Interior Home Decorator, What's an Expected Cost?

Updated on March 23, 2011
J.W. asks from North Charleston, SC
6 answers

Hi Moms,
I'm interested in having an interior designer help with our home decor. I wonder what are average/typical costs associated with highering a company and how the process typically works. I have a bunch of questions and wondered if there are Moms out there who are familiar with the process before I cold call some interior design companies. Thanks!

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So What Happened?

Thanks everyone for the input. Now I have a much better idea of what to expect and some ideas on finding a designer. The tough part is to find a designer who can help me with the style I am seeking. As a person who can't speak style lingo I would best describe it as traditional with a touch of contemporary...not sure if I got that right but I think that's right...I think :oP

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answers from Honolulu on

It really varies out there and per state.

There are 2 ways:
1) Interior Designer: they have Architectural education/training/knowledge. They can, draw Blue-Prints, lighting plans, electrical plans, do space-planning, and basically build a home, building permits, coordinating the project and Sub-Contractors as needed, and the specs for it from the ground up etc. But their focus is the interior. Versus an Architect, is the exterior. Some do both.

2) Interior Decorator: they do 'decorating.' Not structural work. They also do "space planning", color coordination. Decorative approaches.

So, each specialty, has different costs.
AND if the Professional works for a firm... then that varies also, versus if the person is an independent contractor.

Per hour or a cost per "project" is usually what it is.
BUT, know that in this business, things can often go on and on, for longer than originally thought. Because, there are SO many changes of ideas... per the client. ALL along the way. So then, costs can increase. As is typical in this business.
Bear in mind, in this business, the 'Client' often changes their mind... thus increasing the time-cost of the Professional... and the end date of the finished work.

Be specific in what you want.
Then you can tell that to whomever you call.
1) Space planning
2) color coordination
3) lighting
4) actual 'remodeling' or not, in which case this requires renovation work or breaking down of rooms/walls.
5) just help with accessorizing

And yes, you can utilize a College kid, majoring in Interior Design.
And maybe then can get credit for it, at school.
BUT, bear in mind the Prof will have to guide them, unless the student already has real-world experience.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

We actually did this recently when we wanted help with a couple of different areas in our new home. After calling a couple of firms we found online, we ended up finding someone on Craigslist. We talked with her and saw pictures of her work before agreeing to anything. She did not have a degree in design or anything, but was in business for herself and was very talented. We paid her a set price of $500 for the two areas we needed help with which included her shopping for everything for those spaces (which we paid for). We told her our budget, and gave her ideas of the types of things we liked. She also did one custom piece which we think she probably made a little extra on, but in the end it was definitely worth it. Not only does the custom piece look great and get lots of compliments, but she introduced us to a great, reasonably priced new place for artwork and other wall decor... I-O Metro. We went this route because although we wanted some help, we just weren't willing to pay fees that were being quoted to us by the companies we called. For us it worked out great so it's one avenue to think about. In this economy even some of the best people that normally wouldn't advertise that way are using Craigslist to drum up business so it may be worth a look.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

We had someone help us with a couple of relatively minor projects. She charged $100 per hour. She had a lot of experience (20-25 years). If you have them do shopping for you, some will also charge a percentage of what they buy.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Eugene on

Some furniture stores like Ethan Allen provide free design services when you buy. They will even come to your house and measure. Of course, they are only going to specify furniture from their store!

If you hire a designer or a firm, see what their work looks like. Ask to see their portfolio and try to go see a completed project. Each company has their own style. Find one that you like.

Interior designers make money 2 ways. They either charge you by the hour to consult, or they advise and shop for you, selling furnishings to you at full retail that they buy at wholesale. The furnishings tend to be high end.

Personally, I'd find someone who consults by the hour. Get a referral if you can. Set a budget and see what services she can provide within your consulting and decorating budget.

I had an interior decorator walk through my new house with me. I didn't need drawings or help shopping, just some color and style advice. It cost me very little to get some great ideas for my new place.

Another option to look at... design firms that specialize in using the furniture you have, rearranging and adding accessories to spruce things up. This would be great if you don't want to start from scratch, have some furniture that is worth keeping or want to get a fresh look without spending alot of money.

Before you hire an interior designer, browse through some home decorating books and magazines. Copy or bookmark pictures you like. This will help you and your designer get an idea of the colors and styles you are looking for.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

I have a BFA in Interior Design from GA State. When I was in school there was a woman who posted on craigslist that she needed help with her home but didn have much money. At the time, me and 2 friends were trying to start a decorating/organizing business. I agreed to help the lady for free as long as she paid for the things needed and we were allowed to take pictures of the space when it was completed to help promote our business. Well, I helped this lady paint her place myself, pick out furniture etc. Then she lost her job and I never heard from her again. I went thru this same process with several different people, where they would mysteriously go missing when the work was done. Then I gave up on free jobs. Anyhoo, my idea to you would be to post an ad on craigslist and maybe you can find a design student that will help you for cheap or free. You could even make a flyer and post it at a design school. Shoot! I might even help you if you send me some pictures. If you go professional, pricing is different for different firms. Some do hourly fee, some consultation fee, some do both. They also charge percentages of items purchased. You could also do a lot of things yourself and get ideas from HGTV etc.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Erie on

I would be interested in your answers too. I keep thinking i would love to find a college student majoring in interior design, but haven't taken the steps to do anything. Hope you get some great answers.

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