Setting your interior design fees can be challenging.
It’s important to be fair to your clients, but you also have to make a decent amount of money if you want to work as an interior designer full time. You need to find the right balance between what is a fair fee to charge and how you can have a profitable business that brings you joy.
In this post, we will cover the different ways you can price your interior design fees. You can use just one of these recommended pricing models or you can use a combination – whichever works best for your business needs.
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Flat or fixed design fee
A flat or fixed interior design fee is one of the most popular pricing models among designers. However, it can be challenging to calculate because you have to think of all expenses ahead of time.
One of the major setbacks of using a fixed interior design fee is the client’s unpredictability. Will they change their minds halfway through the project? Will they extend the scope and timeline of the project? A smart way to protect yourself in such a situation is to draft a foolproof interior design contract.
Determining your fixed rate is easier if you’ve already been in the business for a few years, that way you know more or less what to expect from your projects. You can base your rate on the average number of hours you normally spend on a project and add 10-15% for a buffer in case of unexpected surprises.
Charging a fixed interior design fee will incentivize your client to pay upfront, and you can then move the project along quickly since you’ve already taken care of payment. If your client does not wish to pay the entire amount right away, you can come up with a payment schedule that allows your client to pay in increments throughout the design and building process.
Hourly interior design fee
Charging an hourly interior design fee is another popular pricing option for designers. This method depends on the country, city and state you live in as well as your level of experience.
If you’re starting out in the interior design industry, your hourly rate will vary between $75-$125 per hour. If you have several years of experience under your belt, you can charge upwards of $150 per hour.
The downside of charging your client per hour is that it’s difficult to offer an estimate from the beginning of the project. If you’re experienced, you can come up with a good estimate depending on the size of the project, but if you’re just starting out, it will be more challenging.
If you decide to charge your client an hourly fee, you should include the fee in your contract along with a detailed list of the work that you will be charging for. You should also mention that you will be sending the client invoices periodically and let them know how many days they have to pay the invoice in full.
Interior design fees by square footage
Charging a client per square footage is more common for commercial projects than for residential projects, but it is certainly not unheard of. It’s a simple method that works well for spaces such as large kitchens, living areas or master bedrooms.
If you use the interior design fees by square footage method, you might want to use it strictly for design services and add a certain percentage for furnishings, management of contractors, etc. The general rate per square footage can be anywhere from $10-$17/sq. ft. Therefore, if your client’s kitchen measures 250 square feet, your fee would average out to $3,375.
Percentage of project cost
If you want an easy and straightforward way to price your services, you should charge by a certain percentage of the project cost. Let us explain what that entails, exactly.
At the beginning of the project, you will provide the client with an estimate of the project – this includes furnishings, finishes, installation, contractor fees, and more. Once you’ve come up with a total estimate, your interior design fees will be based on a percentage of the estimate that will be added to the cost of the project. For example, you would add 30-45% to the project cost to cover your interior design fees.
This method of payment requires invoicing and proper scheduling of payments so that you get paid once a certain benchmark has been reached. You will need to provide your client with copies of all vendor billings, which means you will have to be fully transparent with them. Your invoice will indicate the percentage added to the existing project costs.
Whichever pricing model you choose, just make sure your business is profitable and that your rate reflects the quality of work you deliver. Your price mainly depends on your experience, your talent, and your reputation as a designer. The more creative and efficient you are, the more justified become the interior design fees you decide to charge.
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