The 10 Best Interior Design Courses 2021

The 10 Best Interior Design Courses 2021

Home is where your art is. And for interior designers, their art is the home. We’ve all become more intimate with our interior spaces, and there has never been more impetus around making your daily environment the most productive, happy, and personal it can be.

Interior design, then, is a booming profession. Whether it’s helping a landlord create the perfect Airbnb, working on the lobby for an international law firm, or doing a good old-fashioned home makeover. Interior design is a career that can be cozy, classy, and comfortable all at the same time.

And you want to learn! Thankfully, it’s easier than ever to get a headstart on your interior design goals. There are a plethora of great online courses that maximize modern multimedia to give you visual and interactive methods of learning.

This guide will let you know what to expect from online courses, how to go about choosing one, and then rundown the ten best interior design courses on the market.

Which Interior Design Course Is Right for Me?

The key thing to focus on is your own level and aspirations. If you are intent on making this a career, it might be best to go for a course that is accredited by a professional body. However, our list focuses more on hobbyist courses delivered by well-known interior designers, although there are a few traditional courses too.

Interior design courses run the gamut. They can be a short, theoretical tour through the concepts of design or a small introduction to the types of software you might be using, with a mood board exercise thrown in for good measure. These types of courses can be enjoyed with a cup of tea in hand and may not have any practical element whatsoever.

Alternatively, they can be full-blown computer courses on a particular computer-aided design (CAD) software; with in-depth lectures on the principles of architectural philosophy and 5000-word essays to complete about the evolution of the interior across different human societies in different epochs – and what that says about civilization as a whole.

So, as always, it’s key to gauge your own appetite and understand what you’re looking for. If you’re dipping your toes in the water to get a feel for the space or to complete a small, specific project, go for one of the shorter courses we listed. On the other hand, if you want a new profession that could last a lifetime, check out the accredited courses on our list so you walk away with all the tools you need.

We go into more detail about how to choose the right course for you in our Extra Credit section.

Note on Prices

With online courses on the most popular skills sites, there are often massive discounts available to members and newcomers, as well as just periodical or seasonal sales. Very often, courses can be found to be up to 90% off.

Alternatively, several courses on the list require a subscription to the main platform to access the content.

For simplicity’s sake, we have listed the highest possible price you can expect to pay for a course, but you should always keep an eye out for discounts on sites such as Udemy.

For courses provided by a typical educational provider such as a university, you can expect to pay the price listed here.

So, the space is waiting. Let’s take a tour through the hallways of our list.

Top 10 Best Interior Design Courses 2021


1. How to Work With Interior Design Styles Like a Pro

  • 5h 52m $169.99 Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Taught by: Erikka Fogleman
  • Level: Beginner
  • Resources included: Lectures and Quizzes

Why we like it

For its brevity, this course covers a lot of ground, giving you a useful grounding in core stylings and materials to give you confidence in the theory of interior design.

Review

What we like about this course is that it touches upon a very wide variety of elements involved in interior design. This does result in some of the knowledge being mildly undercooked but nevertheless makes it function excellently as a primer and gives you several new weapons in your arsenal as you go about creating your space.

Some of the key elements covered are furniture and its effect on a space. How materials can be used either on surfaces or as decorative aperitifs, the way that color can influence your space, and–relatively uniquely for a short course– the impact of windows and flooring.

Combined with its thorough overview of 18 popular interior design styles, such as traditional or English, this is a lovely theoretical introduction to the possibilities of interior space.

What it is not, though, is a practical course that can guide you through putting together a room. The same tutor has a course for that which we also feature on our list.

Pros

  • Great overview of styles
  • Broad knowledge for a short course

Cons

  • Not particularly practical
  • Not project focused


2. Sketchup and Vray Course

  • 11h $89.99 Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Taught by: Manish Paul Simon
  • Level: Beginner to Advanced
  • Resources included: Lectures, Graphical Assets

Why we like it

Sketchup and Vray are used throughout the industry as a great starter tool for envisioning a space, and this course excellently guides you through them.

Review

Sketchup, and the 3D render plugin Vray, are often what interior designers turn to when creating a space for the first time. As one of the most popular and comprehensive CAD tools around, anyone serious about a career in interior design, or perhaps already has one, is advised to gain the skills.

Sketchup’s main attraction is that because it is intuitive to use (you can “push” and “pull” things around as you design them). Learning even the basics can rapidly result in you being able to forge entire throne rooms and palaces using the software. Add in Vray’s 3D modeling and lighting software, and even a hobbyist can have astonishingly professional-looking and gorgeous designs created in no time.

As part of the course, you’ll use the software to create a modular kitchen and chic modern bedroom. The graphical assets (which can cost extra money) required to do so are included as part of the course, so as long as you have a decent computer, you can take part.

Taught by a professional architect and interior designer, there is even a little bit here and there on color, styling, and materials–especially as they pertain to the two main projects taught. However, this is a course that you would take in conjunction with a more theory-based interior design course in order to get the most out of it.

Pros

  • Learn the key software you need
  • Well-structured and delivered
  • Professional skills

Cons

  • A little short for all the content crammed in
  • Very little theory


3. Interior Design Course From the Interior Design Institute

  • Self-paced (1 Year Maximum) $999.00 Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Taught by: Various Lecturers
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Resources included: Lectures, Handouts, Portfolio Website

Why we like it

A reasonably priced and accredited course that is flexible, academic, and broad with plenty of useful enterprise tips.

Review

If you’re looking for something accredited and significantly more in-depth to help you kick start a full-on career but aren’t necessarily looking for a full three-year program you might typically find at universities, then this is a great course. It has ongoing enrollment, so you could even start today!

There are 12 modules. Alongside the usual suspects like lighting, color and materials are more academic modules that focus on the history of interior design as well as more enterprise-focused modules such as how to engage and work with clients and how to produce documentation that can help you secure sales.

A nice extra is that there are even optional advanced modules for the dedicated student. So if you find yourself tearing through the work with aplomb, there is more opportunity to juice the value out of the course if you’re prepared to go above and beyond.

This, then, is a course that is aimed at the want-to-be professional. There is an impressive amount packed within the course, and the diploma is accredited by all the interior design institutions that you would want it to be.

It’s self-paced, but the institute expects it to take around half a year. As a more expensive course, it also comes with a host of value-adding extras, such as an exclusive Facebook group to meet your peers and a free portfolio website.

Pros

  • Excellent, detailed academic course
  • Flexible start times
  • Bonus modules for the committed student

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Required dedication


4. How to Design a Room in 10 Easy Steps

  • 1h 52m $90 Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Taught by: Erikka Fogleman
  • Level: Beginner
  • Resources included: Lectures and Quizzes

Why we like it

Like its sister course, this contains a lot of excellent and easily applicable info that is geared towards helping you take the actual steps required to create your space.

Review

Neatly designed as a ten-step process, this course focuses on a simple-to-follow, practical set of applicable tips to transform your space—no fuzzy theory here (well, there’s a little). Rather, by bringing only a measuring tape, ruler, and pencil, this course will give you a bit of motivation, inspiration, and know-how to make the changes you are looking for.

You’ll still get a small overview of some styles and tips on how to stock it with the furnishings you need. But mainly this course will focus on the doing and, if you follow the steps, by the end of it you will sitting in a different space.

The course can be applied to bedrooms, family rooms, dining rooms, and bedrooms, and it doesn’t skimp on the importance of color and how it can be used to varying dramatic effects to bring a room to life.

A great, handy, fun-sized course for anyone with a practical undertaking they need getting done.

Pros

  • Very simple to follow
  • Designed to get a project off the ground

Cons

  • A bit short
  • Not much theory


5. Style Your Space: Creative Tips and Techniques for Interior Design

  • 1h Free (With Skillshare Membership) Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Taught by: Emily Henderson
  • Level: Beginner
  • Resources included: Lectures

Why we like it

Starring HGTV star Emily Henderson, this course has a little bit more about finding and identifying your own style than other short courses on the list.

Review

The big draw of this short course is the star, Emily Henderson. If you’re a fan of hers, then opting for this course is a no-brainer. It’s short, light on theory, and there isn’t much of either a professional or practical grounding here.

What there is instead is Hendersen’s warm-hearted, open style of instruction and lashings of creativity. Most importantly, there’s a lot in this course about identifying and connecting with the style that works for you and how to take that forward with some practical, creative tips. She touches on the importance of trends and how to follow them or, at times, reject them.

As you might imagine, there are also very high production values. Mainly shot in her California home and delivered in a homey way, this is an intimate course that will leave you buzzing to get to work on recreating your own space using the tips and techniques she goes through.

Pros

  • Led by a TV star
  • Well shot with good production values

Cons

  • Very short
  • A little light on genuine content


6. Holistic Interior Design: Transform Your Personal Space for Well-Being

  • 1 hr 22m Free (With Skillshare Membership) Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Taught by: Clear Studios
  • Level: Beginner
  • Resources included: Lectures

Why we like it

A course that focuses on mental health, mindfulness, and well-being and how you can augment your personal space to help you win the war of the everyday.

Review

If you want some simple yet well-grounded tips in improving your environment in order to aid your mental health, but are not looking for some revolutionary approach on interior design, then this is a great short course that means you can have the changes done within a day.

Split into five principles–Senses, Comfort, Material, Biophilia (the love of nature), and Care–the course helps you take practical action to improve your wellness. Seven techniques–Observations, Space Planning, Color, Light, Ethical Sourcing, Plants, and Organization–are discussed in detail with easy handholding tips on how to execute them.

Nothing in this course is groundbreaking, and you could argue it’s a bit too general–it certainly won’t help you build a career in interior design. This course is perfect for those looking for a quick fix and who really don’t know how to start. In line with its message, the music, ambiance, and instruction style of the course will also make you feel like you’re taking care of yourself.

Pros

  • Very simple and focused
  • Good to just “feel better”

Cons

  • Very little professional application
  • Narrow and lacking in theory


7. 3DS Max 2020 Interior Design for Beginners

  • 2h 42m Free (With Skillshare Membership) Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Taught by: Vito
  • Level: Beginner
  • Resources included: Lectures

Why we like it

A fun, thorough, and fast course that gives you a primer on an excellent AutoCAD software so you can begin laying out your dream home.

Review

If you’re looking to get into the more technical meat of interior design but haven’t got the foggiest on how to use CAD software, this is a great course.

Unlike many courses on this list, this is not focused on mood boards, styles, colors, lightning, or any of the other things that may jump to mind when you think of doing an interior design course. Rather, this is a great entry point into the more architectural elements that go into the design and how you can create 3D modeled spaces to bring the visions inside your head to the page–and create a practical and usable blueprint.

It uses the 3DS Max software, which has a thirty-day free trial–more than enough time to complete the course, gain the skills and decide if you wanted to purchase it from there. Vito takes students through an easy, step-by-step approach as he creates a simple room. You can follow along as he creates the room and, by doing so, learn what you need to about doing your own.

It’s a pleasure watching the rendering coming to life, Vito is a chirpy and enjoyable instructor, and there are plenty of useful tips even if you have some experience. That said, this is definitely a beginner’s course aimed at those who have never used AutoCAD before.

Pros

  • Fun instructor
  • Course is comprehensive for beginners
  • Easy to follow

Cons

  • 3DS Max isn’t everyone’s favorite software
  • No interior design theory beyond the basics


8. Kelly Wearstler Teaches Interior Design

  • 2h 13m Free (With Masterclass Membership) Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Taught by: Kelly Wearstler
  • Level: Beginner
  • Resources included: Lectures

Why we like it

Another course from a big name in the industry. If you’re a fan of Kelly’s work and the designer hotel revolution she was so instrumental in, this course is for you.

Review

Similar to the course on our list by Emily Henderson, this course allows you to get tips from the best. For the last twenty years, Wearstler has been a legendary name in the industry, and this course gives you a chance to get tips straight from “the grand dame of West Coast Interior Design.”

Although her work is most notable within the hotel industry, nothing about her approach can’t be brought into the home. The course goes over all of the essential elements that go into creating a home, with the added knowledge that if you are working with a larger space–perhaps a multi-residential Airbnb–then the tips “scale up” more effectively than some of the other courses on our list.

As well as the lessons, there are “field trips,” where Wearstler returns to sites of some of her more famous works and shows how the techniques she used can be applied on the grandest scale. It makes this course an enjoyable visual treat as well as a useful, practical bible to making your world a little more classy.

Pros

  • Taught by a titan of the industry
  • Excellent production values

Cons

  • Not very academic
  • A little bit self-involved


9. Inchbald Online Virtual Course

  • 12 weeks £1200 Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Taught by: Andrew Duff (and various tutors)
  • Level: Beginner
  • Resources included: Lectures, Handouts

Why we like it

A professional course from an accredited institute but with a more narrow focus, as it focuses on designing one interior space and working it from inception to completion.

Review

This is a superb beginner course but with a more involved and academic focus than some of the other courses on this list. You will have regular direct contact with a tutor, and the course runs upon a set timetable to follow. At 12 weeks long, it’s more involved than some others on this list, but it is well-tailored to complete novices.

It is constructed as a step-by-step guide to completing a single room. The methodology is the same you follow if you were working on something for a client. Rather than some of the other academic courses on our list, this course encourages you to keep focused on bringing one space to life.

Therefore, if wanted, it could happily be taken alongside the process of actually bringing that room to life, and the essays and modules could be completed with a parallel project like that in mind. It certainly isn’t a necessity, but the project-based approach lends itself to this kind of thinking.

The drawback to this course is that it’s UK-based. It makes no difference as the institute is accredited internationally (although the course is not), and the subject matter is completely transferable to a US or worldwide audience, but you may find some of the timings for lectures and deadlines a little odd.

Pros

  • Individualized tuition
  • Bring a project to life fully
  • Professional development

Cons

  • British-based can make timings awkward
  • Expensive


10. How to Use Minimalism to Live Your Best Life

  • 1h 54m $89.99 Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Taught by: Erikka Fogleman
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Resources included: Lectures, Quizzes

Why we like it

If minimalism is your jam, then this is the fruit you need to create the elegant, clean spaces you crave.

Review

The third course on our list from prolific instructor Erikka Fogleman, and this one is all about minimalism. She suggests taking her other courses first, and we mostly agree. Fogleman’s other two courses we’ve featured on this list will help you get the most out of this one, as she often leans on some of the knowledge explained there.

Less general than her other courses, this one is for those who know that a minimalist aesthetic is what they are going for, and they want a course tailored around that.

Minimalism is not about nothing. The fear for any minimalist is ending up with a space that is, in her words, “cold and bare.” Fogleman shows you how to create the correct focal point for the room, how to utilize negative space, and bring out the elements of the room. She details how to do this with the minimal (pun intended) fuss and gives you the confidence to begin working on your own project.

Pros

  • Good overview of a style
  • Great instructor

Cons

  • Requires some previous knowledge
  • Far too expensive for the amount of content



Extra Credit: Knowing What’s Inside

As you look over the courses on our list, you’ll find there are three main categories they can be distilled into. We’ll discuss how each might be suitable for you.

Lifestyle Courses

These courses, often taught by famous industry designers, try to give you an insight into the minds of the people who do this for a living and give you some tools to enact it within your own home. You aren’t going to launch a career in interior design by watching two hours of Emily Henderson, Kelly Wearstler, or Erikka Fogleman, but you’ll very quickly gather up tips, tricks, and inspiration for how to apply their methods into your own home.

Academic Courses

These courses are much more focused on building your career. The skills they teach are just as focused on client acquisition and understanding the purpose and history behind interior design as they are about the skills behind doing it. These longer, more expensive courses will also give you a diploma accredited by one of the many international bodies.

Software Courses

Finally, and crucially, there are software courses. These courses use CAD software to be able to create blueprints. These can be useful to you as a hobbyist or as a professional. For a hobbyist, it can be hugely desirable to “mock-up” an intended design before going in all guns blazing, slapping virulent orange on the wall before you realize that perhaps it doesn’t work with the periwinkle blue on the ceiling after all. Similarly, that massive breakfast bar isn’t going to work when it leaves no room for a fridge or means the cook has to breathe in every time they try to slide past it.

For a professional, the ability to use CAD is practically essential, as your clients will want to see a visualization of what you intend to do before letting you loose on their boutique hotel.

What Are Some of the Main Skills of Interior Design?

The skills of interior design are multifarious. It’s not just about having an artistic sense of what is good for a space but knowing how to work through various practical elements to bring it to life. Here are some of the main topics you will find covered in all the courses above.

Styles

A style is an overall look you are attempting to achieve. Are you trying to recapture the Italian renaissance in a 21st century Manhattan condo? Perhaps you want to bring a taste of English cottage life to your new build in Austin suburbia. Maybe you want to bring the intimate comfort of Hygge to your three-story townhouse. Knowing how your aspirations fit in some of the pre-established styles will help you make choices that work with that style–or how to bend and break it for a unique look.

Similarly, knowing what trends are in and out at the moment is essential. For a professional, at least, understanding if you’re producing something that is either with or against the grain, will be crucial. If your client wants something “on trend” and you deliver an office of rich mahogany and velvet carpets–they may be somewhat irate.

Materials

Speaking of mahogany, materials are all important. A good interior design course will help you understand what a particular material can bring to a room. Far more importantly, you will learn how easy or hard it can be to enact certain materials. Although your all-white ice palace with granite tables might look awesome as a 3D render, it may be challenging to enact such a fanciful design. Materials help you define your limitations and give the space the texture it needs.

Lighting

Lighting is often overlooked by beginner designers or at least seen as an afterthought—quite the contrary. Light is the fundamental lattice around which you design your space. If you only have one window and can only ever have one window, it needs to be utilized, protected, and exploited so that the light that comes in works with the space and refracts in a way that augments the choices you’ve made in the room. Sometimes as an interior designer, you have a choice about how many windows you are installing, and this decision will have ramifications that will change every aspect going forward.

Moreover, artificial lighting is not as simple as “lamp goes here, lamp goes there.” Lamps can serve as the pillars of your room, and knowing what the light is doing and how it will paint the space will help you make better design choices at every step.

Color

Your favorite color and the color that will work with a room are not the same thing. The client might want purple–but what purple? Similarly, you might be dead set on fire engine red for every surface. No problem, but it means that you then must build a room that harnesses that color and doesn’t let it become overwhelming or clash with the purpose and furnishings of the room that may or may not already exist.

Understanding color and the moods it creates are vital to any interior design project. Whether you’re starting with a color and building a room to match or adding a color to a finished design, learning about their effects and how they decorate a space is vital when becoming a great interior designer.

Furnishings

It’s no good creating a beautiful minimalist space then slapping two ostentatious L-shaped sofas in it. Thinking about the practical use of furniture and what the space is required is do is an essential first step in creating a room.

If a client demands a space with three armchairs, making the room work with that demand is what separates the good interior designers from the great. Good designers create a great room and put three armchairs in it. Great designers create a room that is designed for three armchairs.

Always think about what furnishings you need, what furnishings you want – and build the room from that point. It will make every aspect of the room come to life, and practicability and aesthetics will meld to unify the space in a way that makes it a joy to be in. Everyone has been in a room with a random chair in the corner or a table eating all the central walking space. These courses will help you avoid making such elementary mistakes.

Accessories

We’ve all been in a room that feels like an antique shop. Where cuckoo clocks and Chinese scrolls adorn every surface, and you’re not entirely sure where to look due to the scandalous riot of knickknacks sashayed around.

Accessories can do wonders for a space. They are the final accent mark or dash of style that can tie an entire theme together. Ever since we were kids putting posters on our walls, we’ve understood how a single poster of Matt Bellamy makes a dull room become something fantastic. Professional accessorizing is taking that basic knowledge and professionalizing it so that the space you’ve created blends and bonds in a way that stirs the senses of all who experience it.

What to Expect From an Online Course

Online education has become more prevalent than ever. Thankfully it’s also become a lot more valuable. The increasing efficacy of technology means high definition video, tutorial interactions, and interactive exercises have become better and better as time goes on. More institutions, including the ones whose courses we’ve put on this list, are switching to pure online education as a consequence of both the pandemic, but also the fact that the technology powering it is better than ever.

However, be aware that some courses are designed to be relaxing “advanced youtube videos” that you can sit back with a cup of coffee and spin around on your office chair while enjoying, replaying, and walking away with a “huh, that was neat.” Others, though, are a lot more demanding and require you to complete assignments, attend tutorials or at the very least follow along with the practical element in order to get any value out of them.

The software courses on this list, for example, are useless if you don’t download the software and click along with the instructor. The academic courses, similarly, require genuine engagement for them to be worth the price of admission.

As for the lifestyle courses, it’s true you can simply enjoy these as a set of videos from a genuine pro, but even with these courses, putting a bit of extra intellectual muscle and engaging with the practical elements that the course offers up is a surefire way to the best value out of your investment–and here at Learning Nest we always recommend learning actively rather than passively and putting your newly acquired knowledge to the test. Some of our courses are also focused on building up a single project, so it’s good to have a project in mind before embarking on them.

Home Is Where the Art Is

So there you have it. Our list of the best interior design courses on the market today and what you can expect from doing a course online. A touch of interior design can help us all feel a little bit better about ourselves. If we feel comfortable in our environment, we feel better about the day. Whether you’re a hobbyist looking to bring a bit of glamour to your space, or someone who wants to tour the world designing government buildings, hotels, and corporate lobbies, interior design is a skill that just keeps giving. So enjoy finding a course and making the world more of a home today.