How much does Interior Designer earn from a renovation project?

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Many homeowners might be wondering about how much does their Interior Designer earn from their renovation projects. I am going to provide you with some information about how the Interior Designer make their money and how it affects your decision making regarding your renovation.

How Interior Designers compute their quotation

Basically after getting all the requirements from the customers, the Interior Designer will usually list out all the job items and calculate the estimated cost of the materials and labour needed. The cost estimation will include those shown to the customers and those additional hidden cost. He will then add a certain percentage on top of the costs which are listed in the quotation. The usual percentage added by “normal” Interior Designers is between 20% to 30%. For some items, the percentage can go even higher in order to cover the hidden ones (for example 3D drawings, referral fee to property agent, etc). For really exceptional designers whose selling point is in unique design, they will charge a even higher percentage than “normal” Interior Designers. Some of them even add design fee because they have to crack their brains for many hours.  An example:

To supply labour and materials to build 5ft feature wall at living room with selected laminate. Cost: $1200. Selling price: $1500. (25% mark up)

How much does a Interior Designer earn from a project?

Selling price: $30,000 (25% mark up from cost)

Cost: $24,000

Profit: $6,000

If the Interior Designer is a employee, they will have to split the profit with the company. The usual practice is 50% each and lower profit sharing for junior designers.

Therefore, for a 6 weeks project, the employee typically earn $3,000 per $30,000 project.

The truth

The Interior Designer will have to be lucky in order to make the expected $3,000 using the example above. This is because there are many unexpected factors involved. Sometime due to miscalculation, unexpected events, non payment by customers  and bad decision making can add unexpected cost to the Interior Designer which will lower his profit or even losses.  Once a while, the cost happens to be lower than expected and the Interior Designer gets a higher profit.

Due to stiff competition, lower demand and limited spending power of most homeowners, some Interior Designers are even willing to do a renovation job for 15% margin. When the margin is too low, the Interior Designer is at the risk of not making any profit or even making losses.

Other income

There are referral fee for bath accessories, furnitures, curtains and other works. This may add up to few hundreds to a thousands depending on the amount (usually 5% to 15% of the amount purchased). This usually happens when the Interior Designer bring you to the shops that they recommended.

What does it means to you (as homeowners)

  1. Knowing the Interior Designer’s margin and how the Interior Designer compute their costing allows you to determine how much you can bargain. In the case of 25% mark up during off peak season (renovation during February to August), you can bargain up to 5% to 7% discount. If during peak period (renovation during October to January) where jobs are plentiful, getting a 3% to 4% discount is considered a good deal. Most Interior Designer will not do a job with 10% margin because its just not worth the effort unless they are really desperate. Creative and “high class” Interior Designers usually do not give any discount.
  2. Since you know there is referral fee for accessories, it will also means that there is room for some saving. You can go direct and source the accessories yourself. In order to do this, you must ask your Interior Designer what you need to buy and size restrictions, etc. Your Interior Designer must be very detail with you so that you do not buy the wrong accessories. In another words, if your Interior Designer brings you to their regular shop for accessories purchases, there will not be any size issues and if there is really a problem, the Interior Designer will settle it. Therefore, there are pros and cons of buying the accessories yourself. Do remember to ask for discount when you source your accessories or furnitures direct. Getting a 10% discount is quite common. Just remember, when you source yourself, getting the wrong accessories will be your own problem and you will have to settle the problem yourself (its not the Interior Designer’s problem).


Blog about Interior Design, renovation and home improvement.

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2 Responses to “How much does Interior Designer earn from a renovation project?”

  1. Zee

    Oct 29. 2015

    Great post as usual Vincent.
    I enjoyed reading it.
    Thank you.

    Reply to this comment
  2. pestext

    Aug 27. 2016

    NIce article, now I know how much roughly to expect from interior designers to renovate my home.

    Reply to this comment

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