How Much do Interior Designers Charge in New Jersey?

How much does it cost to work with an interior designer in New Jersey?

Your Construction Problem Solver 

If you need decorating help with your home, there has never been a better time! Furniture stores, retail stores like Renovation Hardware and even tile stores are set up to help clients with their decorating choices. 

While some stores may include design help with the purchase others may charge a fee added to the price of furnishings purchased at the store.

Or, better yet, you can hire an interior designer. An interior designer is qualified to help with not only furniture, but with kitchen and bath design, floorplan design, architectural review or simply paint color, plumbing or tile selection, etc.

The beauty of using an independent interior designer is that they work with clients in all aspects of design, remodeling and renovation. 

We work alongside contractors, trades people (electricians, plumbers, tile installers) architects and builders to keep the client’s project on track and everyone involved on the same ‘page.’

A designer’s fee is often based on an hourly charge for professional help. For instance, for  consultation and design services, a designer may offer a package that would include such things as: 
  • At home visits, including measuring the space and discussing client preferences

  • A floorplan, a furniture plan, a concept board and window treatment suggestions for one room or the entire home

A plan such as the one above could cost $125 per hour depending on the size of the room and the extent of the interior design project. The plan may specify a floorplan layout, the style and size of furniture, or finish and fabric suggestions. 

Sometimes if only an entire room needs a design plan the cost could be determined by the square foot method or flat fee method. Square foot percentages can range from $8.75 to $10 per square foot for design per room. 

Another aspect of design assistance is shopping with or for clients at retail stores. Here, the designer often charges an hourly fee (in NJ and Metro NYC typically from $125 to $250+ per hour depending on location). 

How To Start Your Project

What's the first step to making the changes you long for in your home?
After the initial meeting with a homeowner, the interior designer determines the extent of the help needed. At this two hour meeting, the designer will offer professional advice and suggest ideas that appear to be the most important to tackle first. She presents a proposal for services, that defines a retainer, the hourly fee or payment plan plus proposed schedule of work. 

While there is no one standard billing method, each design project should be custom-tailored to fit the needs and the budget of the client. Interior design is not only an art, it is professional expertise that pulls all the pieces together. 

Whether working with a client on a fixed fee, a flat fee, an hourly or a cost-plus fee, your designer will be working throughout the design process to insure that your ultimate goal of creating a beautiful home or commercial space that is on track in accordance with your budget and expectations.

Essentially, we solve our clients' design and construction problems, while creating beautiful spaces. 

Get started  on your project today, we would love to hear about your plans and what you need help with. 

For professional help, for a nudge to get started, for the best year ever,
 call Mary Alice at:

                            732 690-2030

M. A. Smith Interior Design
1288 Beauchamps Place, Toms River, NJ 08753
Allied Member ASID
Member of Kiwanis of Greater Toms River
Blog: Coastal Confidante Blog 
Serving New Jersey and Metropolitan New York City

5 Easy Steps to Refresh Your Home This Fall 

This is you and/or your designer- making your project happen with a Plan

The Fall season is finally at our doorstep - yay! But wait, all those projects you thought you were going to do last season  - are they still not done?

A project can be as small as re-arranging your bookcase or as large as planning a new kitchen or bath. Either way, the best laid plans all have one thing in common - a schedule. 

 I understand life gets in the way and other things beckon. But, nothing will change unless you do the following scheduled steps that I do to get started:

  • Start with a writing a list of the ONE thing that needs to be changed 
  • Create a file of pages of your favorite rooms, homes or gardens that you love or just go to Pinterest and create a board of the top rooms you love
  • Break the list into steps needed to complete your project
  • Add dates to complete each step onto your calendar
  • Call the one person who can help you complete the steps

For instance, our Master Bath cried for a renovation. However, I am so busy helping my clients with their renovations, I have little time to spare. But after working on the layout and selecting the tile, vanity, etc. we were ready to make our first appointment with the contractor, my plumber and my tile installer. Once you have your team in place, you'll find the project will get going. 

Now that our Master Bath is done, our Family Room is next on our list. Our ONE thing that needs to be changed is the paint color. I'll keep you posted with what I have in mind, but for now, I've got to go and do the ONE thing on my exercise list for today.

For professional help, for a nudge to get started, for the best year ever call Mary Alice at:

732 690-2030

1288 Beauchamps Place, Toms River, NJ 08753
Allied Member ASID

Serving New Jersey and Metropolitan New York City

One Of The Easiest Ways To Ensure A Successful Renovation

Photo courtesy of
Two miles into my walk, I realized how positive I felt. Not that I woke up in a bad mood, but that quick walk in the early morning transforms my day ahead. I feel more alive, more ready for anything and more ready to help my clients in their home or office transformations.

Exercise is such a powerful tool to give you a positive vibe. It can help you to stay motivated when you need to feel motivated to get things done.

Renovating or decorating is demanding on your already busy schedule. Every day there are decisions to be made, ideas to think through and money to invest to make the changes that you want to transform your home or office.

What better way to start your day than to start it in a 'can-do' frame of mind. My most successful clients are the ones who have that 'I can do it attitude'. They also are the ones who are steadfast in maintaining an exercise daily habit. Interesting...!

If you're thinking about renovating your home or office, consider renovating your spirit as well. I'll be there to coach you along and applaud your success as you transform your home, your life.

Have a great day!

Mary Alice Smith of M. A. Smith Interior Design - an interior designer serving New Jersey, Ocean and Monmouth County, the Jersey Shore 
To schedule an appointment call: 732 690-2030 or email me: 

Email Mary Alice 

What Does Walking And Interior Design Have To Do With Your Home Renovation Or Remodeling Project?

One Step At A Time

What does walking and Interior Design have to do with Your Home Renovation or Remodeling Project? 

So now you're wondering what does the photo of a person wearing sneakers have to do with interior design or with you
Valid point. But as usual, I have a story to tell you that explains it all!
The person in the photo above is of me on my daily walk. I walk to keep fit, to de-stress, and to listen to podcasts about Internet marketing and wellness. But what I'm really doing is the process of keeping fit and the process of keeping knowledgeable and less stressed. 
Stress? How is being an interior designer stressful. Yes, I work in an industry that creates beautiful furnishings. Yes, I'm my own boss. But if you followed me on a typical day you would see a woman who is juggling projects, meeting clients and vendors, handling scores of paperwork, etc. In other words, I wear many hats while I handle the process of interior design. 
My process is the way I approach each client's project. It's a systematized way to stay on track, to keep the project moving in the right direction. As long as I stay in process, I can control or lessen the stress of managing many projects. 

Lucky for me that I like the process. I like the record keeping and research almost as much as creating a room concept. Lucky for my clients that I start the day with a walk and feel less stressed at the get-go.

 If you're planning on building a new house, renovating an existing house or room, or remodeling a kitchen and bath you need two important things. First, a daily exercise plan like a walk to keep you less stressed. Second, you need a team to support you all the way through your project. If you already have a few thoughts going like the ones below, it may be time to find help before it's too late. 
 Questions or thoughts that you might have or worries that keep you up at night might be:
  • I'm not sure what to do next
  • Afraid I'll make the wrong choices
  • Everyone wants to put their 2 cents in
  • I'm not creative
  • Decorating scares me
  • We don't agree on how to decorate
  • I feel I need a professional opinion
 Maybe I missed a few worries! What is on your list today? 

For professional interior design for your home, office or commercial project call:

Mary Alice Smith of M. A. Smith, Ltd. - an interior designer serving New Jersey, Ocean and Monmouth County, the Jersey Shore and metropolitan New York areas.

To schedule an appointment call: 732 690-2030 or email me at

Need a Lift to Brighten Your Day? Try this...

Courtesy of Coastal Living Magazine

Mid-season is a great time to change things up a bit in your home. If you're happy with your wall paint color, but something seems missing, maybe this could help.

Adding a little color to a space can give you the feeling of a new space, a new look and a new start. You don't always have to 'reinvent' the wheel to gain a new perspective on your home. For instance: 

New chair cushion fabric color

may be all you need
to give your day a
great start!

Maybe a zippy print design
is enough to wake you
up in the morning.

Or, instead of table and chairs,
use a banquette.

Contrast cool white surfaces
with warm wood pieces.

Add a new light fixture

over the table.

New placemats are the 

easiest way to get a new look.

In other words, shake things up a bit,
be brave, and try something different
for a change!

Adding This Can Change Your World

Photo courtesy of Leonie Freeman / Hardie Grant Books

One of the most talked about words I can think of is - color. Maybe it's because I'm a designer and I select colors almost every day for my clients. Yet, I notice at parties, events and chats with friends, that color almost always comes up in the discussion. 

We could be discussing colors for the upcoming wedding, the color of a sunset or the color of a new puppy. We select fruit, vegetables and even meat, fish or poultry based on how the 'color' looks. 

However, one color I never seem to wear is the color 'green'. I think it goes back to years wearing a green school uniform. It's not that I don't like green (our bedroom is a forest green), it's just one of those things with my wardrobe. 

In our home though you can find lots of green as an accent color. Mostly it's the green of the hydrangea leaves or the green of a large fern in a basket. I can't imagine not having plants in our home. The most beautiful homes I've visited have plants like orchids with their wide leaves, or ficus trees with shiny leaves, or beautiful rooms with leafy design wallpapers. Plants 'complete' a room just like jewelry completes an outfit.

Photo courtesy of Thibaut 

Beyond the beauty of the plant is what it does for your emotions. According to NBC News the article states that "Studies have also proven that indoor plants improve concentration and productivity (by up to 15 percent!), reduce stress levels and boost your mood — making them perfect for not just your home but your work space, too." 

Imagine that! You can bring some beauty into your home, reduce your stress level and boost your mood at the same time with the addition of plants. 

Today add a plant to your desk or cut some stems from your garden. Visit garden centers like Terrain to get inspiration you've never experienced before. 

Mary Alice Smith - 732 608-7583

Residential and Commercial Interior Design

Allied Member ASID

Serving Coastal New Jersey homeowners and businesses for 20 years

How To Conquer The Fear of Remodeling or new Construction

Coastal New Jersey 

Like many of my clients, D. had a shore home that was the center of summer life at the New Jersey shore. And even though it was renovated after Hurricane Sandy, there were a few areas in the home that needed to be revised. 

For instance, the upstairs bedrooms were small and cramped. There was no en suite bath for the Master Bedroom. If there were to be changes inside the home like new windows and sliders, it would affect the exterior of the house as well. 

A renovation like that can take months. And, it all had to be accomplished in time for the summer season. The summer season is so important to families and there was no time for fear, hesitancy or indecision. 

When we first met to discuss the remodel plans I knew that the goal had to be achieved to have the home ready for summer family and friends. I also understood that there were important changes that must be made to the floorplan to make the project successful. 

However, one of the first decisions that needed to be made was the selection of siding and roofing. I implemented an app that allows you to see how a different siding, roofing or trim color will look on the exterior of the home. 

We used the existing house as a template and then applied various siding colors to see which selection would work best. Once the decision was made we followed a plan to check off the next item on the list.

First, we started with measuring the second floor existing space and discussed the addition of higher ceilings that would significantly enlarge the living area in the Master Bedroom. Within a few weeks, the floorplan was complete and now we were ready to obtain the approvals to begin the construction phase.

Throughout the project my client was available to communicate with all on a daily basis. In the meantime, her husband had assembled an expert construction crew. So within a few busy and productive months, the shore home was ready for the season. 

Any remodeling or construction project will be successful if you follow my prescription below:

  • Determine what is the most important feature/s to be changed
  • Have a concrete budget and time line to accomplish the renovation
  • Hire only licensed and insured contractors
  • Include a floorplan with furnishings drawn before construction begins
  • Encourage open communication with all involved 
  • Understand there will be problems encountered, but alternatives will often work better
  • Don't worry be happy and create a positive vibe throughout the process 
For additional information on renovations, and construction, visit my blog posts below. 

Kitchen Remodel           

The most important part of the project     

Are you overwhelmed? Read this first!

Mary Alice Smith - 732 608-7583

Residential and Commercial Interior Design

Allied Member ASID

Serving Coastal New Jersey homeowners and businesses for twenty years

One Of The Toughest Decorating Problem and The Solution

Photo courtesy of Microsoft Office

Part V - Of The "Five Most Common Decorating Problems that People Have in Decorating their Homes"

Wherever you go - Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, parties, meetings, family dinners, everyone is talking about their goals and changes they want in their home. 

We all may be different, but then we all have so much in common. One of those items we have in common is that we all have distinct ways we process change.

Change is a funny thing. It can be good or bad. It means different things to different people. Some people thrive on change. Others sense change as scary or intimidating - so much so that it stops them in their path of doing something new.

All of my successful decorating clients want change. Some need encouragement to go forward. Others need a second opinion in their decisions. 

But most of all, they realize that doing nothing means things stay the same. The living room will look the same, the kitchen will stay cramped and dated, etc.

The biggest problem in decorating to me is the decision to make a commitment to schedule a date when the home makeover will begin. 

You can talk about it, spend hours on Pinterest, read every decorating magazine on the newsstand. But, nothing will happen till you pull out your calendar, call your contractor, call your interior designer, or visit the kitchen showroom.

Lesson #5: Change is good!

Mary Alice Smith - 732 608-7583

M. A. Smith Interior Design 
Residential and Commercial Interior Design


Allied Member ASID

Member of Kiwanis Club of Greater Toms River 
Greater Toms River Chamber of Commerce


Serving Coastal New Jersey homeowners and businesses for twenty years

Are you stuck with your renovation project's to-do list? 

It's true - somethings never seem to change - like your to do list. But if you're like many of my clients, there comes a time when you just have to go ahead and get your project going.

But where to start? You can start here by reading a few posts written for people just like you.

A little confirmation helps you to know you are not alone. So here are some ideas for you to read to get you started. The link below is a short piece about the need to block out time and make a commitment to get started. It might start with contacting a contractor, builder or architect or you might start by visiting home centers and kitchen and bath stores. 

Start here first

Great, now you're warming up to moving ahead. But you still have questions or concerns about building or renovating. The more you understand the building process, the better you will be when the time comes to find your kitchen and bath cabinets, plumbing, appliances, tubs, etc.

If you're in a coastal area, you want to make sure that your home will be built for longevity.

Now read this

It's really that simple. Once you understand what's needed in the construction process, you can jump to the fun part - design and decorating. However, before you head back to Pinterest to get ideas, let's take time to discuss how you plan to use the room you are building or renovating.

This part will make you relieved and ready for a great change

In the end, your project is about creating your vision of the best home. Home should be a place to be comfortable in with everything that pulls at your heart strings. And by the way, I value this quote from The One Thing book that says "Perfection gets in the way of what is possible". In other words, it's okay to want something wonderful, but don't let the fact that it isn't "perfect" (nothing is here on earth you know) keep you from enjoying all the wonderful things about your home. 

If you're still frozen, consider calling an expert to help you make decisions and who values the things that you love. 

Mary Alice Smith - 732 608-7583

M. A. Smith Interior Design 
Residential and Commercial Interior Design


Allied Member ASID

Serving Coastal New Jersey homeowners and businesses for twenty years

The Most Important Advice For Decorating Your Home

Keep it Clear and Simple

I captured this image on one of my morning walks. What I like about it is its clarity and its simplicity. It's the same thing when you hire people to help you decorate or renovate your home. To have a successful design project, you must have clarity about how everyone in the project will work together and who, when, where and how things will be accomplished. 

It’s as simple as that!

Here are some of the ways to make your renovation successful: 

Collaborate: Getting along with everyone is a win-win attitude. (Being pushy or demanding will only render a lot of push-back = slow progress)
Communicate: Roadblocks to communication stifle creativity and progress. There are so many ways to communicate today - text, email, phone or in person. Do whatever works for all involved in your renovation to keep the momentum going.

Finally and really important: Be ready to go to Plan B, or C, etc. Sometimes the best ideas need some time to appear. Your redesign will get done. So having an 'open attitude' is the key to success. 

It's simple!

After years of working on interior design projects, I've noticed that having a ‘yes’ attitude makes all the difference. It's okay to communicate your needs and wants, but keep your mind open for new ways of solving a problem.

For professional help, for a nudge to get started, for the best year ever,
 call Mary Alice at:

                            732 690-2030
1288 Beauchamps Place, Toms River, NJ 08753
Allied Member ASID

Serving New Jersey and Metropolitan New York City

3 Ways to Add Style to your Dining Table

Just about now you're trying to decide on a new look for your dining table area.

With all the Spring festivities like holidays, barbecues and also birthdays, your table will be the center of attention. 

Maybe your table needs a little accessorizing. Like jewelry, it's the little things that pull an 'outfit' together. 

Where do you start? What can you add that doesn't 'break the bank' or require major overhaul?

Here's what interior designers do that you can do today to change out and create a beautiful dining area:

  • First - take a photo of the dining area. It's a great way to see how the space looks so you can focus on the area in question. Is the table bare? Could you add some perky candlesticks and/or a centerpiece to add interest?

  • Look at the area in the photo. Do you need a more interesting chandelier? Would a touch of glamour, a touch of sparkle or a hint of industrial chic create focus with a new chandelier?

  • Add color! Use a bright color for placemats or a runner. Or add a pale shade for placemats in a color to contrast with the table top. It's contrast that makes a table interesting. 

It's all about layering, adding contrasts, color and sometimes some whimsy. I know you can do it!

For professional interior design for your home, office or commercial project call:

Call Mary Alice Smith of M. A. Smith Interior Design - serving New Jersey, including Ocean and Monmouth County, the Jersey Shore.

To schedule an appointment call: 732 608-7583 or email me at 

M. A. Smith Interior Design
Allied Member ASID

How to Change Your Dining Room from 'Blah' To Beautiful - Part 1

You've seen amazing dining rooms on Pinterest or TV. But if your dining area looks more blah than beautiful - start here first. 

While the trend these days is for 'open plan living' versus a separate dining room, we all have the same dilemma. The dilemma is how to enjoy our dining table and chairs and keep them looking fresh and new.

So, do you have a Dining Room chair or Dining Room table dilemma?

We may have children, or grandchildren enjoying meals or it could be just the two of you - or just you. Either way, the table and chairs get a lot of use over the years. So, there are a few things to consider when looking to refresh or purchase your dining furniture. Let's start with the dining chair fabric. 

Here's my quick and easy 'cheat sheet' of suggestions for Dining Room chair fabric:

  • Look for fabrics that are easy to clean and maintain. If you have a boatload of kids or messy adults, consider using Sunbrella or other outdoor use fabrics. Kravet Performance Fabrics 's Soleil fabrics offer not only durability but a great variety of patterns in scrumptious colors.

  • Consider the shape of the Dining Room chair cushion and the design of the chair back when choosing a fabric pattern. For instance, if the chair is simple in design, perhaps the fabric could have a bold pattern or lively and lovely fabric color as shown below.

  • Not sold on outdoor fabrics for your Dining Room? Go ahead and take a chance on that gorgeous fabric, but make sure it can keep it's good looks by adding Fibreseal protection.
Chair courtesy of Maine Cottage

In my own home, our Dining Room chairs have a Robert Allen fabric that is woven with a fabric protectorant. Even after years of use, a quick wipe with a damp sponge or a spray foam application of Scotchguard keeps the fabric looking as good as it gets!

In Part II, we'll talk about dining tables and the why's and wherefores of selecting one type of table over another. 

For professional interior design for your home, office or commercial project call:

Mary Alice Smith of M. A. Smith Interior Design - serving New Jersey, including Ocean and Monmouth County, the Jersey Shore.

To schedule an appointment call: 732 608-7583 or email me at 

M. A. Smith Interior Design
Allied Member ASID