Online Interior Design Courses
Blackford Centre for Interior Design
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it usually take to complete the course?
Students can take up to 18 months to complete the course. But you can do it as quickly or slowly as you want. That's one advantage of distance learning.
Do I need to finish the course within a certain time?
You can take as long as you want. Unlike other organisations, we don't set any time limits.
What do the courses cost?
To see the fees, click here. You can also enrol on that page.
Does the cost for the course include everything I need? Or are there any extra fees?
There are no other costs or fees.
Can I spread the cost of the courses over a period of time?
Yes. You can pay over five months. This costs about 20% more. To see the cost of paying by instalments, please click here.
How could I get my money back if I don't like the course?
Just return the course in good condition within 60 days of receiving it, and we'll send you a full refund.
And if, after seeking work at the end of the course, you don't earn at least the cost of the course inside three months, we'll also refund your fees.
Can I start the course at any time?
Yes. You can start whenever you want. There are no fixed starting dates.
Is the course all from home, or do I have to go to a test centre?
It's all from home.
I live in the USA, UK, Ireland, Australia, Canada... etc. etc. Is the course suitable for me?
Yes. We have students in 28 countries. And we have two editions of the course. One is for North America and those who want to pay in US dollars. The other edition is for the UK and Europe, and people who want to pay in sterling. But we welcome payment in any currency.
How can I contact my tutor or the Blackford Centre?
There are two types of people you can contact - your tutor and a course advisor.
The tutor marks your work, and helps you with any problems. You can fax, email or post assignments to your tutor, whenever you want.
We don't give out the tutor's phone number, because a few people would spend all day talking to their tutors, who would never get any work done.
But sometimes students get stuck, or have an urgent query. If so, you can phone a course advisor at the Blackford Centre at any time during work hours. If you leave a message out of work hours we'll ring you back the next day. You can contact course advisors as often as you want, and about anything to do with interior design.
Do you teach hand drawing or computer drawing?
We teach you how to draw by hand - the easy way. And we show you how to do scale drawings - painlessly. But, best of all, we include a complete program called Visual Home. This lets you produce beautiful floor plans - even if you can't do scale drawings. So you'll be able to produce great drawings that clients will admire.
Will the course give me credits towards a degree or some other study?
No. But it will help you set up and run your own business. And we encourage all students to continue their studies after completing the course.
We are an Approved Learning Provider for ELCAS. Our Learner Provider Reference number is: 2558. To get to the ELCAS website, click here. To find us, search for our Learner Provider ID, which is 2558.
We are registered with ELCAS under our corporate trading name of 'Home Study Courses Limited'.
Are the tutors practising interior designers?
Yes, all tutors are practising interior designers. Some other organisations use college lecturers, which means you don't get the information from the real 'coal face'.
Can interior design be taught, just like accountancy or the law?
Yes. Only it's a lot more fun!
Will the Diploma enable me to practise professionally?
Yes. the course is designed specifically to help you set up and run your own practice. Some courses, even at university, seem to omit this all-important aspect. We give you enough technical knowledge to practise, and we also provide detailed guidance on marketing, operation and finance to run your own business.
See also 'Are there any restrictions on me setting up as an interior designer' below.
Will the qualification get me a job in an interior design firm?
There's a lot of competition for jobs in these firms. And the easiest way to earn a living is to work for yourself. So on this course we focus on how you can work from home as an interior designer. It's the most fun you can have with your clothes on! Later on, you might find through networking that you're on the inside track for a job with a big interior design firm. But by then you won't want to work for anyone else!
Will you show me how to find work?
Yes, the course includes practical guidance of getting work. You can also discuss this with your tutor or a course advisor.
Is there a final exam?
No, there is no final exam. The course is based on continuous assessment, through assignments you send to your tutor.
And continuous assessment lets you check all the time that you're on course to succeed.
So you should look on the assignments as an exciting challenge. No, it's true! You'll enjoy them. We promise you!
What happens if I fail an assignment?
You do the work again! 80% of students complete the course without ever failing an assignment. But you might misunderstand the question, or produce an insufficiently detailed answer. So the tutor will explain the problem and ask you to send in the assignment again. When you do this, your work will be much better.
Can I submit hand-written assignments?
Yes. That's no problem.
Can I submit assignments by E-mail?
Yes. That's no problem.
Can I join the course without prior experience?
Yes. That's no problem. We make no assumptions about people's prior knowledge.
Can I tackle the topics in any order I choose?
Yes, you can. So, if you want to tackle a particular topic, you can go straight to that module. This is useful if you have a job or a client that requires you to know about a particular subject. You might note that some other organisations supply only one or two modules at a time.
But we prefer you to tackle the modules in the order we set. That's because we've put a lot of thought into structuring the course to make it right for you.
I haven't studied for years. The thought of returning to study makes me nervous.
Don't worry. We sympathize. But this course is nothing like your memories of being stuck inside a stuffy classroom on a summer's day with an old-style teacher droning on.
For a start, this is a subject that interests you (or you wouldn't have got this far).
And getting this deep into the website shows that you can absorb information and concentrate for long periods of time.
Also, you'll see that we write clearly and simply. And that's how we've written the course materials. It's true that some organisations write long and boring pages that make your eyes glaze over. We promise you that our course is nothing like that. You'll find this course is informative and enjoyable. In fact, many students are almost upset at finishing the course.
Do I get the whole course or individual modules at a time?
We send you the whole course when you enroll. This means you can study any topic you want to. You can also see what topics are coming up. Getting everything in one package makes it easier for you to get an overview of the course.
As we mentioned above, some organisations supply only one or two modules at a time. And even though the courses appear to offer great value (such as a free drawing board), these items doesn't come with your pack. In fact, you'd be surprised how few materials come in some organisations' packs. We think this leads to disappointment and resentment, so we genuinely give you everything in your pack when you enroll.
How does this course compare with others?
We think this is the best course in the world. Bar none. But please examine other courses before making a decision. Consider these points:
1. Is the course comprehensive?
2. Will your studies be supported by a tutor? Research shows that people succeed much better on courses that include a personal tutor.
3. Is it interactive? That is, do the course materials regularly make you stop and think, and do exercises? Too many courses consist of page after page of boring lecture notes.
4. Does it teach you about setting up your own business? College courses are often weak on this point.
5. Is it accredited?
6. Can you get a refund if you don't like the course?
So, how can I find out about other courses?
1. See if any courses are available at your local college or nearby university.
2. Scour the internet. But beware: hundreds of dot com entrepreneurs think they can teach interior design.
3. See if you can contact a careers advisor. Careers advisors know nothing about interior design, as they would be the first to admit. And the careers books they consult will probably suggest getting a three-year degree in interior design. Which may (or may not) be a good thing, but it isn't an option for most of our students (many of whom already have a degree!).
Do you cover commercial designs?
Yes, the Diploma course now explains how to tackle interior design in offices, hotels, restaurants and retail outlets. So if a residential client asks you if you can refurbish their store, you'll know what to do.
Can a newcomer break into interior design and earn money?
Yes. people are increasingly interested in their home, and are making increasing use of interior designers. In addition, design and fashion keeps changing, so homes quickly look dated, which is an opportunity for you to earn a living.
There is no country in the world that stops you from working as an interior designer.
Australia - The Design Institute of Australia observes: "The design industry is not protected by any form of regulation as to who can claim to be a designer". This means you can work as an interior designer. Click here
USA - We have written a separate page - click here for information about interior design in the USA.
To help you set up your own practice, we provide detailed advice on forming a company, keeping records and paying tax.
What organisations can I join after completing the course?
USA and Canada - Our US and Canadian students can't join ASID (the American Society of Interior Designers), because that organisation requires a degree in interior design. Please note that to practice you don't need membership of ASID or any other organisation.
Nor can you join NCIDQ, IIDA or IDC, because they restrict membership to applicants who have studied interior design at FIDER-approved universities.
Most US designers are not members of these organisations, and you don't need to pass their exams to practice interior design.
UK: British students (and other nationalities) should be able to join BIDA, if you think the cost is worth it.
See also 'Are there any restrictions on me setting up as an interior designer?' above.
What's the difference between interior design and decorating?
A decorator concentrates on fabrics, paint and upholstery, whereas a designer also covers space planning and room layout.
In the US, where this issue arises, the distinction between decorating and design is an artificial one. It has come about because 23 states have passed laws restricting the use of the word 'certified interior designer'. So some designers call themselves an 'interior decorator' to make sure they conform to the law.
Using the word 'decorator' implies a somewhat lower form of life, and it's not a term we use because it denigrates the work of thousands of hard working designers.
No one can stop you working as an interior designer. You don't need to pass any certification or board exams to practice. Don't let them hoodwink you into believing this. It isn't true.
Is the course accredited or endorsed?
Our course has been endorsed under the ABC Awards' Quality Licence Scheme. This means that we have undergone an external quality check to ensure that our organisation and the courses it offers, meet certain quality criteria. ABC Awards' endorsement involves a robust and rigorous quality audit by external inspectors to ensure quality is consistently met. A regular review of courses is carried out as part of the endorsement process. To this end the learning outcomes of the course have been benchmarked at Level 4 Award against level descriptors published by Ofqual, to indicate the depth of study and level of difficulty involved in successful completion by the learner.
ABC Awards is a leading national Awarding Organisation, regulated by Ofqual and the Welsh Government. They have a comprehensive portfolio of over 650 Ofqual regulated qualifications on the national Qualifications and Credit framework (QCF). It has a long-established reputation for developing and awarding high quality vocational qualifications across a wide range of industries.
At the end of this course successful learners will receive a Certificate of Achievement by ABC Awards and a Learner Unit Summary (which lists the details of all the units you have completed as part of your course).
How can I be sure that you're legitimate, and that you won't disappear with my money?
Here are some answers we hope will reassure you.
We've been in operation since 1995; so we're very established.
We publish our physical address at the bottom of each page - and you are welcome to visit us.
We're audited by ABC twice a year (you can phone them to verify they do that).
You can read the Reviews of our students on the web site.
You can ask us for the contact details of former students who will talk to you about their experiences.
We publish an Ethical statement here.
We're registered at Companies House: registration number 352 4886
Our VAT number is 729 1528 23
- Our Licence number granted by the Office of Fair Trading under the Consumer Credit Act 1974 is 606843.
Our bank is NatWest, 7 High Street, Wells, Somerset (we have money in the bank and no loans or overdraft).
We're registered with the UK government's Register of Learning Providers (www.ukrlp.co.uk); Number 10009490.
And finally, we love what we do; and we wouldn't do anything to jeopardise it.
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