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How much do interior designers make?

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Updated on:
April 26, 2023
April 26, 2023
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The interior design industry is one of the top-rated domains in architecture and design. It has some of the best experts and a great earning potential if you have the experience and expertise.

Interior designers are a part of almost every construction project, whether residential or commercial. The interior design industry has become smarter, more efficient, and better in general, considering that more people are now hiring design professionals for architectural projects.

However, the salaries and the rates of these professionals vary for every company and expert. You can hire someone with minimal experience, and they will charge you less. On the other hand, someone with detailed experience in the industry will charge accordingly. While you pay different rates and salaries to these interior designers, the final designs they create are also poles apart.

Bonsai is a great platform for interior designers that want to maximize their incomes, meet better clients and do more in their field. It unlocks new possibilities for these professionals—ensuring none face an issue.

Interior Designer Salaries

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says interior designers make an average of $ 67,460 per year. It brings their hourly wage to around $ 32.43. Interior designers’ wages vary based on their experience level, years of expertise, the kind of firm they work with, the projects they deal with, etc. However, other factors may impact this minimum wage. Let’s talk about it.

1. Geographic location

Some countries pay interior designers more than others. Therefore, the designer’s income may vary based on their location. For example, Russia is considered one of the highest-paying countries for interior designers.

2. Years of experience

The interior designer’s salaries increase with their years of experience. The more experience you have, the better you will do.

3. Industry specialization

The entry-level jobs for an interior designer earn around $47,000; this income scales up depending on your industry specialization. For instance, if the patio area is your specialty, you will earn much more than someone still in their initial stages.

Bonsai is the perfect solution for interior designers that want to maximize their earning potential. It connects clients, customers, and professionals with software and automated tools. Similarly, it allows the professionals to get real-time client updates, providing professional two-way communication for better dealing and connections.

Bonsai is safe and has a dedicated payment method that professionals can use to earn more. It’s the perfect solution for professionals that don’t wish to waste new opportunities.

Factors That Determine Interior Designer Rates

The rates of the designers depend on various factors that clients and customers should always keep in mind. Here’s a quick breakdown of these factors that you should always keep in mind:

1. Hourly rates vs. flat fees

The biggest difference in interior designer rates varies if they charge you per hour or a flat fee depending on the fee schedule. Generally speaking, interior designers demand a flat fee for the project at the beginning of the project. They tell you n estimated amount at the beginning of the project, which you have to pay.

On the other hand, interior designers can also charge you on an hourly basis. They usually charge around $32.43 hourly, which is good for smaller projects. However, the interior designers may take slightly longer to complete the project to earn more.

2. Cost of living and business expenses

The cost of living and business expenses are pretty high, considering the industry changes and high inflation rates. The professionals also require a retainer before starting a project, contributing to higher payments. The interior design projects typically cost professionals between $1,500 and $12,000. This amount may increase due to business expenses and the cost of living.

3. Scope of project

The scope of the project is another key player because the larger the project, the higher the fee for the interior design. For example, a residential interior design may cost significantly less than a commercial one. The cost further increases for a multi-story or complicated design.

4. Timeframe

Interior designers typically charge more for shorter deadlines as they have to wrap things up quicker. They also need more manpower, equipment, and assessments.

5. Client budget

The interior designer rates may change on the client budget if you know how to negotiate with the professionals (more on this ahead).

6. Competition

The interior designers charge significantly less for higher competition projects. If clients have more professionals, the interior designers will be willing to negotiate.

If you’re struggling with setting up prices for your interior design projects, we can help. Bonsai’s price calculator is the perfect option for interior designers that want to determine their rates. It is quick and easy to use, making it the go-to option for professionals.

How to Calculate Interior Designer Rates

Knowing how to calculate the interior designer rates is beneficial for both professionals and clients. Here’s how you can do it easily–have a look:

Hourly rate formula

Generally speaking, the hourly rate formula is the most commonly used one. It looks something as follows:

Hourly Rate= Profit Amount + Salary + Operating Costs / Number of Income Producing Hours

Flat fee formula

The flat fee formula is pretty simple as it takes the cost of a particular service and multiplies it by the set rate.

Flat Fee Formula= Cost of Service x Set Rate

Price per Sq Ft Formula

The price per sq. ft formula is another simple way of calculating the cost of a design project. It considers the square footage of the property.

The square footage can be for the entire property or a particular section you are working on. The range includes using $10 to $ 17 per square foot as the standard price and multiplying it accordingly.

Tips for accurately calculating rates

Struggling to find the best prices for a project? Here’s a selection of our tips that can help you:

  • Prefer a flat rate over an hourly wage
  • Add a contingency reserve to the amount you quote
  • Choose a percentage of the project (25% to 30%) for long-term projects
  • Choose the cost-plus method (ranging up to 30%) to get paid for the cost of the project+ 30% in the final payment.
  • Don’t overestimate your costs for the project too much
  • Use a digital tool like Bonsai for price calculation

Example Interior Design Pricing Calculations

We’ve listed the rate calculations in detail, but now let’s look at some examples of these calculations for your understanding:

  • Professionals can start with as little as $70 /per room and go up to $1250 per room
  • For the per-square-foot method, you will charge $10-$17/sq.ft. So, if the room is 15×20, the price will range between $3000 and $5100.
  • Typically speaking, professionals charge around 30%-40% of the project depending on the design type and details
  • The hourly charges for the interior designers start from $75 to $125, going up to $450. Create estimates per room and don’t exceed the budget without consent from the client.

Negotiating Interior Designer Rates

After all the information we have shared, it’s clear there’s a lot of ambiguity in the interior designer rates. As an interior designer, you can charge differently, depending on various internal and external factors. Therefore, the designers must know the best ways to negotiate with clients. Before we head on to the tips for negotiation, let’s talk about when and how to negotiate the rates.

When to negotiate rates

There’s no harm in trying to negotiate in every interior design project. However, you should negotiate with the clients specifically when working with a range. If you charge a particular percentage of the project (20% to 45%) as an interior designer, you can convince the client for better pricing.

You can also negotiate depending on the project type. For example, a residential project generally requires less time than a commercial one and has little margin for negotiations.

How to negotiate rates

Knowing how to negotiate is crucial for interior designers to get new projects successfully. You should research, get facts right, learn a little about interior designer costs, and stay as polite and professional during negotiations as possible.

Tips for successful rate negotiations

Knowing the right tips for rate negotiations can increase your chances of striking a deal favorable for you. Following are our recommendations for your next interior design negotiation

  • Start by creating a term sheet and list the basic negotiation terms straight.
  • Breakdown the terms of the agreement or interior design project into sections and get the opposite party to agree on each of them
  • Always keep the terms simple–there’s no use in getting fancy with words
  • Inquire about the counterparty by asking questions to better understand their intentions
  • Always prepare the terms with research to avoid any surprises during the negotiation
  • Always create a project safety net by keeping a smaller surplus amount for contingencies

How to communicate rates to clients

Negotiation tips are a great option for clients and professionals that want to get the best deals. However, you can only make these negotiations useful if you know how to efficiently communicate these rates to the clients. Clients are pretty stingy while paying, as they want to pay a minimal amount. So, here’s a list of recommendations to get you started.

Educating clients on the value of interior design services

Start by educating the clients on the value of interior design services and explain what you bring to the table. Learn how to sell your skills and show the clients what they might lose if they don’t hire a professional like yourself. Once clients understand your importance, they will likely agree to any interior design costs you comply with.

Setting clear expectations

Transparency plays a vital role in interior design projects. It ensures clients don’t feel like you are “cheating.” So, try to explain your expectations clearly. State all the issues that might arise, and be as honest as you can.

This little step can save you from future conflicts, streamlining the whole process of interior design. Moreover, your honesty will contribute to better client understanding, allowing both parties to communicate problem-free.

Providing detailed proposals

Your ability to create detailed proposals will play a vital role in your rate negotiations and getting the right price for the project. Most clients don’t know how quickly costs can accumulate in an interior design project.

So, it’s your job to showcase these costs in the proposals in detail. The more you “show” the expenses, the easier it is for clients to agree with them. The right proposal can save you from hours of negotiation and get you started with the job right away. You can use the same method for projects large and small, showing professionalism in your operations.

Addressing client concerns

When a client pays for an interior design, they want satisfactory results. No client wants to spend thousands of dollars for subpar results. If the clients aren’t satisfied during negotiations, you won’t likely get the job. So, address these client concerns, and the rest will fall in place.


Determining how much interior designers make isn’t very challenging if you understand the professional well. We recommend following the details, methods, and tips shared in this article for your next project. You can also use the tips to better negotiate with clients, improve the results you get, and streamline the interior design process.

You should begin by picking the right charging method based on the kind of project you are dealing with. Then, prepare a project proposal listing everything in detail. Explain all the details to your client and answer any questions they may have.

By understanding and setting interior design rates, you can ensure you don’t end up paying out-of-pocket expenses and still make a good profit out of every interior design project. It’s the key to long-term industry success as you scale your business and skills.

If you still need more assistance calculating the right project charges, Bonsai can be of great help. It is an automated price calculator and an efficient payment method designed to help professional interior designers. You can begin today and start making money.

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