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How Much Does an Interior Decorator Cost?

Last Updated Feb 7, 2018 · Written by Craig Gibson


You're redecorating and you want everything to be just right, but you need help. You don't have time to select fabrics, need colour consultation, or could really use some help with your lighting. You know an interior decorator could help you with all of these things, but will the cost of the decorator break your budget? How much does an interior decorator cost, anyway?

Interior decorators are specialists in all aspects of room decoration. Some gain a reputation as "stylists to the stars" and command very high fees. Their public exposure has created the myth that all interior decorators are prohibitively expensive. Let’s see what the reality is, and learn:

  • The difference between an Interior decorator, stylist and interior designer
  • What interior decorators do
  • Hiring an interior decorator
  • How much they cost
  • What to ask your interior decorator
  • Where to get inspiration for your project
  • Getting quotes from interior decorators

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Interior decorator, stylist or interior designer?

Before we delve into what an interior decorator does, it is worth highlighting the difference between them stylists and interior designers.

Stylists primarily work for magazine’s, brands and with photographers, but some will be quite happy to consult for you in your home. Like interior decorators their speciality is to carefully select decorative finishes, furniture and accessories for each room in your home. Both will also pay close attention to colour and fabrics, and how a space is planned. Interior designers are more involved from the beginning of a project, such as when you’re renovating or building a new home. They will also liaise with your architect and tradies to ensure each room is fitted out according to the design plans.

Whoever you end up working with, they should listen your brief and understand what you really want, but also brings fresh ideas and options to the table.

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What do interior decorators do?

If you decide to work with an interior decorator you can expect them to:

  • Meet with you and assess what your needs are
  • Review the room/s you want to revamp
  • Help you choose colour schemes, layout, lighting, furniture, flooring, curtains, paint, wallpaper and much more
  • Prepare sketches, designs and cost estimates
  • Sourcing fittings, furnishings and decorations
  • Supervise the project and the tradies working on your job

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Read more: The top 10 apps for interior design lovers

Hiring an interior decorator

When hiring an interior decorator you want someone who will work with you to create an interior environment that suits your sense of style and personality. Ideally it should be a collaborative relationship. For these reasons, an interior decorator hourly rates should be a secondary consideration. Most importantly ask if they:

  • Have the same taste as you
  • Listen to your ideas
  • Have a portfolio that reflects your taste
  • Are available when you need them

You should feel comfortable with an interior decorator and confident that they can help you achieve the results you want. How can you know they are right for you until you've worked with them? Most interior decorators choose their profession because they love what they do, so if you find one whose previous work appeals to you, you will probably be able to work with them easily and enjoy the process.

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How much do interior decorators cost?

Interior decorators will generally base their quote on the size and scope of your project.

For this they will generally charge you an hourly rate or an overall design fee, based on the amount of time they estimate they’ll work on your job.

The cost of hiring an interior decorator depends on your budget. If you only have a few thousand dollars to spend, your designer will work to that budget and source products and materials to suit. Of course, if you have the luxury of splashing out on new furniture and accessories for every room, you’ll find you can easily spend many thousands of dollars.

Some interior decorators offer a free initial consultation, so you can see if you’d like to work together before signing on the dotted line. Otherwise all their services are chargeable. Expect an experienced decorator to charge anywhere from:

  • $200 to $300 for an initial consultation
  • $150 to $200 per hour for sourcing, selection, purchase and installation of furniture, lighting, soft furnishings and window treatments
  • $150 to $200 per hour for selecting paint schemes, flooring and other hard finishes

They key is to identify how much work is involved and how long they need to make an impact on your home.

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Questions to ask your interior designer

When it comes to hiring an interior designer, make sure they are right for your job by asking them:

  • How do you charge?
  • What are your rates?
  • What training and/or experience do you have?
  • Are you a member of the Design Institute of Australia (DIA) and/or other professional bodies?
  • Can I see examples of your work?
  • Can you provide a written quote?
  • What is included/excluded in your service?
  • When can you start on my project?
  • Are you insured to work in my home?

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Getting inspiration for your home decorating project

In the digital era you are literally spoilt for choice when it comes to getting inspiration for any interior decor job.

A decade ago you may have been stuck looking at interior magazines - which are still out there obviously, but there is You can start by looking at apps like Pinterest and Instagram and following interior designers, stylists and decorators you admire. Paint pros Dulux also have an app that lets you match paint colours on the fly. Or how about IKEA’s 3D Living Room app that allows you to virtually furnish any room with products from their catalogue.

Getting quotes from an interior decorator

Don’t be shy to shop around and get quotes from a number of local interior decorators. This will give you an idea of what they charge, but also if you ‘click’ and if they can deliver on your project.

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