There is no easy way to estimate how much it costs to hire an interior decorator because the costs go beyond just paying for the decorator's services. For example, any purchases a decorator needs to make for your project will be added to your bill. Decorators' fees vary widely as well and are partly impacted by their experience and location. The best way to predetermine a decorator's fees is to ask for an estimate for your project, but some costs are standard throughout the industry.
Decorators vs. Designers
Determine whether you need an interior decorator or an interior designer before you hire anybody. Interior decorators work strictly with decoration, so they select wallpapers, paint colors, furniture arrangements and perform other related tasks. Interior designers have to be licensed to work in their state because they're more involved with architectural design and building construction, which requires them to have knowledge of building codes. The services decorators and designers are qualified to provide usually impacts their cost. For instance, a project that involves adding a wall will require the expertise of a designer who also will hire people to plan and build the wall. The additional help will increase the cost of the project.
Interior decorators and designers charge for their services in similar ways. Some charge a flat fee, but they also earn commissions based on a percentage of the cost of furniture and other decorating items they sell to clients to complete a project. A "Smart Money" magazine article titled "10 Things Interior Designers Won't Say" notes that clients who aren't charged flat fees can pay hourly rates that range from $75 to $250. Costhelper.com estimates that interior decorators' rates range from $35 to $500 per hour. Hourly rates can get pricey if you have a big project, and you also could be charged for work a decorator's or designer's assistant does in relation to your project.
Decorators usually receive discounts on the furniture and other items they purchase for their clients' projects. However, you're likely to receive a bill that only shows the total cost of the project. Tell a decorator up front that you want to know what you're going to be charged for furniture and other items before they're purchased. The "Smart Money" article says the cost of such things can be marked up as much as 40 percent despite the decorator's discount.
You can get free and low-cost decorating services through furniture and home-remodeling stores. Large franchises often include decorating and design services with furniture purchases and kitchen-remodeling projects. For example, Home Depot offers kitchen-design and installation services to people who purchase kitchen cabinets from the store. Ethan Allen offers free interior design services to people who buy furniture from the store. Shoppers can even start a design consultation online through the Ethan Allen website.