The 10 Best Interior Designers in Chicago, IL (with Free Estimates) (2023)

Q & A

Answers to commonly asked questions from the experts on Thumbtack.

What do interior designers do?

Interior designers do much more than pick complementary paint colors and choose matching furniture — although those tasks are important parts of the job. Unlike decorators, interior designers usually have an associate of science degree or certificate of achievement in interior design from an accredited program. They’re trained in drafting, lighting and computer aided design (CAD), and are experts in room-specific design and residential space planning. Interior designers use these skills to plan and design safe, highly functional and beautiful interior spaces, from kitchens and bathrooms to family rooms and bedrooms. They determine space requirements, work within building codes and inspection regulations, and meet accessibility standards. An interior designer’s day-to-day job includes creative and technical tasks, both of which often require great communication skills:

  • Creating model rooms and visuals using design software.
  • Researching different textiles, materials, finishes, lighting and furniture.
  • Hiring suppliers, vendors, and contractors.
  • Estimating costs and making bids on potential jobs.

What’s the difference between an interior designer and an interior decorator?

Interior designers operate more on the architectural side of building projects. In conjunction with architects, they work on the design of a building or home to best suit the needs of the users or residents. Interior designers are generally experienced in construction and understand how architectural planning works, according to NewSchool of Architecture & Design. And some interior designers will perform the duties of an interior decorator.

Interior decorators, on the other hand, work with fabrics, accessories, furniture, art, colors, textures and materials to make the inside look fashionable and pleasant.

How much do interior designers charge?

You can hire an interior design for a job as basic as a one-room consultation or as complex as supervising the design of an entire new home, helping with space planning, choosing color palettes, and shopping for furniture, flooring and artwork. The size and scope of the job will determine how much an interior designer charges; the average national cost for an interior designer ranges from $75 to $100 or more per hour. Other cost factors include the person’s reputation — interior designers to the stars are usually more expensive — and region. Most interior designers charge an average of $100-$225 for an initial consultation, but some will charge an hourly rate, usually starting at an average of $50, for larger projects that require extensive consultations. Hourly rates may be available for smaller projects, such as redecorating a living room or staging a home for sale; for instance, shopping and consulting can cost an average of $75 to $100 per hour, while staging costs and average $95 per hour. For many homeowners, a percentage of an interior designer’s cost is recouped through the professional discounts they receive from their vendors.

How do you choose an interior designer?

Choosing an interior designer is all about finding one whose signature style fits well with your tastes and who can work within your budget. To choose the right professional for your interior design project, ask yourself these five questions:

  • What is your signature style? Good interior designers can both describe their personal aesthetic and demonstrate their signature style through their portfolios. Make sure it appeals to you.
  • How will you make sure the design fits my lifestyle? Good designers understand that the interior design must improve a homeowner’s experience in their home and fit into their lifestyle; for example, a white suede sofa is a poor choice for a family with large dogs and small children.
  • How much do you charge? Depending on the project, an interior designer may charge an hourly rate, a flat fee or a percentage of the project’s total cost.
  • How will you stick to my budget? An interior designer should have a plan for staying within your budget, which includes full transparency of costs and flexibility when choosing materials and furnishings.

Because an interior design project is highly collaborative and based on hard-to-define personal preferences, it’s most important to choose a designer who communicates clearly and listens closely to you.

How do you find a good interior designer?

For many homeowners, the difference between a good interior designer and a bad one is simply a matter of taste — but all good designers have similar skill sets. Interior designers usually have a degree or certificate in interior design, with training in design principles and lighting, drafting, and computer aided design (CAD) software. Good interior designers have strong color balancing skills and understand how different colors influence spatial perception and moods. They know the building and electrical codes in the areas where they practice, and they make sure that any contractors they hire also work to those codes. They are knowledgeable about different upholstery fabrics and draperies, stay ahead of residential design trends, and maintain their own individual creativity. Also, good interior designers have excellent space designing skills, so they can arrange a space efficiently and with ideal traffic flow. Ultimately, hiring a good interior designer means pinpointing one whose signature style is complementary to your personal style — so checking out many designers’ portfolios is a must — and whose communication methods match yours.

Reviews for Chicago interior designers

Dan R.

We’ve lived in our home for a while and decided it was finally time for a new look. Alyssa was incredibly helpful. We're both very busy with work but she was very accomodating and patient with us throughout the process - not to mention we love the design. She found great pieces for us to buy and even gave us discounts off the furniture. Thank you for all of your help, Alyssa! We’re so happy with the results! We'll definitely reach out when we need more help in the future.We would highly recommend Alyssa for any of your interior design projects.

The 10 Best Interior Designers in Chicago, IL (with Free Estimates) (1)Alyssa Beth Interiors

Justine W.

I've had a great experience working with Alyssa on the interior design of my husband and I's new apartment. We just moved from abroad, and needed to tie in both our old furniture & decor with some key new pieces as well as match our eclectic/bohemian style with a modern apartment. Alyssa really helped bring it all together, and chose some amazing pieces that we fell in love with. There's no way we could have done it without her help.

The 10 Best Interior Designers in Chicago, IL (with Free Estimates) (2)Alyssa Beth Interiors

James J.

WOW! Church refresh design!Peter did an amazing job! We made some selections for updating our church sanctuary, set before you ordered it we wanted professionals opinion and advice. Peter came out and looked at our space, asked why we made the selections that we did to learn more about what we were looking for, I'm gave us a couple of options on color schemes and material selections.Peter was super easy to work with, very accommodating, and understanding of all the different opinions our board had. He listened to all of our desires, asked questions to learn about our church, and gave us two amazing options to choose from.I will definitely use Peter again, whether it's personal business or for our church, and highly recommend him to anyone that needs an interior designer!

The 10 Best Interior Designers in Chicago, IL (with Free Estimates) (3)Peter Overman, Interior Designer

Thumbtack Customer

Kari Jordan was just what the doctor ordered! I was redoing my bathroom in my loft condo. Panicked with having to make some last minute decisions I hired her. As a background, I have some interior design experience but not enough to feel completely confident in my decisions. She was flexible with me and my need to own this project. She also gave me thoughtful input and she was not afraid to say what she didn't like. She was also able to correct some assumptions I had made which I appreciated. She was really a joy to have a consultation with. I appreciated her input.

The 10 Best Interior Designers in Chicago, IL (with Free Estimates) (4)Jordan Design

Thumbtack Customer

Excellent service, upfront and honest off the bat. We were looking for an interior designer to really alleviate the hassle of moving into a new home. We were low on time and wanted someone who would manage a project from start to finish. David's offer was to do a free consultation in home with a full walk through free of charge, and his website laid out how the entire process will work so it was 100% up front. From a project managers perspective, that's perfect.We are looking forward to working with David on creating our home and will leave a post review of how things went. Expecting things to go really well.

The 10 Best Interior Designers in Chicago, IL (with Free Estimates) (5)David Andrew Interiors

Thumbtack Customer

I hired Kari to help furnish a 2BR/1bath condo. We scheduled an initial consultation in which Kari came and checked out the condo and provided an estimate. When Kari arrived, she was very professional and I could see that she had a lot of experience with interior design, and had a great portfolio to show it. She brought up great points in the initial meeting and gave me a reasonable price for the services. Kari has a great personality and working with her was fun. She also came for a final inspection once all the items were bought and arranged to provide some final suggestions. I would definitely choose Kari again in the future!

The 10 Best Interior Designers in Chicago, IL (with Free Estimates) (6)Jordan Design

Ben L.

When we moved back to the city, we quickly realized our old furniture wouldn't fit the new space. We found Alyssa through Thumbtack and her portfolio matched our taste perfectly. Because this was our first time working with an interior designer, Alyssa walked us through all the steps, the timeline and the costs. She began by creating a brilliant 3D layout, made adjustments as needed, and helped us source all the furniture. She has a great eye for style and proportion. Alyssa even painted a giant custom abstract artwork for our living room (actually, she painted it in our living room because of the size). We are very happy we worked with Alyssa and plan to do so again for our next big project.

The 10 Best Interior Designers in Chicago, IL (with Free Estimates) (7)Alyssa Beth Interiors

Thumbtack Customer

I have been working with Kari on my home project (townhome apartment) in Chicago for the past 2 months and I have been impressed with her professionalism and shared enthusiasm. Kari has been responsible for designing my entire 2 bedrooms apartment (1,600 square feet) from key items such as sofa, coffee table, area rugs to the paint color of the living room, bedrooms, bathrooms to the accessories such as wall clock, mirror to bed linen and picture frames. Kari has surpassed all of my expectations, so I am happy to recommend Kari to anyone in the Chicago area looking for an excellent interior decorator. Why I would recommend Kari:1. Hands on who didn't mind getting her hands dirty - as a consultant who travels all the time, I left my house keys with Kari to come and go as needed. Kari would come and hang up pictures, un-boxed furnitures alongside her handyman if necessary. She kept the house clean after I come home from a long week away, so for that I am very grateful.2. Always available - Kari was always available for questions or appointments regardless of day or night or weekends. I love her accessibility.3. Worked within budget - Kari kept track of items purchased, including her hours. I never had to question her hours at all as she kept it down to the minutes. 4. Great ideas with many options - Kari presented me with many options/ideas to choose from based on my preferences), so I know I would always get the most desirable product within my budget. For example, I was very picky on the type of sofa for my living room, so Kari shopped many places to find me the style I wanted at the price I would be willing to pay.I could expand on my recommendation, but I would highly recommend you review her portfolio including the pictures of my apartment.

The 10 Best Interior Designers in Chicago, IL (with Free Estimates) (8)Jordan Design

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