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Interior Design


And what can we do about it? 

A splatter of financial and trade catastrophes have formed a perfect storm for the UK interior design industry. Here is some new renovation cost data crunched by interior designers Studio Dean, and quotes from

CEO & Founder, Cathy Dean.

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Materials are now on average, according to Studio Dean’s data, 30 – 40% more expensive than they were in 2019. Sometimes this is even higher; for example a boring but essential bag of plaster was £5-6 and is now £10-12. This means that anyone who is revisiting a pre-covid renovation project quote is in for a massive shock. 


In 2023 a typical full renovation of a four- bed house will cost around £160000 on just fixtures, fittings, white goods, materials, furniture etc. not including labour costs. TV shows aren't accurate and can lead to real-life disappointment.  


We have years and years of data on product pricing and thought it’d be helpful to share some everyday items and their retail cost changes over time:  

Cathy Dean
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Take wood, for example, the cost of wood is higher because it costs more to import. Even if it is produced in the UK, the manufacturing and delivery costs are higher due to energy costs. Wood used in everything - furniture, flooring, kitchen cabinets etc. and so everything is affected. 

We’d love to use more UK based suppliers, but they are closing down because of energy costs. There weren’t a lot of UK producers to start with, now there’s even fewer. Free trade meant it was not a problem before Brexit. The number of suppliers is also shrinking worldwide.  


The cost-of-living crisis means that demand is lower so companies worldwide are closing or scaling back and becoming more artisan. The wonderful German kitchen market has been badly hit. They create great cabinets, hinges and all the unseen parts of a kitchen, but are struggling due to increased delivery costs.  
The stone and tiles we like to use are usually made in Italy or Spain, we would usually import it and use UK manufacturers to work it to our specifications. Now, we are paying more for the same thing, and also more for the UK manufacturer to make it. 


We are now looking to use the same brands for multiple items to save on delivery costs and will bulk order items for several projects. We are also working really hard with local suppliers to send them huge orders. We try to collaborate with Newcastle, Edinburgh and Northeast interior and homeware companies to pool orders together to get past the import tax. We are still doing everything we can to garner discounts and pass these on to our clients.  

A lot of suppliers have expanded their brand portfolios and we are trying to support them. We’re brokering lots more local relationships with Northumberland suppliers who sell multiple brands, then looking at the designs we are working on and seeing if we can use designers from just one supplier so that we can give the best price without sacrificing the look.  


We are trying to educate people. We create a cost per square metre for projects to give clients a realistic view of what they are going to spend and always try to be really open with our communication. What people read online isn't realistic anymore as the budgets shown in many articles and even new projects being featured are based on the past three years and don’t show how things have rapidly changed. 


Don’t go into a renovation flippantly. Go into it like you are investing in a beautiful piece of art and spend your money wisely, thinking of the future. 

Budget. Use excel. Listen to people who tell you real costs. Phase your home improvements and work gradually towards your long-term vision. Spend wisely on things that will be fixed solidly in your home; put up with older furnishings until you have invested in wooden floors. Make wise compromises.  

Stop worrying about what other people have. Work out what makes you feel rich and spend on that. Don't spend on what you can’t afford. Just spend on the things that matter. Think of the impact. Do it right, even if it is hard.


Drop the brands. don’t spend extra on names - dig deeper to find the true quality of items and ask for expert advice. We have worked on projects where we have reduced the cost of a kitchen from £83,00 to £52,000 just by dropping the brand name, with all the same finishes like for like. Studio Dean’s blog post on How Interior Designers Make The Right Choices is a good place to start. 


A good interior designer’s job is to highlight the right decisions by showing comparable options. This is what makes hiring interior designers even more cost-effective now that times are especially difficult.  


One good thing is that a lot of people have stopped buying fast fashion furnishings. Gradually people have realised that the cost per use of cheaper, low-quality items doesn’t make financial sense and are purchasing for longevity. They have stopped regularly changing their home decor based on insta-trends and are thinking twice about flippant purchases. They are looking to buy from local suppliers, which we wholeheartedly support.   


The future of interiors will look more long-term, less trend focussed. The churn of renovating for social media will slow down, and people will realise how much stuff was surplus to requirement and start renovating for longevity. There is the hope that people will stop seeing property as an investment, start seeing it as a home, and renovate accordingly, from the heart. 

Images by Studio Dean

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