What You Will Learn in Interior Design School

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A Degree Course Overview

If you ever wanted a sneak peek at what interior designers learn in school, today is your lucky day! 

I’ve decided to start sharing some of my student work on the blog and provide something of a road map for those interested in self-study, or as motivation for students thinking about or currently studying design.

Toward the end of this article you will find a table which details the major subjects and topics I studied in my three year interior design professional course from a UK school.

To go straight there, click here.

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants (and Mortals, too)

Studying a subject as broad as interior design, in depth, is an incredible journey.

Our professors stressed from the outset of our course that design is a lifelong pursuit and reminded us that to be great designers, we will never really ever stop learning.

For those who get their first qualifications, as I did, online, it can prove especially challenging to stay motivated and on track. 

For this reason, having resources and advice from other students who are further ahead on the journey than you are can make all the difference. 

I know it was due to the help I received from others that I am where I am today, and I’d like to continue to pay that forward.

If Knowledge is Power, What Will You Do With Yours?

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It was really only toward the latter portion of my studies that I developed a true appreciation for the wealth of what we were taught in our course.

Our program was a comprehensive three-year course conducted online, and it was fairly rigorous. 

Our professors expected a high standard of students and the overall attitude of the student body was one of serious determination to make it through the course. 

It was challenging in parts and some portions of the course were notoriously difficult. 

Thankfully the student support group was really strong and common issues and frequently asked questions were explained and detailed further by those who were further ahead in the course than us.

Our Virtual Design Student Community

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We were all from different backgrounds, and scattered across multiple countries around the globe, but united by the common desire to get our interior design professional qualifications.  

I did a ton of research before committing, but I pretty much knew from the outset that I had enrolled in the right course. 

Our school started out when interior design was first coming to acceptance as a profession in the sixties and it specialized in interior design.

That’s all they did!

Another added bonus was that they had always had the distance learning model down, starting out with students sending their work by post and parcel in the early days and going digital in the new millennium (before it was “cool”, so to speak).

I found everyone extremely welcoming and helpful throughout my studies (our international Facebook group was open for questions, conveniently, at every hour) and after graduation, as well.

I can’t stress enough that if you plan to go the online study route that you vet your course properly and understand thoroughly what you are getting yourself into before you start.

The right school and support network (or lack thereof) can really make or break the experience for you.

Finding My Bearings After Graduation

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At the end of my studies, I was finally able to take a breather and “consolidate my gains”, so to speak. 

I sorted through all the course content, organized my personal study materials and digital student work and filed my sketchbooks and physical course work, too.

It was a nostalgic time, as the circumstances under which I finished the course was quite trying and I came very close to not graduating due to time limitations.

I breathed a huge sigh of relief and took some time to look over what I had learned. 

I had a strange desire to read back over everything to make sure I really remembered it all, but I didn’t exactly do that.

Reflecting on it, I realized that I was extremely thankful to have had the experience that I had, learning with such a wonderful school, and going through a quality, distinctive program that, sadly, is no longer on offer.

I funded my own studies, and was fortunate to be able to find a course that I could afford as I paid it off over time.

My thoughts turned to those who are interested in interior design, as I was in the beginning before starting my studies, but who may find enrolling in the type of course I did challenging due to financial reasons or simply because this course is no longer on offer.

Each One, Teach One

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I decided there and then that I would start a blog to share what I had learned throughout the course of my program and make the documentation of my personal study journey available for other beginners and students just starting out in design. 

It might help to know what studying was like from someone who’s been there and done it, especially under different circumstances than many students who are able to attend a university in person.

With this in mind, I will be publishing my student “diaries” over time on this blog. 

In them I will show the broad strokes of the subject matter, type of course work and also specific key projects with examples of some of my student work.

It would help greatly to know if there is reader interest in specific topics and what is actually helpful for beginners and students to reference and hopefully learn from. Feel free to comment below!

Student Diary Organization and Progression

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For now I will begin with the first three units after Introduction and General Approach, as listed in the table below.

Please note: This is not the exact structure of the course I took; it is more of a compiled overview of the subjects and topics.

This does, however, represent the basic progression and all major areas of learning through our course.

The first three units are Materials, History and Drafting

I will begin with publishing a post for each of these subjects in alternation until I have covered most of what we learned, then I will continue with Drafting, Design, Color Theory and on to Space Planning, Furniture, Fittings and Construction.

As we get to the end I will share what I did for my preliminary and final projects, as well as talk about creating a portfolio.

Topics in the Introduction and General Approach Sections I will cover spontaneously on the blog in regular blog posts.

Summary Of Three Year Interior Design Course

art business color colorful
IntroductionCourse Summary and Objectives
Definition of Interior DesignerMetric Tables ReferencesResources
General ApproachElements and Principles of DesignSample BoardsSketchbooksResearch Essay Writing
MaterialsNatural Materials



Sustainability Concerns
Synthetic and Processed Materials






Applied Finishes

Wall Treatments,


Soft Furnishings






Measuring Interiors


Estimating Material Quantities
History of Interior DesignAncient Greece
The Middle Ages
The Renaissance to
European Baroque
and Contemporary Styles


Romantic Period
and Historicism
Art Nouveau to
Modern Age

Line Drawing,

Drawing Practice,

Ink Drawing
Scale Drawing,
Orthographic Projection,

Axonometric Projection,

Isometric Projection,

Oblique Projection

Drawing for Reproduction
Construction Drawings,
Presentation Drawings,

One Point Perspectives
Drawing Details


Two-Point Perspectives

Computer Aided
DesignCreativity and
Design Process
Spatial Relationships
Natural Form
Construction and ProportionLight
Optical Illusion
The Bauhaus and
The Scheme
ColorNature of Color

Mechanics of Color

Primaries including:

Additive, Subtractive and Medial Primaries

Secondaries and Tertiaries

The Natural Order of Color

Discordant Color
Chromatic and Achromatic Colors,

Color Notation,

The Munsell System,

Tints and Shades,

Pastel Tints and
Pastel Shades
Color Contrasts






Saturation and Extension,

Advancing and
Receding Color
Color Harmony,

The Effect of Illuminants on

The Psychological
Basic Color Schemes,
Introduction to Period Color,

Color and Industry Safety,

Color for Non-Residential Application,

Full Development of Color Scheme,
Texture, Form, Balance, Scale, Repetition and Emphasis, 

Room by Room Color Schemes
Space PlanningPlanning InteriorsPresenting Space Planning IdeasSpace in the Interior, HeatingUniversal Design for Special Needs Kitchens and Bathrooms
FurnitureFurniture Materials,

Metal, Timber,

Woodworking Equipment and Processes
Furniture Materials,

Plastics, Upholstery
Anthropometrics and ErgonomicsDesigning Process

Spontaneous Design
Furniture Procurement,

Schedules and Arrangement
Accessories and Equipment
Lighting Design
Window Treatments
ConstructionFoundations and
External Walls,


External Doors,

Partitions and
Environmental Services,

Structural Materials,

Building Surveys
Measured Drawings
Full Set
of Construction Documents
Professional PracticeInterior Design Professional ScopeFirst RequirementsSetting Up Your Own BusinessManaging ProjectsExhibitions and
Trade Accounts


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Well, there you have it!

I hope this has helped to shed some light on what interior designers actually learn in an undergraduate college level or higher education course.

If you are a designer yourself, I’d be interested to know how this compares with what you learned when getting your education.

If you are interested in getting a design education this info might help when looking into and comparing courses.

There’s a good chance I will look at other interior design course curriculum for comparison and also look into the options for different levels of study online, from basic decorating on up in the near future.

Would you consider studying online?

What, if any, of the topics of the course are you curious to know more about or see examples of?

Hit me up in the comments or email me at hello@designbaddie.com.

If you haven’t already, read my first interior design student post: 4 Lessons for Your First Assignment in Interior Design School.

The next installment in Design Diaries follows


Happy design learning!

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