Why You Should Consider an Interior Designer To Reinvent Your Space — And How Much It Will Cost

modern nice interior living room
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Getting the ball rolling on a home makeover of any size can be overwhelming. There are simply too many options, too many trends and too many decisions. What’s more, if you’re working on a big project, you’ll likely be living with these changes for years to come. And then there’s a whole other, more pressing matter: your budget. How much can you afford to spend and how is your money best spent so that your vision can best come to life? Enter the interior designer, a once elite artisan becoming increasingly common and as such, more affordable than in the past

See: 5 Affordable Ways To Make Over Every Room in Your House

Interior Designers Can Actually Save You Money in the Long Run

“Interior design isn’t just for the mega-wealthy anymore, it’s becoming more and more attainable for average consumers,” said Devon Wegman, owner and creative director of Devon Grace Interiors

An interior designer can also potentially save you money, as these professionals can help prevent and manage crises, as well as work with your budget so that you don’t feel cornered into overspending or confused about what’s worth it and what’s not.  

Make Your Money Work for You

Options: 26 Home Makeover Ideas That Each Cost Less Than $500

Much like self-diagnosis in the medical field a wrong answer can be costly,” said Sharon L. Sherman, the interior designer behind Thyme & Place Design. “I know there are so many things available online but there is more to just looks. I cannot tell you how many times I receive an SOS call because furnishings were ordered which are the wrong size, totally uncomfortable or just won’t fit in the door to the home or apartment. Designers are trained in so many aspects of home design and décor they are experts in creating a home environment that works with a budget, considers the current and future lifestyle decisions and helps you diagnose solutions for all of the client’s needs and wants.” 

Be Aware: 20 Home Renovations That Will Hurt Your Home’s Value

The Price of a Consult Varies…

Before you commit to an interior designer, you’ll want to do at least one consultation (or as many as you like with different designers). Unfortunately, there’s no set fee across the industry.

“Some designers will do the initial consultation free of charge, hoping it will convert to a larger project, while some charge a flat fee for an initial consultation,” Wegman said. “[But] there is no ‘standard cost’ for this.”

Make Your Money Work for You

Factors that come into play include location, type of project and length of the consultation. But expect to pay some fee — especially if the designer has a respectable portfolio. 

Good To Know: Home Renovations That Will Pay You Back

Sarabeth Asaff South, home design expert of Fixr.com, estimates that the cost of a brief consultation ranges from $50 to $250 while an all-day consultation can cost between $600 to $900. During a basic consultation, you can expect to “discuss project needs and agree to a personalized interior design plan, as well as any further consultations that might be required,” Wegman said. 

An all-day consultation, less popular than a one- or two-hour sit-down, will be far more in-depth — and can save you money if you’re willing to do the legwork. 

“All-day consultations are offered by some designers, where the project will be discussed and they will assist the client with basic layout so the client can finish the project by themselves,” South said. 

Check Out: Home Upgrades That Will Stand the Test of Time

…So Does the Price of Services

Like the price of consults, the fees designers charge for a project are across the board.  

Make Your Money Work for You

Some designers charge hourly, some charge a fixed fee,” said Alexis Garrett, principal, Alexis Garrett Design. “Some mark up the products they buy on your behalf. Some do all of the above. The important thing is to ask your designer how they plan to bill you and for what so you can go into it knowing all that costs you’re likely to incur for design services.” 

It’s tricky to determine exactly what you can expect, as again this is a wide palette, but for a ballpark estimate, South said to expect to pay around $75 to $100 per hour for a junior interior designer, and up to $450 for a very experienced designer, with an average cost of $175. 

Read: Top Home Improvements To Complete on a Budget in 2021

Product Upgrades Can Cost You Twice as Much

If you’re looking to book an interior designer, you can expect to shell out even more dough. 

“A product upgrade can have a wide range of costs,” South said. “Some upgrades will cost roughly twice as much, while others will cost about 10% to 20% more.” 

Before committing to an upgrade, South advises that price-conscious consumers ruminate on whether an upgrade is truly worth it by considering how long the product will last, whether there’s a strong warranty and if in the end it could be cheaper than installation or repair costs. 

Expect Some Added Fees

“Another factor to consider is that some designers will charge a percentage on top of furnishings bought through them, generally 20% to 45%,” South said. “When they present you with a piece of furniture, they might charge you the full price of the piece, plus an additional 25% to cover the ordering and other factors involved in finding the right piece for the project. This can also include travel time when searching for furniture, most often charged as $75 per hour. In general, these types of extra costs are called ‘Cost Plus’ and will include any extra involvement needed to complete the project.”

Try These: 30 Ways To Upgrade Your Home Without Blowing Your Budget

Set Aside a Contingency Fee for Unexpected Costs

As you outline your interior design budget, remember to reserve funds for a contingency budget to cover unexpected costs. No matter how diligently you plan, these will pop up.  

“Every consumer must have a contingency budget,” South said. “This should be roughly 20% of your total estimated costs. Yes, it sounds like a lot, but it’s very easy to secure. When financing, you simply allocate 20% for contingencies. Now, you’re covered for things like your ideal piece not shipping in time, so you need to purchase something more expensive to have it quickly. Or, in knocking down a wall you find a leaking pipe that needs to be repaired. It can even be as simple as, while you’re having some work done upgrading a kitchen, that you need to eat out for a few extra days and need the cash for restaurant food.”

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Last updated: April 16, 2021

About the Author

Nicole Spector is a writer, editor, and author based in Los Angeles by way of Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Vogue, the Atlantic, Vice, and The New Yorker. She's a frequent contributor to NBC News and Publishers Weekly. Her 2013 debut novel, "Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray" received laudatory blurbs from the likes of Fred Armisen and Ken Kalfus, and was published in the US, UK, France, and Russia — though nobody knows whatever happened with the Russian edition! She has an affinity for Twitter.

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