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Pricing 101: How Much Does an Interior Designer in Washington DC Actually Cost?

Various patterns of fabric pieces for interior design

When it comes time to embark on a home makeover, interior designer cost is a key driving factor for many. The cost of an interior designer in Washington, D.C., varies based on factors including experience, project scope, and time required. 

Interior Designers and Hourly Fees

For the most part, interior designers will charge between $150 to $500 per hour whether working on a full service project or offering a design consultation. This rate depends on their level of experience. At Lorla Studio, our rates are as follows: 

  • $150/hour for a junior designer

  • $170 for a project/intermediate designer

  • $195 for a senior designer 

  • $240/hour for a principal designer

Note that all time and work associated with a given project falls within this hourly rate, which is charged to the nearest tenth of an hour. If an interior designer is doing something that a client would need to do had they not hired a designer, this is billable time. This means that instances such as correcting vendor mistakes, like replacing incorrectly shipped items, following up on damages, and the like, are all subject to the hourly billing fee. 

It is common for interior design firms to bill hourly as opposed to implementing a flat fee method. This is due to the fact that at the beginning of a project it is very difficult to determine how long it will take to complete, given that clients frequently develop new ideas throughout the course of a remodel, and there can be unforeseen complications with the building structure, supply chain issues, or delays from contractors and trades. 

In other instances, a flat rate is established at the outset of a project, identified in the contract, that covers all design time and work needed to complete the project. That said, keep in mind that rarely does a fixed fee fully account for all of the possible fees associated with a design project as described above. Thus, this method makes it difficult for interior designers to estimate and manage a final cost. Additionally, at the point when a client chooses to add to the scope of work, hourly billing is generally implemented. 

Our preferred method at Lorla Studio is to charge hourly for all design services and then to issue a flat 12 percent fee for procurement, which encompasses all of the time needed to place, track, and manage orders (including damages, returns, and more). 

Investing in an Interior Designer Cost: What Does It Entail? 

If you’re looking to more clearly understand the costs and benefits involved in an interior design project, keep in mind the following considerations as you develop your budget. 

When it comes to the specifics of interior designer cost, labor is the largest expense in any home renovation project. This includes contractor and builder fees, interior design and architect fees, and any tradespeople and consultants that are needed, such as a specialty painter or structural engineer.

The more work that you can complete at one time, the better. For example, if you are considering a kitchen redesign and bathroom renovation, group this work together to save money. Designers have startup costs associated with setting up a project and maintaining our knowledge of the project and job site, as does the builder and any other trades involved with the job. In the long run, completing multiple home projects at once—while a more significant investment from the get go—will save you money. An added benefit of this approach is that you won’t have to upend your lifestyle to deal with construction crews more than once in a short timespan! 

The more you spend, the lower a designer’s costs are relative to the project. When presented with a $2.5 million project, our firm’s fees are a lower percentage of the budget than they are when working on a $200,000 project. 

What Does an Interior Designer in Washington, D.C., Actually Cost? 

When looking to hire an interior designer in Washington, D.C., it is advisable to allocate 15 to 30 percent of your budget for design fees. For example, if your overall budget for your home is $500,000, interior designer costs will run between $75,000 to $150,000 in total. Factors that impact this fee include a client’s decisiveness throughout the process (seeing multiple options for every product costs more), whether or not the client is living at the project site during construction (residing elsewhere during this time will allow the process to move faster), and construction factors beyond our control (builder timeline, site conditions and permitting timeline, and the overall scope of work). 

Is Hiring an Interior Designer in Washington, D.C., Expensive? 

The cost of an Interior designer in Washington, D.C., can be significant as interior designers can also be thought of as interior architects, often working on projects that do not need an architect but are still complex in nature. Interior designers manage everything from moving walls, to relocating plumbing, electrical plans, adding windows and doors and more. Interior designers consider the functional and structural elements of a space, in addition to the aesthetics, and manage an array of tasks, including the following: 

  • Space planning

  • Elevation and detail drawings

  • Specifying and purchasing building materials, lighting, and plumbing fixtures

  • Creating specification schedules

  • Coordinating with architects, contractors, and consultants to ensure the project is completed successfully and to code 

Most interior designers have an undergraduate degree and/or advanced degree in the field from an accredited university, in addition to experience at established firms. In addition to paying for this expertise and training, note that designers are creating a custom solution that is unique to you and your home. We take the time to get to know you, how you live, and then become so familiar with your home that we know how many inches are between your kitchen faucet and garbage disposal switch.

Interior design collage of various patterns and textures

Hiring Lorla Studio for Interior Design Services

Every gorgeous home that you see on a designer’s website or online in a shelter magazine has been designed and constructed with a high level of detail and care. Lorla Studio prides itself on thoughtfully bringing to life homes in the D.C. areaBethesda, Chevy Chase, Kensington, and beyond—and is eager to connect with you about your own project today.


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