4 Ways To Price Your Interior Design Services

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This is a question I’ve heard many interior designers ask themselves at some point in their careers. Me included. If you also wonder what are the ways to price your interior design services, I hope this post will help you.

It might be overwhelming, especially if you’re a beginner, to figure out the best way to price your design services. There are quite a few of them after all! But there is also a way to figure out which one is best for you. Let see!

Don’t Go And Check What Others Do

Surprised? Well, comparing yourself to others can do more harm than good, especially in this case. No two businesses are the same, just as no two people are the same. So if you just look at the way other designers price their services, without getting deeper into why and how it actually works for them in practice - you risk repeating strategies that might be completely unsuitable for you.

Plus, there’s also something like a subconscious suggestion. If you fixate too much on how others bill, you might subconsciously limit yourself as to what you believe is possible for you.

So if you are curious about the ways other designers in your area price their interior design services, do it after you figure out the best way for yourself.

Create A Budget

This might seem like a part of the process of creating your business plan. And it’s not untrue. If you already have your budget created - great! You can go to the next step 🙂 if you don’t, then let me quickly explain what it’s all about.

Writing down all the regular expenses you have, considering your tax rates, insurance, etc., and including any rainy day safety cushions, will help you realize how much you need to earn each month/week to be able to cover it all. I’m sure you don’t just want to live “paycheck to paycheck” but at least you will know what is the bottom, non-negotiable limit of what you need to bill, to stay safe. Anything billed above that - that’s even better!

Track Your Time

No matter the way you price your interior design services - you should always track the time you spend on your projects and admin. This way you’ll know how much each task or each part of the process takes you. This in turn will do two things - you’ll be able to predict the amount of time a project will take you and communicate it to your clients, and you’ll know, after a while, what works and what doesn’t work in your design process.

If, like me, you’re not a fan of web apps to track your time and forget to click start/stop buttons while you’re in the midst of a creative wave, try Timeular. It offers a practical physical tracking device that you can put on your desk and simply turn around whenever you switch from task to task. Much easier to remember about something that sits in front of you!

tracking your time is an important factor in deciding on the way to price interior design services

Decide On The Pricing Method - 4 Ways To Price Your Interior Design Services

As I’ve mentioned, there are several ways to price your interior design services. Each has its pros and cons. For now, let’s see the outline of the 4 ways:

1. Billing By The Hour

This is the method where you get paid for every hour you spend on the project. It might be an easy choice for when you’re just starting, however, you might find it difficult to predict upfront how much it will take for you to finish a project. 

This is the method where tracking your time will be crucial. If you choose it, you need to be very conscientious about your time tracking and then prepare a summary of time spent every time you want to bill your clients.

2. Billing By Square Meter/Square Foot

This method is not very popular in America but is one of the most popular in Europe. Basically, you decide on the rate for square meter/square foot and then calculate your fee based on the size of the project. Because of that, I’d recommend this method be used for bigger projects, like a full renovation, or when you have several rooms to design. 

Since you give your rate upfront, you need to be clear on the scope of the work you’re going to do for that given fee, otherwise, you’ll end up doing parts of the project for free.

deciding on the work scope, creating a budget to decide the design fee

3. Billing by Flat Fee

This is one of the most popular billing methods in America. 

Quite similarly to the previous method, you decide on one flat fee for the whole scope of the project upfront. Meaning that also your scope needs to be established. I would say that this is the pricing way where you can charge what you’re worth. If you’re at the beginning of your career, this one might sound almost like a mythical being. But once your process is streamlined and optimized, and you have systems and processes in place, it will get easier to use this method.

4. Billing by a percentage of construction works

This one is pretty tricky and I don’t see many designers use this method. Why? For one thing, because of today’s crazy material prices that tend to go up in a blink of an eye, estimating the cost of a renovation that can take several months seems impossible.

However, you can inform your clients that the estimate you prepare upfront might change based on the final renovation budget. Or, you can decide on a tight budget with your clients (that you base your fee off of) and then do everything to stay within the decided-upon numbers. 

I’ve used that billing method for pricing the building site supervision if the clients wanted me to be there more than a few times. Aside from the design fee, that is.

Choosing the way to price interior design services

Which Way To Price Your Interior Design Services Feels Best?

There’s no right or wrong method you can choose. What is important is that you have enough information to choose one that fits best your business strategy.

If you’re a beginner, don’t have your process streamlined, and have no idea how long it takes for you to finish each of your design phases, then billing by the hour might work best. You just need to make sure that you bill enough hours in a week or a month to cover your bills, expenses, and other living costs. Also, you can adjust your hourly rate as you go.

If you’re already a more established designer, with a portfolio to back your experience, you can try billing a flat fee, based either on square meter/square foot or on what you think your services are worth.

Just remember that whatever pricing method you choose, it’s important to have a scope of work established and to track your time. If you want to avoid your clients walking all over your head, think about setting up some boundaries right away, to avoid any misunderstanding.

Research The Market

When you finally decide on your pricing method, based on your budget needs, your experience, and what you’re comfortable with, you can go ahead and research the market. Check what other interior design businesses in your area are doing and what their fees are. Just remember to take it all with a pinch of salt and treat it more as an inspiration, rather than an indication of what to do. 

You might notice some patterns or similarities between the strategies of your competition. Note what you see and then decide whether what you’ve chosen is following their example or it’s different. This might be an idea of how to stand out from the crowd.
But remember - first and foremost your pricing strategy has to work for you and your business. So like I said, treat your research results as an idea and nothing more.

Work On Your Mindset

Remember the subconscious suggestion I mentioned before? Don’t let the ways others price their interior design services limit what you think is possible for you. If you know that what you create and the value that you give to your clients is worth more than what your competition asks - go for it! There’s plenty of fish in the sea and you’ll definitely find the right person for your services. 

If you struggle with confidence in this field, you should take a look at this article I wrote a while ago.

Oh, and you do realize, I’m sure, that none of this should be taken as financial advice, as I’m not qualified to give those. I’m simply sharing the methods that I know and tried, that worked for me and that I believe might work for you. Don’t hesitate to seek professional financial advice should you have any doubts.

hi there!

I'm Aleksandra, an interior architect with multinational experience, on a mission to help beginning or self-taught designers gain confidence and create systems that will help them bring their businesses to the next level.

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COMMENTS

4 Replies to “4 Ways To Price Your Interior Design Services”

Fantastic blog! Your selfless sharing and insightful content have the potential to make a significant impact on the industry. Your work is truly commendable, and I encourage you to continue pushing boundaries and shaping the industry for the better. Keep up the exceptional job! 👍💪

This is such a helpful post for other interior designers, you know your stuff! Thank you for sharing.

Thank you, Lisa! I’m glad you find the post helpful 🙂

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hi, I'm Aleksandra!

I will help you create an organized interior design business with systems and processes, and to gain confidence to bring your career to the next level.

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