Interior designing cost guide

Whether you’re planning a small bathroom redecoration or a major home improvement project, working with everything on your own can be a tough call. Where to get the materials? How to fit everything together? How to save on the fixtures? And do I break any codes? These and many more questions would fill your head daily. Unless you want your brain to burst, call for the professional assistance of an interior designer. Almost 50% of the Americans dream of changing something in their homes. And interior designers can help you with these changes within the smallest budgets and with the largest ambitions.

Here you will learn about:

Interior designers are experts in making any space visually appealing and comfortable. They help to keep a project right on schedule and within the budget frame. Besides that, interior designers know about the local sales and have their own connections that allow homeowners to save on materials and furniture while renovating. As a result, while the service of an interior designer does cost sufficiently, the financial perks that they offer can help you save a lot with such an expert onboard.

Average cost of interior designer services

The average interior designer cost lies between $1,800 and $6,400 in total with most homeowners spending about $4,700 for such a cooperation. The bill you receive from interior designers consists of many factors and price components described below. The top-end experts may require as much as $15,000+ for the projects in total.

Cost-related questions

How do interior designers charge?

Interior designers’ charge usually consists of several components added one to another. Here are those price levels you can face:

Hourly rates are applicable to consultations and minor projects. The per-hour charge covers all possible services a designer performs during the paid hours. Keep in mind, however, that furnishing and materials are still paid on top. The average hourly rates are $50-$500/hour depending on the interior designer’s experience.

Flat rate is calculated on the basis of your project size and particular needs. Once you outline everything, you will receive a flat fee from your designer. The fees may vary in terms of services included and performed because every designer will write such an estimate based on your needs and financial possibilities.

A monthly retainer is used for the large-scope projects when a designer understands that the cooperation will be a long-lasting one. In such cases, you will need to sign a detailed contract with your designer to clearly state which services will be performed, how many hours a designer spends on your project, how you will communicate, etc.

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Square footage rates are common for commercial projects of very large scope. Even though the average per-square-foot cost differs a lot, you can expect to pay about $6/square foot on average.

Commission is required when your interior designer shops for you. If you let your designer buy all materials, furniture, decor elements, etc. then be ready to pay about 20% commission. If you’re not sure that you’re paying the right amount, just save all your receipts to calculate the commission manually.

Percentage rate is applied when you come to a designer and have a strict budget. Based on this budget your designer will do everything: from their salary to the materials and hirings. In such cases, a designer has a particular percentage that they take for their work based on your total budget.

What services are included in the price?

The services you will receive from every interior designer will vary significantly. It usually depends on the price you’re paying and the contract a designer agrees upon. Remember that the services are always negotiable.

Material recommendation. Interior designers know the market and its trends. Not only will they help you choose the best cost-quality ratio, but also advise on the perfect color or pattern to avoid overcleaning the dark floors in the living room, for example. Moreover, they know everything about faucets, lights, exhaust systems, waterproofing, and anything else required.

Materials purchase. Should you be willing to spend as little time as possible on your renovation, you can pay your interior designer to buy all the materials for you.

Picking the labor crew. Yes, you will need electricians, plumbers, carpenters, and many other professional subcontractors to complete the renovation. Frequently, interior designers have a crew in mind and so can help you choose the best experts available.

Ability to save. Interior designers know about the best prices in town and online so can look for the best offers matching your project needs. Besides that, they have special discounts at some stores and with some brands so can help you save on this as well. They are also knowledgeable about the energy-saving materials and home elements and can choose the right things to make your home energy efficiency in the long run.

Visualization of the project. First and foremost service designers offer is a visualization of your project. Basically, they will create a drawing or 3D models of your new home before getting down to business.

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What factors affect the final cost?

Even though most factors will lie beyond your control, knowing them will help you control your design budget.

Project size. The rule of thumb says that the bigger the project is, the higher the price. And it’s true. However, if you plan to perform several renovations, it’s better to do them all at once. One whole-house project will cost cheaper than renovation and redesigning of a living room, a bathroom, and a bedroom separately.

Reputation. Beginners and rookie designers may charge you about $70/hour while pros may go as high as several hundred per hour. Reputation and experience do influence the charges of interior designers heavily.

Timing. The earlier you book your interior designer, the lower rates you will receive. If you try to look for an expert last minute, you risk facing double pricing with a chosen expert since they will have to squeeze you in their tight schedule.

Materials. The more natural and qualitative your materials are, the more expensive will be the cost of the project in total. And hence the higher will be the commission of your interior designer.

Software. Many modern designers use software to create demonstrations and plans for your new home. If they work with expensive software, they might offer to create the demonstration in it for you. But in this case, you will need to pay some extra for their subscription to the service.

Do interior designers have discounts?

Yes, interior designers do have discounts. First of all, these are reduced prices on materials and design elements that your designer will be able to provide due to the long cooperation with a vendor. Secondly, designers will offer reduced prices for large scope projects; this means that you will pay lower commission or lower percentage, for instance.

Tips to hire an interior designer

  1. Experience in similar projects. If you’re redesigning a French-style home, then hiring someone who specializes in hi-tech will be a mistake. The same goes for the differences in residential and commercial designs. Always ensure that you will be cooperating with an interior designer who has experience in projects similar to yours.
  2. Go local. Local designers have more knowledge and experience with the local vendors and availability of materials. They will be able to offer better discounts and usually faster completion of their work.
  3. Portfolios. Always ask interior designers to show you their previous works. This information will help you understand if you like style and methods of a particular designer before meeting in person.
  4. Credentials. In terms of credentials, it’s always beneficial, yet also more expensive, to cooperate with honorable designers. This means that you can ask them about their participation in any conferences and competitions. Look also for the member of interior design associations, such as The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) or The National Council of Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ).

Other frequently asked questions

Do I need a designer or a decorator?

It depends on what you want to get from an expert. Interior designers are experts who can reconstruct your whole home: change walls disposition, choose new materials, refurbish the whole home to make it functional and visually appealing, etc. Decorators among all those functions perform only the last one. This saying, if you’re looking for a way to refresh your current home, search for a decorator. If you’re ready to rebuild everything from the scratch - call for an interior designer.

Can I hire an interior designer online?

Yes, interior designers do work online and can create a perfect project for you from a distance. In this case, they will rely on the information from the website of your local stores and on measurements and photos that you provide. These experts cannot offer local discounts, however, their service initially costs much less. For instance, if you would pay around $5,000 for a “physical” interior designer, the online version would cost only $1,000.

Bottom line

Interior designers are experts who can rebuild and redesign any space to make it more functional and comfortable as well as visually appealing. Most often interior design projects cost between $1,800 and $6,400; some minor services can cost you as little as $70 while the top-end prices begin from $15,000.

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