Word of the Day

interior design


the job of designing the way that the inside of a room or building looks, for example by choosing the colours of the walls and carpets and the style of the furniture

Origin and usage

The term interior design refers to a specific practice of home furnishing, but the art of designing and cultivating rooms, homes or entire buildings has a long and rich history which often combines art, architecture and even philosophy. From the mid-1800s onwards, interior design became a commonly used term thanks, in part, to the rise of specialist collectors.


Although it is commonly thought that the first examples of interior design came with the development of horticulture and the establishment of increasingly luxurious homes, nomadic cultures also practiced a form of interior design. This can be seen with practical decorations, like moveable rugs. While many of the earliest human dwellings were decorated with murals or other wall paintings and tapestries, moveable furniture was usually reserved exclusively for places of significance, such as palaces or public buildings. Some examples of interior design include wall decorations, as well as floor coverings, statues, furniture and a huge variety of objects intended for decoration or practical use.

One of the most famous practitioners of interior design in the 19th century was the writer, critic and artist Oscar Wilde, who toured the USA with his lecture series on ‘The House Beautiful’. In the 20th century, magazines such as House Beautiful and The Ladies’ Home Journal helped to shape the conventions of modern decorating. Major events such as the First and Second World Wars and increasing interest in different cultures gave rise to various movements in interior design. The history and art of interior design is now studied in schools and universities around the globe.


“If you think interior design is just about choosing fabrics and collecting colour charts, think again.”

(Liz Ford)



View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

About the author

Macmillan Dictionary

Macmillan Dictionary

Macmillan Dictionary is an award-winning, one-stop reference for English learners and speakers around the world.

1 Comment

  • Interior designing is so much more than just choosing fabrics and collecting colours. I totally agree! Thanks for explaining interior designing Liz as there is a false concept of it being an easy job.

Leave a Comment