One of the most common questions we get is regarding how much interior decorators make. It’s not surprising really, since nearly every reader of our blog is either someone looking for an Interior Decorating course, or someone starting their career in this industry.
In this article, we’ll look at the factors influencing how much interior decorators’ earn, and also try our best to explain our own research on how much interior decorators make.
Let’s start by taking a look at what affects how much interior decorators make…
Factors that influence your earning potential
Location is a significant factor in determining the earnings of an interior decorator.
For example, our researchers have found two very similar interior decorating roles on job listing site Indeed.com – one in San Francisco and one in Rochester. The salary offered for the San Francisco job was 23% higher than the Rochester job.
There will be differences in the jobs such as tasks involved and level of responsibility, but it is just one example of dozens where location plays an important role in determining how much an interior decorator makes.
Here are some of the key ways that location can impact the earnings of interior decorators:
Demand for Services: The need for interior decorating services differs depending on where you live. Interior decorators will earn higher wages for their work in regions with a high demand for their services, such as large cities.
In locations with lower demand, interior decorators may need to cut their fees.
For readers in the United States, this pattern generally follows the cost of living data from each state.
California (Cost of Living Index: 142.2) is a high-cost-of-living state and can tolerate higher prices for interior decorating services.
Kansas (Cost of Living Index: 86.5), on the other hand, is a lower-cost-of-living state, so typically their interior decorating prices (and therefore salaries for interior decorating professionals) will be lower.
Competition: The competition among interior decorators will also differ depending on the region.
Competition for employment can be fierce in locations with a high concentration of interior decorators, making it difficult to stand out and command higher fees.
Conversely, there may be less competition in places with a lower concentration of interior decorators, allowing individual decorators to demand higher fees.
Regional Differences: Different regions may also experience a different demand for interior decorating services.
For example, interior decorators who specialize in rustic, country-style designs may have a higher need in rural areas than in large cities. Whereas interior decorators who specialize in modern, contemporary designs may be in higher demand in the city.
Like many professions, interior decorators earn more as they gain experience and build a reputation for their work.
A seasoned interior decorator with years of experience and a strong portfolio may command higher fees than a new decorator.
Our research shows that job adverts for Senior Interior Decorators within the United States (with 5+ years experience) have salary ranges 15 – 32% higher than more junior roles.
Here are some of the key ways that experience can impact the earnings of interior decorators:
Skill Development: As interior decorators gain experience, they develop a broader range of skills, making them more in demand and charging higher fees for their services.
Reputation: Interior decorators with experience can also establish a reputation for their work, influencing their earning potential.
Compared to a decorator who is relatively unknown, an interior decorator with a solid portfolio and a positive reputation may typically command higher fees.
Confidence: Experience can also inspire confidence, which can affect their earning potential, instead of a less experienced decorator who is still learning the ropes.
A professional interior decorator who is confident in their talents and has a strong understanding of their trade may be able to charge higher fees for their services.
Type of Project
The type of interior decorating a decorator specializes in might also affect their earnings.
A designer who specializes in luxury residences will earn more than a decorator who works on smaller, cost-effective projects.
Here are some of the primary ways that type of project might influence interior decorators’ earnings:
Project Size and Complexity: The size and complexity of a project can impact the earning potential of interior decorators. For example, a large residential project may require more time and expertise than a single-room project and therefore command a higher fee. Similarly, a complex commercial project, such as a hotel may require more specialized skills and therefore command a higher fee than a smaller, less complex commercial project.
Custom vs. Production Work: Interior decorators may also earn different fees depending on whether they are engaged in custom or production work. Custom interior decorating projects are typically one-of-a-kind projects tailored to a client’s specific needs and preferences. At the same time, production work involves the mass production of standard design elements, such as furniture or textiles. As a result, custom work is often more time-consuming, requires a higher level of expertise, and may command a higher fee.
Commercial vs. Residential Work: The type of work that interior decorators engage in, whether commercial or residential, can also impact their earning potential. Commercial interior decorating projects, such as offices, often require higher expertise and may command higher fees than residential interior design projects.
The business model that an interior decorator uses can also impact their earnings. Some interior decorators work as employees for large design firms, while others work freelance and run their own interior decorating businesses.
Freelance interior decorators can set their rates and take on as many or as few projects as they choose. Still, they may also be subject to fluctuations in work volume and must cover their business expenses.
Here are some of the key ways that business models can impact the earnings of interior decorators:
- Self-Employment vs. Employment: Interior decorators can choose to work as self-employed or as employees of a design company. Self-employed interior decorators may have more control over their earnings as they can set their fees and take on as much work as they choose. Interior decorators who work as employees may receive a regular salary, benefits, and job security, but they may have limited control over their earnings.
- Commission-Based vs. Hourly Rates: Interior decorators may work on a commission basis or charge hourly rates for their services. Commission-based models can be more lucrative for interior decorators as they may earn a percentage of the total project cost. On the other hand, hourly rate models provide a more stable and predictable income, but they may earn less than they would on a commission basis.
- Retail vs. Design Services: Interior decorators may choose to work in a retail setting, selling products such as furniture or textiles. Retail-based businesses offer the opportunity for interior decorators to earn additional income through product sales. Service-based businesses allow interior decorators to focus solely on their design expertise and may offer higher earning potential for their services.
A decorator’s reputation can also play a role in their earnings. A decorator who is well-known for their creativity, quality of work, and attention to detail may command higher fees than a decorator who is relatively unknown or has a less established reputation.
Here are some of the key ways that reputation can impact the earnings of interior decorators:
- Word-of-Mouth Recommendations: A positive reputation and satisfied client base can lead to word-of-mouth recommendations and referrals, increasing the volume of work for interior decorators and their earning potential.
- Professional Recognition: Professional recognition, such as awards, publications, or speaking engagements, can help to establish the reputation of interior decorators and increase their earning potential. This recognition can demonstrate the expertise and success of interior decorators and make them more attractive to potential clients.
- Repeat Business: A positive reputation can also lead to repeat business from satisfied clients, which can provide a stable and recurring source of income for interior decorators.
So, How Much Do Interior Decorators Make?
The average annual income for interior decorators is approximately $61,000, based on data from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
However, this is an average figure and needs to consider the above factors, such as location, expertise, type of job, and business strategy.
Based on these factors, interior decorators earn anywhere from $30,000 to $100,000 per year. Some high-end interior decorators with many years of experience who work on luxury residences may make even more.
The earnings of interior decorators can vary greatly depending on several factors, making it difficult to provide a one-size-fits-all answer to how much they earn. However, with their creative skills and technical knowledge, interior decorators can earn a comfortable living and find great satisfaction in transforming spaces into beautiful and functional environments.
A career as an interior decorator can be incredibly fulfilling for those passionate about interiors that have a natural flair for creating visually appealing spaces. It offers the chance to bring your creativity to life, be your own boss, and earn a comfortable living while doing what you love.