How does Interior Design Pricing Work? Understand How YOU are being Charged!

If you are going to hire an interior designer, chances are you must have thought about how they charge for their services, what are the various elements that influence the cost and how in general, the cost of your entire project is determined. At times, it these things are not that simple and straightforward. 

And before we begin, we recommend you do have a look at our recent post on all the things you need to keep in mind, before hiring an interior designer. You can find it here. Let us assure you, it is a good read :) But, getting back to the subject if pricing…. Here we go! 


In case you are in a rush... We've got a quick visual guide as well, which you can check from here.

But we do recommend reading through the content below :)

The Process of Starting an Interior Designing Project

Here’s a typical process followed when going for interior designing in India:

Approach an Interior Designer: Typically, we search for them online, you come to know about by word of mouth, friends and family, or even by some newspaper ads. You get in touch with them, arrange a meeting and proceed.

Meeting and Budget Discussion: Most of us have an estimate as to how much money are we comfortable in spending on the project. So, we understand what options are available within the budget.  

Get the Quotation - Negotiate - Begin: Depending on our budget, the designer would give us a quotation. We negotiate, and some more and the project begins.  

Didn’t it all sound so very simple! We are sure it did. But the crucial factor on what determines your budget and what negotiations is the interior designer willing to get into and on what basis the costs are being altered is something most of us do not know, are not interested in knowing. BIG MISTAKE! 

So, let us throw some light on it….

What Determines your Interior Designing Cost

There are two components that matter in this case, which are as follows:

1. Interior Designer’s fee:

The Interior designer is a professional so do expect to pay for his/her services. There are a number of ways in which your designer might charge you, the most popular 4 models are described below.

1. Flat fee

This type of model is often followed for one off consultation, where in you only want only the design ideas from them and not the entire project. This type of model is most used by designers who focus on a single service and give you the estimated time and cost involved for the project.

2. Per sq. ft of carpet area of your space

To begin with, the rates are from INR 40- 50 per sq. ft but might go up to a whopping INR 500+. Generally INR 100 per sq. ft is fairly an average range. Many interior designers follow the per sq. ft model when projects are executed by them as well.

3. Percent of total cost of project

This is most common model opted for, and it starts from anywhere around 8-10%. However, the designers who are highly experienced will charge at least 12-15% or above for their services. This is again followed when the interior designers look into the execution of the project.

4. No separate cost

In case of projects where everything is taken care of end-to-end by the interior designer, also known as turnkey projects, a designer may not ask separate fee for a service. Since the project includes all the services, the fee of the interior designer is also included in the project itself. This model is mostly seen in case of premium and luxury projects.

Now let’s look at the second component and the MOST important aspect which determines the overall cost of the project - The Actual Interiors!

2. Actual Cost of Interiors:

The choice of interiors you opt for and the ones that fit with your budget can be entirely different. There are a number of aspects involved in calculating the actual cost of interiors such as carpentry, paint, civil, electricals, etc. There is a separate cost structure for each aspect. 

Also, the choice of material which includes laminate, ply - quality of ply, PU, veneer, etc. also make a huge difference in the overall cost of the project. A variety of techniques may be deployed to achieve a certain design but eventually, it is the material choices that make all the difference. And, different materials have different pricing structures as well.

Get Interior Designing Cost Calculators Interior Design Tips, Guides to help you make Smart Choices for your Interiors & Decor without filling up your email inbox!

How are various components calculated?

All the components of the project will be priced differently. The furniture might be priced using a different method, the walls and floorings might be calculated by a different one. Here again, you will broadly find 2 ways in which the different components are charged.

1. Per Sq. Ft.

As a general rule of thumb you can assume that all the immovable components of your interior design project will be charged Per Sq. ft.  The typical components that are calculated on the basis of Per Sq. Ft. are - Modular kitchens, wardrobe, TV units, fixed beds,  fixed study tables, false ceilings, civil work, painting, electricals and wiring, etc.

2. Lump Sum

Generally all components, which can be moved are calculated on a lump sum bases. Few examples of such components are moveable furniture such as centre table, dining table, sofa sets, kid beds, etc. There are also a number of smaller components like side tables, chairs, small cabinets etc. which are typically charged lump sum.  

Although sofa and beds maybe charged as lump sum, the cost is still calculated on basis of the running feet and size - You can ask your interior designer for a break up for the same to understand the costing. But by and large you will be quoted a lump sum price for it. 

Even in case of lump sum, cost is broken down basis the materials used, quality of the product, type of upholstery, etc. Also, the kind of wood, the quality, plywoods, laminates etc. influence the cost.

How is Per Sq. Ft rate calculated?

The moment you come across the term 'Per Sq. Ft, chances are that you immediately make an association with the area of your home or office. However, in case of interiors, Per. Sq. Ft , it doesn't mean the same.  

When the components are priced in terms of Per Sq. Ft in respect to interior designing, it also take into account the areas of the walls and the ceiling that are to be used in the installation.  

An Example Calculating The Cost

Suppose you want to know the cost of a modular kitchen to be created in your home. All the components that are below the counter will be calculated on the basis the floor’s per sq. footage. The components such as cabinets, shutters and so on appearing above the counter will be based on the wall’s sq. footage. Same for TV units, Wardrobes etc. 


Similarly, if you want to calculate the cost of designing the living room, components that are to be fixed on walls such as TV units, bookshelf (if any) etc will be based on the sq. footage of the wall, rather than the floor.


So…. How to understand the quotations given to you?

Your interior designer will generally provide you with a quotation before beginning the project as an estimate of the money you'll need to spend on the project. This quotation is generally given in the form of a BOQ and you will be able to see all the components listed with the estimates of the cost they would incur, calculated on either per Sq. Ft. basis or total cost - lump sum basis.  

What is a BOQ? 

The full form of BOQ is Bill of Quantities. It is a list which consists of different components of your interior design project basis your expectations, budget and scope of work. In front of each item, its estimated total cost is mentioned. This serves as an estimate for your entire project.  

In order to understand everything in a better way, you are free to question about the things mentioned in the BOQ. A good interior designer will be willing to explain, each and every price component to you in detail. He/she would also tell you what determines the prices of the finished products, which components you can change to reduce the costs, etc.

An Example of Bill of Quantities

A typical bill of quantities will look something like the image given below:  


As mentioned before, once the Bill of Quantities is shared, you must negotiate and discuss with the designer wherever it is possible to make changes. However, do note - don’t compromise on quality over quantity. Once everything is in accordance with your preference and budget, the actual work can begin and you can watch your dream project unfold!

Things to Remember About the Bill of Quantities:

1. It is an Estimate, Not the Final Cost: 

A Bill of Quantities is an estimation of the costs of components, it is not the full and final cost model of your project. Hence, you must be prepared to witness certain ups and downs in your budget. Sometimes, a certain material could cost more than expected which would change the overall cost, or sometimes it won't be available and you'll have to look for an alternative, this alternative might cost more or less.

2. Modifications Affect Cost: 

In India, generally, a few things change after the project has begun. You might suddenly change your mind, or your designer might suggest something different, which he/she feels is better suited to a certain area of your home, than initially decided. This would change the costs. Hence, the final cost of the project can turn out to be different than what is expected.

3. Ask for Bifurcations Wherever You have a Doubt: 

You can freely ask for bifurcations of the components of projects. There are a number of components whose costs would be clubbed. For example, you need a dining table with 4 chairs - the overall cost would be clubbed together and shown as one component. Suppose in your BOQ, the cost is mentioned as follows:

Dining Table (4 Chairs) = Rs. 30,000

In this, you can freely ask your designer to explain or breakup the cost of each component - table, chair, the fabric used for the cushion of the chair, the table top, the varnish, etc. separately. Your satisfaction is important hence don't shy away from asking.

4. Changing Materials = Changing Overall Cost

You decided on a certain quality of plywood but your wife wants another, you decided for a wallpaper, but your wife prefers paint, there are many other instances such as these. In such cases the actual cost will be affected. It might go up, or it might come down, all depends on the kind of material. For instance Marine ply is expensive than a regular ply or having a wardrobe attached to a wall with ply inside can add to the cost, as compared to putting wallpapers on the walls which would form the inside of your wardrobe. If you feel you are going overboard with your budget, ask your designer on possible ways to reduce the cost without compromising much on the quality of work.  

A good designer will always suggest what’s best for you. Remember, for them a happy customer is a testimony to their great job!

Get Interior Designing Cost Calculators Interior Design Tips, Guides to help you make Smart Choices for your Interiors & Decor without filling up your email inbox!

We hope we were able to help you understand how the pricing of interiors work and make an informed choice.

And don't forget to take a look at our quick visual guide to help you understand the Interior Design pricing!