How Interior Designers Charge for Design Services and Interior Furnishings

 Interior designers use a variety of fee structures and, as with other professions, base their fees on variables such as if they are licensed interior designer or unlicensed, years of experience, education, geographic location, types of expertise, professional reputation and client demand. Most designers charge using one of the following fee structures or a combination to suit a client’s particular needs and type of job:

floorplan with fabric


• Hourly fee – Compensation is based on actual time that the designer consults on a project or specific service. Fees can vary from $50.00 an hour for a student or design assistant to $500.00 an hour for a principle of a design firm or senior designer.

• Fixed fee (or flat fee) – The designer identifies a specific sum to cover costs, exclusive of reimbursement for expenses. One total fee applies to the complete scope of services proposed, from conceptual development through layouts, specifications and final installation.

• Percentage of project fee -Compensation is computed as a percentage markup on the total project cost, including furnishings and services purchased or specified on behalf of a client. 15-25% of construction cost for renovation and new construction.

• Retainer -The client pays a sum up front to the designer for design services. The retainer is customarily paid upon signing the contractual letter of agreement*.

• Cost plus – A designer specifies materials, furnishings and services (e.g., carpentry, drapery workrooms, picture framing, etc.) at wholesale and sells to the client at the designer’s cost plus a set percentage increase, or at retail rates or slightly less, to cover the designer’s fee and services. Designer charge anywhere from 10% on labor, 30% over wholesale cost on materials to retail mark-ups on products.

• Per square foot – The designer charges fees based on the square footage of the project. Cost per square foot can be $5.00 to $15.00 for a high end design project. ½ upfront ¼ when final presentation is made and orders are placed and then the balance before installation.


A common combo is the hourly design fee plus a cost plus on products and services purchased through the designer for small design projects, or a square foot fee for design vision and cost plus combination works well for a larger complete turnkey design project where designer completes design concept down to the last detail.

Walker Dining room 1IMG_2768


*A letter of agreement will be prepared spelling out exactly what design services the designer will be providing, how the designer will be charging and when payments are to be made, so that you will have a clear understanding of costs and designer responsibilities.


If you are on a tight budget don’t assume that hiring a designer is out of reach. Many will be happy to consult with you for a few hours to help you source furniture, pick paint colors, or select decorative accents. Many times I have had a client call me after they have tried to do it themselves and have bought too much furniture or out of scale items and need help fixing it and making it all work.

goldstein LR Before picturegoldstein LR After Picture

This is the before and after photos of a client that tried to furnish and design on her own and everything was out of scale it was very heavy on one side of the room and one two many sofas blocking the room and there was no clear path into the room. This is an example of a client that just needed a little bit of help on a tight budget.


If you can’t afford to do your whole house at one time you have options such as a one-time special pricing of $225.00 for 3 hours in home design consultation* which could include paint color selection, window treatment design, space plan, selecting decorative accessories and accents or just accessing the environment to see what is not working and what can be done to change it and make it work for you.


Another option is that you could hire and work with a designer one room at a time as you can afford to. So if you just need a little help and design plan to get you started and you want to do the rest on your own or you want the designer to complete a whole house, having a good designer from the beginning of your design project and can save time and money from making costly design mistakes.


On smaller jobs I charge $125.00 an hour for my design services and 30% over cost on materials and products ordered through my design studio, and on larger Jobs I charge by the square foot for design services and for construction management and 30 % over cost for materials and products.


Call Katheryn De Wolfe at 561-364-0074 for an appointment for free ½ hour virtual design consultation, or to schedule an in home consultation.

To leave feedback on this article or comment click on the facebook link below:

*Includes travel time to job site