An interior decorator can change the way your home looks and feels. Not only do these professionals beautify your home, but they can fully transform a room or section of the house to fulfill your specific vision or needs. The costs of interior decorating are not small, but the benefits loom large. If you want to hire an interior designer or decorator, look at the big picture before making any choices.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
An interior decorator will typically charge between $50 and $200 per hour on a small project, although rates can vary greatly depending on where you live and the scope of the project.
Interior Decorator Cost Will Vary
It is impossible to give a single blanket price for an interior decorator’s services, but you can get an idea of what to expect by looking at what people in your area are paying. Big cities will likely come with bigger interior decorating costs. Location is a big factor in how much you’ll pay.
Typically, an interior decorator may price his services with an upfront, flat fee that’s followed by subsequent hourly rates. The interior decorator may also get a markup on purchases he makes for items that need to be used in the decorating of your home. The interior decorator will likely suggest furniture he wants to purchase as part of decorating the home, and each piece of furniture that’s agreed upon will be an additional cost. Also, if the interior decorator needs to hire additional subcontractors and vendors, that will present an additional cost.
So, how much does an interior decorator cost? The lowest possible rate for a significant project in the home seems to be around $5,000. On the higher end, the interior decorating of an entire home could cost $50,000 or more. Some celebrities pay over a million dollars for interior decorator fees, while most projects are probably going to be under $100,000.
Always ask an interior decorator for an estimate as a first step in potentially working with him. The average interior decorator gets around $22.66 per hour. They make between $24,000 to $111,000 per year. So, they aren’t exactly getting wealthy as a home decorator in most cases, but they are fairly paid. Never accept rates that aren’t within your budget for your home.
Duties of an Interior Decorator
Although you may hesitate to invest money in an interior decorator when you may have your own ideas about how your house should look, carefully consider what goes into the process of interior decorating before making up your mind. The interior decorator has to pull from her own education and extensive knowledge of architecture, art and design history to fulfill the job. Also, an interior decorator will put a great deal of research into decorating your home in the right way for its architectural design and your goals for its décor.
An interior decorator also uses a creative approach and strives to communicate with you every major step of the way. She utilizes organizational skills while also relying on her vision. An interior decorator measures many aspects of the home and takes photographs to help her work when she doesn't have immediate access to your house. She is likely to also need a floor plan to help with the decorating planning.
Decorating is likely to include changes to the fabrics, floors, lighting, fixtures, furniture, paint, art and accessories in the home. It’s not the interior decorator’s role to set rules, such as the fact that a certain area of the home should be pet free, but you may choose to set such rules yourself depending on the décor of certain rooms.
Who Hires the Interior Decorator?
An interior decorator may work directly for you as the homeowner. They are also sometimes hired by a developer or architect. If you are looking for a new home, you may ask about interior decorating at an open house or private home showing. Sometimes you may find that an interior decorator has already worked on a home. While your influence would not be present in that work, it could still be a good way to benefit from interior decorating without directly hiring an interior decorator for the home.
Also, when you are considering the interior designer cost that an architect may have paid for another house, the cost of the interior decorator who will personalize the work for your own home may not seem so high.
Being Interviewed by a Decorator
An interior decorator may want to interview you prior to taking on the work, and he may also want to do a few interviews after he's decided to decorate your home. That’s because communication is extremely important to fulfilling the art of interior decorating. Unlike a fine artist who may strive only to please himself and fulfill his own vision for a work of art, an interior decorator knows that his role is ultimately about pleasing the homeowner who hired him. He needs to know that what he's doing will work well for you.
The interior decorator may also want to clarify whether certain things will work for you. For example, if you are a vegan and have requested that no animal skins or byproducts be used as part of your home’s décor, the decorator may have questions. For example, he may not be sure whether silk would be an acceptable material. So, he may need to frequently check in to ask about certain things, or you may also provide written instructions to clarify what materials are and aren’t alright with you.
Also, if you anticipate that someone with mobility issues may spend time in your home, you may inform the interior decorator of your need to accommodate the needs of those who may have mobility issues. Among the things the interior decorator may suggest are having sitting areas in each room and wide spaces between furnishings to accommodate scooters or wheelchairs.
A great interior decorator can accommodate special requests of all kinds without making them stand out as focal points of a home. For example, if the home needs to accommodate a very large person, he likely won’t want to consider his size all the time in the comfort of his own home. It’s just a fact that he's likely accepted as part of his everyday life. However, having exaggerated spaces in the home is unhelpful. Instead, the interior decorator weaves the accommodations for the person’s size with the natural décor of the home.
Few interior decorators specialize in catering to only one kind of home or client. Doing so simply wouldn’t make sense when the most successful interior decorators will work with a wide range of clients. However, that means the decorating professional will need to communicate and ask questions that may seem elementary. The interior decorator will likely want to err on the side of caution to ensure that he can then let his creativity loose within the limitations you need to set for him.
Reviewing the Interior Decorator’s Work
As part of working with the interior decorator, you will review her concept for decorating the home, and you may be asked to review progress that’s made along the way. The process of installation is the point where the interior decorator’s ideas are brought to reality. This can be a really fun process to monitor in seeing how a room that may once have seemed drab will get a special decorator’s touch with attention to detail and practicality.
What if you’re not happy with the decorator’s work after the fact? Whether you can ask for additional work without making an additional payment should be clearly established in your original contract and agreement. Some interior decorators will strive to make you happy, so they may have already allotted for a certain amount of changes to the décor after their initial work. Others may ask questions along the way but refuse to make any changes once the installation has been completed.
Robin Raven is an experienced journalist and author. She has a BFA in writing from the School of Visual Arts and loves to write about personal finance. She has contributed to USAToday.com, The Huffington Post, The Nest, Grok Nation, and many other publications.