Fee Based or Hourly Rate Interior Design: What's the difference?

Fee Based or Hourly Rate Interior Design: What's the difference?

fee based or hourly rate

Interior Designers charge for their services in a myriad of ways.  However, fee based and hourly rate billing is very common.  Today, I am going to break these two types of payment styles down for you to alleviate confusion.

Let’s begin!

Fee Based Interior Design:

1. This is an upfront cost.  You will know in advance how much you are going to be charged.  It may seem steep at first, but you will not be presented with an onslaught of what seems like never ending hourly bills.  (Interior Designers spend hours and hours creating your space – from running errands, to creating sketches, to phone calls, to consultations – every detail is exchanged for time.)

2. After consulting with you and gauging what your needs and desires are for your space, fee based interior designers typically create several options for you to choose from.  Normally, if a client is still not satisfied after 3 options, the designer will start charging an hourly rate or his/her time investment can get out of control.  Great designers are highly intuitive though, and 2-3 options should be plenty for them to create the perfect space.

3. Because fee-based interior designers charge per project, rather than hourly, they are highly motivated to complete your space so they can be compensated.  This usually results in a finished space in a shorter amount of time.

Hourly Rate Interior Design:

1. Hourly rate designers cost less up front as they do not charge a fee to begin.

2. Hourly rate interior designers are great for clients who want to be highly involved, but have difficulty making decisions quickly.

3. Be aware that hours add up quickly.  In the world of interior design “speed” is an uncommon word.  The creative process requires time and energy, but in addition to that, all the activities associated with creating a lovely space take time. – Designing, running errands, painting, arranging, etc. all require time and time costs money.


There are several things to keep in mind when choosing a fee based or hourly-rate interior designer.  They are as follows:

  • Choose a designer whose portfolio you absolutely love!  It won’t matter whether they charge a fee based or hour rate if you do not love the space you end up with.  Go with your gut!
  • Choose a budget you are comfortable with and be upfront with your interior designer regarding how much you are willing to spend. If they know how much you are willing to spend, they can adjust accordingly.  Its always best to be honest and upfront.
  • If you are doing a large scale project, a fee based designer will most likely be more economical.
  • If you are highly involved in the decorating of your space, but would still like a second opinion, an interior designer who charges an hourly-rate will most likely be more economical.


I hope this demystifies fee based and hourly rate interior design!  My goal is to be helpful, while also being incredibly honest.

What do you think?  Did you find this post helpful and informative?

For interior design inquiries, please email me at minhnuyet@minhnuyethardy.com.

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