How To Understand Interior Design Fees

Planning on a major redesign of your home? The best step you can take is hiring the right interior designer. But obviously, this professional will charge fees, and they surely won’t all be the same. Before you can tell who’s being fair and honest, you first have to know the basics of interior design fees and how they work.

Especially in this era of DIY online tutorials and almost-instant project reveals, you may think that interior design costs are all that simple. They’re not, if only because there are several factors to be considered before they can be accurately determined.

Interior Design Costs, More or Less

As mentioned, interior designer costs will vary, but you can consider an average when deciding how this figures in your choice of a designer. Towards the end of 2019, interior designers were hired for about £2,000 to £5,000 per project. With modern methods and approaches used in the industry, such as purely online interior design services, you may be able to save thousands of dollars.

Hiring an online designer may set you back by about £75 to £1599, and fees are usually fixed. A growing number of people now prefer online interior design services because it allows more flexibility in terms of scheduling, reviewing progress, and of course, budgeting. Then again, there will always be advantages that only traditional, in-person services can offer, such as the designer being personally there to make recommendations and manage the project.

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In any case, professional interior designers are often paid according to many factors such as their credentials, experience, skills and ability to work with other design professionals. For example, designers who have passed certification exams usually charge more than those who are unvetted, such as hobbyists. Designers who can provide computer renderings of your space to help you with visualization may also charge higher than one who relies on good, old-fashioned paper and pencil drawings.

The benefits of hiring an interior designer, whether online or traditional, are unquestioned. But choosing the right designer is key to a successful project, and deciding who’s right for you entails a great deal of cost considerations.

Basics of Interior Design Costs

When trying to understand professional interior design fees, you need specific information that will be crucial in your decision to hire or not to hire a designer, including:

Project Scope

First off, how small or big a project are you planning on? Are you thinking of subtle changes or improvements, or a total makeover ? It’s important to be clear about what you want and to be realistic about it, as this will affect how much work must be done, the costs that will be entailed, and of course, how you’re going to afford the project.

Size of Space

The size of the space you want to design or redesign will certainly impact the price of interior design services as well. Because a bigger area will require more time and work, it will naturally cost more in professional fees.

Your Budget

Most home projects are defined by the homeowner’s budget, so sit down and make a list of your wants and needs, prioritize, and decide how much you can spend to achieve the results you want. When possible, be very specific – for example, how much can you spend on wall paint or a new chandelier? Make sure you give yourself a little extra room for miscellaneous and unexpected costs, like shipping, repairs of damages that weren’t there when the project started, etc.

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How Interior Designers Are Paid

Interior designers don’t only vary in terms of fees but also in how they want to be paid. Here are six common ways these professionals charge their clients today:

Per-Hour Rate

Paying an interior designer per hour of rendered work is usually the easiest, especially for small projects that don’t take much time to complete. The rate can be anywhere from £50 to £500, and take note that hourly rates usually cover the designer’s commute to your house, shopping, phone conversations, and practically any amount of time spent in relation to your project.

Flat Rate

An interior designer can also quote you a fixed rate for your entire project, depending on its size and complexity. When paying a designer this way, make sure every single pertinent detail is listed in the contract, including the project time frame, the number of revisions allowed within that time frame, any additional fees, and so on. This payment model is often used for more extensive, complicated projects, provided there are no architectural services required.

Monthly Retainer

Some interior designers are paid a retainer fee, usually monthly and ahead of any work to be done. As with flat-rate arrangements, this payment structure must be thoroughly explained in a written contract, where expectations of both designer and client are explicitly expressed. However, this setup is usually suitable only for long-term ongoing projects, like contracts with shopping malls and hotels where interior designs are updated from time to time.

Square Footage

This payment structure requires paying the interior designer according to the size of the work site. For example, a 20,000 square foot property with an exterior space of 12,000 square feet may be billed at $12 per square foot, for a total interior design fee of $192,000. Like the monthly retainer model, this setup is often used for large commercial projects.

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Some designers are paid a commission instead of an actual rate. For example, they will buy the required materials from bulk suppliers, get discounts, charge you the retail prices of those materials, and keep the difference. Others will also collect a markup fee of around 20%, allowing them to keep a portion of your supply costs. In any case, always ask for receipts so you can double-check and validate every claimed purchase.


Finally, an interior designer may be paid a percentage of the total money spent on your project, including labor, materials and everything else. What this percentage will be, will be determined by you and your designer.

Preparing For Interior Design Costs

Professional interior design services may not be cheap, but they’re usually worth the cost, especially if you plan your project well. For example, whether you want a modern, minimalist design or a heavily ornate look, showing your designer pictures instead of just describing what you want with words will increase your chances of getting the results you want. Of course, this will also help you avoid unnecessary costs, as when you have to correct a mistake that was made simply because you and the designer were not on the same page from the beginning.

Definitely, knowing your wants and needs – and making sure these are relayed well to your interior designer – will help you understand your costs better. In the end, you can spend your money as wisely as possible, especially when deciding which interior designer to hire based on your budget.

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