How much does it cost to hire an interior designer?
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Interior Design Cost Guide
Updated: August 17, 2022
Working with an interior designer helps you realize your home dreams. Designers work with you to make the most of a space, from the layout to the furnishings that best suit the room and your tastes. You can hire a designer for a consultation or use them for full-service designs, which means this service has a wide range of associated costs.
When hiring a home design professional, it is important to remember interior designers have varying price structures for different projects and levels of expertise. The average homeowner spends between $2,000 and $12,000 on interior design services. Most homeowners pay around $5,500 for full-scale design services for one room in the home. On the low end, it costs $900 for an all-day consultation going over space and color planning for your home. Costs can go as high as $30,000 for full interior design services, including overseeing all plans and interior design projects from start to finish for a cohesive look throughout the house.
Interior Designer Fees
|Interior Designer Costs
|National average cost
What Does an Interior Designer Do?
Interior designers provide many services for designing, decorating, and planning the interior of a home. They assist you with the layout of a space during remodeling or construction. They help with planning the furniture layout of the room once it is built and choosing which furnishings and colors will work best.
Hiring an interior designer helps you make the most of your home’s potential. If you want to maximize the way a space is used, create a cohesive look, or upgrade your furnishings to best suit the space and your needs, an interior designer can help. These professionals develop the overall design scheme for each living space, buy furniture, manage projects, and coordinate with contractors to ensure a successful project from start to finish. These professionals are experienced in custom furniture pieces and finishes to complete your living space and put the final touches on a remodel or new construction that complies with all building requirements, safety standards, and personal preferences. This includes overseeing orders, delivery, and installation, which are part of their custom design plans that bring your ideal design scheme and style to life while staying within budget and keeping in mind safety and functionality.
New Construction vs Home Remodel Interior Designer Cost
The main benefit of hiring an interior designer for new construction is having a blank canvas to work with, so you can ensure your dream home is finished to perfection. Interior designers are also extremely valuable for home remodels because they help you decide what to keep and what to switch up to achieve your desired look within your budget. A new construction home designer’s cost is similar to the home interior designer’s cost for a remodel, falling between $2,000 and $12,000. These prices vary greatly depending on the square footage, design preferences, and level of involvement. For example, a home remodel where you just want one room refreshed while keeping most materials the same will be less expensive than interior design services covering the whole house for new construction. There are fewer removal costs when starting fresh with a new construction, but there is also less to work with, so more materials may be needed.
|Type of Project
|$2,000 - $12,000
|$2,000 - $12,000
Interior Designer Cost by Level of Involvement
One of the most common ways to price an interior design project is by the level of involvement. Costs per hour vary significantly based on if you just need a consultation or prefer the full interior design service and the overall scope and size of the project. You may even fall somewhere in the middle and want a consultation and design plan without all the project management and additional support of a full service. Which one works best for you depends on the size and scope of the project, your own interest in design, and your overall expectations for the finished product. Below are the average costs per project for hiring a home interior designer according to how involved they are.
|Level of involvement
|Cost Range per Project
|$50 - $900
|$500 - $3,000
|$2,000 - $30,000
Interior Design Consultation Fee
For most consultations, designers charge a flat fee ranging from $50 to $500 depending on their experience and the length of the consultation. This is in addition to any other home designer fees or schedules the professional may provide. For all-day consultations, the price may be closer to $600 to $900, depending on the level of involvement.
Interior designers work for you in different ways, but all involve a consultation. For full-service designs, the consultation is the initial meeting where you and the designer determine the scope and scale of the project. For consultation services only, this meeting gets you started creating your personalized interior design plan, with future consultations as needed. Some designers offer all-day consultations called Designer for the Day, where they assist you with basic layouts and choices, and then you complete the project yourself.
In between full service and consultations is design plan service, which costs $500 to $3,000. A design plan for one or two rooms may be $500 to $1,000. If you want a design plan for the whole house with lots of customization, it will likely cost $2,000 to $3,000. This is a popular option for homeowners who want an actual plan they can work from to ensure their vision is met but don’t necessarily need full service support every step of the way. With design plan service, you will consult with the designer to go over your goals and how the current space could be improved. After these discussions, the designer will put together a design plan with all the detailed information you need to bring the project to life. This plan includes room layouts, furniture suggestions, lighting recommendations, and other fixtures and finishes you should order to create your dream living space.
Full Interior Design Service
If you want full interior design service, expect to pay $2,000 to $30,000 for this professional support. The final price varies based on the project size, requirements, and the designer’s experience. For example, full interior design services for one or two bedrooms may cost $2,000 to $10,000, while the same service for the entire home would be around $20,000 to $30,000. Many homeowners find full service to be well worth it for interior design because they have complete support and a professional designer to consult with trades and manage the project. With this type of service, the designer consults with you to develop the overall vision before sourcing materials, ordering furniture, inspecting orders, and managing the installation of fixtures and finishes. The designer is also available to consult with trades and ensure all building codes are met as required.
Interior Designer Price by Billing Method
Interior designers charge for their services in various ways. Most new designers begin with an hourly rate, while more seasoned designers charge by the square foot or have a flat fee. Some designers set a minimum fee for design services or use flat fees for each service. Designing a room costs $500 to $10,000, depending on the room. There is a push for more designers to be transparent in their pricing. If your designer has a flat-fee schedule, this will likely detail which services they provide for the fee. For big projects, such as the interior design of an entire house under construction, expect to pay a percentage based on the total project costs.
|Interior Designer Price List
|$50 - $450
|$5 - $17
|Flat Rate per Room
|$500 - $10,000
|$600 - $1,200
|Percentage of Project
|10% - 30%
Interior Designer Hourly Rate
The hourly rate for a junior designer is $50 to $100, while a more experienced designer may charge from $200 up to $450. Most mid-level designers have an hourly rate of around $125 to $200. This was once the gold standard for how most interior designers charged, and it is still how most junior designers price their services. Some senior designers may also charge hourly for staff services like drawings. Most designers also provide an hourly range when pressed, but due to more designers wanting to be transparent with their time, most charge based on flat fees or by the square foot and only charge hourly for additional services.
|Interior Designer Cost per Hour
|$50 - $100
|$125 - $200
|$200 - $450
Interior Design Fees per Square Foot
Most designers charge between $5 and $17 per sq.ft., with $10 being the average. This means that designing a 100 sq.ft. room costs about $1,000 while a 1,500 sq.ft. full home interior design costs around $15,000. Many designers charge based on square footage. This is easier for homeowners to understand because they can easily calculate the size of a room and determine its square footage. Keep in mind that these fees are for their design services only, which include drawing, planning, and furniture selection. It does not include furniture or the consultation fee and may not include travel. Make sure to factor in the average costs of furniture, which could be $1,000 to $5,000 per standard room, depending on the style and size you choose.
|$250 - $850
|$500 - $1,700
|$1,000 - $3,400
|$2,500 - $8,500
|$5,000 - $17,000
|$7,500 - $25,500
|$10,000 - $34,000
|$12,500 - $42,500
|$15,000 - $51,000
Interior Design Fees per Room
Some designers charge a flat fee based on the room you are working on, which may change depending on the room size and your intentions. The average cost of that fee is $500 to $10,000. If this is the case, your designer may wait until the consultation to give you a fee schedule based on the scope of the work they feel it will need.
These costs have an enormous range, depending on whether this is a remodel, new construction, or decorating an existing home. It is not uncommon for fees to fluctuate greatly, depending on what you hire the designer to do. The following costs are averages for full-scale design services per room. Consultations and smaller-scale packages have different prices. Below is the average cost per room for interior design services.
|$500 - $2,000
|$1,000 - $3,000
|$1,000 - $3,000
|$3,000 - $5,000
|$4,000 - $6,000
|$4,000 - $6,000
|$4,000 - $10,000
|$5,000 - $10,000
Interior Designer Rate per Day
You can expect to pay between $600 and $1,200 on average for the day. However, some designers charge up to $2,000 for very involved consultations. Many designers now offer day rates, which means that you can hire a designer for up to 8 hours, with the occasional phone call consultation later as needed. This gives you the expertise of the designer at a much lower rate because you will do the project management, driving, ordering, and placement of furnishings yourself. Not all designers offer this service. Most high-end firms require you to purchase full-scale design services, but for smaller firms and freelance designers, this can be an option.
Interior Design Fee Percentage of Construction
If this is the case, their fee will be a percentage of the total budget, ranging from 10% to 30%. However, this fee may change as the project progresses, depending on the scope of work. If you have a major project like an entire house build or remodel, you can hire a designer at the same time to help with the layout of the interior, decorating, and furnishing.
Other Interior Designer Fees
Interior designers have a range of other costs that they may charge in addition to their design and consultation fees. For example, they may have a charge called Cost Plus, which is their cost, plus an additional percentage, usually around 20% to 45%. They also frequently charge a percentage for furnishings in addition to the cost of the furnishings. For example, if you purchase a chair through them, they may get a discount and then charge you the full rate, split the discount with you, or charge you the full price plus an additional 25% for the ordering and other work involved. These rates are standard, and most designers charge them whether they disclose this or not. They are sometimes referred to as commission rates.
Expect to pay travel fees when your designer shops for furniture or travels to your home. This is often charged at $75 an hour. There may also be charges for communications like emails and phone calls, which are billed in 15-minute increments at the designer’s hourly rate.
Interior Designer Fee Structure
Your designer will likely charge you a deposit or interior design retainer fee at the start of your project, roughly equal to 10% of the cost. From there, your designer will likely have a fee schedule, where you pay the remaining amount in installments throughout the project. If you purchase furniture from them, you will likely need to pay 50% of these costs upfront. These costs may change as the project goes forward, but a transparent designer will work with you and show you changes in the fee schedule before receiving an unexpected bill. A typical breakdown of this fee schedule may look like this.
|Percentage of Total Project Cost
Online Interior Designer Cost
Online interior design fees are usually less expensive than regular in-person services, so this is a good way to save money on a design project. Fees usually range from $400 to $1,500 for online services. However, you may find more options at different price points depending on the specific designer you choose. There are obvious advantages to an online interior designer, including the cost savings, convenience, and flexibility. It is easier to schedule. If you’re busy, this may be a great option with less interruption to your daily life.
Also, if you want to work with a certain designer to bring your home inspiration to life but they live in another state or country, online interior design services help you connect. However, you may not get the same level of service as you would with a hands-on, in-person experience. While technology is great and much more advanced now, many designers still get a much better feel for a room and what it needs when they are actually standing in it. One other thing is that these services are usually limited to the initial design consultation and plan rather than full project management services. You should check to be sure because some interior designers regularly update their offerings both online and in-person.
Cost Factors of Interior Designers
Numerous factors impact the cost of your project with an interior designer. This should be outlined in a letter with the project scope and overall fees. Furnishings have a range of prices, rooms may need more or fewer pieces of furniture, and you may make major changes to the layout of a room or simply coordinate furnishings. If the designer oversees a big project, this can add another 25% to the total budget. If the designer has associates working for them who do the drawings, they will be charged hourly. To be transparent, many designers calculate the amount of time it takes to do a specific project and charge based on this number. Others charge by the hour for everything and add in their cost plus at the end.
Other cost factors to consider include the level of construction required. Simply selecting furniture for a living room requires much less time and fewer resources than working directly with contractors and selecting materials, often when professionals charge more for their project management. If you prefer a cheaper, design-only project, keep in mind the designer makes their selections and passes them over to you for ordering, receiving, and installing new furniture and decor on your own. It is also worth mentioning that the more consultations, the more expensive the project will be as designers charge for their time. If you need to go through a few rounds of options before making your final decision, you will likely pay more than if you are confident in quick design decisions.
Finally, remember that interior design for an entire home will be much more than a single room, especially if you hire a well-known designer. Do not be surprised if your project takes a few months. If you need rush results and furnishings ordered quickly, you pay more. Finally, the more ambitious your design goals are, the more expensive the project will end up, particularly if you need a professional with high-tech design software rather than the standard design and source approach.
Benefits of Hiring an Interior Designer
Interior designers work with you to maximize the potential of your home. They understand space planning and help you lay out the rooms of your home to meet your needs. They choose furnishings that fit the space perfectly, not too large or too small. They also work with you to create a cohesive design for the space so that it looks put together and meant for the home.
In some ways, hiring a designer saves you money long term. For example, if you purchase furnishings yourself for a space that does not work, you end up buying more furniture later to replace it. Hiring a professional from the start avoids that situation.
Is Hiring an Interior Designer Worth It?
This depends entirely on you, your goals, and your home. For some people, hiring a designer means that they get a perfectly put together home that is tailor-made for their family all at once, which is worth it to them. Other people may not care as much about whether the space has that finished, pulled-together look, so for them, hiring a designer may be an expense they cannot justify.
Hiring an online design service, virtual design service, or doing a day service can help split the difference. You get advice on what will work while doing the majority of it yourself to save money. Only you can determine if these costs are worth it.
Tips When Hiring an Interior Designer
Before hiring someone as your interior designer, it is important to let them know your budget and how much square footage you want to redesign. You should also discuss the project scope, such as if the expected design will change many elements in the room or if it's more superficial. To help you get the most out of these initial discussions and find the right interior designer, make sure to bring a list of questions to your first meeting, as well as a budget estimate and an inspiration board. By providing color swatches, artwork, and furniture you like already, the designer can give you a better idea of how much it will cost and how long it will take.
Also, when hiring an interior design professional, think about your current furniture and design elements and what you want to keep or swap. This is a good opportunity to consider sustainability and safety with organic and family-friendly elements, such as items that are safe for children, pets, and people with disabilities. You should also try to clear as much clutter as possible so you have a clean, tidy space to work with and make sure the professional agrees to finalize plans before any work begins. Don’t forget to discuss their approach to changes, as well as any portfolio or license questions. Read reviews from other homeowners, but keep in mind they are subjective. You should feel comfortable and confident in the designer’s abilities and professionalism.
Hiring an Interior Designer on a Budget
If you are on a budget, you can still hire a designer on a consultation basis or use an online interior design service, which costs far less. It is more common than you may think to hire a designer on a budget, and with such a variety of interior design services, there are options at all price points. If you are on a tight budget, you may have more luck using a freelance designer that can set their own prices and schedule, rather than a company that could have more strict pricing and service standards. It is often worth it to start by using free online quizzes or inspiration slides to get a better feel of your design style rather than starting from scratch. Once you understand what design you are looking for, you can consult an interior designer, perhaps a mid-level professional with a few years of experience who may not charge quite as much as a senior designer or design firm principal. The more you know about your design goals, the shorter your design consultation sessions can be, which keeps costs down too.
How to Choose a Design Style?
Choosing a design style can be challenging because there are so many styles to consider, and you may like certain elements from different styles. Contemporary, minimalist, rustic, coastal, bohemian, nautical, industrial, and mid-century modern are just a few of the in-demand interior design styles. To help you get inspiration for your design style, you can search online for home design quizzes and the latest trends. It may also help to flip through a physical magazine or check out some display homes to get a feel for what’s popular right now and how these trends fit in with your personal preferences. Some homeowners find it helpful to speak to family and friends to understand design choices and what may make your house feel like a home. Finally, when you are ready to get serious about a design style, it’s best to consult an experienced designer because these professionals help you transform basic ideas and inspiration into a full design style and scheme that’s tailored to your personal taste.
Company vs Freelance Interior Design Rates
Interior design rates fall within the same average range of $50 to $450 per hour, regardless of if it’s a design company or a freelance designer. When deciding who to go with, it’s important to keep in mind the rates may vary more depending on the actual designer you choose and their experience, rather than if they are a freelancer or with a company. There are some potential differences in charging methods. Some smaller design firms and freelancers offer one-off design services for a day, which costs less than a full-scale design plan and implementation. Sometimes larger design companies will only offer full design services and not give you the choice of something smaller, but it completely depends on the company itself.
Another consideration is that freelance designers may have tighter payment deadlines as they work for themselves and must cover their costs. Although you may have less time to pay your bill, freelance professionals often have more flexible appointment schedules and will work with you to fit design services in around your work and family requirements. While both interior design companies and freelancers have the skills to take on projects of all sizes, it depends on the individual. You should always ask to see what a company or freelancer offers and how it fits your interior design goals.
|Type of Professional
|Cost per Hour
|$50 - $450
|$50 - $450
Interior vs Exterior Designer Cost
As the names suggest, interior home designers focus on the inside of the home, such as room design schemes and stylistic elements, while exterior home designers concentrate on the outside. Overall, both professionals approach their projects similarly, offering a range of services from initial consultations to material sourcing and project management. Interior designers consult with homeowners to understand their must-have elements for each room and tie it all together with a cohesive design. This may include everything from furniture to lighting, decor to fixtures, and anything else that goes inside a living space.
In comparison, exterior designers specialize in the facade of a home, so siding and roofing, paint colors, and curb appeal. Exterior designers can draw plans, hire and manage supervisors, and apply for required building permits. They may also work on landscaping elements to ensure the home stands out for the right reasons while meeting any neighborhood or town/city requirements. Cost-wise, interior designers are priced from $50 to $450 per hour compared to exterior designers with an average hourly rate of $100 to $200.
|Cost per Hour
|$50 - $450
|$100 - $200
Interior Designer vs Decorator
You may hear the terms interior designer and decorator used interchangeably. These are two different professions, despite some degree of crossover.
An interior designer has experience in the construction industry. They understand space planning and layout and often work with architects and builders when designing spaces. They can also furnish and decorate a space when it is complete.
On the other hand, Interior decorators only furnish and decorate spaces. They do not offer drawings, space planning, or project management services. They only begin work once the home is built.
Interior decorators usually charge by the hour, although some charge by the room. Most people pay between $3,500 and $5,000 on average for projects involving a decorator. The decorator’s hourly rate is between $50 and $200 for most decorators and up to $500 an hour for some luxury decorators. These rates are usually inclusive. Like designers, some decorators offer a consultation at the start of their services. This is in addition to their hourly rate and usually runs between $150 and $250.
|Cost per Hour
|$50 - $200
|$50 - $450
Additional Considerations and Costs
- Interior design associations. Many interior designers belong to associations that lend some influence and credence to their firms. To join these associations, the designer must be accredited and licensed, which gives you peace of mind that you are hiring a reputable professional. The American Society for Interior Designers and the Interior Design Society are the two associations with which most professionals are associated.
- Credentials. In most states, professional designers are required to pass an exam and register with the state’s governing council. This varies by state, so always check your designer’s credentials to make sure they comply with state regulations.
- Ask for references. Always get at least three references from your designer like you would from any other household contractor. Also, check with associations like the Better Business Bureau to make sure there are no outstanding complaints against them.
- Project timeline. Your project will likely take place in stages to ensure that everything is done in a timely way and any concerns can be addressed immediately, including the budget. If subcontractors are on the job, they need to follow the same schedule to keep the project moving forward.
- Furnishings. Interior designers often have access to more sources for furnishings than you have. They can purchase quality materials and furniture that may last for years without needing to be replaced, saving you money long term. Treat the furnishing of your home as an investment, and budget accordingly. When on a budget, splurge on the most important pieces, such as the couch and bed, and save on the accent pieces like rugs and art.
- Free interior design consultation. Sometimes the designers may offer a free initial design consultation, especially if the client came from a referral rather than a cold lead. Usually, free consultations are limited to a certain amount of time, such as an hour, and may involve online components and phone/video conversations. You can check with interior designers near you to see if they have any free consultation options or ask family and friends for their recommendations. Just keep in mind that not all interior designers offer a free consultation.
- How should I prepare to work with an interior designer or decorator?
The first step is to understand clearly what you want to achieve. Spend time looking at pictures and bring the ones you like to the consultation so that the designer gets a glimpse of your tastes.
- How much involvement do I have in the interior design process?
You can be involved in the process as much as you like. Some designers offer a sliding fee scale based on how much work the homeowner puts into the project. You can do most of the work or none at all, depending on your budget and comfort level.
- Should an interior designer have a license?
This depends on your state. Most must be accredited, which means passing a test and registering with the state.
- Does an interior designer buy furniture?
Furniture options depend on each professional, although most will purchase furniture on behalf of their clients as required. Always speak to your specific designer for details on their process, and keep in mind furniture prices vary greatly based on the item you are looking at and the vendor or store.