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Interior Designers and Decorators

In India, when building a new house or renovating an existing one, interior design can set apart a beautiful home from an ordinary one. Every home owner has his own ideas and preferences, whether it's a design style, the colour palette or the overall look. While one can design one's own home by putting together furniture, furnishings and accessories, hiring a professional is recommended to avoid small mistakes that can prove to be costly later. For instance, when designing a kitchen, installing the refrigerator too close to the stove might seem like an efficient way to utilize space but it would leave no counterspace for placing things once they are retrieved from the refrigerator. When professional interior designers plan layouts, they consider not only aesthetics but also practicality, which results in a room that is stunning and comfortable.

What's the difference between an interior designer and an interior decorator?

Although most homeowners use the term interior design and interior decoration as synonyms, there are certain differences between the two.

  • Interior designers plan spaces after understanding the function of the room, evaluating the structure of the area and keeping in mind the requirements of those who use the room. On the other hand, a decorator focuses only on the aesthetics of the room by furnishing it with furniture and décor accessories. 
  • An interior designer undergoes formal training and needs to obtain a licence to practise. Anyone can become an interior decorator as they don't need a licence to decorate homes. This means that while a designer can also decorate, a decorator cannot design unless they have the required licence.

How does one decide between consulting interior designers and decorators?

By evaluating the scope of the project, one can decide whether to hire a designer or a decorator. In general, for aesthetic makeovers, consulting an interior decorator will suffice. However, if one is considering a remodelling project that includes altering the structure or the layout of the room, then it's advisable to hire an interior designer. Additionally, if you feel more comfortable working with a professional who will supervise the project and ensure that it is completed as per expectations, then a designer might be a better choice. The budget also plays a role in deciding between the two. Since they are professionally trained, interior designers usually charge higher fees than decorators, so for a makeover project that doesn't require significant changes in the structure or planning of the room, hiring an interior decorator will be the economical option.

What are the pros and cons of hiring an interior designer?

As with working with any other type of professional, hiring an interior designer comes with advantages and disadvantages.

Pros:

  • Save costs: Most homeowners make mistakes when they decide to design their own homes by choosing the wrong material or on spending on accessories that don't look as good as they envisaged. The benefit of consulting an interior designer is that they have the knowledge and expertise to advise homeowners on the materials and items that are ideal for their home. As a result, less money is wasted.
  • No need for supervision: Once the project is assigned to the professional, the homeowner needn't spend time visiting the site and checking up on the status of the project. The interior design professional will undertake the task of supervising the contractors and suppliers to ensure that the project is completed within schedule and budget.
  • Optimise space: Since an interior professional is trained to evaluate the requirements of the client and design the house to make the most of the available area, the chances of space being wasted reduces considerably.
  • Good quality and finish: Professional interior designers have contacts with the best craftsmen and suppliers, bringing the assurance of the completed project meeting expectations.

Cons:

  • Additional costs towards the designer's fees: One of the disadvantages of hiring a professional is that one needs to pay their professional fees, which adds to the overall cost of the project.
  • More time is taken: Unlike a DIY project where the homeowner decides what to do, interior designers and decorators will spend some time to inspect the premises, brainstorm ideas and draw up the plans.

How should one decide whether to hire an interior designer or decorator?

Several factors should be considered before deciding to hire a professional. If the project is a minor makeover of a room, then a DIY approach can save time and money. However, if the project involves a complete refurbishment of the house with modern interior design elements, then consulting a professional is advisable to avoid making small mistakes that can add to the expenses involved in replacement or alterations.

The scope of the project and the level of skill required can influence the decision. For example, for decorating a kid's bedroom in an apartment in Mumbai, upgrading the furniture and furnishings can easily be done by the homeowner or with the help of an interior decorator. However, if it is a more intensive project that requires structural changes, such as completely renovating the interiors of an old bungalow in New Delhi, then the recommended solution is to work with an experienced interior architect or design professional.

How much do interior designers in India charge as fees?

There's no fixed formula for estimating the cost of the professional fees that Indian interior design professionals charge. The rates can vary based on several factors such as the city where the house is located, the reputation of the designer, the scope of the project and the size of the house. Designers in larger metropolises such as Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai charge more than those in tier 2 cities such as Pune or Kochi. 

The following are the different models that interior designers use to calculate their fees:

Flat fee for design consultancy

If the homeowner doesn't require supervision of the project and needs just the design, then the professional will charge a flat fee for design consulting. The service includes drawing initial sketches as well as the elevation, 2D and 3D drawings, which can be given to the contractors and subcontractors for executing the project. On an average, flat fees for interior design consultancy start from Rs.50,000.

Project cost plus service fees

In this model, the interior designer undertakes the design and execution of the project. Therefore, the client pays for the cost of the materials and labour as well as a flat service fee for the design consultancy. Depending on the size of the project, the cost can vary from Rs.30,000 to Rs.90,000.

Cost per square feet

Some designers charge a flat fee that is calculated based on the square footage of the project. The rate can vary between Rs.40 to Rs.400 per square feet. For example, for designing a small three-bedroom apartment of 1500 sq. ft. the fees can range from Rs.60,000 to Rs.6 lakhs depending on the scope of the project and the design complexity. 

Percentage of the project cost

A common model that interior designers use is a percentage of the total cost of the project. This can vary between 6% to 10%. For a project cost of Rs. 10 lakhs, the service fee for consulting can work out to around Rs.1 lakh.

Before hiring a design professional for the interiors, it's best to find out the model he uses so that it can be budgeted into the total spend.  

How to find an interior designer online

While one can search online to find hundreds of contacts for interior design professionals, it's not easy to evaluate their skills and reliability. It's always better to hire an interior designer from a reputable firm or one who is registered with a reputed portal. On homify, our interior designers and decorators' directory has listings of verified professionals, including photographs of their projects. Once you browse through the images and find a designer whose work you like, fill up the online contact request form to get a free quote from them.