Cost to Hire Interior Designer or Decorator
The average cost to hire an interior designer is between $50 and $200 per hour, in addition to the cost of furniture and accessories, which is marked-up based on their fee structure. Most spend $1,893 to $11,180, or $5 to $12 per square foot for consultation, design work, management, and furnishings.
Ultimately, a home designer charges based on what the client needs and their fee structure—a fixed rate or per room, by square feet, per hour, per day, per furnishing, or as a marked-up percentage of a contractor’s or builder’s charges (if working in tangent with a general contractor).
|National Average Cost||$5,406|
|Average Range||$1,893 to $11,180|
Interior Design Price List
The cost to hire an interior decorator is also affected by the look you want to achieve, as luxury décor and specialty contractors cost much more than widely available ones. Many homeowners on a budget hire an interior designer to draw up remodeling and decorating plans and oversee the rest of the project on their own.
Here’s a typical price list of what to expect.
|Charge Type||Cost Range||Average|
|1-Hour Consultation (In-Home)||$50 – $450||$200|
|Per Hour||$50 – $450||$150|
|Per Square Foot||$5 – $17||$9|
|Per Room (+ Furnishings)||$1,000 – $12,000||$3,200|
|Per Room (Design Only)||$449 – $1,499||$975|
|Cost Plus (Designer’s Markup)||17% – 45%||30%|
|Markup on Retail||10% – 35%||22%|
|Percent of Construction Cost||10% – 30%||20%|
|Average Total Cost||$1,893 – $11,180||$5,406|
Whether you’re doing an extreme remodel or just a cosmetic update, an interior designer can help pull together seamless looks with the perfect blend of paint colors, furniture, window treatments, and accessories to complement the use of the room and expected traffic flow.
They might suggest bigger interior design projects like knocking down walls, changing the floor plan, installing bigger windows, or raising ceilings. Let’s take a look at all your options.
Table of Contents
How Much Do Interior Designers Charge?
An interior designer’s cost estimates vary based on the room, the size, the level of luxury needed, and their own experience and portfolio. The price breakdown for every job is different and requires a different fee structure to match. Larger firms may charge in multiple ways on the same project, adding other service fees to the home design fee.
Interior Design Fees Structure
|Designer’s Experience||Junior Designer $
Average Designer $$
Principal Designer $$$
|Purchase Fees||Different percentages on top of the cost of items like rugs, lamps, sofas, etc.|
|CAD Drawings||CAD and architectural drawings cost extra.|
|Management Fee||Typically 25% of the job|
|Travel Fees||½ of the designer’s hourly rate|
|Reimbursable Expenses||Proven with receipts for out-of-pocket expenses|
Agree on a designer’s design plans and fee structure with your significant other before the contractors get to work and avoid frustration and disagreements altogether. An interior decorator will not design the layout and is more focused on décor alone.
Also, each interior designer will have different ways of structuring payments and deciding when they happen.
|Retainer or Deposit||Nonrefundable upfront deposit of 10% of estimated project cost.|
|Design Fee Installments|| 1 @ 50%
2 @ 10%
3 @ 15%
4 @ 15%
|Product Deposit||Firms may require 50% deposit for furnishings they will purchase.|
|Late Fees||X% per day / week / month|
Interior Design Consultation Fee
Most interior designers charge an initial consultation fee of $50 to $250, which is usually an hour of the designer’s time. This hour includes asking you questions about your tastes, likes and dislikes, and budget. The consultation is followed by the designer putting together design ideas for each room.
Decorators usually offer one to three design ideas for each room so you have choices. Once you have the design ideas, you can take on the work of hiring contractors and buying furnishings yourself or leave everything in the hands of the designer on a cost-plus basis.
Interior Designer Hourly Rate
Interior designers hourly rates are typically $100 to $200, but can range from a minimum of $50 per hour for a junior designer, up to $450 an hour or more for an experienced designer or principal of the firm.
The more experience interior designers have, the more they will charge per hour. In addition to consultation and design work, there are additional service charges for travel, deposits, communication minutes, and purchase fees. This method is typically used for smaller projects. Ask about line item charges before you sign any contracts.
|Charge Type||Cost Per Hour|
|Average Range||$79 – $200|
|Top Professional Designer||$450|
Interior Design Cost Per Square Foot
Interior design costs between $5 and $17 per square foot (or more for high-end homes), while the average price ranges between $7 and $12 per square foot. When working on an entire house, or a good portion of it, it’s easier to use the square footage than to price everything out.
|Square Feet||Average Cost|
|1,000||$4,380 – $12,440|
|1,500||$6,570 – $18,660|
|2,000||$8,760 – $24,880|
|2,500||$10,950 – $31,100|
|3,000||$13,140 – $37,320|
|3,500||$15,330 – $43,540|
|4,000||$17,520 – $49,760|
Interior Decorating Cost Per Room
Interior designers charge between $1,000 and $7,750 per room on average, which includes design work and furnishings. It’s common to see a living room at a flat fee of $2,500 to $5,000, and each bedroom at $1,000 to $2,000. For design work only, costs range from $449 to $1,499 per room.
The cost to design each room, project managing contractors, and buy the furnishings to fill it depends on the size of the room, the use of the room, complexity from a design perspective, and the quality of the furnishings.
Online Interior Decorator Costs Per Room – Design Only
A remote designer conducting the decorating portion of the work online allows them to charge as little as $449 a room for design-only services.
|Living Room||$599 – $1,399|
|Dining Room||$499 – $899|
|Living & Dining Room||$699– $1,299|
|Bedroom||$539 – $1,299|
|Home Office||$499 – $1,099|
|Kitchen||$599 – $1,499|
|Entry/Hall||$449 – $699|
|Bath||$599 – $1,399|
|Patio||$449 – $1.399|
|Nursery||$499 – $1,099|
Freelance Interior Designer Day Rates
A freelance interior designer’s day rate will typically range from $632 to $2,152 for an 8-hour day of labor only—designing structural changes, window changes, furniture and accessory arrangements, color swatches, and flooring choice combinations to transform your home.
Cost Plus, Commission, or Percentage Fees
An interior design percentage-based fee can start as low as 10% and go as high as 45%, but a commission fee is usually a 15% to 30% charge on the total for furnishings, contractor management, and materials costs. For example, if the total scope of the project is $15,000, and the designer’s cost-plus-fee is 30%, it would be $4,500.
Once you know what the cost of your project will be, the designer will add the percentage on top of that. They might also set up a payment schedule for you—usually a set of benchmarks that coincide with the progress of construction or remodeling. This is one of the easiest ways to pay your interior designer.
Here’s how to calculate interior design fees based on the type of markup.
|Type of Markup||Percentage-Based Fees|
|% of Construction Cost||10% – 30%|
|% of Furnishings||10% – 35%|
|Cost Plus||17% – 45%|
Fixed or Flat Rates
Fixed or flat-rate fees for home design can range anywhere from $1,000 to $12,000 per room to $5 to $17 per square foot for design fees and décor, with most design firms charging between $1,550 and $4,850 a room, or about $9 per sqft. Design-only flat fees run from $449 to $1,499 per room.
Be sure to ask in advance what this fee structure consists of such as the estimated amount of time to be spent, and the number of design revisions. A highly custom interior design project may be limited on a fixed rate due to the amount of unique items, worker skills, or the number of revisions needed.
Design fees are generally reserved for larger jobs, and they cover all the work done for the first presentation of design choices. However, some designers include their design fee in their total price per hour or square foot, so you will need to ask.
Choose between having an online designer put your design plan together without ever stepping foot in your home or having one visit your home, take measurements, and set design suggestions together after.
When an interior designer must work with a general contractor while construction or remodeling is going on, there will be a management fee of about 25% added to the other costs on a line-item invoice.
Retainer or Deposit
A retainer is typically paid upfront when signing the design firm’s contract and is nonrefundable. The amount of the deposit is usually about 10% of the total cost of the project.
The purpose of the retainer is to protect the designer. If you change your mind halfway through the project and cancel, the retainer covers the money they’ve spent on your project so far in time, furnishings, and contractor back and forth.
What Is an Interior Designer?
An interior designer is someone who turns a functional space into space that’s appealing to the eye and appropriate to the client’s budget through the use of structural designs, project management, and décor arrangement.
“Interior design is the art and science of enhancing the interior of a building to achieve a healthier and more aesthetically pleasing environment for the people using the space. An interior designer is someone who plans, researches, coordinates, and manages such projects.” – Wikipedia
What Do Interior Designers Do?
Interior designers are both the designers of the overall look and the people who make the look come to fruition. They
- Visit a home and measure the rooms.
- Find out the client’s likes and dislikes and budget.
- Present design ideas that might include adding windows or moving walls.
- Design the layout of the room(s) based on its function and client’s style.
- Present furniture and accessory suggestions.
- Purchase the furniture and accessories and oversee the delivery.
- Oversee painting, wallpapering, carpentry—often with custom-made cabinets, shelving, etc.
- Arrange the decor and bring it all together cohesively.
- Install furniture.
- Accentuate light in the room—lighting, rugs, furniture, wall colors, texture, art, fabrics, and accessories.
Is An Interior Designer Worth It?
Should you use an interior designer? If you can afford it and the appearance of your home is important to you, then yes, it could be a great idea. Some areas where the services of an interior designer could tangibly prove their worth is if:
- Your home has a poor layout, and you’d like to resize all the rooms, add storage space, improve traffic flow, and add more light.
- You want to stage your home before you sell it. Professionally staged homes typically sell for more money and faster than homes that are not staged.
- You have a room or part of the house you’d like to rent out for temporary stays.
- You purchased a new home and need help decorating.
- You frequently host guests.
How Do Interior Designers Get Paid?
Interior designers will set up a contract with you itemizing everything they will do, and it will include how and when they want to be paid and how long you can expect the project to take. They will generally want to receive a downpayment or retainer of 10% to 50% at the time you sign the contract.
The majority of interior designers will invoice you online, and you can pay through one of the many online payment apps available.
Be aware of what professionals call scope creep.
“Scope creep … in project management refers to changes, continuous or uncontrolled growth in a project’s scope, at any point after the project begins. This can occur when the scope of a project is not properly defined, documented, or controlled” Wikipedia
To stay within your budget, make sure all your decisions are set in stone before work begins, as every change in the design plan will cause the designer to have to charge you more.
Interior Decorator vs. Home Designer
It’s good to know the difference between a decorator and a designer before you sign any contracts, as the two roles are different.
An interior decorator focuses exclusively on décor and will arrange (or purchase new) furniture and accessories for each room. They will choose color swatches and arrange furniture in a way that reflects the desired style and mood of a room. Interior decorators also offer home staging services to increase your home’s value when it’s for sale.
An interior designer is certified or licensed in the development, space planning, onsite assessment, design, research, project management, and implementation of room designs. Because there are so many more aspects of work to the project, designers cost more than decorators.
How to Prepare for an Interior Decorator
- Write down any questions you have before the meeting.
- Set your budget.
- Bring your ideas. Create a Pinterest board and link your designer to it. Put together color swatches you like. Save links to artwork or furniture you like in a favorites page.
- Know which of your current furniture pieces you want to keep.
- Let the designer know if you have a preference for sustainability and organic items, and if you need safety measures in place for children or people with disabilities.
- When they come to your home, have the clutter cleared so they can measure the rooms.
- Set all design plans in stone before beginning any work, and resolve not to change anything halfway through.
- Trust the designer you’ve hired. You’ve chosen them based on great reviews, an up-to-date license, and you’ve seen a portfolio of previous work. That said, though, speak up when you need to. You’ve hired them to help you, not take over.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Much Does A Painter and Decorator Cost?
A painter and decorator will charge about $2.31 per square foot when you include prep work and also painting trim, windows, etc. That works out to $332 to paint a 12’ x 12’ room.
How Much Do Interior Designers Make?
According to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics, interior designers earn a salary of $53,370 per year. The typical interior designer has a bachelor’s degree.
Commercial Interior Design Costs
Commercial interior design costs in the neighborhood of $50 per square foot Another way some firms charge is to bill 10% of the construction budget or 15% of the construction budget with engineering.
Hiring an Interior Designer
Instead of making this a DIY project, there are many reasons for hiring an interior designer if it’s in your budget to do so. Professional interior designers know the perfect paint colors to use to create a welcoming environment and can help make your dream home a reality.
- They can help you narrow down your ideas.
- They can summarize a room look faster with better suggestions.
- They get discounts from contractors and furniture salespeople in their network that they pass on to you for your shopping list.
- They are trained and licensed to arrange space in the most logical and mood-enhancing way, staying up-to-date on local and federal building codes rewiring, plumbing, moving walls, etc.
- They project manage every aspect of the changes, leaving your time free for more important things.
How to Hire a Decorator
When searching for a decorator, hire based on the guidelines below.
- Ask friends for referrals.
- Check online reviews on HomeGuide and Google.
- Most decorators have a showroom or online portfolio available to potential clients, which you can view.
- Get three or four interior design price quotes from different designers.
- Make sure they are a good personality fit with you too—they will be working closely with you in your home.
- Make sure you understand what is involved in the contract—what they will do and when they will do it. Ask questions before you sign or make any downpayment on services.
-Did the decorator listen to their ideas?
-Did the decorator accomplish what they wanted?
-Did they do the job on time and budget?
Interior Design Associations
Consider employing professional interior designers that are certified and licensed with either the ASID, NCIDQ, or the CID to ensure you get the best results. There are also colleges, such as the New York School of Interior Design where students can earn a Certificate of Design.
- The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID): Founded in 1975, the AISD is the oldest and largest professional organization for interior designers with over 13,500 design members, and 5,500 up and coming student members.
- The National Council of Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ): NCIDQ Certification showcases college-educated interior designers who have proven their expertise by demonstrating a specific set of core competencies.
- Certified Interior Designers (CID) & The California Council for Interior Design Certification (CCIDC): Students must have seven years of experience or have passed the minimum educational requirements to apply. The students must pass a three-hour exam that is administered by the NCIDQ.
Interior Design on a Budget
It’s possible to hire an interior designer on a budget, especially with a small project. The most efficient way is to sign up and pay for an online interior design service that gives you exactly what you can afford.
Interior designers generally offer three tiers of services depending on how much you want to pay. Also, HomeGuide allows you to compare home designers side by side with pricing that fit everyone’s budget.
Get free estimates on HomeGuide from trusted interior design firms and decorators: