My most asked question often is “What are your interior designer fees? There are some fundamental ways that the majority of designers charge for their services. Depending on how much work you are willing to put into your project, will determine what kind of service you require from your designer.
Hourly rate: For each and every moment spent working on your project, you will be charged a fee. This includes all meetings, conference calls, emails, shopping, designing/drafting, purchasing, installations and logistics. An hourly rate can differ significantly depending on geographic location, experience and education of the designer. You can roughly estimate, it will be between $75-$250 per hour depending on experience or education level. Larger firms will have tiered structures based on who in the firm is working on the project (assistant designers vs. the owner) and one-person design companies will typically have one established hourly rate.
Hourly plus markup on goods: Included is the hourly rate plus a markup on custom and trade-only products, and a percentage on any retail purchases made by the designer on the client’s behalf. This additional markup covers the designer’s time and expenses of managing all the ordering, logistics, trouble-shooting, delivery and installation of the goods. If the client requests a “concierge” service where their only job is to approve and pay for the project, this would be the type of service they’d require.
Design by Stone Creek Builders
Flat Rate: A flat rate can have both positive and negative aspects for clients. On the one hand, the clients know what they are paying their designer when they sign the contract and there should be no surprises. For the designer, they can create a specific payment schedule to cover costs and provide income at specific times. The downside for both client and designer is that the complete plan needs to be clearly understood in the beginning. Any changes or additions to the original plan my require a revision of the contract. A designer needs to precisely calculate the time they will spend on the project and occasionally a project estimated to take 100 hours can suddenly take 200 and can be a huge loss to the designer. On the other hand, clients may fear a designer will pad their time in order to charge more.
Percentage of the total budget: Every dollar of the entire project is tallied up at the end and the designer receives a percentage, which usually is in the 15-30% range. A budget is established in the beginning and payments are made based on the the estimated budget total. By the end of the project, the total dollars spent are totaled to be sure the designer has received the agreed upon percentage. Similar to the flat rate, by using the same equation but a flat rate is capped whereas, the percentage system is not capped.
As you can see, how a designer charges is not an easy question to answer and can vary tremendously from one project to the next or from one designer to another. Unless a designer charges a flat fee to provide a design plan, with no added fees for services offered and little changes to the plan, a designer may not be able to give a price without knowing the budget and particulars of the project because of the various ranges.
A furnished living room can cost $8,000.00 or $80,000.00 and more- depending on what the client desires. The client has the power to determine the budget and it is up to the designer to accept or reject the project. Contrary to popular belief, designers are not looking to simply spend as much of the client’s money as we can. It is our job to lead the client into making the right choices, get the best value for their money and a good designer will educate them along the way. We want to provide the right services for the client’s needs and to be fairly compensated for our efforts and experience.
For assistance with your next home improvement project, contact CT Interior designer, Melanie Langford of All About Interiors