How Designers Charge

Understanding how designers work and charge can be very complicated as there is not a set standard. Many factors influence what a designer may charge for his/her services. Most residential designers use one of the following methods, or combined methods, to set their fees and may negotiate to suit a client’s particular needs.

Hourly Plus Markup

This fee structure charges an hourly amount for design time, plus a markup on the product that they purchase on your behalf.   This way of charging is the most popular method with Interior Designers in Denver and surrounding areas.


The interior designer charges a retail price for all items that the client wishes to purchase. Commission or the difference between the retail and wholesale cost compensates the designer.  This fee structure is common when the designer works for a retail furniture store.

Hourly Fee

Compensation is based on actual time expended by the designer on a project or specific service.  This method is common when the designer does not provide purchasing services or the client does not desire purchasing assistance.

Cost Plus (markup)

A designer purchases materials, furnishings and services (e.g., carpentry, drapery workrooms. picture framing, etc.)at cost and sells to the client at the designer’s cost plus a specified percentage agreed to with the client to compensate for the designer’s time and effort.

Fixed Fee (Flat Fee)

The interior designer identifies a specific sum to cover costs, exclusive of reimbursement for expenses. The most common type of fixed fee called a “Design Fee”, is for design services.  A design fee is not the same as quoting the whole contract; it refers to the conceptual design only. Design fees are paid upfront and are non-refundable. They typically expire and are controlled by a specific given time period. When the term expires, either you can renegotiate a new fee or you can move to an hourly.

Have questions about How Designers Work and Charge? Call 303.916.9515