Can I afford an Interior Designer – How do I budget for it?

You’re wondering if you can afford a designer. Maybe you have an idea of hourly fees, but how much is it really going to cost you?

That is an important question. And one every savvy homeowner should be asking.

There is no straightforward answer to this, of course, since the nature and makeup of every room is different – there’s architectural restrictions, the size of the room, and complexity of the style, detail of custom designed pieces, the location and complications on site. Then there’s the scope of the project – how much help you want or need, and your involvement. And on top of that the fact that professionals charge in different ways.

Now you’re probably thinking that this is far too complicated, and you can just hear the cash register going cha-ching cha-ching.

Don’t despair. A designer worth his salt will know how to absorb all the nitty-gritty during the initial assessment, and give you a clear picture of the design cost during, or shortly after your first meeting.



Because I want my clients to have a great experience – and the cost is a real and big part of their experience, I want them to understand what goes into design. When you understand something, you can plan better. When you plan better, there’ll be fewer nasty surprises.

It sounds so glamorous to be a designer, right? You walk into someone’s house, wave your arms around a bit, take their money and you go shopping, right? Must be nice. I wish it was that simple. And yes, I cannot deny that there are many magical moments in this profession, and it’s deeply satisfying to you see a tangible result in the end. But the best, and that for which I live, is that WOW moment on a client’s face in the end. Their dream came true, and more.

But what goes on behind the scene?

A lot. Hours of thinking, brewing and plotting time. More that one can ever charge for. Once I’ve seen your place and heard your story, I step into your shoes and our room becomes my world. When I drive in my car or go for a run my grey matter toils and churns constantly in the background, playing and experimenting with ideas, testing scenarios. I might be standing in the que at the supermarket and POP, and idea for your gloomy bathroom just appeared. And that’s what makes the chargeable hours behind my computer possible.


Given all the variables, and speaking in general, a complete full-service project from planning to installation takes on average about 35 – 50 hours per room (not including structural changes). Sometimes it can take half or double of that – depending on the type, complexity and style of the room. But a full service is also not the only option, and I’ll get to that in a moment.

Let’s break it down:

Site Measure & Mapping: 1-2 hours

Your site will be measured, and windows, doors and mouldings be mapped before we can start planning and drafting layout and other plans.

Drawings, Assessment & Space planning: 2-3 hours

Space planning is about making the most of your floor space, and finding solutions around spatial challenges. We look at how the rooms are used and organise furniture, equipment, storage and lighting in such a way that the different areas work well together and ensuring that there is a natural flow of movement through the rooms.

Research & Conceptual design: 8-10 hours

The designer interprets your ideas to develop the look and feel of your room. In order to bring magic to your space, we’ll look at the architectural proportions, natural light, ceiling heights, and other structural elements, and apply our skilled knowledge to solve problems of proportion and balance – this is where you will see the real worth of a committed designer at work. This is an exciting part where you’ll meet and discuss the design plan. You’ll see your ideas taking shape in the form of drawings and mood boards. it is crucial that you are open and give your input and feedback further refinement of the design concept.

Sourcing & Specification: 7-10 hours

Now we can get to work on the specific detail of the design, finding and specifying actual fittings, finishes, colours and furniture pieces to order and purchase. You will receive a specification schedule listing the detail of the items needed to turn the design concept into reality.

Ordering, Purchasing & Installation: 15-25 hours

Your designer will go shopping with or for you to find all the items you need. We’ll order, co-ordinate installations, and handle deliveries making sure everything is received well, in working order and placed in the right spot – perfectly ready for you to just walk in and enjoy.

This is in short the extend of a full design service. But of course not everybody wants or needs a full service, – you may only need advice on something specific like colours, or feel confident to do some things on your own.

So ask yourself…



You might be a hands-on person and want to do some of it yourself. Handling the purchasing and installation yourself will reduce the hours quite a bit to about 18 – 25 hours on average per room.

Or you might be the creative type who knows the look you want to achieve? You’ve paged through a thousand pictures and saved the ones you like. Perhaps you made notes, or have it all in your head. That’s awesome. But you’re not entirely sure how do you put the bits together and fit it your space.

Many designers will work with you for a minimum fee and a few hours of consultation where you can pick their brains to help you put all your ideas together and get it to work in your space.



If you are asking the question if you can afford a designer, you probably can. Most designers are open to discussion and flexible in terms of shaping a package to work for both of you. Take the first step and talk to a designer.

Be adventurous, and have fun.



I have more say more than what this page will allow me, so let’s save that for a post on another day.



Are you sceptical to hire a designer, and why?

Name your biggest concern that’s keeping you from hiring a design professional?


If you want to make the right choices from the start AND love your space, contact me for an on-line or in-person consultation.



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