As a decorating enthusiast, one of the most common questions I'm asked by friends in nesting mode is “Where can I find an affordable _________ for my home?” It’s fairly easy to answer: flea markets, vintage shops, and a few of my go-to budget-friendly retailers. The second-most common question always throws me for a loop: “What’s the cost of an interior designer?
If you hire an interior designer, you can set your budget for furniture and décor at basically any number you’re comfortable with, but the bill for your design services can easily and quickly rack up, and it can vary greatly.
Before partnering with an interior designer, pinpoint your home décor style so you can accurately describe the look you're going for.
All designers work differently. Some charge an hourly rate (anywhere from $100 to $500 per hour is common), a flat fee (several thousand dollars to as high as five figures), or a percentage of the project costs. The common thread: Those fees are above and beyond the cost of the products you purchase.
The industry is changing, however, thanks to a select few online platforms that are making interior design more affordable and transparent—and still profitable for designers. Knowing the real costs of an interior designer upfront used to be a farfetched dream, but now it’s a reality, courtesy of Decorist, Havenly, Modsy, Decorilla, and roomLift. Read on to hear about these game-changing startups.
I visited online interior design platform Decorist’s Seattle Showhouse and was blown away by the stunning rooms its team designed 100% virtually. The service offers a tier of three flat-fee online interior design packages: Classic ($299 per room), Elite ($599 per room), and Celebrity ($1,299 per room), each of which includes two initial concept boards with revisions, a final room design, a custom floor plan, setup instructions, a personalized shopping list, direct communication with your designer, and a complimentary décor purchasing service. You can choose your designer or be matched.
All of Decorist’s designers are thoroughly vetted. Classic designers are generally greener talents, Elite designers have five or more years of experience, and Celebrity designers have attained a bit of notoriety (e.g., they've been published and have established design firms of their own). Aesthetically, Decorist has really earned our stamp of approval and stands apart with rooms that are tasteful and inspiring, no matter what tier they’re in. It’s no surprise that some of our favorite designers—like Brian Paquette, Celerie Kemble, and Will Wick—have joined its ranks.
Havenly, another flat-fee service, is the most affordable of the bunch, but its designers seem to be a bit greener. The platform offers two tiers: a $79-per-room package (which includes custom concept boards, product suggestions, and a purchasing service) and a $129-per-room package, which additionally includes a final room layout and furniture placement suggestions. There are no in-home consultations and installations, and all work is done online.
Great for clients who wish to visualize their finished design before committing to a certain layout or furnishings, three-dimensional renderings allow Modsy to stand out from the pack. Clients begin by uploading eight photos of their room, which are then transformed into a 3D model and decorated by Modsy's team to suit the client's style and budget.
Modsy's three flat-rate packages—Classic ($79), Premium ($149), or Luxe ($499)—are priced per room, with a Multi-Room package available for $229. Rates reflect a designer's experience level and include one-on-one correspondence, at least two revisions, and a customized shopping list. Turnaround time from start to draft is no more than eight days.
With flat-rate packages starting at $449, Decorilla is one of the pricier options of the bunch, but its services are the most robust: The packages include multiple design proposals by two top interior designers, plus 3D renderings, itemized shopping lists to exact products and furnishings, and paint color recommendations.
Rates are based on the room to be designed (choose from patio, home office, nursery, and nine other options) and the designer's experience level (Bronze, Silver, or Gold). Clients seeking a more customized experience can opt for hourly rates ($75–$500/hr), and in-home consultations are available in select cities.
Founded in 2018 by interior designer Megan Hersch, roomLift is an affordable online design service with a mail-order twist: In lieu of an online rendering, clients receive their design proposals in the form of a customized box—delivered to their doorstep—for a tangible preview of their finished room. Each box comes with a floor plan and a curated selection of designer-suggested buys for the space—think paint chips and/or wallpaper samples and paper cards featuring furnishings and decorative pieces, complete with where-to-buy info. The roomLift box arrives within three weeks of the client answering a questionnaire and uploading photos of their room(s) to a Dropbox.
The per-room price starts at $695 and includes two design proposals, a 15-minute email or phone consultation, and a roomLift box.
Next up: How to decorate like Wes Anderson.