Interior Decorator

Program Outline

Instruction Sets
Your accredited online learning program includes seven Instruction Sets designed to take you step-by-step through the knowledge and skills you’ll employ in your new career in Interior Decorating.You receive the first course as your enrollment has been accepted, and other courses will follow as you complete your exams.

Computer Specifications
You will need access to a Microsoft® Windows®-based computer (or Mac equivalent) and high-speed Internet in order to complete your program with Penn Foster.

Here is an overview of what you'll learn and the order in which you'll access your lessons:

Program Goal and Outcomes

Program Goal: To prepare students for an entry-level career as an interior decorator.

Program Outcomes:
Upon completion of the program, students will be able to:

  • Recognize the difference between interior decorators and interior designers, and understand employment opportunities in the interior decorating field, interviewing techniques, and the characteristics of a successful decorator in different specialty areas and for different types of clients.
  • Identify clients’ needs by recognizing their basic physical and psychological needs, understanding the clients’ goals along with their budgets and priorities, and determining a client’s preferences in regard to furniture styles, colors, fabrics, textures, and patterns.
  • Identify the elements and principles of design including line, form, color, value, texture, pattern, light, space, proportion, scale, emphasis, and unity and recognize whether elements and principles of design have been successfully applied to a décor by understanding the importance of the function of the room.
  • Distinguish the importance of color, recognize how color affects people and how color balance is created within a room; identify primary, secondary, and intermediate colors, and categorize their placement on the color circle.
  • Recognize various color schemes based on the color circle, how colors affect each other, and how the amount of light and various surfaces can affect color.
  • Identify the four general categories of furniture styles most widely used today and recognize typical furniture pieces from the past to present day and the periods during which these pieces originated.
  • Identify furniture quality and workmanship to meet a client’s needs based on the best use, as well as appearance, and recognize traffic patterns and how to create a focal point in a room by understanding harmonious furniture arrangements, including how to balance line, object, and space.
  • Recognize how to measure a room, make rough sketches, prepare an accurate scaled plan, and use furniture templates Understand the importance of floor treatments and how lighting effects floor treatments, the differences between types of flooring and floor coverings, the differences and characteristics between carpets and rugs, and how to select and use appropriate finishes on floors.
  • Distinguish between various architectural features of walls including the use color, texture, and patterns in choosing wall treatments for specific décor and recognizing how to create scaled elevations.
  • Recognize how to choose window treatments including shades, blinds, shutters, and panels to suit many decorating situations, and understand accurate measurements and yardage requirements for curtains, draperies and window treatments, in addition to studying how to draw windows to scale on an elevation.
  • Identify a wide variety of architectural symbols and terms while reading blueprints.
  • Recognize the three types of house plan layouts according to their activity zones and room by room problem areas and the solutions.
  • Understand the characteristics of natural and synthetic fibers, the types of special fabric finishes, types of knits, yarns, common weaves and fabric yardage requirements, in addition to, the information on an upholstery tag.
  • Understand how to light a room and choose accessories to meet all of your client’s needs and desires according to the selection of paint, fabric, wallpaper, and specific situations to meet a room’s style, and mood.
  • Identify the three types of residential lighting and distinguish between incandescent and fluorescent lighting, and the effects of natural and artificial light on specific colors of décor.
  • Comprehend how to plan spaces for home offices, home fitness centers, and home entertainment rooms by recognizing how to choose furniture for these rooms, based on anthropometric and ergonomic principles.
  • Understand the concept of selling and how to approach a client by learning how to look for new clients, how to present merchandise, develop a follow-up system, and write appropriate thank-you notes.
  • Comprehend how to establish yourself as a professional by studying how to assemble a decorating team, and expand your clientele, identify the subcontractors, tradespeople, and custom fabricators, and recognizing how to set up a studio or office, locate suppliers, set up a source file, and how to keep records for income and self-employment taxes.
  • Develop a decorating plan for a living room and submit specific information regarding the plan along with photographs, floor plans, paint chips, fabric swatches, window treatments, and elevations.
  • Pass the cumulative final examination.

Instruction Set 1

Starting Your Program
Succeed by learning how to use your Penn Foster program. Understand how to use your Student Portal, including your My Homepage and My Courses pages; access the Penn Foster Community and use it to find answers; and connect with Penn Foster on various social media sites.

Decorating Today
The history of interior decorating; meeting and interviewing clients; characteristics of a successful interior decorator; employment opportunities.

Instruction Set 2

Meeting Your Client's Needs
Determining your client's needs, preferences, goals, and budget priorities; developing a decorating plan, including measurements and room graphs to scale.

The Elements and Principles of Design
Identifying the elements of design: line, form, color and value, texture, pattern, light, and space. The principles of design: balance, proportion, and scale; emphasis and unity.

Instruction Set 3

The Principles of Color
The properties of color; how to use color in interior decorating; planning a color scheme; using the color wheel.

Identifying Furniture Styles and Periods
Exploring different furniture styles - Traditional, Provincial, Contemporary, Modern - from the 17th to the 20th century; identifying styles and integrating each into your rooms.

Decorating with Furniture
Arranging rooms according to function and use; creating the best traffic patterns; positioning furniture on a floor plan; recognizing quality workmanship and construction in furniture.

Learning Aids:
• Furniture Template
• Triangle
• T-Square
• Color Wheel

Instruction Set 4

Importance of floors in room decor; carpeting; rugs; wood floors; durable floors; how to select the appropriate floor treatment; measuring, scaling, and using a floor plan.

How to treat walls in decorating; wall coverings, including wallpaper, paint, mirrors, paneling, and tile; drawing scaled elevations.

Different types of windows; planning and choosing window treatments - curtains, draperies, shades, and blinds; window treatments for special situations; measuring for window treatments; drawing windows on elevations.

Decorating from Building Plans
Identifying decorating problems when reading blueprints; types of housing plans; evaluating house plan layouts; discussing specific decorating problems and solutions, room by room.

Instruction Set 5

Using natural and synthetic fabrics: silk, wool, cotton, linen, special fibers; identifying weaves; selecting the right fabric texture.

Lighting and Accessories
The three types of lighting; lighting and the color scheme; making use of lamps and lighting fixtures in decorating; using wall and table accessories; tips for arranging accessory groupings.

Special Purpose Rooms
Planning home offices, home fitness centers, and home theaters; selecting furniture based on anthropometric and ergonomic principles; coordinating floors, walls, upholstery, equipment, and lighting for these three types of special purpose rooms.

Instruction Set 6

The Skills and Methods of Selling
Qualifying a client; how to "approach" a customer; how to present merchandise; developing a follow-up system; how to prospect for clients.

Starting Your Own Business
Residential and contract decorating; developing a design program; working with clients, subcontractors, tradespeople, custom fabricators, and suppliers; advertising, charging clients, and getting paid; keeping financial records.

Instruction Set 7

Graded Project: Decorating a Living Room

Final Examination

Supplements: (Available online)
• Work Experience Option
• Work Experience Option Forms


Online Library and Librarian
Students in Penn Foster Career School have access to an online library for use during their studies. Students can use this library to do the required research in the courses they complete or can use it for general reference and links to valuable resources. The library contains helpful research assistance, articles, databases, books, and Web links. A librarian is available to answer questions on general research-related topics via email and to assist students in research activities during their studies with Penn Foster Career School International.

We reserve the right to change program content and materials when it becomes necessary