Interior Design Pricing

What’s the scariest part of hiring an interior designer? That your bedroom will end up looking like an Austin Powers' set? That the furniture will look stunning but feel ridiculously uncomfortable? Or is it that you will end up spending twice the budget and not be happy with the finished design?

For most people, it’s definitely their fears around budgets. You have visions of telling the designer your budget is £1,000 and she comes back with ideas that cost £10,000. Ideas that you fall in love with but know you can’t afford. Or worse yet, you have a budget for the whole project and it turns out that her fees alone cost more than you were hoping to spend. Budgets are by far the biggest white elephant in the design industry.

To be fair to designers, everyone thinks they can do it themselves, so the service the designer is providing isn’t always valued the way you might value an accountant or lawyer.  Which greatly undermines those who have spent years studying the craft. The skills and expertise to professionally execute interior design extends greatly beyond the ability to pick out pretty curtain fabric.

So, when it comes to pricing and interior design it is absolutely critical that you discuss the designer’s fee structure clearly from the outset.  Your quote should outline exactly what is included (number of drawing packages, number of site meetings, mood board presentations, etc) and what isn’t (travel, incidentals, artwork sourcing, etc).

Start with outlining exactly what you want to achieve through the design process. Does the interior designer need to source light switches or will your contractor supply these? Are you going to choose your own bedding or is this something you’d like input on? Do you have any artwork you would like reframed or do you need to purchase some new pieces? Make sure you cover all the areas you need help with. And make sure it is clearly outlined in any contract that you sign.

 In addition to design fees, you should also have an agreement in place with your designer around their commission fee. Professional interior designers will receive a discount from suppliers. In many cases, this can be as much as 50%. So, before you get started, ensure that you have clearly agreed with your designer how you are going to share the discount. Here at Clare Norrish Interior Design we pass on 100% of the discount and charge a 10% handling fee on the order. Some designers split the discount 50/50 with the client, while others pass on a basic 10% discount across the project. You can appreciate the impact this part of the agreement can have on your overall budget.

The other thing to bear in mind is VAT. Unlike products and services you purchase in a retail environment, where the VAT is included in the displayed price, design services and wholesale prices are often ex-VAT. This is because these services are often purchased by other businesses where the VAT can be claimed back. So, make sure that you’ve discussed any VAT issues or implications with your designer. The last thing you want is to expect a bill of £1,000 and it comes in at £1,200.

In summary:

  • Clearly decide which design services you want to commission
  • Make sure your contract outlines those items in detail
  • Agree a transparent (and fair) commission structure
  • Know how the VAT will be reported

The budget should not be the most stressful part of the design process.  With a professional designer, clear communication and detailed brief it will be clear how your budget breaks down. If you’re not sure about something, just ask. Better to sort out any confusion from the start, than to end the project with a nasty surprise. 

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