Online Class: Interior Design 101

This course is designed to teach you how to be an interior designer by focusing on interior design from a macro level.

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  • 15
  • 25
    Exams &
  • 3,979
    have taken this course
  • 10
    average time
  • 1.0

Course Description

Interior design is an exciting profession that not only requires designers to be able to think creatively, but also to problem-solve. Interior designers are responsible for creating an environment for a structure, which may include a single-family home, government office, corporate headquarters, and everything in between

In order to create an interior environment, designers need to think about the form and functionality of the space. The form refers to the look and feel. The functionality refers to how they space will be practically used. In order to effectively blend form and functionality, designers need to rely upon many resources, guidelines, and professionals.

Interior designers often tend to be interior decorators. After all, designers are often responsible for all aspects of a project, including the design, development, and finishing touches. However, interior decorators may not necessarily be interior designers; designers need to have more in-depth knowledge than decorators.

While many interior designers are also decorators, designers do not generally take on other professional roles, such as plumber, carpenter, electrician, or otherwise. Therefore, designers must work closely with many other industry professionals.

Interior designers also have the liberty to be self-employed or to work with a firm. Either way, there are some business skills and best practices that every interior designer should use in order to be successful.

This course is designed to teach you how to be an interior designer by focusing on interior design from a macro level. If you decide to pursue an interior design career after reading about everything that will be required of you if you choose to pursue a career in interior design, then you will spend years learning the minute details that are essential to creating a successful design.  

Note: This course focuses on all aspects of interior design. While interior decorating plays a large role in interior design, it is important to remember that the two are not the same. This course will not go into great detail about interior decorating, but, rather, will provide an overview of the kind of information interior designers will need to know.

Course Motivation

What is Interior Design?
Interior design is the practice of creating a functional and aesthetically pleasing space. Interior designers must take a holistic view of space and image what the space could become. Designers may work with existing spaces or they may work with new construction spaces. Either way, they need to be able to manipulate every aspect of the space to meet the goals of the client. This means interior designers not only need to be adept at affecting the decoration of a space, but they may also need to influence electrical work, plumbing, carpentry, architectural features, and more.

Interior Designers Work With Professionals in Many Other Fields.

Interior designers must be conversant in a wide variety of disciplines, including architecture, decorating, and more. For that reason, successful interior designers need to spend time understanding what each of these different disciplines does, and how the disciplines work together. Also, it should be noted that interior designers are often mistaken for interior decorators. The confusion is natural and expected, as interior designers must also be able to advise clients about how their spaces could – and should – be decorated, particularly when a design begs a certain type of decoration. However, there are definite differences between interior designers and interior decorators.
How Do Interior Decorators and Interior Designers Compare?
One of the most obvious differences between interior designers and interior decorators is the breadth of knowledge that each is expected to bring to a project. Interior designers must have in-depth knowledge of a wide range of disciplines in order to create a space that not only looks appealing, but also functions properly and according to applicable laws and regulations. Many states require that interior designers have professional interior design certifications and/or licenses in order to practice.


Often interior designers will have an integral role in the decorating of a space because of their oversight and planning role. In a sense, an interior designer is often like a project manager, with his or her hands in many pots. Because of their holistic approach to a space, interior designers are often called in to consult with clients before a project begins, especially on new construction projects. 

Interior decorators, however, have very specialized roles. Decorators are charged with working within a developed space to create a particular feel. Unlike interior designers, decorators do not manipulate the foundations of a space. Instead, they must be able to see the possibilities that exist in the current space. Interior decorators may have more in-depth knowledge of design principles, styles, and trends than interior designers, as well.


In most cases, an interior designer and an interior decorator will work closely together; they may also be the same person. However, interior decorators may not work with professionals in other trades, the way an interior designer does.

Both interior decorators and interior designers must be skilled at selecting: 

  • Window treatments

  • Bedding

  • Furniture

  • Artwork

  • Accessories

  • Storage units

  • Light fixtures

  • Carpets and rugs

  • Colors

  • Fabrics and textures

  • Design styles

  • Layout

  • Designs for special events

  • And more

However, interior designers must take their knowledge a few steps further to include:

  • Space planning

  • Kitchen and bath design

  • Plumbing layout and fixtures

  • Lighting layout and fixtures

  • Sound design

  • Flooring

  • Custom carpentry

  • Stone and tile

  • Climate control

  • Windows and doors

  • Cabinetry

  • Specialty design, such as LEED

  • Building codes

  • Americans With Disabilities Act requirements

  • And more

There are building codes and regulations for every space, but they may vary based on the type of space.

Interior Design Specialties

As with any professional discipline, the field of interior design encompasses many different specialties. Many interior designers work within all specialties, but a specialty is not required. Also, some interior designers choose to limit their projects to one particular specialty. These specialties include: 

  • Corporate

  • Retail

  • Government

  • Healthcare

  • Hospitality

  • Institutional

  • Residential

  • Sustainability

In order to design a successful space in any of these specialty groups, interior designers need to be aware of the particular government codes and regulations, which can differ from structure to structure. 

Interior designers will also want to be sure they understand how each space will be used – and by whom – so they can follow best practice design standards. For example, the upholstery that an interior designer uses for a public space may differ greatly from the upholstery an interior designer selects for a residential space.

  • Completely Online
  • Self-Paced
  • Printable Lessons
  • Full HD Video  
  • 6 Months to Complete
  • 24/7 Availability
  • Start Anytime
  • PC & Mac Compatible
  • Android & iOS Friendly
  • Accredited CEUs
Universal Class is an IACET Accredited Provider

Course Lessons

Average Lesson Rating:
4.5 / 5 Stars (Average Rating)
"Extraordinarily Helpful"
(1,671 votes)

Lesson 1: Introduction to Interior Design

Understanding the role of the interior designer and how the designer works with professionals in other disciplines. 35 Total Points
  • Lesson 1 Video
  • Lesson discussions: Reasons for Taking this Course
  • Complete Assignment: An Introduction
  • Complete: Lesson 1 Assignment
  • Assessment: Lesson 1 Exam

Lesson 2: Evolution of Design

As time has evolved, spaces became not only functionally arranged, but also developed with an increasing focus on aesthetic appeal. 10 Total Points
  • Lesson 2 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 2 Exam

Lesson 3: Basic Interior Design Decorating Principles

This lesson includes an overview of basic design decorating principles that all designers need to be aware of, including elements of color, proportions, lighting, furniture, accessories, and textures. Additional lesson topics: The Important Role of Texture in Interior Design 8 Total Points
  • Lesson 3 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 3 Exam

Lesson 4: Color

Color can set the tone for an environment and make a design successful. Additional lesson topics: Examples of Color Finishes 10 Total Points
  • Lesson 4 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 4 Exam

Lesson 5: Major Design Styles

Interior designers must be knowledgeable about the many different design styles that have been used throughout history. 30 Total Points
  • Lesson 5 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 5 Assignment
  • Assessment: Lesson 5 Exam

Lesson 6: Design Codes

Interior design is regulated by local, state, and federal codes that all designers need to be aware of. 30 Total Points
  • Lesson 6 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 6 Assignment
  • Assessment: Lesson 6 Exam

Lesson 7: Standards

Interior designers are encouraged to incorporate interior design standards into their projects. 28 Total Points
  • Lesson 7 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 7 Assignment
  • Assessment: Lesson 7 Exam

Lesson 8: Licensing and Certification

Interior designers need to learn about the licensing and certification requirements for their particular states. 28 Total Points
  • Lesson 8 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 8 Assignment
  • Assessment: Lesson 8 Exam

Lesson 9: Areas of Specialization

Interior designers will often specialize in a particular industry, or type of design. 29 Total Points
  • Lesson 9 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 9 Assignment
  • Assessment: Lesson 9 Exam

Lesson 10: LEED Building Certification

Sustainable design is environmentally friendly design that seeks to minimize a building's impact on the environment. Interior designers can be LEED-certified to show that they are aware of environmentally friendly strategies. 9 Total Points
  • Lesson 10 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 10 Exam

Lesson 11: LEED Professional Certification

LEED certification is not only one of the most sought-after certifications available for interior designers, it can also increase your marketability within a diverse client or employer base. 9 Total Points
  • Lesson 11 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 11 Exam

Lesson 12: Bodies of Knowledge

Interior designers need to have a wide body of knowledge to have a career in the field. 9 Total Points
  • Lesson 12 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 12 Exam

Lesson 13: 10 Things Every Professional Interior Designer Should Do to Have a Successful Business

Here's an overview of the business side of interior design that designers need to keep in mind. 30 Total Points
  • Lesson 13 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 13 Assignment
  • Assessment: Lesson 13 Exam

Lesson 14: Interior Design Associations

Interior design professional organizations help interior designers stay connected, network, and continue their educations in design. 28 Total Points
  • Lesson 14 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 14 Assignment
  • Assessment: Lesson 14 Exam

Lesson 15: Resources for Interior Designers

As with any profession, interior designers need to have resources available to them that they can use to stay informed about industry news, receive updates about design regulations and codes, connect with other designers, and learn about current events re 234 Total Points
  • Lesson 15 Video
  • Lesson discussions: Your Opinion Matters: Course Rating; Program Evaluation Follow-up Survey (End of Course); Course Comments; Course Comments
  • Assessment: Lesson 15 Exam
  • Assessment: The Final Exam
Total Course Points

Learning Outcomes

By successfully completing this course, students will be able to:
  • Define what interior design is.
  • Describe evolution of design.
  • Define basic interior design decorating principles.
  • Identify color.
  • Recognize major design styles.
  • Summarize design codes.
  • Define standards.
  • Summarize licensing and certification.
  • Identify areas of specialization.
  • Identify bodies of knowledge.
  • Summarize 10 things every professional interior designer should do to have a successful business.
  • Identify interior design associations.
  • Recognize resources for interior designers.
  • Demonstrate mastery of lesson content at levels of 70% or higher.

Additional Course Information

Online CEU Certificate
  • Document Your Lifelong Learning Achievements
  • Earn an Official Certificate Documenting Course Hours and CEUs
  • Verify Your Certificate with a Unique Serial Number Online
  • View and Share Your Certificate Online or Download/Print as PDF
  • Display Your Certificate on Your Resume and Promote Your Achievements Using Social Media
Document Your CEUs on Your Resume
Course Title: Interior Design 101
Course Number: 7550453
Lessons Rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars (1,671 votes)
Languages: English - United States, Canada and other English speaking countries
Availability: This course is online and available in all 50 states including: California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, and Washington.
Last Updated: February 2024
Course Type: Self-Paced, Online Class
CEU Value: 1.0 IACET CEUs (Continuing Education Units)
CE Accreditation: Universal Class, Inc. has been accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).
Grading Policy: Earn a final grade of 70% or higher to receive an online/downloadable CEU Certification documenting CEUs earned.
Assessment Method: Lesson assignments and review exams
Instructor: Cathleen Chouinard
Syllabus: View Syllabus
Course Fee: $120.00 U.S. dollars

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Student Testimonials

  • "This course help a lot and more about about my goals to became an professional interior designer." -- Lolomanaia T.
  • "Instructor was outstanding!" -- Doug W.
  • "The lessons were informative and very helpful." -- Johanna T.