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How Much Should You Budget for Interior Design?

How Much Should You Budget for Interior Design?

If you need help remodeling or improving the inside of your house, you could either hire an interior designer or an interior decorator.  According to my understanding, an interior decorator helps pick out color schemes, re-arrange furniture, pictures and will help you shop for the items you need.

An interior designer, on the other hand, provides a much wider range of services, including completely redesigning living spaces and working with contractors to create the living space you desire.  An interior designer provides all of these services as well as the services provided by most interior decorators.  They typically have more experience, more schooling, and of course, much higher prices.

So, let’s say you’re interested in improving your personal living space.  How would you go about budgeting for the cost of interior design?  We’ve searched around, and although there is no particular rule of thumb, we’ve got some ideas that can help you budget for your home improvement.

Figuring Out How Much to Budget

Budgeting for Interior DecoratingBefore you figure out how much you’ll need to spend on the services you require, you’ll have to first come up with a preliminary plan that you will later share with your designer.  Here are the steps that we recommend you use to help you choose, hire and budget for your project.

Step 1. List the things that you want changed.

Start by listing the changes that you desire, or the work that you want performed.  Be as specific as possible.  Although you may not have all of the ideas that the designer will give you, you can probably at least make a list of the things that you don’t like, or the areas of the room or house that you want updated.  It makes sense to write down all of the changes that you can think of, so when it comes time to meet with a designer you don’t forget to tell them anything.  Also, by writing things down, it may prompt more questions and more ideas that can later help you explain the changes you desire.

Step 2. Define your approximate budget.

Obviously, you have to know approximately how much money you can, and are willing to, spend on this project.  Whatever your budget is, you should leave at least a 15% cushion from the top of the budget to account for overages and last minute additions.  Talk to your spouse and check your finances to estimate how much money you are comfortable spending on your proposed project.  At this point, it pays to ask friends, family and neighbors who have had similar work done about the approximate costs.  That way, you can make sure that your budget is enough to fund the project that you desire.

Step 3. Interview several interior designers.

Get a list of designers or decorators to meet with.  Always start by looking for word of mouth referrals.  After that, start looking at local designers and make sure you check online at sites like Angies List to read the reviews and feedback that each person has recieved.  I would recommend meeting with several designers to keep your options open and to find someone that you believe can help you realize your goal and that can help you build the dream space you desire.

Have each designer bring a large portfolio of finsihed projects, so that you can see what they’ve done in the past.  Also, ask them for the references for their last five jobs.  Ask for the last five jobs so that they are not just giving you references from only the people that liked them.

When you meet with each designer, discuss your proposed budget with them and the changes you’d like to make.  Ask them how they bill and if your budget is enough to make the changes you desire.  For a list of how interior designers bill, see the excerpt further down this page.

Once you’ve discussed your project and budget with them, and you feel comfortable with them, ask them to get back to you with a quote on your project.

Step 4. Get quotes from the designers.

It may take the interior designers that you interviewed a while to get back to you with quotes.  A good designer will come back with visually appealing designs and a price range that includes the different options that they propose.  Pay attention to how long it takes for a designer to get back to you.  Although it takes several days or even a couple of weeks to work up a good design, watch out for designers that take too long or do not deliver detailed proposals.  These individuals are likely either too busy to work with you are are not detail oriented enough (which can result in large overages on your budget).

Step 5. Set your decorating budget and hire the designer.

Now that you have quotes from the designers, it’s time to choose the best one.  Choose between the designer that you like the best and the designer that you think offers the best value.  Hopefully, they will both be the same.  Also, if one designer’s price is much lower than the others, it probably means that it isn’t accurate, so you may want to avoid that bid.

Once you choose a designer, it’s important to clearly set your budget with them.  Let them know the total amount that you are willing to spend (use 15% less than what you actually are willing to spend) and get their word or signature that they will not go over this amount without asking.  The remaining 15% of your budget can be used to add last minute upgrades or to cover unforeseen expenses.  If you’ve worked out your budget properly and chosen the right person for the job, you should be ready to get the project started.

How Interior Designers Charge

Make sure that you find out how your designer charges before you hire them, as there are many ways that they can bill.  And since we don’t have much experience as to how interior designers charge, we refer you to this excerpt from Interior Design Pro:

Interior designers call for payment in a few different ways. Depending on your particular designer, they may use one of these methods below, or a combination of them, to arrive at the estimated price.

  • Cost Plus Interior Design: Cost Plus is somewhat of a traditional method used when calculating fees. Usually the designer will purchase all the materials for the project, ie; furniture, paint, rugs, accessories, and then sells them to you (their client) with an added mark up or percentage. This percentage would be the agreed upon price in which the designer is paid for their work.
  • Hourly Rate: Most commonly used for smaller projects, an hourly rate would be what the Interior Designer charges you based on the actual time spent on the project. This can be economical if you plan on doing some of the work yourself, however, for larger jobs it might not be feasible and the designer may feel another method is more practical. You and the designer will be able to determine if this will work best for you and your situation.
  • Fixed or Flat Fees: Larger interior decorating jobs may be based on this method of cost. Your designer will price the job as a whole, and present you with a “fixed” price which generally covers the cost for the complete project, ie; furnishing, time, services, etc. Most designers prefer this method as it makes for an easy and comprehensive billing method. You will usually be required to come up with a retainer to which is applied to the initial start of the project, and then terms will be agreed upon for the remaining bill.
  • Square Foot Basis: This is generally the manner in which fees are established for commercial work. The designer is paid a fixed amount based on the square footage of the space that is to be remodeled or designed.

Read the rest of this article at http://www.interiordesignpro.org/blog/interior-designer-costs.

It pays to familiarize yourself with these billing methods that designers often use.  That way you can be ready when the billing conversation comes up with your designer.  Or, if there is a billing method that you prefer, you can search for a designer that is willing to use that particular method.  Either way, it pays to educate yourself with this information before you meet with a designer.

Hopefully, if you are armed with all of this information, you can make your remodeling experience a good financial investment as well.

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