Getting Paid Fairly

Design Industry Consultant Lloyd Princeton Gives Tips and Advice
How Designers Can Get Paid What They're Worth

In your seminars, you often address the idea of pricing. What is it that interior designers need to know and why does it come up so often?

The reason why it comes up so often is that pricing for artistic work is not a science and often involves qualitative elements. There are many factors that can go into a price including experience of the designer, level of difficulty of the project, rapport with the clients, whether there is competition and mostly the negotiating skills of both parties. The most important thing to emphasize is the negotiation and that it is often necessary to do so in order to get the highest profitability from a project. Clients inherently want to save money and designers seem to take this as a reflection on their worth, their desirability. It isn’t personal, it’s just business.

What are some of the biggest mistakes designers make when it comes to pricing?

Designers tend to undercharge for their services and fail to fully outline a scope of services. What they end up doing is resigning themselves to an open-ended project for fees that amount to indentured servitude. Then they exacerbate the situation by not renegotiating at some point in time, feeling that they have no way out. Everything can be negotiated at any time.

What is the biggest financial challenge designers face?

Managing overhead against expenses. Frequently, they will obtain office space and staff without having the contracts to substantiate or maintain the business. Once this happens, deficits are not uncommon. I have met many independent designers lately who are interested in working for someone else, no longer interested in the hassles of managing a business.

Why do you encourage designers not to concentrate on hourly?

I encourage designers to focus on fixed design fees with a set scope of services so that they can include a premium for their time without being tied into a set number of hours. Designers are fast and they cannot make enough if they charge by the hour. Plus clients tend to watch the clock and get nervous at the thought of a ‘decorator’ out leisurely shopping on their dime.

In what areas of their business can designers make the most money?

They can make the most money through a combination of design fee for creative work and commission on implementation.

Lloyd Princeton is president and CEO of Design Management Company. He is an international management consultant and professional development speaker to the design trade. Princeton is also 2007/2009 Communications Director and Newsletter Editor for the American Society of Interior Designers/Los Angeles Chapter.

For more information:

Lloyd Princeton

T: (310) 697-7700


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Courtesy of By Sara Gallop/ Design Trade Magazine


  1. I agree! Use a combination of design fees according to the client's needs. Keep in mind that each job may require different needs and wants from each other. Spell it out! If you are real fast then it is hard just to make it on hourly fee alone.
    The Designer Insider

  2. Anonymous02 June, 2024

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