Tips for Hiring an Interior Home Designer

Hiring an expert to help you decorate your home is a brilliant idea (we applaud that). However, what about the related costs?

Average design service fees change from job to job because of factors including project size and complexity. For instance, the price for designing an office space may be lower than that of designs for a house renovation.

Selecting the right interior home designer from among the many available options can be a daunting task. Do you need someone who has worked with traditional or modern kitchens, bedrooms, or bathrooms?

In addition, hiring a high-end designer vs a low-end designer can have an affect on the budget and results.

This guide provides insight into average cost of interior designer services and broken down by type of work and location and interior design questions to ask, before you meet one.

Whether you need a solo design consultant or a whole team, the price can change depending on a number of factors.

architectural visualiser george nicola

By George Nicola (Expert Stager)

Table of Contents

How much does an interior designer cost?

Should you consider and hire a designer?

Hiring an interior designer allows a professional to translate your vaguest vision into a reality quickly.

Professional designers not only have the software toolkit needed to create a comprehensive plan, but they can pull off a design much faster.

As a bonus, many interior home designers have discount contracts with suppliers, meaning you could get the luxurious furniture, paint, or flooring at a significantly lower price than if you bought it yourself.

At the end of the good design ideas and process, you could still choose to DIY the vision, but you’ll know for sure that all the pieces fit together perfectly.

Still, many feel unsure how to hire an interior home designer or feel confident that they were hiring a qualified designer. An even bigger worry is how much a professional design would cost.

Since very few designers have quotes easily viewable on their websites, many simply stall their designer search and continue living in a poorly-fitted home.

This article will help you understand what to look for, a wide variety of pricing situations, and help you understand why you can’t easily find a price on an interior designer’s website.

We’ll even walk you through what to expect in a design contract. After reading this piece, you’ll be prepared to confidently hire your interior consultant and get one step closer to the home of your dreams.

The design of your home includes both the feel and function of the space and can affect the mood, productivity, and overall health of those who live there.

Unfortunately, as most houses are built in a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all method, very few people live in an optimized home for their unique needs and taste.

Yet, matching the latest design trends with of your home and to your needs can take a lot of research and then even more hours to fulfil.

Questions to ask yourself and how to prepare for a Meetings with an Interior HOME Designer

Before getting into pricing, let’s talk about what questions you need to ask yourself when hiring to work with an interior home designer.

Meeting your designers isn’t just about you. This is a process of symbiosis. The designer will be expected to lead the discussion with questions.

But it’s you who have to to prepare in advance for the hard conversations to find out what information the designer wants from you so they can do the best job.

Get clear on what you want to solve – are you looking to brighten up or customize your builder-grade design?

Do you need to increase accessibility or want to go luxe without paying designer prices?

“Keep in mind that you don’t have to have fully developed mood boards if that’s not your thing– your designer will do that for you. But, if you have inspo pictures on Pinterest, Instagram, or magazines, feel free to bring those along.”

Below are a few questions to have answered as best as possible before the meeting.

What do you want to achieve with the interior design project?

Essential questions to ask yourself

The first step in hiring a design firm is to determine what you want to achieve with the project. Whether you are renovating your kitchen, bedroom, living room furnishing, or building a new home a few things to keep in mind before you meet with your designer.

An interior home designer can help you make decisions that reflect your style and tastes and ensure your home is well-designed layout, but they will need not only what colors do you like but also to discuss the budget in mind.

Initial consultation

Designers love problem-solving, and this brings direction to interior design projects even on the first meeting.

Misdirection and false information affect time and incur incorrect pricing, which will take additional time to resolve.

Knowing precisely what to ask an interior consultant on your first meeting and what you want from your interior design renovation project is crucial.

Therefore, prepare for your first encounter by having the following questions and material at ready:

Purpose of the space

Consider the room’s purpose, the people utilizing it, and the results you want to see.

Do you want to create a minimalistic oasis with an open floor plan that leads directly to your backyard?

How about a sleek James Bond-themed office? Addressing your intended uses for the rooms might help guide the design process.

The interior design consultant will have a broad perspective on the field and be able to provide advice on the best way forward.

How many rooms need designing?

The number of rooms you need help with will significantly impact the price.

Are you looking for the main floor refresh with living and kitchen spaces, a single room as a surprise for a spouse or child, or are you looking to redo the entire home for resale or increase the value of Airbnb conversion?

Design style preference

Think about your design style and what draws you in. Do you like a traditional or a modern look?

Are you drawn to any particular colors or textures?

Knowing your design style preferences will assist your designer in creating a setting that reflects your taste.

Are you looking for affordable interior home designer?

What features do you require?

Don’t confuse desired features with a problem to be solved– while they are closely related, they are different questions.

For example, if certain aspects of your current design need to be left alone, be sure to make that clear.

Or, if you are looking to create an open concept requiring wall removal, stairs levelled, or more accessibility in your design or floor plan, make sure to specify as well as you can.

interior design project price
interior design project price

Budget

Be honest about your home renovation budget. This will assist your designer in developing a design strategy that is both feasible and within your budget.

Don’t forget to add a typical cost between 5 and 15% on every $100,000 for interior design services.

In this post we’ve explained how you can reinvent your home with hiring an online interior designer and on a budget!

Do any repairs need to be made?

A major consideration is any necessary repairs. Repairs will change your bottom line, so make sure to point out from the beginning.

Timeframe

Consider when you want the job to be finished.

A precise timetable can assist your designer in creating an aesthetically beautiful and helpful plan and in planning the renovation project schedule and milestones.

Inspiration images

Gather photographs of settings, designs, and decor you admire or want to imitate.

This will give your designer a clear understanding of your design preferences and what you hope to achieve.

Measurements of the space

Prepare the measurements of the room, as well as the floor plan, if feasible, to assist your designer in creating a practical design plan that considers the space’s size and layout.

Priorities and must-haves

As a homeowner consider what the most crucial design components to remodel are for you. Are there any features or functionalities that you would keep from compromising on? 

This could include particular storage solutions, lighting fixtures, or materials. Knowing your goals and must-haves can assist your designer in developing a design strategy that suits your specific requirements.

Lighting

Consider natural and artificial lighting in the room and how you intend to use it.

Decide what kind of lighting you want to install, where to put it, and how you want to regulate it.

Every type of design requires different lighting techniques to make it more functional, so be open to new ideas.

Furniture and decor

Determine which furniture and decorations you want to keep and which you wish to replace.

Knowing what fits your personal style and what you want to replace will help your designer build a design plan that integrates the new and the old effortlessly.

Functionality

Think about how you want the room to function. Do you require a specific flow or work areas? Are there any special storage requirements?

Knowing how you want the space to work will assist your designer in developing a practical design plan that fits your specific demands.

If you work with an experienced interior designer who is keen on functionalism, this is your golden opportunity.

Project management

When you initially meet with an interior design consultant, make sure to ask them about project management.

How do they deal with project deadlines and budgets, do they manage numerous projects at the same time, what processes they have in place to ensure that a project is done on time and on budget?

Many designers always establish rules from the first meeting as part of the process. They explain how they deal with unforeseen changes during a project and how they handle communication.

Research and Hiring Interior home Designer

hiring interior designer
hiring interior designer

After you have compiled your wish list, you can move on to researching and hiring design professional.

To find a good interior home designer, knowing what you are looking for before contacting designers is essential since every designer will have a different specialty.

When researching designers, you will be qualifying two categories: expertise and price.

Expertise in home renovation projects

How do you know if you need designer or decorator?

Interior design process for both professionals vary, as interior decorators specialize only in selecting and arranging furniture, fabrics, lighting, and other decorative elements to create aesthetically pleasing and functionally efficient spaces.

Interior consultant’s expertise and experience on the other hand can vary broadly, so even one with great reviews and a beautiful portfolio may not be the right fit for your project.

As you review portfolios, one of the first things to filter is whether your design is commercial or residential.

This will largely determine the function and level of design and require very different skill sets. Of course, you may find designers that offer both, but be sure not to assume this is the case.

Team or solo designer

Another significant factor in pricing is how big is their team. Do they work alone, hire external consultants or have an extensive in-house team of designers.

Next, you’ll want to see what style(s) the designer gravitates towards. Are you looking for something luxe, traditional, modern, or rustic?

While accomplished designers can be very flexible in applying these different styles, they will typically be more expensive.

Newer designers can be cheaper but will likely have more limited experience and be proficient in fewer designs.

Are you looking for affordable interior home designer?

Keep in mind that you may find a great local home designer, but you could also find a great fit with a virtual designer.

We’ve listed 22 of the most popular online interior design resources in this article.

You will significantly increase the number and range of available designers by considering a virtual interior designer.

How much interior designer cost

interior designer price
interior designer price

Everyone looking to work with a home designer’s first question is, “how much is this going to cost me?” and unfortunately, this information is rarely available just by researching a designer’s website.

The lack of a transparent fee structure isn’t because interior designers are trying to hide their rates – it’s simply because each project will vary widely based on the number of rooms, the size of the space, and the work required to achieve the design.

Generally, prepare to pay between $150 to $1,000 for full fleshed out design consultation.

One off consultation, lasts between one and three hours, and can provide useful insight in terms of design direction and structure of the project. Some designers provide larger blocks of time (half or full day). Generally you book the designer for an entire day.

This is an excellent choice if you require more than a single consultation but cannot afford full-service design.

Let’s cover a few basics of what to expect from interior designer's pricing structures

For example, although you will rarely find a static quote on a designer’s website, you may be able to find out their base structure. Here are a few ways a designer may bill for their services:

  • Per house
  • Per project or a fixed flat-rate
  • Per hour (design consultation)
  • Per square foot or square meter
  • As a per cent commission on the sale of the home or building
  • Monthly retainer (typically reserved for high-end clients or companies who change their home seasonally)
  • Free (typically for new designers looking to build up a portfolio)

There is no particular fee structure that is automatically better than others.

It depends on the experience and demand of the designer and the size and looks of your design project.

Knowing how you’ll be billed will help you compare designer to designer.

While prices will vary greatly, we’ve compiled a list of prices in a few countries so you can get a feel for price ranges.

Remember that the bottom of the spectrum typically includes new designers, while the high end is for high-demand, experienced designers.

Your actual price will, of course, depend on your designer’s experience, the size of your project, its complexity and budget.

How much an Interior Designer cost - price list per country

List of average cost of interior designer

average cost of interior designer
average cost of interior designer

Note: Prices are listed in local currency and average rates 

Hourly rate $150-$300 / Interior designers in Australia has a structured pricing structure. $200-$300 for the initial consultation; $150-$200 per hour for furniture/accessories; $150-$200 per hour for paint, flooring, etc.

Hourly rate $150-$200 / Average Canadian Interior designers typically price their work between $2,000 and $5,000, excluding furniture costs.

Hourly rate $25-$450 / Expect a minimum of $100 an hour for an experienced designer, but you can get much lower if you are willing to work with a new designer.

Hourly rate R180-R650 / New designers typically charge between R180-300, with seasoned designers starting at about R300 and charging up to R650.

Hourly rate £30 to £50 / Design projects typically range from £5,000 to £20,000 where some designers include FF&E documentation in their pricing.

Hourly rate $50-$200 / The average American interior design project costs about $5,500, with an average squarefoot price of $5-$12.

Have Your Consultation Meeting

Consultations are a great way to actively interview a potential interior designer – it gives you both a chance to discuss the room, your goals, budget, and vision, and then see how the interior designer captures a part of your vision.

The consultation should be held live in your home if possible. However, a virtual interior designer should produce great work with a video walk-through and a variety of high-quality photos from different angles.

Depending on the designer, your consultation may be free or be billed. Be sure to know beforehand, so you aren’t surprised by charges later on.

Tip: Since good designer charge for the initial consultation ask them if you provide free consultations online, prior the meeting.

Review and Sign a Contract

price rate for interior designer
price rate for interior designer

Once you have selected an interior designer, they should present you with a contract.

Like any other contract, the purpose is to protect both you and the interior designer during this process.

Here are a few of the sections you should expect to see in your contract.

Names and Contact Information

The first section will include your name as the client and the interior designer’s information, including address, contact information, business name, and a license number if applicable.

Scope of Work

This section will include a detailed write-up of the agreed elements of your design. Be sure to review this section carefully, as the price you sign is only binding for the specified projects.

It will also be an excellent time to check the understanding of your interior designer.

If something has been left out or miswritten, it may simply be because they didn’t understand part of your desired outcome.

The Scope of Work section should also detail the expected timeline for stages of the project – dates for the design mockup to be shown to you for approval, time for adjustments to the design, purchases, delivery, accounting for potential backorders, and so on.

You’ll want to make sure that these deadlines are written as best as possible to prevent stalled or incomplete projects.

Fee structure

The design fee structure will detail how everything will be billed.

Keep in mind that you are paying for the designer’s time, but you may also be paying for them to purchase furniture or accessories, they may need to travel or ship items, and other design fees.

As discussed previously in this article, the designer can charge hourly, per project, per square foot or square meter, or by flat rate.
Be sure to understand how and what you are paying for.

Refunds & Cancellations

There are sometimes inevitable situations where you may no longer be able to fund the project, or it simply isn’t a good fit with your designer.

This section will stipulate how to cancel the contract, the situations that could entitle you to a refund, and any fees you will be required to pay upon cancellation.

For example, if you cancel after the furniture has been bought, you may receive a refund for time but not for the furniture.

Payment terms

This section will lay out when payments are due and the amount.

You will likely be required to make a deposit before the project may begin, including funding of supplies and furniture.

How much of the designer’s time you pay ahead of time will be explained here as well.

Liability & Insurance

There will be a certain amount of risk with any design project, especially if you are including repairs or construction work in your design.

The contract will be spelt out that if any construction contractors or consultants are used to fulfil the design work, the good interior designer is not liable for their actions.

If something were to go wrong during the fulfilment of any structural changes, it would be up to the contractor or interior consultant performing the work to repair.
You may also be required to have insurance for any moving fees for new furniture or other miscellaneous events.

Photograph Permission

Finally, there will likely be a section where you can permit to use your home in promotional photos or be included in the designer’s portfolio.

You cannot be required to allow your home in these photos, but keep in mind that portfolios are how interior consultants prove their skill.

Conclusion

The design of your home or office can greatly impact the mood, health, and function of your space.

While you don’t need to be an expert in design to hire a fantastic design pro, you should understand a few basics to make the right choice:

  • Be sure to create a thorough wish list before researching designers, including any problems you’d like to solve, pieces and color palettes you’d like to incorporate, any needed repairs, and so on.
  • Research design consultants according to the space you need (residential or commercial), and be aware of your budget. Your actual budget will depend on the designer and your project, but you may be able to find out how the designer bills from their website.
  • Carefully review the interior consultant’s portfolio to make sure that they will be able to match your desired style and outcome.
  • Get the most out of your design by having a thorough in-home consultation. This will allow the designer to get a feel for your space and more thoroughly show what you are looking for.
  • Review your contract before signing, so you fully understand what will be included in your payment, when payment is due, how refunds or cancellations will be handled.

The timeline of your project, liability and insurance concerns, as well as the rights for photos of your home to be used in marketing or advertising.

Are you looking for affordable interior home designer?

George Nicola

VIRTUAL STAGING EXPERT / After eight years+ working in high-end design and property business I realised that we are missing a critical part of the property business. We were not providing enough value to these old and empty properties. Not every buyer would have the opportunity to see the potential of vacant property or in a bad state. The idea of Virtual Furniture Staging the property gives the buyer and seller an incredible chance in seconds of taking the critical decision.