Hiring a Decorator on a Budget

Decorator workbench with home plan on wooden table top
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When you're looking to update your home's decor, you may need just a little help to pull a room or a project together. Though interior decorators were once considered a privilege of the rich, hiring a professional can be affordable and may even help save money in the long run. Here are some tips to help you get the most for your money when working with a pro.​


Don't show up at your first meeting empty-handed. Before you begin contacting decorators, gather colors, measurements, fabrics, carpets, and pictures of things that you like. Doing some initial research will save valuable time (and money) and allow your decorator to concentrate on how to bring your vision to life.

Communicate Your Budget

It's important that you're upfront and realistic about your budget. Decorators understand that not everyone has a lot of money for elaborate redesigns. Many will do their best to work with what you have.

Be truthful and specific about what you expect and how much you have to spend. The decorator should let you know if they can meet your expectations within your budget. Be wary of anyone that promises you the moon because they probably can't deliver it.

Use Your Network

You may know a neighbor, family member, or friend who is a decorator. By all means, call them first for a consultation. They might have a good idea of your style and how your family functions within your home, so a little insider knowledge can't hurt.

No matter how close you are to the person, interview them as you would any potential decorator. Never assume that they will work for free or even cheap, but if they offer a discount, it might work out very well.

Students or Interns

Many students and interns are looking for real-world experience. Contacting a local college that has an interior design program can be a good route to go.

Interior design or decorating students may work for free or at greatly reduced rates, and interns are often eager to please and showcase their talents. Again, interview the student as you would interview a pro to make sure your styles mesh. If the relationship works, they build their portfolio and you get great savings—a home run for both of you!

Design Centers

Home Depot, IKEA, furniture stores, and other retail outlets have experts on staff that will help you incorporate their products into your design. Their services are often free, though the products are not. Yet, many times these staff members can authorize discounts or know of upcoming sales that will help you stay within your budget.

Ask For a General Plan

Rather than having a decorator take care of everything, you can request that they put together a general plan for you to work with. Many decorators can provide a room layout or color scheme in only a few hours. If your budget allows, they can provide a more detailed plan.

You'll have to do the rest of the work, like painting, picture hanging, reupholstering, etc. However, with a great plan, half of the work is done and you'll be well on your way toward your end result.