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how to charge in interior design

Interior Design –tips on charging

Charging clients is a challenging aspect of running your own business. It can be difficult to know what to charge and to remain firm with tricky customers. Our experience has suggested that the three main reasons interior design businesses fail are: lack of sales, mis-managing budgets and not charging enough. This article introduces you to our top tips on charging, so that your business can continue to flourish and succeed.


Researching around your business will prove imperative to your success. It is important to compare your business’s prices with those in the same trade, especially your local competitors. Whilst it is important not to undersell your skills, you also need to be aware of the competitive rates offered by other local interior designers. It is a good idea to know and be aware of what your competition can offer, so that in light of this, you are better able to pitch your own business to potential clients. Researching other local interior design businesses is particularly useful if you are just starting out in interior design.

MasterclassBreak your work down into sections

You need to be able to charge appropriately for your time. It may help to break your interior design work into sections. These sections could include: meetings, research, design, travel, illustration and anything like correspondence, admin, installations and so on. By breaking your work into sections, it should be easier to figure out how much you should be charging on a whole. It would be a good idea to allocate each of these tasks an hourly figure using your base hourly rate as a guide. Then, when you have added your tasks together, you will have a sum total that you can present to your client.

Use a formula for working out your hourly rate and how to charge clients’

It is important to have a formula in mind when figuring out what to charge clients. It is a good idea to make a list of what your outgoings are and compare this with what you want to earn, your salary. You will also need to know your billable hours. With this information, you can figure out your hourly rate. However, remember to add a percentage on to this hourly rate, so that you are still making a profit and not just breaking even. This sum will become your base rate.

The size of the job

If you are asked to work for a fixed rate, it is of course imperative that you give a price in line with the size of the job. For example, if you have been asked to refresh a dining room, this is going to be a quicker job than if you are asked to come up with designs for an entire ground floor. You therefore need to be able to price appropriately.

Review your pricing

Reviewing your pricing throughout your career as an interior designer will be integral to your business’s success. This is true whether you are new to interior design or have been in the business many years. Always look back at your projects, how much you made and how much time and resources you spent on the project. If you are unhappy after reviewing this, you need to consider what changes need to be made in the future. 

Be clear with your client about costs

As a business owner, you will likely come across some difficult customers. They may agree to a price and later dispute. For this reason, it is important that you are clear from the off. Using fee letters, letters of agreement, purchase orders, invoices and reminders are all important modes of communication through which you should be conducting your business. By communicating in this way, you are less likely to experience problems further down the line.

If you have any questions regarding charging as an interior designer, please contact us.

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