Written By: Jessica Martinez

Contributing Designer: Allison Detmer

The honest answer is – it depends. Design costs can vary widely, and the amount you end up paying will depend on a number of different factors. Allison Detmer, design director of ID.ology Interiors & Design, helps empower homeowners by shedding light on this surprisingly complex topic.


“Design rates tend to follow real estate prices in any given market,” says Allison. “You’ll pay less in Asheville, where we’re based, than you would in New York, Miami, or L.A., where home prices are much higher. It’s all about what the market will bear.”


Allison notes that within any given market, the cost range for design services can be quite wide. “Here in Asheville, you can expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $250 per hour. The difference is in the designer. On the highest-priced end of the spectrum you have a large firm with an established reputation, lots of experience, and lots of buying power. On the lowest end you have a one-person operation with little overhead and limited experience. Then you have a whole spectrum in between.”


“A big factor that drives costs up is scope of work, meaning the size and extent of a project. It really works in the opposite way of what you might think. Designers often charge more per hour for a smaller job to make it worth their time, effort, and resources; and offer lower rates for larger jobs where they have committed themselves to numerous hours of work.

“Another factor that influences cost is buying power. A large firm that’s well-connected to retailers can buy furniture at wholesale prices and pass those savings on to you. A smaller firm with less buying power might charge less per hour, but you could end up paying far higher prices for furniture and accessories.”


Allison suggests that the best way to keep design costs down is to make a careful assessment of your needs. “Consult with a designer to figure out everything the project will entail. Then think carefully about which things you really need help with and which things you can do on your own.”

Another way to keep costs down is to make thoughtful decisions about furniture and appliances. “A well-connected, knowledgeable designer can really help you with this,” notes Allison. “Designers are familiar with manufacturers, retailers, and pricing. They’ll often know how you can get the exact item you want for a lesser price. It also helps if you’re not tied to a brand name or specific piece. If you’re flexible, a good designer can get you the aesthetic and function you want for less money.”


“We are a larger firm, and we’re continuously growing,” says Allison. “in fact, we’ve almost doubled in size in the past year. In our local market, we fall somewhere between middle and high when it comes to price range. We’re not the most expensive, and we’re not the least expensive. We know we’re not a right fit for every budget, and not every project is right for our firm. If we can’t help a prospective client, we’re happy to refer them to someone who can. We’re committed to ensuring that prospective clients find what they’re looking for at a price they can afford.”

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