• Towner & Partners

How to get the most from your interior design fee


The profession of interior design seems daunting to many. What does an interior designer really do?

Why should I pay fees to have my interior space designed? Does interior decorator performs the same tasks as the interior designer?


These are just a hybrid of questions in the minds of MANY property users, this is not surprise as the public really does not have a lot of information to warrant the reasons why an interior designer needs to be hired and a fee paid to do a floor plan of the space. The truth is an interior designer does more than a floor plan and the work of an interior decorator. This is what interior designers really do:

As required by the ASSOICATION OF REGISTERED INTERIOR DESIGNER OF ONTARIO (ARIDO), a registered interior designer must have met the educational requirement of a bachelor degree (4 or 5 years) from an interior design program accredited by CIDA, and must completed 3,520 hours of internship and passed all three parts of the North American National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam. There is no such requirement of an Interior Decorator.

The education and knowledge base of an interior designer consist of the study of-:

Design Principle - Space Planning

Color theory


Construction Technology


Building Code - Fire and Life Safety

Universal Design (Barrier-Free and Accessibility Design)

History - History of Architecture, Fine Arts and Interior Design

Electrical - Electrical Power and Data Communication

HVAC - Heating, Ventilation and Air-Conditioning System

Plumbing - Waste and Water Supply and Discharge System

Lighting - Fixture, Switching, Lighting Output and Lighting Control Device

Testing - Testing Standards and Methods of Finishes

Material - Selection, Specification and Testing

Millwork - Custom-designed Architectural Woodwork and Millwork

Furniture - Custom-designed and Selection of Furniture

Doors - Custom-designed and Factory-made Door Assembly

Consultants - Co-ordination of Architect, Engineer, Lighting Consultant, Acoustic Consultant

Security Consultant and others

Bidding - Assist Client in Bidding Process, Evaluation of Bids and Bond Assurance

Specification - Creation of Specification on Finishes, Site Management by Contractor

Construction - Project Administration of Time, Budget and Design Compliance

Contracts - Contract Administration of Consultants, Architect, Engineer, Contractor

and Vendors

Furniture/ - Selection, Speciation, Procurement and Quality Evaluation

Fixture/ -

Equipment –

F F & E

The list goes on……………….The good news is --- not all projects entail this extensive scope.

This wealth of knowledge is deployed when designing your interior space and managing the performance of the contractor in building it. The final output of a design project is a buildable design that delivers a concept, a lifestyle, return-on-investment or any other directives in your design brief.

The outcome is achieved by the assimilation of all aspects of the interior design knowledge base to transform a nude space into an aesthetically pleasant, emotionally provoking and functionally workable holistic space.


As interior design is of such a broad scope, in the pursuit to utilize design fee budget to the fullest, clients should begin the project with a clearly defined design service scope, the desired design outcome,

a realistic budget and sufficient background information. Such as measured floor plan of the space, re-use furniture and article photos and dimensions, design style preference and material choices. This will help to cut down drastically on time spent on the programming stage of a project.

Having a clear and directional design brief at the outset will steer the design toward desirable outcome

as well as minimizing wasteful hours spent provides savings on fees.