How much does an interior designer cost?
The most commonly asked question I get would have to be this one. It’s a tricky one to answer with a definitive number because, just like the question “how long is a piece of string”, each house is different and each client’s needs and wants are different too.
A general guide is as follows:
Step 1: Initial Consult in your home
This is where you start off with an initial consultation where we each get to know each other and decipher your style and tastes. We chat about how you use the space, who else uses the space, what your hopes and dreams are for the house and any other important elements. We also run through any questions your tradespeople may have for you that you aren’t confident answering without a professional opinion. The initial consultation should last anywhere from an hour to two hours. It’s a nice little discovery session and you aren’t obligated to continue with the services after this meeting if you don’t feel it’s a good connection. Typically you should expect to pay anywhere between $200-$300 for the initial consultation (My pricing is all detailed on this page). If your designer or decorator is offering free initial consultations, I’d be pretty wary of this, they need to be valuing their time in order for you to feel like you are getting great, quality service and advice.
Step 2: Design Concepts
After that first meeting, you will be emailed a Scope of Work document. This is a few pages of information about how many hours are required to complete the design selections, draw up floor plans, source and specific design elements etc etc. Each decorator and designer will bill differently for this service, some price it based on square meterage of the rooms, others have a flat fee per room and then there’s hourly billing. I work by the hour and always quote up front so my client’s never receive any nasty surprises and we’re both on the same page. If you’re worried about how many hours your project is going to take, most decorators can give you a rough price outline to help you budget. Expect to pay between $130-$200 per hour for this. If you have existing furniture in your rooms and only need a few bits and pieces here and there then your decorator will only need a couple of hours to complete this. If you need an entire home from scratch, you’ll probably be looking at about 20+ hours.
What is a design concept you ask…? It’s a mood board (also known as a design concept board), a floor plan layout and a design action plan (like a to do list) to show you how the whole process is going to be executed. You’re paying for the decorators time to create these magical documents for you. The decorator has spent countless hours crafting and honing their skills in order to do this for you in the time that they are charging so you’re getting all that expertise rolled into one price.
Step 3: Furniture Purchasing
Once you have finalised the overall design concepts and you’re happy to proceed with the furniture purchases, your decorator or designer will facilitate this process for you and you can sit back and wait for all the goodies to arrive at your doorstep. Some decorators will pass on their trade discounts to their clients saving you on average about 30% off the recommended retail price. Not all decorators do this (I do).
Step 4: Final Once Over
If you’re confident placing the furniture around the rooms you’re welcome to skip this step, however it’s advised that you have your decorator or designer pop out again to put all the furniture in the right place, fluff up the cushions the right way (yes, there’s a wrong way) and make your home look fabulous! Many of my clients watch me do this step and say “I’ve learnt so much from watching you put the room together today!”. You can expect to pay between $90 - $150 per hour for this service. Oh and if you work with me, I ALWAYS bring flowers to add that lovely fresh finishing touch!
So, all in all, hiring a decorator or designer…….
- Saves you time…..and money – outsourcing to someone who already knows where to shop and what the products look like means you don’t have to spend countless weekends at the Supa Centa trying to figure out what lamp shade works with your lounge room.
Saves your marriage/relationship….. – don’t tell me you’ve never fought with your partner about sofa fabric choices, paint colours or how many cushions should be allowed on the bed. Having a professional guide you with your decorating choices can save a lot of deliberation time (code for arguing about kitchen tiles).
- Gives you access to quality trades – decorators usually have a whole list of trades they can recommend for jobs you don’t have time to research and hire for.
- Gives you access to quality products – that you wouldn’t ordinarily have access too as decorators work with a lot of furniture wholesalers who won’t deal with the general public.
- Gives you a finished product you’ll absolutely love – my job at the end of the day is to create a beautiful, real and functional home for you and your family so that walking in the door each day makes you smile.
What can an interior decorator help me do?
I am your sounding board throughout the project, however long that might be! Some clients I work with for 4 weeks to speedily set up their home, others I’ve been working with for 3+ years across various rooms, renovations or cosmetic updates and they just call on me when they need my advice.
The general services an interior decorator can help with is furniture planning, ie. working out what items should go where. That could be with the furniture you already have, buying entirely new items or both. We also help source the right pieces to fit with the overall vision for the space. If you’ve been hunting for the perfect navy blue velvet armchair for years with no luck, chances are your interior designer can make it happen for you. We can coordinate custom pieces of furniture like bedheads with specific detailing or fabric or help you purchase off the shelf items from retail stores. A good interior designer will use your budget wisely!
Interior designers can also help work out colour schemes for your wall paint, exterior walls and design schemes for your bathrooms and kitchens. We also have access to a range of tradespeople to make it all happen too so it’s a wise idea to get a designer on board for their contacts as well as their brains!
Can interior designers give better discounts than retail stores?
Most interior designers (ie. me) will pass on their trade discounts to their clients which you can expect will save you anywhere from 10-40% off the recommended retail price. That goes a long way to covering the cost of your designers fees too.
I think I’m on the right path but need a professional opinion. Can you just consult and then I go shopping myself?
Yes absolutely you can! The initial consultation is your chance to pick your interior designers brain for any design decisions you might be pondering, then if you feel confident enough to go out and make the selections yourself then you’re most welcome to.
What questions should I ask my builder before they start work?
We work with clients at various stages of the renovation and building process so we're often liaising with the builder on design decisions but if you’re keen to project manage the process yourself after we’ve worked together on the finishes and fixtures (bath taps, wall colours, kitchen benchtops etc) then you could consider asking the following questions of your builder:
- When do you need all design decisions by?
- How do you prefer we communicate all design elements?
- How long will the process take?
- Do you order the fixtures and finishes or do you prefer the client to?
I’ve never renovated before, can you come tile and paint shopping with me?
I can’t work out how to furnish certain rooms. Can you just work on a few rooms and not the entire house?
Sure! We typically work on lounge rooms, bedrooms, outdoor areas and entryways when it comes to decorating but every client has different things bugging them so the order or priority is always different for each client. You can choose as many or as little rooms as you like.
Can you work with different ranges of budgets?
What if I don’t know my budget?
That’s a-okay! We have a budgeting template we can share with you to help you identify where to spend and where to save when purchasing new furniture. Or if there are certain stores you’ve shopped at in the past (West Elm, Freedom, Domayne, Coco Republic etc) then we can work to those prices.
Do I need to do my entire house or can you just help with bits and pieces per room?
We often help clients with one or two rooms rather than designing the entire house. Sometimes our clients have already purchased a number of big ticket items and just need help bringing it together so if that’s the case we work on an hourly basis to pick out those final pieces for you.
Have another question not answered here?