interior designer melbourne

How much does it cost to style or renovate?

In my ten years’ experience as an interior designer, I’ve learnt that money matters. All clients, even the richest ones, want to know how much does it cost to style or renovate? It could be the cost to style one or more rooms in their house or to renovate a room or the whole house.

The truth is there is no one answer. While researching for this article, I found a post that suggested to furnish a living room ranges in price from $10,000 – $73,000. This range is from an online interior styling site but that’s not my experience. So let me tell you how much some of clients spent on their interior style or interior design project.

Cost of interior styling

There are two types of projects: interior styling and interior design. Interior styling focuses on function and aesthetics. So how a space works, and how a space looks.

Let’s review an interior styling project for a living room, as a showcase space. On average the sofas I have specified for clients have ranged between $1000 to $5000. The reason why there is no one answer is because every client is different. Every space is different. Clients have different budgets and preferences in material, size, shape, country of manufacture, warranties and so on.

With one client they paid more for the coffee table than the sofa, because they wanted a statement piece. Another client who wanted a reclining sofa had side tables instead which are less expensive that coffee tables.

It’s my job as an interior designer to find the right piece, at the right price (within my client’s budget), in the right size and the right style. Which means I might find the bedhead for $1000 and bedside tables for $150.

Cost of trade work

In most interior styling projects there is what I call light trade work. That is painting the walls, changing the lighting plan or installing wallpaper. The cost of trade labour is a considerable cost in any project. As quality is important to the successful outcome of my interior styling projects, I use good quality trades people not the cheapest. I often say this to my client.

I communicate to clients that my preferred trades people are not the cheapest, but they do quality work, they communicate, and they have a solution mindset if anything goes wrong. If clients prefer to find their own trades that’s perfectly fine. In this instance I ensure to brief the trade on what the client wants to achieve the desired design.

In a nutshell here are my top tips on getting quotes from trades people;

  1. Don’t rush it, you may want to get the job done quickly but it’s worth taking the time to find the right person to do your job.  A trades person who responds professionally to your call, takes the time to understand the job and quotes in a timely manner.
  2. Never accept a quote over the phone.  This is especially true for larger jobs, I don’t think you can fully articulate the complete job over the phone and I don’t think the trades person can fully understand the full extent of the work without meeting you on site and seeing the project.
  3. Get quotes in writing.  This is important because it’s an opportunity to ensure the job is understood and confirmed before commencement.
  4. Seek WOM of mouth referrals.  It’s great to get good recommendations but these recommended professionals still need to respond in a timely manner, be professional, provide quotes in writing etc.  If they don’t, then look online for suitable trades people.
  5. Seek out at least 3 quotes to compare on price, inclusions, exclusions and terms & conditions.  You may have a price in mind or a budget and this may not be the going rate for completing your job.  Getting at least 3 quotes, gives you a realistic indication of how much you can expect to pay.

Bonus Tip

  • You get what you pay for.  You may receive 3 quotes and one is expensive, mid range and cheap.  Think twice about going for the cheapest option.  You want to select the best person for the job not the cheapest.  A trades person who will work cleanly, respect you and your property, answer your questions and provide a good level of customer service.

When seeking quotes, the biggest thing I’ve learnt is to give yourself time to find the right person at the right price and to review and compare your quotes carefully to avoid any nasty surprises after work has commenced. 

Cost of interior design

An interior design project consists of a structural element, as well as function and aesthetics. It can be a kitchen renovation or an extension. Let’s take a common project that has impact, because it’s an important space in the home, the kitchen.

The least expensive kitchen I’ve worked on cost the client approximately $30,000. My role in this project was to specify. The client had Ikea design the kitchen and found their own trades for things like electrical and plumbing work. But they assembled the cabinets themselves.

The most expensive kitchen I’ve worked on cost the client approximately $100,000. My role in this project was to design the layout and specify. A builder project managed. In this project the kitchen had a change in layout, increased in size and the materials used were expensive. For example, this client wanted a stone counter and splashback.

In both examples my fee differed. My fee is dependent on the size and scope of the project. So, while there is no one answer to the question how much does it cost to style or renovate, I advise my prospective clients on how much to budget for based on my extensive experience from a range of interior design and interior styling projects, working with a wide range of clients in various suburbs across Melbourne.