Hiring an interior designer used to seem like a luxury—something reserved for celebrities or royalty. But now there are many interior design services to cater to any budget. Interior designers can take the stress off busy homeowners who don’t have time to redecorate their new spaces. Or they can help apartment dwellers make the most of cramped quarters. Whatever a customer is looking for, interior design services are ready to meet their wants, needs, budget, and style. Before hunting for the best interior design services independently, shoppers can check out this guide to fast-track the search.
- BEST OVERALL: Havenly
- RUNNER-UP: Spacejoy
- BEST IN-PERSON SERVICES: Showhomes
- HONORABLE MENTION: roomLift
What to Consider When Choosing One of the Best Interior Design Services
Searching online for “best interior decorators near me” or “best interior designers near me” might return some promising results. Luckily, changing times and evolving technology make it easy for more designers to reach a wider audience, and customers can find the perfect fit to make their dreams a reality. Still, how is a customer supposed to vet a professional’s skills, credentials, and style? The following are the top factors to consider when hiring an interior design service.
Interior Designer vs. Interior Decorator
The terms “interior designer” and “interior decorator” are used interchangeably. However, these two titles aren’t quite the same. An interior designer has to go to school to get formal training from an accredited program to practice as a professional designer. Most states require interior designers to pass the NCIDQ (National Council for Interior Design Qualification) examination to show their proficiency in interior design. Because interior designers work with contractors, engineers, and architects, it’s imperative that they have a foundational understanding of building workings and materials. House decorators don’t require formal training and usually focus on aesthetically enhancing a space.
Online vs. In-Person Services
Customers typically have two options when considering interior design services: online and in-person services. These options vary in terms of cost, consultations, design process, and delivery.
In-person design services may charge between $50 and $200 per hour. A designer will go to a client’s home for a consultation, and the client will provide the designer with the budget. Once a plan has been agreed upon and the contract is signed, the designer will begin (sometimes with a team of other designers, assistants, or contractors, depending on the project) to transform the space. Since the designer will be working in the client’s home, there’s more room for ongoing communication and collaboration between the two.
Conversely, the best online design services are more hands-off, but they’re also more budget-friendly than in-person design services. Virtual interior design services will typically have clients fill out a questionnaire to gauge their needs and preferences, and the designer will return concept designs. The client and designer may have a revision process where they make any changes to the concept design. Then, once the client is satisfied, they’ll be able to implement the changes to the home themselves.
In-person interior design services can only serve a relatively limited number of clients. Since they typically perform in-home consultations, design services may set a 25- or 50-mile radius limit within which their clients must live.
On the other hand, online designers aren’t limited by location since the job is entirely remote. However, some online interior design services may require clients to be located within the contiguous United States. Potential clients will want to keep in mind that just because a service offers interior design online, this does not mean the company’s services are available to everyone.
Portfolios and Design Style
Whether customers choose an online or in-person design service, the key to making the partnership work is hiring someone compatible with a customer’s style and decor preferences. For instance, it may not be good for a customer to hire a designer whose specialty is midcentury modern when the customer’s ideal tastes are modern farmhouse. A customer can find out if a designer’s tastes align with their own by browsing their online portfolios. These portfolios will give a customer a glimpse into a designer’s previous work for other clients. Some famous designers may even have published one of the best interior design books that showcase their work. Designers’ Instagrams are also great resources, as many designers will use their social media as another digital portfolio.
One of the most significant issues a customer may face when securing an interior designer is availability. Many in-person design services may have multiple customers competing for limited availability, especially those that are the only design service in an area. Since this relationship is so hands-on, it could be weeks or even longer before the service can take on new clients. Online design services typically have more availability, but it’s not uncommon for a customer to wait 2 or 3 weeks before their preferred designer has an opening. Clients will also want to keep in mind that even when they hire a designer, they’re likely not the designer’s only client, and they will need to be flexible with the designer’s schedule.
When clients are working with in-person designers, the interior design consultation will usually consist of the designer visiting the client’s house and discussing their needs. The designer will also take measurements and photos. Consultations with an online design service generally start with a questionnaire about the types of stores the client shops at, their favorite colors and fabrics, and their preferred decor. The designer may request photos of the client’s home at this point. Then the designer and client will meet over the phone or on a video call to discuss the questionnaire answers in depth.
Design Delivery Time and Revisions
After the consultation, an interior design service will deliver concept designs to the client. The designer may only have one design, or they could provide two or three different designs. These designs may be actual drawings or 3D renderings, and it should be clear how long it will take after the consultation for the designer to provide the client with these designs. The turnaround time could be as short as 2 days or as long as a few weeks. Once the client receives the designs, the client and designer will work together on a revision process to make sure that the client is happy.
Interior designer costs are charged either as a flat fee or by the hour. Hourly charges could be around $50 to $200, and these can fluctuate up or down depending on the designer. With this pricing structure, however, a customer won’t know how much everything costs until the end of the project. A customer will have a good idea of how much the project will cost when a flat fee pricing structure is used because the designer will provide an estimate up front. However, there may be contingencies that could tack on more fees. Whatever the pricing structure, the client and designer will need to clearly communicate so there are no surprises when it comes time to pay the bill.
Another significant difference between online and in-person design services is the shopping process. Clients will generally give in-person designers a budget and the designer will go shopping with the client or do the shopping themselves. Online design services will provide clients with a shopping list once the concept design is finalized, but the client will be in charge of making the purchases themselves. Some online design services have their own shopping platforms with exclusive furniture. These online services may also have partnerships with and offer discounts for popular retailers.
Our Top Picks
For customers searching for “best interior designer near me” or a convenient online service, the following are some of the best choices available.
Why It Made the Cut: Havenly provides customers with a quick turnaround time and multiple ways for clients to communicate with their chosen designers, making it one of the web’s most popular interior design services.
Since 2014, Havenly has provided affordable online interior design packages. But Havenly also sets itself apart from other online design services with its in-person services available to customers in select markets across the U.S. Havenly designers can communicate with clients online, by text message, or by phone, so clients can choose the method of communication that’s most convenient. However, since there’s no central online FAQ section, customers may have to direct any questions to the company’s customer support team. Customers will want to keep in mind that only bedrooms and living rooms are eligible for the Online Full package.
Havenly’s in-depth designer profiles feature the designer’s name, location, design style, and portfolio so that customers can make the best decision for their needs. Havenly design concepts can even be delivered to clients in as little as 2 days. After solidifying the final design, the consultant will add all furniture and decor from the concept to the customer’s cart. The customer can review the items before checking out on the order.
Read more about Havenly’s services in our Bob Vila Havenly review.
- Online vs. in-person services: Online; in-person for select markets
- Consultation process: Online, text message, phone
- Pricing: $99 to $499 per room
- Design delivery: 2 days
- Quick 2-day design delivery time
- Consultations conveniently available online, by text message, or by phone
- In-person design services available in select markets
- Relatively affordable pricing per room
- In-depth designer profiles
- Kitchens and bathrooms not eligible for Online Full package
- No central online FAQ section
Why It Made the Cut: Spacejoy delivers custom, curated designs from professional designers in as little as 1 week.
Spacejoy has provided customers with online design services since 2019. The package prices range from $299 to $599 per room, so customers can choose a plan that best fits their needs and budget. After the initial consultation, designers return 3D renderings within 7 to 10 days; however, only customers who spring for the Euphoria package can get the 1-week timeline. After delivery, customers can request two to four revisions to the designs if they aren’t completely satisfied. Customers can shop directly from the site and find deals on products from popular retailers such as West Elm and Crate & Barrel. Spacejoy also offers customers a price-match guarantee: If customers find a piece of furniture available on Spacejoy’s website for a lower price on another site, Spacejoy will match that price. Spacejoy’s site features helpful resources like style quizzes, lookbooks, and design tips to help customers get inspired. These perks make Spacejoy a top choice for anyone looking to upgrade their space.
- Online vs. in-person services: Online
- Consultation process: Varies by package
- Pricing: $299 to $599 per room
- Design delivery: 7 to 10 days
- 3D, to-scale designs for all customers
- Price-match guarantee for furniture and decor
Why It Made the Cut: With multiple locations throughout the U.S., Showhomes makes in-person interior design services accessible to countless customers.
Since 1986, Showhomes has served the real estate industry by staging homes to help them sell. Now the company offers interior design services that help customers add value to their homes—whether they’re selling or not. Showhomes provides in-person services for a more hands-on, personal experience, although these services will be relatively limited in the service area. In-person services also mean more ongoing communication between the designer and client, and clients aren’t limited to one mode of communication. This is great for customers who prefer a more collaborative process between client and designer. Showhomes designers tend to favor traditional styles, but customers can visit a Showhomes location to determine if the service is the right fit.
- Online vs. in-person services: In-person
- Consultation process: In-person
- Pricing: Varies by project
- Design delivery: Varies by location
- Hands-on, collaborative interior design service
- Flexible communication and revisions process
- Relatively limited service area
- Limited design styles
Why It Made the Cut: roomLift is an online design service that delivers tangible design elements and concepts straight to customers.
For customers who adore the images they see on Pinterest but don’t have the time or resources to bring them to life, roomLift can help. The company encourages customers to send those Pinterest pins or Instagram screenshots to designers, who then translate the ideas, colors, textures, photos, and more into a customized design. Customers then receive a box in the mail with a floor plan, shopping list, paint and fabric swatches, and other elements to make visions a reality. Customers who don’t want to opt for the design box can also hire roomLift designers for consultation calls via phone or video call. While there’s a relatively long 2- to 3-week design delivery time and the website isn’t the most intuitive to use, roomLift’s unique offerings are worth considering for those interested in online design services.
- Online vs. in-person services: Online
- Consultation process: Varies by package
- Pricing: $100 to $1,500
- Design delivery: 2 to 3 weeks
- Box of design ideas and solutions mailed directly to customer
- Professional consultations available by phone or video call
- Relatively long 2- to 3-week design delivery time
- Somewhat user-unfriendly website
After looking at many interior design services, we chose Havenly as our Best Overall pick for its reasonable pricing, quick design delivery, detailed designer profiles, and in-person package. Spacejoy is our Runner-Up choice for its realistic 3D scale renderings and price-match guarantee.
How We Chose the Best Interior Design Services
When choosing the best interior design services, we looked for services that could cater to various customers in terms of style, delivery, and pricing. Online services are generally more affordable than in-person services, but they also can’t deliver the same level of engagement that an in-person service can. This led us to curate a mixture of in-person and online services. We appreciated companies with straightforward consultation processes and easy-to-navigate websites. We also prioritized interior design companies with high customer satisfaction ratings and positive reviews. These reviews did not sway the decision-making process but served as reinforcement for the services’ expertise.
Before You Hire One of the Best Interior Design Services
Although some people prefer not to hire an interior designer because they don’t see it as a worthwhile investment, this assumption could lead to costly problems in the future. For instance, those who attempt to design on their own may buy furniture that’s too big or too small for the space. This could mean having to purchase all new furniture. Also, the paint hue that may look beautiful under the light at a hardware store may look atrocious on the home’s walls with natural light that changes throughout the day. These are issues that a professional designer can help avoid.
Another problem is that DIYers may make structural changes without proper permits, leading to issues with selling the home. It is essential for customers to keep in mind that interior designers learn about the use of space and functionality, not just decor. They know what’s trending and what adds value. Interior designers also have access to insider discounts on contractor work and furniture, as well as the best design software for interior designers to perfect their designs. So before automatically ruling out hiring an interior designer, a customer will want to determine how much of a budget is necessary to hire one and if the renovation requires one. Hiring an interior designer may save more money in the long run than DIY-ing. And for those wanting to prep their house to put it on the market for sale, it may be a good idea to seek the help of one of the best home staging companies or the best virtual staging companies. Customers who are dedicated to DIY-ing can consider taking one of the best online interior design courses to hone their skills before renovating their own homes.
Before hiring a designer, it’s a good idea for customers to have a solid understanding of what they like and don’t like. Taking screenshots from social media and browsing some of the best interior design websites can help customers discern their preferences to clearly communicate with a designer.
Cost of Using One of the Best Interior Design Services
Interior design costs can range from $1,982 to $13,901 for in-person services, with many customers paying around $7,779. A customer’s location and the designer’s reputation are major cost drivers. A celebrity designer in Los Angeles, California, will cost much more than a local designer in Omaha, Nebraska. But cost doesn’t necessarily dictate quality, and it’s important for a customer to choose the design service that fits their needs, timeline, and budget. Online interior design services are generally more affordable, ranging anywhere from $99 to $1,500 per room, depending on the extent of the services.
The Advantages of Hiring One of the Best Interior Design Services
A huge advantage of hiring one of the best interior design services is their broader perspective on design projects. There is more to optimizing a space than coming up with a design using one of the best interior design apps. For instance, if a customer wants a home renovation, they may know the furniture to buy and the tools needed to renovate. However, an interior designer knows what colors, lighting solutions, and furniture spacing will work best. Interior design is much more than choosing pretty items; it’s about making sure all decor fits together seamlessly and that the space remains functional. An interior designer won’t have to resort to trial and error to achieve results; their training makes them qualified to know what makes sense for every room and house.
- Interior designers have access to tradespeople who can help design the space.
- They can translate a customer’s ideas into tangible results.
- Interior designers know which upgrades will yield the most return on investment.
- They may have access to cheaper resources because they network with contractors, furniture manufacturers, and more.
Hiring the best online interior design service or a well-regarded in-person service can take the stress off busy homeowners or guide indecisive customers. While this article has answered the question of which are the best interior design services, the following are some answers to additional questions customers may have about hiring an interior designer.
Q. How do interior designers charge?
Interior designers often charge a flat fee based on the project, but some charge an hourly rate.
Q. How can interior designers add value to my renovation?
Interior designers are knowledgeable about the current real estate market and trends, so they will be able to give clients advice about how to enhance their home to fit in with what’s popular. Interior designers can also shed light on which areas of the home will provide the maximum return on investment and which areas won’t.
Q. How do interior designers work with contractors?
Interior designers and contractors typically work hand in hand on renovations and remodels. On a renovation with minimal construction or structural work, the interior designer may lead as the project manager, ensuring that the project flows smoothly and stays within budget. However, a general contractor is probably the best person to oversee big remodels that require multiple subcontractors. The interior designer will begin working with the general contractor when appropriate.
Update 7/22: Modsy was honored with the “Best Shopping Experience” award in a previous version of this article. However, as of June 2022, Modsy’s design services have been discontinued.
Update 2/23: Decorist was honored with the “Runner-Up” award in a previous version of this article. However, as of October 2022, Decorist’s design services have been discontinued.