How Interior Designers Charge for Their Services


Have you ever wondered how designers charge for their services? If so, you’re not alone. There is quite a bit of mystery around these details, simply because each home is unique and every renovation is different. Fortunately, we can add some clarity to the situation by talking about fee structures.

There are typically two different fee structures an interior designer may use: an hourly rate and a flat fee. Today, I’m sharing the benefits and drawbacks of each method, which one we use, and why we feel it is best for our clients. Let’s get started.

Design Fee Structure: Hourly Rate

Many designers will charge an hourly rate for their services, although you tend to see this more in designers who are first starting out. It is easier to charge an hourly rate, since they don’t yet have the experience to be able to accurately pinpoint how long each aspect of a project will take. I’ve seen rates range from $100 per hour for a designer new to the field to $250+ per hour for an experienced designer.

Incremental Payments: From a client’s perspective, there are a few benefits of working with a designer who uses this type of fee structure. First, instead of paying one large fee, payments will be incremental. Since hiring an interior designer is a significant yet worthwhile investment in your home and life, spreading out these expenses can feel more manageable from a financial perspective.

Clear Itemized Tasks: Also, when a designer charges you hourly, you’ll be able to see the itemized tasks completed during each billing period. This information might bring clarity to the process for those interested in carefully overseeing their project. (Be warned: These numbers will always be higher than you expect. Many tasks, such as procurement, sound as simple as pressing “Add to Cart”, but require dozens of hours to complete properly.)

Downsides: The downside of the hourly fee structure is that your project’s total investment can fluctuate quite a bit from the initial hourly estimate. Every renovation or new build has bumps and delays that are simply unforeseeable. Making adjustments and correcting any issues will take your designer additional time, which will be reflected in your invoice. The “clock” may begin to become a stressor in your life, especially if several unpleasant surprises pop up in your project.

Design Fee Structure: Flat Fee

It’s common for designers to transition from hourly rates to flat fees as they gain experience with the ins and outs of the design process. Why? The benefits greatly outweigh the drawbacks for both the client and the designer.

More Relaxed: When you pay a flat fee for your design, your project starts out on the right foot and with a relaxed attitude – for everyone involved. There is no clock for each party to constantly keep an eye on. As a client, you also receive a thoughtful, deeply personal design created with care and intent, because your designer was not rushed to complete it within a specific number of hours.

No Surprises: Your budget is a solid number determined at the beginning of your project, regardless of any unforeseen issues. Translation: your total investment will never surprise you. This knowledge can be a huge relief — you won’t have to worry and wonder each month about how much the bill will be.

Greater Trust: The combination of a clearly defined budget and relaxed pace fosters a sense of trust between the designer and clients. Clients can feel comfortable voicing opinions, asking for more options, and trusting the design process every step of the way with the knowledge that everything falls within the flat fee.

Downsides: Unlike paying your designer an hourly rate in monthly payments, you’ll be sent invoices for two or three sizable chunks when paying a flat fee. This may feel more significant to you and your wallet, although the total investment with both fee structures will be similar in the end.


What Fee Structure Do We Use? Flat Fee

In our experience, everyone loves and prefers the flat fee. It takes the pressure off our clients, allowing them to trust and enjoy the process. It’s not long before they realize just how many unexpected surprises come up and how many steps it takes to complete a design. They then genuinely appreciate the flat fee and understand that the value is well worth their investment.

We believe that the flat fee structure is most beneficial to our clients, and results in a beautiful, fresh design crafted with time and care. When you renovate or build a new home, your ultimate goal is a design that makes you feel at home. There is simply no need to rush such an important process!

If you’re considering a home project and are beginning the search for the right design team, we’re here to support you. Reach out to us, and let’s see if we’re the right fit to bring your dream home to life.

Not ready just yet? Download my complimentary guide, Top 5 Things to Know Before Building or Renovating Your Home, to get savvy before your project starts.



Clevelan Ohio interior design

I’m Ingrid Porter. As a designer with 30+ years of experience serving Northeastern Ohio, I specialize in personal and detail-driven design for families building or transforming the home of their dreams. If you’re ready to take “home” to the next level, we can’t wait to work with you.

5 Things to Know *Before* Building or Renovating Your Home