top of page

Finding an Interior Designer and How Much to Pay

Creating a custom home is a dream for many, but the journey from blueprint to reality can be complex. One crucial aspect often overlooked in the excitement of architectural design and construction is finding an interior designer. Hiring an interior designer can transform a house into a personalized sanctuary that reflects your taste, lifestyle, and functionality needs. Here's a comprehensive guide on how to find, hire, and collaborate with an interior designer for your custom home project.



finding an interior designer

Identifying Your Needs: Defining Your Interior Design Goals

Before seeking out an interior designer, it's essential to have a clear understanding of your needs and desires. Interior design encompasses various aspects beyond mere aesthetics. Here's a breakdown of key considerations:

  • Space Planning: Efficient space utilization is vital, especially in a custom home where every square foot counts. A skilled interior designer can optimize your layout to ensure seamless flow and functionality throughout the house.

  • Finish Selections: From flooring materials to paint colors, cabinetry finishes to countertop selections, the choices can be overwhelming. An interior designer can guide you through the myriad options, considering your style preferences, budget constraints, and long-term durability.

  • Furniture and Soft Goods: Beyond structural elements, furniture, and soft goods such as upholstery, rugs, and window treatments are crucial for comfort and aesthetic cohesion. An interior designer can curate a selection that complements your design scheme while meeting your comfort and lifestyle requirements.

  • Collaboration with Builders: In many cases, builders offer design-build services that include interior design. Clarify with your builder what interior design services they provide. If they don't offer these services in-house, they might have partnerships with external designers or recommendations.


When to Hire an Interior Designer: Timing is Key

Timing is crucial when it comes to engaging an interior designer for your custom home project. While some may assume that interior design comes after the construction phase, involving a designer early in the process can yield significant benefits. Consider hiring an interior designer:

  • During the Planning Phase: Ideally, involve an interior designer during the planning and architectural design phase. This early involvement allows the designer to collaborate with architects & designers to ensure that interior spaces align with your vision and functional needs.

  • Before Finalizing Architectural Plans: Interior designers can provide valuable input on room layouts, window placements, and structural elements to optimize interior aesthetics and functionality. Making changes before finalizing architectural plans can save time and money later in the construction process.

  • As Soon as Possible: If you're already in the midst of construction or have completed the architectural phase, don't worry—it's never too late to engage an interior designer. However, the earlier they join the project, the better they can integrate their expertise seamlessly.

Finding and Interviewing Interior Designers: Navigating the Selection Process

Finding the right interior designer involves thorough research and vetting. Here's how to navigate the selection process effectively:

  • Research and Compile a Shortlist: Start by researching interior designers in your area. Browse online portfolios, read reviews, and seek recommendations from friends, family, or your builder. Compile a shortlist of designers whose style and expertise align with your vision.

  • Review Portfolios and Credentials: Take time to review each designer's portfolio to assess their aesthetic sensibilities and project experience. Look for designers who have successfully completed projects similar in scope and style to yours. Check their credentials, certifications, and affiliations with professional organizations.

  • Schedule Interviews and Consultations: Reach out to the selected designers to schedule interviews or initial consultations. Use this opportunity to discuss your project goals, timeline, budget, and expectations. Pay attention to their communication style, level of professionalism, and enthusiasm for your project.

  • Ask for References and Conduct Due Diligence: Request references from past clients and follow up with them to inquire about their experiences working with the designer. Ask about communication, problem-solving abilities, adherence to budgets and timelines, and overall satisfaction with the results.

  • Evaluate Proposals and Fee Structures: After meeting with each designer, evaluate their proposals, including services offered, project timelines, and fee structures. Consider the value provided in relation to the proposed fees. Remember, choosing the cheapest option may not always yield the best results.

finding an interior designer

Coordinating Services and Expectations: Streamlining the Collaboration Process

Once you've selected an interior designer for your custom home project, effective collaboration is essential to ensure a smooth and successful outcome. Here are some tips for coordinating services and managing expectations:

  • Establish Clear Communication Channels: Maintain open and transparent communication with your designer throughout the project. Clarify roles, responsibilities, and expectations from the outset to avoid misunderstandings or delays.

  • Coordinate with Builders and Contractors: If your builder is not providing interior design services, facilitate communication between the designer and the construction team. This ensures alignment between the architectural, structural, and interior design aspects of the project.

  • Stay Flexible and Open-Minded: While it's essential to communicate your preferences and vision to the designer, be open to their expertise and suggestions. Design is a collaborative process, and flexibility can lead to innovative solutions and unexpected delights.

  • Monitor Progress and Budget: Regularly review the project's progress and budget with your designer to ensure that it remains on track. Address any concerns or deviations promptly to avoid costly setbacks.

Understanding Costs: What to Expect to Pay for Interior Design Services

The cost of hiring an interior designer for a custom home project can vary widely depending on factors such as the scope of work, designer's experience, geographic location, and project complexity. Interior design services are typically priced using one of the following fee structures:

  • Hourly Rate: Some designers charge an hourly rate for their services, ranging from $100 to $300 or more per hour, depending on experience and location. This fee structure is suitable for smaller projects or those with flexible timelines.

  • Flat Fee or Fixed Rate: For larger projects with a clearly defined scope of work, designers may propose a flat fee or fixed rate. This fee covers the entire project from conceptualization to completion and is determined based on project complexity, size, and estimated time investment.

  • Cost Plus: Under a cost-plus pricing model, the designer charges a percentage (typically 15% to 30%) on top of the project's total cost, including materials, furnishings, and subcontractor services. This fee structure provides transparency but may result in higher overall costs.

  • Combination of Fee Structures: In some cases, designers may propose a combination of fee structures tailored to the specific needs of the project. For example, they may charge a flat fee for design services and apply a cost-plus markup on furnishings and materials.

It's essential to discuss fee structures and payment schedules upfront with your designer to avoid any surprises down the line. Remember that investing in professional interior design services can add significant value to your custom home, enhancing its functionality, aesthetics, and resale potential.


Hiring an interior designer for your custom home project is a strategic investment that can elevate your living spaces to new heights of comfort, style, and functionality. By identifying your needs, conducting thorough research, and fostering effective collaboration, you can find the perfect designer to bring your vision to life. With clear communication, careful coordination, and realistic budget expectations, you'll embark on a transformative journey toward creating your dream home.




  • American Society of Interior Designers: ASID offers valuable resources for both consumers and interior design professionals. Their website includes a directory of certified interior designers, industry news, and educational materials.

  • National Council for Interior Design Qualification: NCIDQ is the global leader in establishing standards of competence for interior design professionals. Their website provides information on certification, licensing requirements, and a directory of qualified designers.

  • Houzz: Houzz is a popular online platform for home design and renovation. You can browse through millions of photos, connect with professionals, and read reviews from homeowners who have worked with interior designers.

  • Interior Design Magazine: Interior Design Magazine is a leading publication in the industry, offering insights into cutting-edge design projects, trends, and profiles of top designers. Their website features articles, project galleries, and product showcases.

  • The Spruce: The Spruce offers practical advice and inspiration for home improvement projects, including interior design. Their website features articles, how-to guides, and expert tips on finding and working with interior designers.

  • LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a valuable networking platform where you can connect with interior designers, view their portfolios, and read recommendations from past clients. Joining relevant groups and following industry influencers can provide insights into the latest trends and best practices.


“I have known Jon for many years. He and his team at Owners’ Ace are an invaluable resource to anyone looking to design and build a custom home. Having their assistance makes a complex process so much easier and successful. I recommend Owners’ Ace to my clients and to anyone looking to build their dream home.”

BG Holmberg, Top Custom Home Realtor in Tampa Bay Area

Unlock the Secrets to Your Dream Home without the Stress
Subscribe to our newsletter loaded with tips and get our Free Planning Guide


bottom of page