With the popularity of television home makeover shows, many ordinary homeowners in the UK want to make the best use of light and space in their properties. This includes paint, wallpaper, flooring, furniture type, and layout. Residential interior designers draw on their knowledge and expertise to help create what you have already pictured in your mind.
Expect most designers to charge an average rate of £30-£50/hr. However, some high-end contractors charge £150-£200/hr. Typically, the estimated cost of interior design for a bedroom or reception room costs at least £500, while kitchens and bathrooms cost a minimum of £850. Usually, an interior designer’s hourly rate varies depending on factors we’ll discuss later. However, many work on a fixed fee or a percentage of the total supply and design cost.
This guide discusses the benefits of hiring an interior designer, the cost, and the factors affecting it. Furthermore, we consider how to work with an interior designer, ways to save money, and the best ways to find a reputable contractor who knows what they’re doing.
How Much Do Interior Designers Cost?*
The best way to look at interior design prices is to consider the charges for typical packages. We’ll discuss these packages later on in more detail.
|Package||Interior Designer Charge||Overall Project Cost|
|Basic||£500 maximum||£5,000 maximum|
|Design, Supply, Fit & Installation||£2,000 minimum||£20,000 minimum|
*We compiled the information in this interior design guide from various sources, and the data is correct at the time of writing (October 2022). However, the interior design cost calculator above shows estimated averages, which change depending on factors we’ll discuss later. Therefore, use them in your research as an approximation only. Then, when you’re ready, contact a qualified and professional interior designer. They’ll provide an accurate quotation based on an on-site inspection and your personal preferences.
How Much Do Interior Designers Charge Per Hour?
Typically, most interior designers charge about £30-£50/hr. However, high-end designers who cater to the wealthy often charge £150-£200/hr. The average price depends on the designer’s experience, your property size and location, the number of rooms, and the design’s style. Although the average charge might seem high, reputable interior designers provide a quality service, so choosing a cheaper rate might give a poor quality service that you’ll regret.
The rates shown here are for research purposes only, and you should ask a local for a quotation based on your preferences and what you want to be designed. Most interior designers offer their services based on one of the various packages above or as a flat fee. This allows you to consider the additional costs, such as structural alterations, the cost of new furniture and other materials. Therefore, before speaking to a designer, decide on your project and what you want from the designer. This allows you to choose a package that suits your skills too. For example, you might want a basic package where the designer only supplies the plans and design. Or, a full-on package where they do everything, including selecting and buying the furniture and managing structural alterations.
It’s essential that before you speak to the interior designer, you should have clear in your mind the answers to the following questions:
- What will the project achieve?
- How many rooms are in the design project?
- Does the building structure need repairs before the project can start?
- What features have your rooms already got that need accentuating? Or new features that need adding to the design
You will find it easier to explain these if you write them down and present the professional designer with a list. Then, they’ll know exactly what you want and can work confidently towards a goal.
There are three packages that many interior designers offer. They might give them different names, but each will have the same or similar specifications.
The “Basic Package” is the most affordable. But, it’s also the one with the least input from the designer. Usually, the project has a maximum value of around £5,000, and the designer puts in a labour bill of about £500. First, the client has a consultation with the designer. This happens in person at your home, over the phone or via video call. Typically, remote viewing and phone consultation are cheaper and help reduce the overall fees. Generally, the designer decides on your specific needs and will provide ideas or concepts for you to play with during the consultation.
Typically, a basic package includes:
- Together, you decide what you want from the interior designer. Typically, this takes place by phone or video link, or in person, which costs slightly more. Remember that the overall bill will vary depending on the designer’s input.
- A mood board provides ideas of concepts and colours so you can choose a shortlist of concepts that appeal to you.
- Furniture placement within a room determines how to use the space at your disposal. A placement plan shows how to best use the room while giving an illusion of spaciousness.
- You won’t need a shopping list if you intend to use your existing furniture. However, new accessories and furniture allow the designer to improve the layout and coordinate the colour scheme with the furniture. A shopping list allows you to select and purchase the necessary items yourself.
- To prepare a plan, the designer needs a sketch of your rooms, the dimensions, and which direction the windows face. Either they visit your home to take measurements. Or, you can measure everything and supply the designer. The latter option helps to reduce fees.
- Usually, the designer sends the package elements and the necessary documents electronically to save money on postage and printing time. However, if you want a more one-to-one service, the designer can present the plans in person at your home.
The next step up on the pricing ladder is the “Design Only”. This package has everything included in the Basic Package but with more input from the designer. You could say that the interior designer organises everything and guides you but leaves room for your self-expression and hands-on skills.
- The consultation takes place by the interior designer at your home after taking measurements and photographs for them to work from.
- The designer produces a mood board with paint, fabric and carpet samples so you can see how ideas compare. The boards also show the designer your preferences.
- You receive a detailed furniture plan and lighting suggestions, with sketches showing your room as a completed project considering the discussed details.
- To deal with painting contractors and builders in case of structural alterations, you need detailed tender documents to assist with gathering quotes. These include construction drawings, sketches and design elevations showing the room at various stages and completion. These tender documents are mainly for the tradesmen to calculate quotes.
- Although the designer does the planning for you and ensures you know what you want, it’s up to you to do the work or find the necessary contractors.
Typically, the overall project cost of a Design Only package is £5,000-£20,000, with the interior designer accounting for £500-£2,000, depending on their input.
Design, Supply, Fit & Install
This complete package is the most expensive as you delegate everything to the interior designer. Typically, the project cost is a minimum of £20,000, with designer costs of at least £2,000. This package contains everything in the “Basic” and “Design Only” but with much more hands-on from the design professional. Essentially, the interior designer plans everything; project manages the decorators and builders, and purchases furniture and fittings on your behalf.
The package will be suited to your requirements and usually includes the following:
- Everything that’s listed in the two cheaper packages
- Sources and manages the builders and decorators
- Purchases furniture, floor coverings etc., on your behalf
- Many designers offer a 3D virtual walkthrough using VR headsets so you can see the finished product before completion
- Full service with minimal input from you, apart from making the initial decisions and paying the invoice
Your project’s number and types of rooms will affect the overall cost. The more rooms you have, the higher will be the price. Furthermore, some rooms, such as kitchens and bathrooms, have fixtures limiting the overall design choice unless you want to replace these with complementary designs. Although altering the fixtures will add to the expense, you will also have a property with a much higher value and a self-consistent design scheme.
It’s a good idea to list each room and note its strengths and weaknesses and what would improve the design. Consider our room list below for ideas.
A living room is where we spend most of our waking “at home” hours and where we entertain guests. Therefore, we want the space to be as comfortable as possible.
Usually, the interior designer advises on wall colour, floor covering, lighting, style of furniture and its placement, and use of focal points within the room.
Many families use this area for formal eating and entertaining guests. Furthermore, they often use it for the children to do their school homework and have the family computer. Once again, the interior designer can advise on how to get the best out of this room.
Many people work remotely, so a home office is an essential addition. If designed correctly, the office will improve productivity. Typical features to consider include window and door placement, furniture, file storage, and lighting fixtures.
Bedrooms are our private spaces and need tranquillity, comfort and peace. Generally, interior designers insist that correct colours and lighting are essential in a bedroom, especially in a child’s room. Many older children and teenagers spend most of their evenings in this space, exploring creatively, doing homework and pursuing hobbies. So, it makes sense to have the furnishings adaptable and stimulating while awake but soothing and peaceful at bedtime.
Many kitchens in the UK are too small for anything other than cramped cookery. Now is the time for the designer to help produce a layout that uses the space to its full advantage.
Remember that if you have a complete redesign, you’ll need to move the electrical wiring and plumbing to new locations, significantly increasing the price.
Bathrooms deteriorate quicker than other rooms in the house, mainly because of mould and mildew from dampness. Therefore, it makes sense to redesign if your budget allows it. Removing the bath and adding a shower cubicle can increase the property value. Furthermore, removing the shower cubicle and installing a wet room will make much better use of a room that’s often too small for comfort.
Items impacting the final quote include choice and extent of tiling, the type of flooring, style of bathroom fittings, and heating method.
9 Residential Interior Designer Price Factors
Interior design charges can quickly run away with themselves if you’re not careful. So, it’s essential to consider all the factors that potentially affect the costs before you start.
1. Fixed vs Hourly Charges
Besides the packages mentioned earlier, interior designers also charge an hourly rate of £30-£50/hr, or 10%-20% of the project value. Which payment method you select depends on various factors to be discussed with the designer. Typically, the relevant factors include
- Work scope
- Project size
- Time scale
- Project type
2. Other Interior Designer Costs
As well as their labour rates, the interior designer charges a mark-up or commission on furniture purchases or sourcing building and decorating contractors. The designer should negotiate the mark-up value with the customer before beginning the project.
3. Scope Of Work
An interior designer does many tasks to help their customer’s project run smoothly. These include:
- Interior space design
- Mood boards
- Creating and drawing plans
- Artists impressions
- Sourcing fabric and furniture
- Project management
- Ordering purchases
Depending on the scope of work, your project might not need all these. Therefore, the fee varies accordingly.
The cost of living varies depending on where you live in the UK. Therefore, wages also vary. Typically, labour rates in London and the South East are around 15% higher than in other regions. This increase affects the interior designer’s fee, painting and building contractor’s rates, tool hire costs, and materials purchasing
5. Service Packages
The fee you pay depends on the level of service that the interior designer provides. For example, choose from the following depending on your preference and budget:
- Online consultation – All consultations occur by phone or video call. Any deliverables the designer produces, such as plans, spreadsheets or lists, take place by email. This type of interaction is usually the most affordable but often the least satisfactory.
- In-person consultation – All consultations and meetings take place in person. The designer presents their ideas in person, using plans, mood boards, samples and other physical items. This method is the most expensive interaction.
- Design only – The interior designer decides on the suitable style and produces plans, drawings and purchase lists. If necessary, they’ll also produce documents detailing structural alterations, lighting and wiring suggestions, furniture, and which tradespeople to contact.
- Design, Supply, Fit & Install – The interior designer works with you at every step, producing designs, plans and lists. Furthermore, they’ll purchase furniture and manage the project.
6. Room Type
The type of room to upgrade determines the price. For example, a typical-sized bedroom costs less than a kitchen or bathroom upgrade. This is because bedrooms need fewer fittings and fixtures. Typically, a bedroom costs at least £400. In contrast, a kitchen costs £850 minimum. Generally, kitchens cost more because designers must consider the following:
- The functionality of a kitchen – whether it’s for cooking, entertaining, or family gatherings
- The available space
- Which cupboards do you need, and which built-in appliances?
- Choose cupboard doors and handles, sinks and taps, and worktops
- Lighting – Choose between functional and mood illumination
- Colour scheme
- Flooring type
In contrast, a bedroom needs:
- Bedroom furniture
- Colour scheme
- Extra items, such as a desk, dressing table or television
- Fixtures and fittings
- Carpets and curtains
7. Fixture Quality
The quality of fixtures and fittings affects the overall cost. Typically, premium fixtures cost more than budget. For example, taps bought from a budget DIY store cost around £50, while those from a high-end hardware store cost around £150. In contrast, taps from a high-end kitchen and bathroom shop can cost up to £250 or more.
8. Company Size
Generally, independent contractors with few overheads employ only themselves and charge less than sizeable interior design companies with higher overheads. Often, small companies pass on their savings to customers, to their advantage. However, small companies aren’t always the best choice, as an independent designer can only take on a limited number of customers at a time. In contrast, a larger company can cope with multiple customers.
9. Structural Alterations
Sometimes, an interior designer will suggest structural alterations to align the room with their design. For example, knock down a dividing wall to create an open-plan kitchen/dining room. Or, build a habitable basement. Work such as this requires qualified tradespeople (£15-£25/hr) and structural engineers (£100-£200/hr), who will add to the overall cost. You also have the added charges associated with building regulations inspections, as all structural alterations must comply with the law. Alternatively, choose a building contractor registered under the local authority’s competent person scheme. Then, they can self-certify their work, thus saving on inspection fees.
Benefits Of Hiring An Interior Designer
It doesn’t matter if you intend to do a bit of DIY or ask the interior designer to manage the entire project; hiring an interior designer is usually worth every penny. A reputable designer has training in colour coordination, maximising space, project management and many other aspects that the average person wouldn’t know where to start.
Of course, the interior designer’s fee will depend on how much work you want them to do, the property’s size and how many rooms need updating. But, they can do other things besides designing spaces. For example, they know where to source specific furniture pieces and can obtain them at trade prices. They also know how to handle tradespeople and how long each task should take to complete, thus managing other contractors effectively and knowing where they fit in the timeline.
It’s up to you how much you want from the designer. Ask about the packages we’ve discussed previously, as a package price can often work out cheaper than a straight hourly rate.
How To Save Money
We always like to save money on projects, and probably you’re not any different. So, it’s a relief to know that you can save money when you hire an interior designer.
Consider buying secondhand materials. If you choose wisely, you’ll get cheaper items without jeopardising quality. Furthermore, many people give away new materials when they refurbish their homes because they overordered a product and can’t be bothered with the hassle of selling or returns. Often, you can pick up good-quality materials beyond your initial budget. Typical items include:
- Kitchen units requiring new doors to match your existing ones
- Off-cuts of worktops
- Vinyl or carpet floor tiles
- Hardwood veneered flooring
Buying secondhand is the only option if your tastes include antique or vintage furniture and accessories. However, avoid expensive antique or retro shops unless you have no choice. Search eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Preloved, and other valuable online sites. Alternatively, visit local car-boot sales.
Many DIY stores have end-of-line sales where you can often find items such as ceramic tiles or floor coverings at discount prices.
Rather than hiring professional painters and decorators, do it yourself. Painting is one of the most popular DIY skills, and most people can provide a good finish on most painted surfaces and save up to £25/hr. The next most popular DIY skills are carpentry and wall tiling, also saving up to £25/hr. However tempted you are to try other trades, unless you have relevant skills, don’t rewire a house, attempt plumbing, or mess with anything structural. They’re dangerous and can cause injury or death if done incorrectly.
Working With Your Interior Designer
Interior designers will help you use your existing house and convert it into a home to suit your lifestyle and personality by bringing out its light and space using design and structural alterations. They work with architects and structural engineers to make structural changes and know how to manage tradespeople.
To ensure working with an interior designer goes as smoothly as possible and so you don’t waste money, try taking on board the following tips.
Establish A Budget
At the very start, let your designer know how much money they can use. Decide whether you want to save money on fittings or furniture if you spend more elsewhere. Alternatively, you could use premium materials in entertaining and functional rooms such as a living room or kitchen while saving money in private spaces such as bedrooms.
Know Your Goals
Consider how you use your home and how you want to use it in the future. If you can be clear at this stage, the designer will find it easier to create your ideal home. But, if you’re having problems with this, speak up because designers know how to assist with your decisions.
Spend lots of time researching which styles you prefer. Look online at sites such as Pinterest. Alternatively, use Ideal Home or Homes & Gardens. There are plenty of other resources to choose from, so get online. Next, make a mood board. Online design companies such as Vista Create or Canva provide instructions and free templates to help you along the way. Alternatively, wikiHow offers complete instructions on how to create a mood board. Or, use this online article from the Evening Standard.
Don’t be shy. Ask the interior designer what they mean if you’re unsure of anything. And, tell them if you don’t like their ideas. They want to do an excellent job by making you happy. So, they need to know how you feel about things.
Questions To Ask Your Contractor
Getting value for money is essential, so find out a few things about your interior designer before committing to their help.
- Do they specialise in a specific style? For example, antique, modern, vintage, retro, or industrial. Ensure their style coincides with your vision.
- Ask for personal references. Most interior designers keep a portfolio of previous work together with customer references. Read and follow them up.
- Are they a member of a professional association? Names to look out for include:
- When asking for quotes, include the same scope of work in each one. Then, you can easily compare prices.
- How long have they worked as an interior designer? Only use an experienced designer for large projects. In contrast, using a less experienced contractor for a small project is cheaper.
- Can they efficiently work within your budget? It’s essential to use a versatile designer.
- Do they have Professional Indemnity Insurance? If they provide designs, specifications or instructions, they must have coverage for their client’s financial loss.
Does interior design add value to your house?
Yes. Use an interior designer to make full use of your space. Lighting and colour in your home will attract buyers and add a significant amount to your home’s value. How much you add will depend on the style you choose and the quality of the finished project. But, a tasteful design can easily add £100,000-£150,000 onto the price of your property.
Are consultations always free?
The answer to this question depends on what the designer offers at the consultation. If it’s a “first meeting” where the designer meets the client and decides if they can help, it’s usually free. However, an initial consultation can sometimes last up to three hours and sort out many of the client’s pressing issues. In this case, expect to pay an hourly rate. Generally, a design consultant must pay for their time, so find out beforehand whether the meeting is free and what you will cover during that time. If you have to pay for their time, then get a quote.
Home makeover shows on television are extremely popular. And encourage the general public to hire interior designers for help with their domestic decorating and design projects. However, to get value for money, select a professional and qualified interior designer who can provide value to your project.
Complete the form on this page, and you’ll receive up to four interior design quotes from local professionals.