Can you afford an interior designer in San Diego or anywhere for that matter?

Jul 21, 2010

So let’s get to the nitty-gritty, the answer you really want to know…can you afford a design professional? There is no doubt about it, designers are a luxury item, that not everyone can afford.  If you don’t have a decent budget or you are a do-it-yourselfer, you probably shouldn’t hire a designer. You should analyze yourself and your budget before you head down the path of finding a designer.  This is critical, because if you don’t have the funds or the understanding of the value a designer brings to a project, you will both frustrate the designer and yourself in the quest to find a designer for your project. Fees you can expect to pay for a designer are as follows:

$35-50 an hour for a student designer.
They will have little to no experience in building and furnishings but may have great aesthetics to help you buy retail.

$65-85 an hour for a beginning designer
This may be a young designer with 1-5 years of experience in a design firm or a second-career designer that had other business experience to bring professionalism to the table. The later has most likely worked with a more experienced designer, for a year or two, to gain knowledge and sources for custom work. Source both custom and retail.

$90-175 an hour for an experienced designer
This is where most professional designers will fall. In this range, it is about selecting someone who you most connect with and whose portfolio you like. Sourcing in this category is 95% trade-only sources, in other words virtually no retail items will be used to design your home, thereby creating a unique look that you won’t see at your neighbor’s house in a month.

$180+ an hour for a “name” designer
In this category, designers have either been designing for 20+ years and have been able to demand these fees or they are a celebrity type designer.  The later has been extensively nationally published and is likely to have their own line of furniture, fabric or accessory. These designers often have a store front that requires higher fees for overhead. Sourcing in this category is 95% trade only sources, in other words virtually no retail items will be used to design your home.

If you are paying 90+ and are getting retail items, you are being over charged.  Of course, there are always exceptions to every rule.  If you need something in a day or a week it is likely you will get a showroom floor item or a retail item, as most custom furnishings take 6-24 weeks.  For example, custom rugs, made in Asia take about 4-6 months to be made and shipped. A professional designer should have sources, they use to design custom products for their clients, to create a home that is unique and customized to you.