All About Interior Design Fees and Why I Choose to Bill as I Do

Design fees.  They're such a mystery, aren't they?  You could ask 5 different designers how they charge for their work and you would probably come up with 5 different answers.   It's one of the first questions my Chattanooga clients ask when inquiring about "how I work".  

Let's break it down, shall we?

Hourly - this is popular one because it compensates the designer for all of the time they spend on your project.  Billable hours  include every bit of time used to conceptualize, procure (buy stuff), and install.  This does not mean that the designer with the lowest hourly fee will cost less!!!  That's because a designer with experience, processes in place, and good vendors and tradespeople can work more efficiently.  

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The downside for the consumer is that they don't know where the bottom is.   Weekly invoices for hourly design services can get tedious and sometimes result in bad feelings when getting billed for replying to emails and phone calls.  BUT, in all fairness, it reflects all of the time needed by the designer to complete your project.  You might be able to get an estimate on the number of hours your designer thinks he/she will need to complete your project.  You should also know that your final cost will be lower if you are decisive, responsive, and organized.

Cost Plus - This is when the designer buys items for you at their cost and then marks up your merchandise by whatever percentage works for their business model.  This type of billing model is difficult for most designers because the internet has made so many products readily available the general public which were once available only to designers.  This is a risky way for designers to work because some clients would actually take the designer's creation and then order everything themselves, cutting out the designer completely - but I KNOW you would never do that!!!

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By the Square Foot - This is a popular way to bill for commercial jobs and kind of unusual for residential.  It seems fair because the fee is automatically in sync with the size of the space.  On the other hand, if you have a small space that is super tricky and you're trying to get multiple uses out of said small space, it could be very time consuming for the designer.  I guess in that case the price per square foot would be figured at a slightly higher rate.

A Combination of Any or All of The Above - Self explanatory really.  You might be charged hourly for the Design Concept and then go to Cost Plus for procurement.

Flat Fee - This is how I prefer to bill, and the reasons are many. Shall we go through it?

Why Flat Fee is Good for You:

1.  No surprises! You are quoted a flat fee for your project and that is the fee!  No wondering about how many hours this will take, no need to pull away from the project because too many hours are racking up.

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2. No anxiety about getting that next invoice and wondering how much it's going to be for those revisions you requested.  Or for the time your designer spent looking for the perfect shade for the adorable vintage lamp you fell in love with.

3.  Your project will have a better chance of staying on budget because you have a finite amount allocated for the Design Fee.

Why Flat Fee is Good for Me:

1.  Do you have any idea how tedious it is to track every minute of each project every day?  Then to document the time spent on each project because you certainly can't do it from memory.  Now that you've tracked it and documented it, you now have to create an invoice that justifies the design hours and send it to your client. 

Ummmm - she spent 3 hours looking for a lamp shade?!?!?


For me this is torture.

I would much rather spend my energy creating a fabulous plan especially for you and go about making this gorgeous space your new reality.  As a creative, this is what I love to spend my time doing - NOT watching the clock!! 

2.  Refer to #1.  

Intrigued? If you'd like to learn more about how I work and fees, be sure and grab a copy of my FAQ document!