Home décor is a top priority for many new homeowners. Most newly married couples want the interior style of their home to closely match their personalities. Most interior decorators evaluate their clients’ needs and expectations, and set their prices to cover the expected costs to purchase the materials and complete the job.
Interior Decorator vs. Designer
Do you need an interior decorator or an interior designer? They may seem like interchangeable terms, but they actually describe two different professions. Before you start shopping for quotes, you need to know your project requirements and what services you actually need. Understanding the different skill sets decorators and designers bring to a project makes it easier to make the best choice for your needs.
Decorators don’t design or build spaces, but they dress them stylishly, introducing new color schemes and decorative elements. Interior designers are qualified professionals who become involved with projects at the construction stage. They often work with architects, using their skills and knowledge to create functional, quality interiors that match a homeowner’s requirements. Designers have knowledge of building codes and regulations. Their level of training and their ability to help plan, schedule, and execute a project make their services more expensive than those of a decorator.
How Much Does an Interior Designer Charge?
Designers may have just one method of charging for their services (such as an hourly rate), but more often they’ll have multiple ways they bill. When you’re considering a few different professionals to work with, be sure you understand the details so you can make an apples-to-apples comparison of their fees. Generally, designers use one of four ways to charge for their services: cost plus, fixed rate, hourly rate, or square foot. There may also be additional charges, such as retainers (usually a percentage of the project cost) or consultation fees (a flat fee for the designer to visit the property ranging from approximately $200 to $300).
Designers using the cost plus method purchase necessary products and then bill you for the total, including a markup you agree to when drawing up the contracts. The markup is usually around 20 percent and pays for the designer’s services. So, if the work costs $10,000, the designer bills for $12,000.
A fixed rate, or flat rate, is a single price that covers all of the work, materials, and other expenses. This is the simplest way to cost up larger jobs, and it’s helpful for you as the customer because you know exactly what you need to pay.
Some designers charge by the hour, with rates ranging from $50 to $200. Because the total fee depends on the amount of time the project takes to complete, designers often reserve this method for small projects where there is less risk of complications and spiraling costs.
By the Square Foot
Commercial designers often charge by the square foot. This is effectively a flat rate based on the size of the property. Some designers implement a minimum charge to cover the amount of work involved for a small room, so you pay the minimum fee, or the fee based on the actual room size (whichever is greater).
No matter how great the person you are hiring is, remember to stay in charge: Designers are trained professionals with a keen eye for detail, but only you know what you love. If a designer is coming up with suggestions that don’t match your tastes, say something. It’s a good idea to express any strong opinions you have on sustainable and organic materials, animal skins, “Made in America” products, upcycling, and child safety features.