How expensive is interior design? Probably more than you think. Realistic numbers have been surprising homeowners for decades! It’s not that the home industry is ridiculously priced. It’s simply that there is an industry-wide disconnect between expectations & reality. (Looking at you, TV.)
The truth is, yes, it’s an investment. But it’s one that pays off in the long-run, with furniture that withstands years of use, flow that supports your daily routine, style that fits your personality, & of course, a home that helps you exhale the minute you walk in the door.
So, what does it take, financially, to invest in this result? To answer that, I’ll be covering these important questions:
- What goes into your interior design investment?
- What’s included in a furnishing investment? (With project minimums)
- What do a designer’s fees cover?
- What do designers charge for their services?
- How is Styleberry different?
What goes into your interior design investment?
First, you have your furnishings budget. This is the amount that will be spent on furnishings. In most cases, this portion of your investment will also go toward freight, shipping, storage as needed, delivery, and installation. (Fun Tip: If you’re using our Shop the Showroom option, you don’t have to worry about these!)
The second layer of your design investment includes design fees. If you plan to work with an interior designer, yes, we charge for our services. And, like any other profession, the more hands-on the service you require & the more experience your designer has, the larger the investment.
Okay, you have the basics. Now, what is really included in each of these categories? How much can you expect to invest?
What’s included in your furnishings investment?
If you’re like most people, you have probably furnished your home gradually in the past, buying one or two items at a time. Furnishing a room from the ground up means that you’re acquiring all of your items at once:
- Furniture (sofas, case goods, tables, etc.)
- Styling (rugs, window treatments, accessories, art, lamps, mirrors, etc.)
- Custom built-ins and millwork (like wall paneling & trim)
- Freight, shipping, storage (if needed), delivery and installation
While this is THE best way to create a cohesive and complete room, these numbers add up fast! You can download our Living Room Furnishings Investment Guide here to see price ranges by item & quality level to help build your own budget.
If you download the guide, you’ll also quickly see why the absolute minimum furnishings investment we accept for client projects is $25k per space and up.
This number is not meant to be exclusive. It is simply the baseline for what we know what it takes to furnish a room fully, beautifully, & at a high quality level. In fact, I pride myself on making high-end design more accessible. Many luxury designers will only furnish full homes, with starting budgets at 4-5x this!
Which brings us to our next point…
What do a designer’s fees cover?
There is a lot of mystery around design fees, & frankly, around the design industry itself. Believe me, we are not playing with colors all day, and no, not everyone can do what we do. (Otherwise, you wouldn’t be here, right?)
Choosing the wrong sofa alone can cost you thousands of dollars and years of irritation. & if you’re planning to invest upwards of $25k on furnishings, you want them to be the right ones — practical for your lifestyle, comfortable, durable, & beautiful.
That’s what an interior designer does for you. We remove the errors and guesswork to create a room that works. Before I share numbers, here’s a quick breakdown of what we do on a typical project:
Pre-Kick-Off: Welcome call, administrative paperwork, intake questionnaires, & case review
Kick-Off: Our design team reviews, plans, and models the space before & during our Kick-Off meeting with you (virtually or in-person).
Design Phase: The design phase involves detailed design work: spatial planning down to the eighth of an inch, technical drawings for built-ins & cabinetry, parsing through thousands of products to find the best ones for you, calling vendors & suppliers, testing fabrics & materials, and more. Each space takes our design team a full week or more to execute. (On top of our other work, of course.)
Conceptual Meeting: You get our whole design team at the table, again, in-person in San Antonio or virtually for our national clients. We present everything we have created during the Design Phase, sharing key insights into decisions made, & listening to your thoughts and feedback.
Design Revisions: Revisions sound simple in concept, but every item in a design concept is artfully balanced with every other element in the room. Changing one thing requires re-evaluating the other details, making sure that the room feels cohesive & aligned with the original vision for the room.
Design Delivery: We deliver the revised design concept to you for implementation. While most design firms require you to retain them for project management and installation (with a hefty price tag), we don’t do it that way. Because our clients are very capable and often like to handle the execution themselves, we’ve found that this option fits their lifestyles best. & it makes us different. However, locals do have another option…
Installation: San Antonio locals have the option to “Shop the Showroom,” which includes our team’s assistance with ordering, expediting, & white glove delivery. Our clients love this option! It means access to designer-only furnishings, no heavy lifting, no tracking, and no set-up or clean-up. Easy!
What do interior designers charge for their services?
Like any professional service, every designer charges a little differently based on what works for them. But in general, you’re likely to see either an hourly rate or a flat fee. Let’s talk about these for a moment…
In the San Antonio area, hourly rates can span anywhere from $75/hr for newer designers to $150+/hr for more experienced designers. (However, this number can easily climb to $350+/hr in metro areas!) Remember, too, that price is always a trade-off. A newer designer may charge less, but they are likely to need more hours to complete the project than an experienced studio would.
Another downside of charging an hourly rate is that it’s difficult to estimate how long a project will take, even with experience. If you work with a designer who charges hourly, my suggestion is to be sure to define the scope & the estimated time commitment first. (& budget a little extra, just in case.)
Flat fees are generally easier to navigate, both for you and for your designer. This is the model we use at Styleberry. The benefit of a flat fee is that you know in advance exactly how much you will invest for the scope we’ve both agreed upon. There may be fluctuations in price, but only if the scope of your project changes — which we would discuss before proceeding. In other words, no surprises!
As far as giving you numbers, it depends on the designer’s services. Rates vary too widely by region, experience, service, etc. to share anything concrete. We charge by set package (and you can contact us here to learn more), but I’ve also seen designers charge a flat fee by square-footage.
My advice? To be prepared, plan to invest roughly 15-25% of your overall budget in design fees.
For example, if you’re hoping to spend $25k on furnishings, plan to spend roughly $4k-$6k on design fees. That’s a total investment of around $30k. & worth every penny.
How is Styleberry different?
I fully respect that professional interior design is an expensive investment. While there is nothing that I can do to lower industry prices (and I won’t compromise on quality), we have done what we can to make high-end design more accessible — by giving you control over the execution.
Our Custom Interior Design service maintains the high quality of design our clients love, while giving you different options for implementation. This is a great way to ensure a beautiful, practical result at a lower investment than you’ll find with a full-service design firm. Instead, you have everything you need to bring the room to life on your own & at your own pace.
If you’re interested in learning more about how we can work together, I’d be happy to chat with you. Reach out here, and let’s start the conversation.
Styleberry Creative Interiors specializes in fresh, relaxed design crafted in a meaningful way. With a team, process, and done-for-you Design Kits you can trust, we’ll help you create soul-soothing spaces that inspire you to unwind, connect, and finally… exhale. Our studio is based in downtown San Antonio, Texas and serves clients in the Alamo Heights, Olmos Park, and greater San Antonio Metropolitan areas, as well as Nationwide.