You’ve either just closed a purchase on a home, or are ready to upgrade your existing dwellings. If you have no idea where to start on a home project, chances are, you’re better off handing this task over to the pros.
There are plenty of decision-making points in the home upgrade process that only a seasoned professional can confidently provide answers to. If you’d rather have someone else take over the job, then go ahead and find the interior designer who can help bring your dream home to life.
But know that interior design services, even in the Philippines, may come at a luxury price.
Does “budget” interior design service even exist?
One reason why interior design services in the Philippines—actually, all over the world—are considered a luxury service, is mainly because it does not necessarily satisfy a basic need.
Also, home projects tend to be the most difficult to manage, as there are so many things to consider, so many moving parts, so many items to check off a never-ending list.
Interior design professionals—from stylists and decorators to licensed designers and interior architects—all offer a highly specialized service, which is why it is placed at a premium. But that is not the only reason why their fees tend to be on the higher end.
The best interior designers are the ones who not only have the credentials to back them up, but also a seasoned team behind them, as well as iron-clad, standard operating procedures (SOPs) that enable them to execute multiple renovation projects at a time.
They may use full-scale project management tools that enable them to manage projects that require the keenest eyes for detail. (There is a reason why a lot of homeowners who take on their own remodel projects find it so difficult or make so many mistakes on the job site: Managing your own design and renovation project requires a lot of design know-how and a lot of Type-A attention to detail.)
Designers also have an established network of connections to tried-and-tested tradespeople, custom furniture and cabinet makers, interior specialists and experts that they have worked with.
They often have a full team of junior and senior designers, assistants, contractors, as well as architects and engineers at their disposal. This ensures their projects are up to code, or follow the strict standards set by the industry.
Many designers may have two- to four-year certifications, college degrees, or a Philippine government-registered license to show they have the expertise and authority in this highly specialized field.
Within my network alone, there are countless competent solo designers who’ve established their own studios (check out my Following list on my Instagram account; I follow many of them!). Oftentimes, we end up working together, whether to provide specific design services to each other, or to refer each other when we can no longer accept work due to our workloads.
That said, there are very popular interior decorators and stylists who have proven their mettle in the industry, as can be seen in their published work and extensive portfolios.
In the international arena, you’ll hear of these famous (and famously) self-taught designers like Nate Berkus, Jonathan Adler, and Shea McGee of Studio McGee (from Netflix’s Dream Home Makeover). In the Philippines, one of the most popular home and decorating influencers on YouTube is Elle Uy.
Apart from their inherent talent in design, these professionals have worked hard to solidify their businesses to follow the most stringent SOPs, employ a full team behind them, and have a tightly run ship, so to speak, in order to take on their high-profile projects.
In the eDesign sphere where my team and I now focus our efforts, you may also find other eDesigners and interior decorators, like husband-and-wife tandem Joanna and Nico of Okana Creative Studio. In fact, thanks to the pandemic, more and more interior designers have started offering eDesign, or online interior design services.
In a way, you could say this is your “budget” design service, though I use that term very loosely. This is because the aspect of managing your renovation project is removed, among other features of a full-scale interior design service.
But I have to admit that eDesign is not dirt-cheap. The same amount of design work and effort still go into an eDesigner’s work as full-fledged interior design studios. To see our rates, I highly recommend downloading our Gal at Home eDesign Experience brochure below.
How much are interior design services in the Philippines?
Interior designers and firms in the Philippines offer a variety of service types that span different investment ranges.
Onsite design consultations
If you’re looking for consultation-only type of service, many interior designers offer this at an hourly rate—anywhere from PhP500 to PhP5,000. Normally, designers can do onsite consultations without requiring to add transportation, accommodation, and per-diem meal fees, if these are done within the same locality.
However, if you require onsite consultations in different regions (or even countries), prepare to add those charges mentioned above, or ask with the designer how much these additional fees will cost. The rates for these vary from designer to designer, if they are bringing a team with them, and where the site is located.
At Gal at Home, we only include onsite consultations as an add-on to our eDesign services—but for Metro Manila sites only, where we are based. If clients prefer that we take down measurements of their space, or need us to look at the condition of their homes, we charge an additional onsite visit fee. We do, however, offer online design consultations on the regular.
Online design consultations
Our online consultations is one of our more popular services, and can be availed regardless of location and even time zone. Many solo interior designers and large-scale firms also now offer online consultations as part of their menu of services.
This is particularly great if you just need to discuss your needs with a pro, and can write down advice. Some may just charge for a 60- to 90-minute session held over Zoom or Google Meet, while others may include post-consultation notes and recommendations.
The rates for this service also vary from designer to designer—from P1,500 to 5,000. Seasoned design firms may charge more. For Gal at Home’s online design consults, the hourly fee is PhP3,000, and may be booked any time through this link. To find out how our online design consults go, check out this blog post.
If you are looking for a free design consult, know that this isn’t really the norm. Just like doctor’s appointments, consultations are paid services for a highly specialized need.
But we do offer free, 15-minute discovery calls, which is what we send to inquiries about our services. This lets you know if our services are a good fit for your needs. Many designers offer this as well. Book your free, 15-minute call with us here.
From eDesign to full-service ID offers
[Before answering this question, I must point out that this article does not include rates for other design professionals, such as architects, industrial designers, furniture designers, engineers, and general contractors.]
In the Philippines, interior designers usually set their prices on a per-square meter basis. It almost always depends on the scope of work required—whether they provide design concept-only offers, sourcing/shopping/interior styling only, or provide full-scale design and build services.
Concept-only services may be as affordable as PhP500 per sqm (see our eDesign services as an example), and can go up to as much as PhP2,500 per sqm, depending on the designer.
Starting interior designers or decorators (freshly graduated or just recently entered the industry) may cost their rates at PhP1,000 to PhP1,500 per square meter.
This goes up the more seasoned the designer is, with the higher-end and ultra-luxury market ID firms asking for as much as PhP10,000 per square meter. (When we offered our Remodel service, we charged PhP3,000 to PhP5,000 per square meter). Per-sqm rates for bigger spaces—say 300sqm up—of course tend to go lower, like PhP1,000 to PhP1,500.
For full-scale design-and-build services, it depends on the experience of the designer. There may also be additional fees, like white glove service, interior styling and installation, and a separate fee for construction/renovation project management. Some firms also require a minimum, so as to cover all aspects of operations and business overhead. Our minimum for all projects is 50sqm. Some firms have a 75sqm minimum.
Take a look as well at designers’ portfolios. Design fees tend to go up the more projects they have, the more specific their design styles are, and the more high-profile their clients are.
Why should you invest in an interior designer?
It’s easy to declare that you’d rather DIY so that you can save on costs. But many DIYers will say that one will need to exert an incredible amount of effort just to pull your home project off. (Though if you do insist on doing it yourself, you can take a look at our Space-Planning Blueprint program to guide you throughout the process.)
If you don’t have the time or energy—and most importantly, the confidence and know-how—to do things on your own, then investing in an interior designer’s services is well-worth the cost.
You won’t need to make the important decisions blindly.
When you embark on a home project, you’ll find that all the tradespeople will be looking to YOU to make certain decisions. You may find yourself bombarded with questions like,
- “Where do we place these light fixtures? How low do you want to hang them?”
- “Do you want to move this wall somewhere else? Doing so may require moving some of the plumbing, will you be okay with that?”
- “The closet may need to be reduced in size due to the lack of space in this area. Are you okay with a below-standard size closet?”
- “We can’t move this column as it is load-bearing. How do you want to proceed?”
When you have interior designers in your team, they will be able to either answer these questions outright for you, or guide you into making the right decisions.
You won’t have to trouble yourself with sourcing furniture or accessories that fit into your preferred style or look.
You may already know how much time it will take to go out and find the perfect furniture pieces, home accessories, and soft furnishings for your space.
Even when you do enjoy this task, there are still so many other things you need to consider.
Will this sofa go with that armchair and rug? Should you go with curtains or roll ups in the bedroom? Will this bed fit in that room? Will you still have space to put an armoire and vanity desk in there? Will all the pieces look good together? Or will they just end up making your room look smaller?
We’re not yet even considering how much time and energy one requires to go through all the showrooms just to find the perfect piece for your space.
When you consult with an interior designer, they will be able to streamline your choices to only the showrooms worth checking out, because they’ve already validated the information you share with them.
By knowing your lifestyle and what styles you are partial to, they can direct you to particular brands or to-the-trade vendors that fit your preferences. (With our eDesign service, we provide a list of actual furniture pieces, decor, and accessories you can purchase, removing the guesswork on your part.)
You won’t have to vet tradespeople on your own.
Experienced interior designers already have a network of their go-to tradespeople for every kind of interior design task or material you will ever need. From carpenters to plumbers, electricians to painters, muralists to wallpaper installers, framers to stone cutters, window installers to custom cabinet makers—you name it, they’ve got it.
While it’s great to be able to have your own choices, researching also takes time and effort. And vetting these options can be tiring too.
Interior designers may provide you with several options for each trade that your project may need, as these all exist within their expansive networks. All you have to do is choose the best bid and company for your needs.
Interior designers are well-worth the investment.
While hiring an established design professional can be costly, the benefits you will receive are indeed worth the price you will need to fork out.
In fact, hiring designers may end up helping you to stay within your overall budget, as they will enable you to make smart decisions that could avoid those costly mistakes. It is not just money that you are spending with every interior design project; but also time and effort.
Ready to start your home project with a designer? If you need full-scale interior design service (from design concepts down to construction/renovation project management to interior styling,) check out the designers we mentioned above.
If you are good with concepts-only and can execute these designs on your own or with your preferred trades, take a look at our eDesign services. Better yet, download our complete Gal at Home eDesign Experience brochure in the button below.