How much do Interior Designers Make?

When thinking about how much an Interior Designer gets paid I first want to mention that Interior designers own their own business and are typically freelance help.  If you are here wondering how much you should pay your interior designer or if you want to  be an interior designer I want to shine some light on what it is really like.

**To have an interior designer employee full time for your business you should anticipate for someone who is licensed or college educated to ask for 45-65K on up.  (once you pay for their insurance, expenses for more space, and direct time their direction to train them) plan for your ultimate expense to have an interior designer at your business to be 1.4X their salary  or approx: 91K /per year.

calculate Interior Deign Income

To hire an Interior designer as their employer guaranteeing 40 hours and week and covering their expenses for a year anticipate paying 91K for that service.  

Others will want to work for themselves believing they are easily able to take home 100k and it is deceiving.  Hourly rate does not determine someones income.  So many other things do so I want to spell it out for you.

First I would like to congratulate you on the GOOD NEWS!  You are not their employer and guaranteeing to cover their expenses for the year.

When hiring an interior designer their salary for the year and marketing so that they can be in business the following year is their responsibility.  They are covering those expenses in their income and distributing their ability to make money to cover those things. That Interior designer is in business and they have a structure where their expenses are dispersed among their clientele and you are part of an ecosystem that is supporting that designer and (his/her) business.

What you don’t see that is part of why they are working. They are paying for their retirement, repaying school loans, covering childcare, and making your project beautiful.

Other items are: their health insurance, their professional organizations, their networking opportunities and the ability to provide charitable gifts to the community.

A designer has overhead– marketing, advertising, rent, software- (which is more expensive than you think), insurance, continuing education, workers compensation, vacation pay, and sick leave that they have to cover.

So once you see that list of items that they are covering with their hourly rate let’s talk about.

interior design plans

What time they can bill for:

Designing for someone’s projects, ordering items, delivering samples, installing and setting up, delivering, managing construction, communication, driving to and from projects, and putting together drawings.

What they don’t bill for: Photoshoots,  social media, blog posts, YouTube, sending out initial proposals, discovery calls, visiting new showrooms, finding new trades people, finding new resources and networking.

How many hours a week do people work?  40, but as an interior designer how much of that is billable? If you are the primary person responsible for all of the tasks of the business about 50% 20 hours will be billable.  If you are an assistant or associate designer working for someone else you are probably 75-80% of your work is billable.

When considering what hourly rate a designer is considering billing should be based on.

  • How many billable hours can be reasonably worked a week?
  • How many projects can be handled?
  • How much money do I need to make to cover bills?
  • How much money do I need to make to pay myself?

An easy formula would be:

  • 20 hours a week at 100/ hour = 2000 / per week (gross profit) then less expenses
  • 20 hours a week at 150/hour =3000 / per week (gross profit) then less expenses
  • 20 hours a week at 200/hour =4000 / per week (gross profit) then less expenses

Also assume the work year is 6 weeks off. One for spring break, two for Christmas, and three weeks where work could be slow or individual days where there is more time needed for work stuff- like a conferences, hight point market, business retreat, or KBIS.

The average overhead rate in the United States is 52% of the business revenue is directed towards business expenses.

Here is a list of items that you should be prepared to pay for.  These are the things that will be reoccurring and as a business you should anticipate these each month and why half of your income is not take home.

You should know what your reoccurring monthly expenses run:

  • software
  • equipment
  • supplies
  • marketing
  • photography
  • website and digital assets
  • rent
  • insurance
  • utilities
  • payroll
  • automobile
  • phone
  • internet

Ways to shift the revenue into the company is to create other avenues of income that don’t require a butt in a seat. Provide business to business work which creates a constant stream of new clients without paid marketing.

I once had friend mention she was paying someone 20/per hour to run errands for her. She thought it was a good idea since she billed at 75.00 per hour at the end of the year she averaged less than 20.00 per hour. When she added up all the hours she worked and based on what money she had brought in. Make sure you know all of this before you judge what an interior designer makes/ the average Interior Designer makes 50K a year .  Which is around 20.00/ hour.

Click here for an info graphic to help make these notes printable for you!

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