How Much Should You Pay an Interior Designer?
The rates of designers vary depending on the scope of work that needs to be done
Aside from receiving calls from the bank, telemarketers, and the like, I also receive calls from potential clients I’ve never met before. The first question they often ask is: “How much do you charge?” followed by “I hope it’s not too expensive, I’m not rich!” So I proceed to ask for the location of the project and the floor area of the space.
Don’t worry dear clients; I am not here to stalk you. This is a very basic question designers ask so we can give you a ballpark figure as a quick response to your question. The next question I usually ask is: “What services do you need from me? What is the nature of the project?” This initial phone call sometimes lasts up to 30 minutes because I’d like to collect enough data to pinpoint what the person actually needs before I give any costs, decide to take on the project, or offer advice.
For those of you who don’t have time and are too shy to make that call, here are some services, with their corresponding rates, offered by designers. Please note that these personal rates are not “one-size-fits-all” quotes for all interior projects and may vary, of course, depending on a designer’s location and years of experience.
1. DESIGN "ONLY"
Notice the quotation marks on the word “only?” It simply means that the service is on paper, drawing, or done in 3D (three dimensional computer) rendering, because quite frankly, this is the backbone of the entire process and where all the magic happens. This is where the designer pours out her creativity, skill, ideas, knowledge, wisdom, and years of experience to come up with a cohesive and meaningful design that meets the client’s needs and wants.
The design itself contains 3D renderings and schematic drawings that represent the entire concept, measurements, and finishes to help the client visualize the end result and for contractors to cost and implement the design. It is the overall guide to anything and everything that will be purchased and constructed.
Cost: 3 options
A. P1, 000 and up per sqm
B. 10% of total cost of implementing the design
C. P30, 000 lump sum and up per room/area, regardless of size
Interior designers have licenses, and are professionals, too. Just like lawyers and doctors, we designers share expert advice and tips related to our given field. A consultation can be held at the designer’s office, onsite, at a designated meeting place, or even via Facetime or through a phone call.
This consultation may vary from just discussing the project, to actual presentations, to walking through a client’s space and giving input on what improvements to make. It’s all words, I’d often say to describe it; sketches and swatches are optional.
Cost: Depends on location, length of consultation, plus transportation cost (if applicable)
3. SOURCING and SHOPPING
Sourcing and shopping can be done in two ways. One is to do this with the client so the client can see and purchase the items right away, while the second option is for the designer to do this alone then submit a list to the client.
Sometimes things don’t go as planned: time restrictions, limited budget, items are out of stock, etc., so you end up not getting the pieces you want. When this happens, it is ideal for designers to be a part of this process given that we made the design, and we will probably know the next best thing to replace unavailable items.
Cost: P2, 000 and up per day (5 hours) plus transportation cost (if applicable)
Now that construction is done and all furniture pieces have been delivered, what next? It’s time for the set up and finishing touches! This involves the actual placement of furniture, accessories and even personal belongings. Unfortunately, this important stage is often taken for granted, and is skipped by a lot of clients.
To illustrate, imagine pasta simply dumped in a bowl versus the same pasta artistically plated by a chef. Why does that sofa look so enticing on display at the store while it seems ordinarily bland in my living room? To have all that hard work and those pieces shine, let us help you by styling your space.
Cost: P2, 000 and up per day plus transportation cost plus payment for helpers (handyman, assistants, if needed)
5. SITE VISITS
From experience, this item requires much needed clarification. Site visits by the designer are done at specific times within the construction period, or whenever the need arises, such as unforeseen design revisions or checking on colors and finishes.
I often ask the client or contractor to contact me to schedule the site visits so that it doesn’t go to waste. Like for example, as an interior designer, I don’t think I need to be there when they pour concrete on the beams and posts, because the role of the designer is different from the contractor and project manager, unless she is one and the same.
If the designer is simply the designer, she will have meetings with the contractor before the construction starts to discuss the design and answer questions. The designer does not need to be onsite every day because this is the contractor and/or the project manager’s job.
Cost: P1, 000 and up per visit plus transportation costs
6. FULL DESIGN and IMPLEMENTATION
Basically, this contains all the five services I mentioned above, and is the best one because it has a lump sum value where you’ll probably have discounts plus a manageable schedule of payment.
If you happen to get this package and terminate services before the project ends, just keep in mind the 70:30 rule. Seventy percent of what you’re paying for is the design, and whether you use the design or not is up to you. Just like when you consult a doctor, he prescribes medicine, and then you don’t buy the medicine. That does not mean he needs to return the consultation fee you paid him.
Editor's note: Keep in mind that the fees mentioned in this article are the author's personal rates and do not represent the rates of all interior designers/design professionals. For a list of professionals you can work with, click here.
Ready for your own home makeover? Get in touch with interior designer Kat Villanueva-Lopez through email at xavi826[at]yahoo.com.
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