How Much Does an Interior Designer Cost?

Here's what to know before you commit.

If you’re curious about what an interior designer costs, chances are you’re trying to figure out if hiring a professional is worth the investment. To make this determination, it’s important to understand the role of an interior designer, which projects are suited for their expertise, and what decisions they can help you navigate when it comes to designing your space.

Interior design services cover just about any type of home design project; the real trick is finding the designer who is best suited for bringing out your style and working within the constraints of your space and budget. Here, we’ll give you an idea of what to expect when it comes to the price and fees, what benefits can come along with hiring an interior designer, as well at what to expect for a project timeline.  

two people having discussion at kitchen island

Getty Images / kate_sept2004

What Is the Role of an Interior Designer?

The talent and expertise of designers run the gamut, so it’s important to have a clear idea of what you’re looking for and what role you want your designer to fill before you set out to hire for the job. “A designer can help you see the potential in your home, whether you’ve just moved into a new home or you’re considering remodeling or redecorating your current home,” says Natalie Meyer, CEO and principal designer of CNC Home & Design. “They can provide a different perspective based on their experience and projects they’ve worked on in the past, and new ideas or solutions to help you enhance your space, whether it’s a new layout or improved functionality.”

A designer can help you see the potential in your home, whether you’ve just moved into a new home or you’re considering remodeling or redecorating your current home.

Meyer says many homeowners benefit from the partner-type role a designer can take on with their projects. For example, providing references or recommendations for contractors or other service providers, following up on backordered furnishings, and keeping you updated on your project if you’re not able to supervise as much as you’d like. “They can be your design advocate and help you navigate and coordinate the challenging aspects that can arise during a design project,” she explains. 

wood accessories on blue and yellow textures

Peter Ardito

How Much Does an Interior Designer Cost?

According to Angi, interior designers charge an average of $7,805 per project. That said, there can be a large discrepancy in fees, which can range from $200 to $60,000 depending on the size and scope of the project. 

According to Angi, there are three primary ways interior designers determine their fees: a flat rate, hourly rate, and per-square-foot rate. Interior designers for residential projects will typically opt for an hourly rate. Some will charge as little as $50/hour with others charging upwards of $500/hour. It’s important to note that hourly rates do not include material costs, which should be factored in by homeowners as well.

While per-square-foot charges are typically reserved for commercial projects, there are some designers who opt to go this route for larger residential projects. Finally, a flat-rate fee is where the designer charges upfront (including materials) so you know exactly how much your project will cost from the start, though there could be additional project management fees.

Additional Interior Designer Costs and Fees

While hourly, per-square-foot, and flat-rate fees will likely be the bulk of your investment, there are other fees and costs that you’ll likely accrue when hiring an interior designer. According to Angi, some designers charge an initial consultation fee that typically ranges from $150 to $500. This covers the time they spend coming up with a full quote and discussing the many details of the project. Another fee some designers opt for is a commission on materials; this can range anywhere from 10% to 40%. Finally, there are some designers who charge a commission on the total project cost. This commission percentage is agreed upon at the beginning of the project. 

If all these numbers are sending your head and your wallet into a tailspin, Meyer says you can still benefit from the expertise of a designer if you have a more modest budget. “Some designers offer an in-home consultation or ‘designer for a day’ services, where they meet with you for a few hours to provide guidance, advice, or recommendations to help with your project, or may even go shopping with you to help you pick out furniture and decor for your home.” 

How to Find the Right Interior Designer

Determining where to start when it comes to hiring an interior designer can be a daunting task. After all, finding a professional who understands your aesthetic can be a tall order if you’re also factoring in budget among other considerations. Meyer says a good place to start is by looking at a designer’s project portfolio on their website and the style of images they share on social media platforms.

While it’s ideal to find someone who shares an affinity for the look you’re going for, it’s not imperative, though it’s definitely something you’ll want to communicate about before making the relationship official. “For example, if you’re looking for bright, bold colors and a modern style in your design and you’re considering a designer who focuses on all white and neutral color palettes with traditional style, share your style goals so that you and the designer can determine if they are a good fit for your project,” says Meyer. 

blue couch and blue rug in living room

Justin Coit

How to Determine How Long a Project Will Take

Working with a designer who can help you set a realistic timeline can not only help you plan your schedule accordingly but also save your sanity so you know what you’re in for from the get-go. “Like many industries today, the home improvement industry is still facing challenges such as labor and material shortages and longer than usual lead times,” says Meyer. “This could mean your design, remodel, or decorating project may be likely to take longer than it typically would.”

A typical project may not be as fast as the design shows on TV, but it’s worth the wait!

The majority of trade professionals are also seeing extended lead times and are booking well in advance. Understanding how these delays could factor into your project is imperative. “Keeping all this in mind, we help our clients and plan for these timeframes, so we can provide a more realistic expectation of when their dream spaces will come to life and help to account for these scenarios when planning out their projects,” says Meyer. Because many CNC Home & Design clients have never worked with a designer, she finds that sharing a sample project timeline is helpful. “A typical project may not be as fast as the design shows on TV, but it’s worth the wait!” 

Benefits of Working with an Interior Designer

Deciding whether an interior designer is worth it for you and your project will likely come down to being honest with yourself first and foremost. What are you expecting to accomplish with your project? Do you have the bandwidth and expertise to pull it off? And, finally, do you have the vision and patience to see it all through?

“Designing or decorating your home by yourself can take up so much time,” says Meyer. Whether scouring countless furniture and decor retailers or keeping up to date on project progress, even a small renovation can turn into a full-time job. “Designers can help save you time by researching various vendors and sources and reviewing options on your behalf, narrowing them down so you can make decisions more quickly and easily, and help you to feel less overwhelmed during the process,” says Meyer. 

Designers also have access to planning tools that can help you visualize your space with 3D renderings before you start purchasing big-ticket items. This helps you avoid budget-busting mistakes that result from selecting pieces in the wrong style, scale, or size.

Perhaps most importantly though, a designer can help you stress less about your project. “Whether it’s purchasing, tracking, or scheduling deliveries of furnishings on your behalf, or helping to facilitate a repair or replacement for a damaged item, designers can provide guidance and help resolve unexpected challenges that may arise during your project, and take your project completely off your to-do list,” says Meyer.

When the more tedious or stressful aspects of your project are handled, you can focus more on enjoying it, which Meyer says is the goal. “Don’t forget to have fun and enjoy the process; designing or decorating your home is an experience to celebrate!”

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