Interior designer : the guide to choosing your architect better

Architecte intérieur en train de concevoir les plans destinés à la rénovation d'un bien

Whether you're working on a single room, an entire house, or have a commercial project in mind, the right interior architect can help you achieve the best possible result. Crafting an optimal layout and selecting materials, colors, fixtures, and lighting are crucial for project success, but so are project management skills, budgeting abilities, and technical knowledge of the interior architect.

Choosing an interior architect is a daunting task. You want everything to be perfect. After all, you'll have to live with the results for a long time, so there's no room for error. That being said, it's up to you to find the right person or company for the job, and to do so, you need to follow a series of steps. That's why some key considerations before engaging their services have been gathered to help you make the right decision.

Interior Architect Missions

An interior architect designs the interiors of buildings and space planning, while an interior decorator focuses on furnishing and decorating the interior. However, interior architecture is a much more significant task than simply making a building aesthetically pleasing. In a construction project, the interior architect must strike a balance between aesthetic and practical aspects (functional and environmental). Interior decoration focuses solely on the aesthetics and furnishing of the interior.

Interior architects must consider the functionality, safety, and appearance of the building. This requires a lot of skills and thorough thinking throughout the design process. Interior architects have specialized training to accomplish these tasks, usually acquired through obtaining degrees and certifications specialized in their field.

How to Decide Whether to Hire an Interior Architect or Not?

If you've recently moved into a new house, you may have considered hiring an interior architect. But the idea of hiring one can be intimidating for some people. Perhaps you feel like your budget isn't high enough. Or that you'll end up working with someone who won't understand your vision or style. Here are some tips to know when you should work with an interior architect and when it's better to tackle your project on your own.

You should work with an interior architect when moving into a new house.

Moving into a new house can be overwhelming. An interior architect can help you improve general elements that need updating, such as paint colors, lighting, window treatments, and floor plans. You can also enlist their services to help you choose which pieces from your old house to keep and their ideal placement, as well as any new pieces needed to fill the space in a coherent and beautiful way that aligns with your tastes and how you want to use your space.

You should hire an architect for major renovation projects.

There are so many details to consider in a major renovation, and it would be best to enlist the help of an interior architect to guide you through your renovation project.

You should work with a designer architect for medium-level renovations.

You may not be gutting your kitchen or bathroom, but you're doing much more than buying furniture. For example, you may be installing a new countertop, choosing new cabinets, or appliances. An interior architect has a wealth of resources.

You shouldn't work with a designer if you want everything done in one day.

Is your goal to move into a perfectly finished house? Postpone your move-in date or reassess your plans. Good design takes time. Not only the choice of items, but also shipping and customizations can take weeks or even months. Issues beyond the architect's control may arise, such as items being damaged during the shipping process, delays from overseas suppliers, ...

If you want to move into a new place with little flexibility and have everything perfectly set up and finished, this won't happen if you hire an interior architect. It's probably best to go to a store that sells room sets and offers free lamps and an end table. Of course, it won't be as pretty or have the touch of an architect, but you'll have a comfortable place to sit. You can also rent furniture and take your time deciding what you really want.

How Much Does an Interior Architect Cost?

Whether they charge by the hour or a flat rate, interior architects calculate their prices in various ways. Some consider the project's size, while others apply a percentage commission on the total cost. Regardless, it's good to start by exploring the different options.

Hourly Rates of Interior Architects

This is probably the simplest way to pay interior architects. Hourly rates for interior architects can range between 80 and 200 euros or more per hour. This fee structure is ideal for small projects with limited timeframes. The hourly cost takes into account travel time, visits to your space, time spent on purchases, email or phone conversations, or other hours indirectly dedicated to your space. However, it does not include furniture or materials.

Flat Fee for Interior Redesign and Decoration

Depending on the size and needs of your project, some interior architects offer a flat fee for their services. The interior architect's contract and quote clearly state what is included in this fee, as well as the number of possible revisions and the contract expiration date (project completion date). Interior architect costs are often based on a flat fee structure because it is easier to estimate the necessary work when there are no architectural needs.

Monthly Fees for Interior Architects

In this arrangement, the price for interior design is an agreed amount paid in advance each month before the work is done. It is important to establish a clear contract about the architect's expectations (services, communication, schedules, etc.).


Instead of an hourly rate, some interior architects purchase your furniture, decor, and other supplies at a discounted price and then charge you the retail price, keeping the difference for their fees. Others charge a markup as a tip (usually 15%) and keep a percentage of the total cost of your furniture and supplies. Either way, it is good to obtain copies of purchase receipts to confirm the amount paid. It is also helpful to get cost estimates from the interior architect for this method to ensure that your budget is adhered to.


With a total budget in mind (construction, materials, etc.), it is also possible to calculate the price of interior design. Interior architect fees are calculated by multiplying by a percentage of the total cost (from 10 to 15%).

Interior Architect vs. HMONP Architect

What are the major differences between these two professions :


      • Their area of expertise: An HMONP architect is trained to build a structure that adheres to certain codes, rules, and measurements while ensuring the building is functional. The interior architect, on the other hand, focuses on creating appealing interiors that suit the occupants.

      • The basic requirements they focus on: Architects focus on more technical aspects like a building's shape, orientation, materials, etc. An interior architect focuses more on aspects such as human desires and needs, space functionality, and aesthetics.

      • When should you approach both? It depends on the needs. If you have a ready structure and need to decorate the interiors, then you should hire an interior architect. Conversely, if you have an empty plot and need to build a building from scratch or renovate it, you should hire an architect with an HMONP title. Therefore, for a new house, you will need both professionals, one at the beginning, and the other once construction is completed.

      • Fees: The fees charged by both professionals are relative. Some charge a percentage of the project's value, while others charge a flat fee. It also depends on the size, value, and type of project. Fees can range between 6 and 15% for both professionals. Sometimes, your architect can also provide expertise in interior design. So, feel free to ask!

    Choosing Between an Interior Architect and an HMONP Architect

    An interior architect, as mentioned above, is a professional who works on interior design and restructuring projects. They have the ability to work for any category of client, whether it's an individual or a business. Therefore, it could involve the interior of a house, an apartment, a shop, a restaurant, etc.

    In contrast, an HMONP architect is a licensed professional, holding the authorization to practice Masterful Building Management in their Own Name. They can be registered with the Architects' Association after taking an oath and have the capacity to develop architectural projects, which will require a building permit.

    So, if you need to undertake major works requiring a permit, etc., you should call on the HMONP architect. But if it's about arranging or simply transforming your interior, an interior architect is the specialist and would be the most recommended.

    However, besides the specific skills an interior architect might have, you should also know that they are professionals who must comply with current regulations, which include:


        • Professional liability insurance;

        • Ten-year insurance for new constructions, extensive renovations, or various arrangements. This covers a 10-year warranty on repairing any potential damages occurring after the completion of the work;

        • Two-year warranty covering removable equipment during two years;

        • Perfect completion guarantee. This guarantee concerns the repair of disorders or defects of conformity, identified either at the reception or within one year after the completion of the work.

      Also, by hiring an interior architect, you will establish a contract under common law. This contract will be signed by both parties, the client who is the principal and the architect who is the contractor. It will specify the rights and duties of each party (amount and payment of fees, completion of work, etc.) and will serve as a reference throughout the exchanges until the completion of the work.

      Factors to Consider in Making Your Choice

      An interior architect must be capable of executing work perfectly, thanks to their technical skills and possible creativity! They must therefore have artistic talents and be able to propose ideas regarding the choice of materials, color shades, lighting, equipment placement, furniture, etc. They may even have the ability to create custom furniture to fit the interior space.

      The interior architect must also have listening and analytical skills, as this will be the basis of their work. But in addition to these qualities, the architect must also master technical issues to carry out the work.

      For the design and decoration style, the architect should offer varied ideas that follow the latest trends while also mastering ancient arts to meet the demands of some clients, such as vintage, for example, if you are a fan of antique interior decorations.

      For another important criterion, your architect must be able to provide a quote or estimate quickly so that you can decide on the work to be done.

      To sum up these points, a professional in the sector will offer you a technical study of the architectural project, which will help you in determining your choice:

      1 - Floor Plan

      Also known as a level plan, this concept involves presenting a top view in 2D of the length and width of the room, generally representing the organization of space, the location and orientation of all rooms, and the tracing and drawing of walls, doors, and windows. This plan is usually the most important element.

      2 - Before and After Work

      This involves presenting the mass plan, which will show the current state of your interior followed by the future state after the completion of the work.

      3 - Cross-Section View

      This is another form of representation of a cut space, which will be displayed by a vertical plan and will therefore allow you to understand the overall structure of the work to be carried out. You will thus have an overview of levels if there are multiple floors.

      4 - 3D Demonstration

      This involves creating a 3D graphical representation of all the elements composing each room. This will greatly facilitate the understanding of the arrangements to be made, and you will therefore have a complete overview of what you will get once the project is completed.

      There will also be a sketch which will be the first graphical representation of the project, usually preceding the preliminary rough draft.

      Testimonial: They Hired an Interior Architect

      Hiring an interior architect isn't throwing money out the window—it's truly important! The architect will take into account your needs, tastes, desires, etc., but most importantly, it will allow you to realize your dreams and projects through budget analysis, creative ideas, etc., as evidenced by satisfied clients of architects :


          • 《The interior architect perfectly understood the expectations of my project: first purchase with a limited budget for the complete renovation of a 2-room apartment. Her professionalism, organizational skills, the quality of her partnerships, the time she spent defining my needs with me, with a goal of shared decoration, all contributed to the success of our collaboration. I enjoy her talents in my apartment every day! I highly recommend her without hesitation!》

          • 《We entrusted the total renovation of a 2-room apartment in Nice while we were in Toulouse with a delivery imperative for the end of 08/2020. The deadlines were met, with quality renovation despite the health context. We highly recommend..》

          • 《 .. very professional, surrounded by competent craftsmen, completely renovated a 1960s 2-room apartment 500 km away from our main residence, while respecting deadlines. From our first meeting, we completely trusted her, followed her wise advice. We are delighted. The result is beyond our expectations! A big THANK YOU!》

          • 《 We are very satisfied with the work done in our apartment.. She designed a bookshelf perfectly in line with our wishes, providing us with valuable advice, and carefully supervised the realization of the furniture by the cabinetmaker recommended by her. We are pleased to have used her skills.》

        Interested in Becoming an Architect: Training and Studies to Become an Interior Architect

        A person who wishes to become an interior architect is typically passionate about interior design, geometry, decorative arts, etc. Therefore, they must truly embark on relevant training to acquire more skills and talents.

        The journey begins with the Bac, which will be a technological Bac STD2A

        Students passionate about art and eager to make it their profession are often attracted to the Sciences and Technologies of Design and Applied Arts program. The student will have the choice between design analysis and methods, or design and creation in design and crafts. The latter is more practical.

        After the Bac, you can continue on the interior architecture path. The profession can be practiced after obtaining a Bac+2, but it is advisable to continue to at least Bac+4 to master the sector well and obtain a diploma recognized by the CFAI. In this case, the curriculum can be done in a specialized school. It should be noted that a state-recognized diploma is not required for the interior architect profession.

        You should also know that apart from this path, with a general Bac, you can aim for the following diplomas:


            • Diploma in Crafts (DMA) at Bac+2, with the option of habitat arts/architectural decoration;

            • DNA or National Diploma in Art with an option in design at Bac+3;

            • DSAA or Higher Diploma in Applied Arts with the option of Interior Architecture and Product Design;

            • Bac+5 from prestigious schools. The list of these schools has already been recommended by professionals, who are members of associations and networks such as CFAI, FDE, CGE, Cumulus, etc. Following this advice will notably increase your chances of success in job prospects.

          Mathieu Amara

          Mathieu Amara

          Graduated in political science, I have always been passionate about renovation and construction work.

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