The decorator then buys any necessary furniture or paints and decorates the space as determined by your one-on-one meetings. While this is the more expensive route, it can produce cohesive and attractive results in any home.
Cost Factors Of Interior Designers
Besides the chosen cost structure, there are other factors that can increase or decrease the cost of an interior designer. You can only control a few of these, but knowing all price factors will ensure you find the best interior designer for the lowest possible cost:
Size of Project
Of course, it costs more to design an entire house as opposed to one small room. More work requires more time, which in turn, requires more money. Nonetheless, if you plan on redesigning other areas of your home in the near future, we highly recommend you consider doing it all at once. As an example, one project that covers 1,200sf will cost less than three separate projects that total the same square footage.
Expertise comes with a price. Rookie interior designers may charge as little as $50 an hour, but experienced pros can charge up to $200 an hour. Since most interior design or decorating projects take at least 10 hours to complete, that price difference per hour really adds up.
In addition, interior design firms with connections and discounts with local vendors may be able to offer lower rates compared to inexperienced designers.
Always plan ahead. No matter what design or remodeling project you plan on completing, it’s always best to plan ahead. Decorators and contractors are busy. While they may be able to move their schedules around, the rearranging does not come without a price. The sooner you need work done, the more it’s going to cost.
Some interior design projects just require new paint, while others call for all new furniture. Well, shopping and researching for the right pieces takes time and more often than not, your designer will come up with options for you. If you let them, this will add to your interior design cost. On the other, if you find pieces for them, you save on hourly costs.
Finally, most interior designers use modern technology to show you what your home will look like once completed. Some designers have their own software, but others pay for a subscription. That cost gets put onto you. So, while modern technology certainly helps you visualize your updated space, it does come with a cost.
On the other hand, there are plenty of interior design resources any homeowner can use, some of which are free!
Interior Designer Discounts
When it comes to decorator costs, all homeowners should have a basic understanding of interior designer discounts. In essence, these are discounts designers get when they purchase from various vendors. However, that discount is rarely passed on to you.
For example, a beautiful piece of furniture or a closet organizer may cost $300 from a store. Your interior designer may be able to grab that piece for as little as $250. Sadly, the cost to you is still $300. Some designers use this money as their payment, but others don’t.
This is called cost plus in most interior design contracts. If they added, make sure they go over all details before signing.
Interior Designer Vs. Decorator
Most people think of designers and decorators as one in the same, but when you look at the specifics, you can see they are quite different.
The more experience title falls to designers. They have to attend and graduate from an accredited college or university and then complete a design internship. They also have to pass the National Council for Interior Design Qualification exam to get an interior design license.
In terms of working with homeowners, designers know building codes, construction requirements and architectural best practices to ensure you have a beautiful and functional home. All this expertise makes interior designers more expensive then interior decorators.
Decorators come in to dress up the space, providing a more aesthetically-pleasing update. More often than not, they work with existing homes and recommend new paint colors, window treatments or non-structural elements. Additionally, decorators are often used for staging as home.
Unlike a designer, a decorator requires no formal education or certification. Therefore, they should always cost less than interior designers.
Benefits Of Interior Designers
Now that you know what goes into becoming an interior designer, why should you hire them? Besides being trained experts in design, they have also have studied the equivalent of interior architecture. In addition to selecting fabrics, colors, furniture, flooring and window treatments, they’re experienced in drafting and drawing and offer services such as space planning, barrier-free design, kitchen and bath design, custom cabinets, furniture design, furniture plans and lighting plans. Clearly, they know all there is to know about interior design.
Besides their vast education, many interior designers are members of a professional society, such as the American Society of Interior Designers (more of the associations later). Finally, in some states, licensed or certified interior designers are allowed to obtain building permits.
Interior Design Associations
Most professional interior designers are part of various associations. Just like you belong to various professional groups, interior designers typically belong to one of the following associations.
- The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID): The oldest and largest association of professional interior designers in the world. There are 49 chapters with global membership.
- The National Council of Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ): An independent organization created in the public interest to establish minimum standards for the qualification of professional interior designers. It has qualified over 10,000 interior designers since 1974.
- The California Council for Interior Design Certification (CCIDC) & Certified Interior Designers (CID): Applicants must pass certain educational requirements and/or have seven years of related business experience. In addition, the applicant must pass a three-hour exam in building and barrier-free codes administered by the NCIDQ. Other states have similar certification programs.
Working With An Interior Designer
If you’ve decided to work with a professional interior designer, there are some basics you should know. We’ll cover everything from how to find the best designers in your area and the contract to actually shopping with your pro and designing your dream home.
Before you hire any pro, you must get multiple quotes. Not all interior designers charge the same price, but that doesn’t mean you should always choose the cheapest designer. Oftentimes, the lowest price comes with low quality.
Once you sign the letter of agreement, you and your designer with have a slow walk through the home. He or she will take pictures and measure everything. Once initial drawings have been approved, your designer will go over a list of items they envision for your home.
Then, once all plans are approved, the designer will help you find local contractors to complete the work. They too will get multiple bids to find the right contractor for the job.
Most importantly, do not lose your voice in the process. They are the pros, but you are living in your house. If you’re unsure of something, have the interior designer narrow down your choices. You’re the boss and ultimately, everything needs your approval.
For more tips on working with a designer, please see Hiring An Interior Designer.
Interior Design Preparation
Once you hire the right designer for your project, it helps to prepare. Just like an interview, you should know your answers before the questions are asked:
- Set Your Budget: You need to determine what you want to spend and what you can actually spend. Always veer on the cautious side as your designer may try to spend more than you can afford.
- Seek Inspiration: Whether it’s Pinterest, magazines or home remodeling websites, gather pieces or rooms that inspire you. Save them all, as every image helps your interior designer figure out your perfect home.
- Speak Up: If you like Feng Shui design, speak up. You know what you like and don’t like. As we said earlier, you are in charge. Take control of the process and don’t let the designer overpower you. They are the professionals, but you are the one living in the home.
DIY Or Hire A Pro?
As you have read above, there are numerous benefits to working with interior designers. Of course, the major drawback is the cost. Some of us can’t bring ourselves to spend $4,776 on an interior designer. Luckily, there are websites, apps and other resources out there to help all DIY designers. Continue reading to see which ones are best for you.
Color Wheel Of Interior Design
If you’re going at it on your own, you have to know all colors available. Enter, the color wheel of interior design (above). A designer would undoubtedly show you the color wheel throughout the designing stage. That’s because different color tints can bring out different emotions in different rooms. Don’t believe us? See what our own color psychology research came up with:
- Green Bedroom: Tranquility and health
- Pink Girl’s Room: Calming and warm
- Lavender Living Room: Calms the nerves, allows relaxation
- Blue Office: Most productive color
- Yellow Kitchen: Increases metabolism, brightens room, gives you energy
Interior Design Software & Apps
As technology evolves, so does the interior design arena. It’s hard seeing passed that ugly wall or behind that grungy fireplace, but just like most HGTV shows, there are apps and websites out there to help you visualize your final product. Software is constantly changing, but luckily, our friends at Home Stratosphere found 23 of the best interior design resources for 2017. Our favorites are:
- Planner 5D
- Space Designer
- Olympic Paint
- Room Sketcher
Find An Interior Designer
Hopefully you learned a thing or two about interior designer costs, what they do, what they bring to the table and how you can tackle a design project on your own. While we admire those DIYers, most homeowners prefer a professional eye. In you fall into the latter category, we can help you find the find interior designers in your city!
Get free estimates from local contractors
Last updated on Jul 30, 2018