What You Can Expect To Spend
The cost to hire a professional decorator or interior designer can run a wide gamut, depending in large part on the scope of what you want done, the level of experience and training the professional brings to the job, and in what area of the country you live. A lot also depends on whether you hire a well-known design firm that charges premium rates or opt for a new professional decorator that is just building up his or her portfolio and is willing to work for a lower fee.
Generally, you can expect to pay either a set rate for the entire project or an hourly rate. This hourly rate will usually be billed for any time the professional decorator or interior designer devotes to your job. In addition to actual time spent in your home, this also includes working with vendors and contractors, shopping for furniture and accessories and going over plans with you on the phone.
Hourly rates can range from $50 to $250 an hour or even higher for the services of a good professional decorator or interior designer.
Keep in mind if you agree to a set fee for the job, the expert is usually calculating the price based on how many hours the job is expected to take anyway. The advantage, though, is that there is a cap on the amount, so you may be better able to manage your budget with this arrangement.
Some professional decorators and interior designers are also willing to work for a percentage (usually between 15 and 30 percent) of the total cost of the job instead of the fee or hourly option. The danger with this, though, is that the more expensive the materials they select for you are, the more money they will make off of the project in the end.
In addition to whatever pricing terms you agree to for the actual decorating/design work, you can also expect to pay a commission or markup on items that the interior designer purchases for you. Well-connected interior designers are often able to buy things at a wholesale price or negotiate for discounts and then add in their finder’s fee, so the cost may in fact be fair market value.
A Final Note
It helps to determine a budget up front before you sign any contracts with a professional decorator or interior designer. Be realistic about what you can afford and make sure that you and the interior designer spell out up front any costs you can expect to incur so you don’t get in over your head by the completion of your project. You may also want to allow a little extra money in your budget, just in case things cost more than you anticipate once you get into the job. Many clients decide to upgrade their choices or find new things they want to accomplish as the process proceeds, so be prepared for this in advance.
Finally, if money is no object and you are looking for a interior designer to oversee a large-scale project, you might want to consider the growing trend of using a middleman to help you find just the right talent. There are actually services today that work like “matchmakers” to bring together people who have large projects they need done with well-respected interior designers that are an appropriate fit for the job. Introductory services like this comes at a high cost, however. In fact, they can charge as much as $20,000 just to refer you to a high caliber interior designer, so while this is an interesting concept, it is not a reasonable option for the average home owner.