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Glossary of Interior Design

 

 

 

The glossary of Interior Design and Decorating is provided as a reference to assist with the many terms that are related across all styles of decorating.  This section focuses on decorating in the generic or big picture perspective and is not specific to a particular decorating genre. 

Note:  The Glossary of terms listed below are provided by: “Furniture Quest”, The Furniture Store & Home Décor Directory from their “Glossary of Furniture & Interior Design Terms.

 

 

 

 


Note: Some furniture glossary terms may no longer be in common use and are posted for reasons of historical interest.


Furniture & Interior Design Glossary Terms - A

Abacus: The topmost member of the capital of a column.
Abrasion Wear: Distress or wear marks on fabrics, wood or metal. Created when a furniture or accessory surface experiences friction in use or handling.
Abstract: Style of design that uses general forms verses detailed realistic representations.
Acanthus Leaf: A leaf decoration often used on furniture, particularly on brackets and legs.
Accent Colors: Contrast colors used to enhance room color schemes.
Accessible Design: Interior and exterior design that meets prescribed requirements for people with disabilities. Guidelines and laws related to accessible design include such issues as standard dimensions and features such as door widths, clear space for wheelchair mobility, countertop heights, audible and visual signals, switch and outlet height, and more.
Accessories: Objects such as books, plants, vases, lamps, and decorative pieces. Find home accessories.
Acetate: A synthetic fiber made from cellulose, which is a common material in the cell walls of many plants. It is usually combined with other fibers to add a luxurious feel and appearance.
Acorn (or Acorn Turning): Turned ornament resembling an acorn; common in Jacobean furniture as finials on chair posts and bedposts, as pendants and as the profile of leg turnings in Jacobean tables.
Acrilan: A synthetic fiber used in producing Wear-Dated® fabrics.
Acroterium: Originally an ornament on the roof corners of Greek temples. In classical furniture, similar ornaments applied to the top corners of secretaries, bookcases, highboys and other furniture.
Acrylic: A synthetic fiber that's derived from a plant or chemical resin. Acrylic's best properties are its moderate strength and acceptance of brilliant color dyes. Acrylic also has a plush loft that will not flatten.
Adam Style: British neoclassical style that predominated during the later half of the 1700's. This style developed out of reaction to the more fanciful rococo style of the 1750's, and is characterized by slender, graceful lines, refined shapes and restrained ornamentation.
Adaptation: Furniture that captures the feel of an original design or period, but differs in some details.
Adelphi: Greek term meaning brother, which was the trade name of the three brothers Adam. These brothers are famous for the Adam style of the 18th Century.
Afghan: A coverlet or shawl of wool, knitted or crocheted in colorful geometric designs.
Ageing: Decorative technique used to create the effect of wear-and-tear on a wooden, painted, plastic or other surfaces.
Air Bed: A vinyl or rubber mattress core that's filled with air for support. Can be upholstered and covered with cushioning and ticking and be used in combination with a foundation. Find beds and mattresses.
Alcove: Recessed part of a room. Bed alcoves exist in Pompeian rooms, and such placing of the sleeping quarters was common in northern Europe through the Middle Ages and later. In the 18th Century special beds were designed to fit such recesses. Alcoves are also used for bookcases and cabinets, dining groups, etc.
Almery: A cupboard for doles of pensioners, family retainers.
Ambry: In medieval churches a recess for the storage of goods. The addition of doors gave it the cupboard form. The English equivalent became a large cupboard with doors; the interiors were fitted with shelves for storage.
Ambulantes: A small portable table.
American Colonial: Term loosely applied to all American furniture used by the colonies prior to the American Revolution. This style includes rough handmade pieces of the early American frontier, New England versions of Jacobean and Puritan (Cromwellian), furniture imported by settlers from Europe and Americanized versions of formal English and European designs. There is no clear division of this period but most agree to group it into Early Colonial and Late Colonial (American Provincial).
American Country: Simple designs originating from the earliest settlers in America during the Early Colonial period (see above). These pieces are very simple and often rough in design. This charming style is still very popular today.
American Frontier (American Primitive): This style of late 1700's to 1800's was created to meet the demands of the western frontier. Noted pieces include wagon seat twin chairs, sinks without plumbing, cupboards and cobbler's benches. Woods primarily used included ash, hickory, maple, black walnut and pine. Pieces of this period were usually painted black or in primary colors.
American Oriental: A machine-made domestic rug with Oriental design and colors to resemble a hand-tied Oriental rug.
Americana: Objects and decor items that are characteristic of American history or culture.
Amorini: Cupid ornaments found on Italian Renaissance furniture.
Angel Bed: A bed with a canopy but no front support. Find bedroom furniture.
Angora: Soft long hair of the Angora goat, often called mohair. The animal is native to Anatolia in the Angora province of Turkey.
Aniline Dye: Term applies to dyes derived from coal tar, which are used to color fabrics and leather.
Aniline-Plus: Term sometimes applied to leather finished with an opaque pigmented dye. Find leather furniture.
Anthemion: A honeysuckle design from classical Greek decorative motifs. Term refers to any conventional flower or leaf design.
Antique: Could be anything ranging from a piece of furniture to art. The U.S. government considers any item over 100 years old to be an antique, whereas most collectors use 50 years as a benchmark.
Antique Finish (or Antiquing): A paint or stain finish applied to an object to give an aged look.
Antique Satin: A drapery fabric that has a lustrous effect, normally made of rayon/acetate blends.
Antron: A registered Trademark of DuPont for Type 66 nylon fibers, which are used in many applications including fabrics.
Apothecary Chest: A low chest with small drawers that was originally used to store herbs for cooking and medicinal purposes. Find home accessory items.
Apron: The wooden panel connecting the surface and legs of a table or chair.
Arabesque: Decorative scroll work or other intricate ornamentation consisting of foliage, vases, leaves and fruits, or fantastic human and animal figures.
Arcade: A series of arches, with supporting columns or piers.
Area Rug: A small rug or carpet which covers only part of the floor. Find an area rug.
Arm Caps: Coverings, usually crafted from fabric, to protect the top surface of sofa and chair arms.
Arm Chair: Seating that has both a backrest and armrests. Find an arm chair for your living room or dining room.
Armoire: A tall wardrobe with doors and shelves for clothing, more recently armoires have been adapted for use as an entertainment center or computer workstation. Find an armoire.
Arrow Foot: A cylindrical foot that's tapered and separated from the leg by a turned ring.
Art Deco: A streamlined, geometric style of home furnishings and architecture popular in the 1920's and 1930's. Characteristics include rounded fronts, wood furniture with chrome hardware and, or, glass tops.
Art Glass: Decorative glass - includes stained, beveled, fused, blown, etched, leaded and cut.
Art Moderne: The Paris Expedition of 1925 introduced a fantastically modern design called Art Moderne. This styling is familiar because of its angular and straight shape. Geometric patterns are the main decoration.
Art Nouveau: Decorative style developed in France between 1890 and 1910. Tiffany lamps are a great example of this styles ornate and flowing lines.
Art Print: A print that is a reproduction of an original piece of artwork. Find an art print.
Artisan Style: A style characterized by fine but not overly ornate workmanship that celebrates the maker's community identity or ethnicity.
Arts & Crafts: Also commonly known as Mission style. This style was popular from the late 1800's through the 1920's. The Arts and Crafts movement was a reaction against the mass-produced and ornate Victorian furniture of that time.
Asian Style: A general term referring to styles of the Far East. Such as Chinese, Japanese, or Korean designs for example. Furniture with Asian characteristics are popular as a subset of contemporary style.
Astragal: Small, semi-circular molding applied to the glazing bars on cabinets and bookcases.
Attached Back Pillow: A pillow treatment that can't be removed from the upholstered piece, commonly found on sofas, loveseats and chairs.
Aubusson: A scenic tapestry used for wall hangings and upholstery. Named for Aubusson, France. Find a wall tapestry.
Austrian Shade (or Austrian Blind): A decorative window treatment with a scalloped lower edge. When the blind is drawn up it maintains the scalloped edge, creating folds of ruched fabric. Find shades and blinds.

Furniture & Interior Design Glossary Terms - B

Bachelor's Chest: A small low chest originating in the 1700's. Find a chest of drawers.
Backing: A coating that is applied to the back of fabric to prevent seam slippage and excess wear.
Backsplash: A small strip (usually wood) placed against the wall or on the back of a dry sink or console.
Backsplat: A slat of wood in the middle of a chair back.
Baffle: A device fixed to a light fitting to prevent light from glaring into the eyes.
Bag Table: 18th Century serving table with drawers and a cloth bag attached.
Bagging: A painting technique in which a crumpled bag (or other material) is dabbed onto a glazed or emulsioned wall to create textured patterns.
Baguette: A small convex molding with semi-circular contours.
Bail: A metal ring or hoop forming a handle.
Baize: Wool fabric resembling felt (usually green) used on gaming tables.
Bakelite: A trade name for one of the first plastics to come into widespread use. The colors of this plastic are usually limited to browns and blacks. Bakelite was a popular material used in producing early pieces of modern furniture.
Baker's Rack: Commonly an open slatted back storage unit with shelves used for storing goods in the kitchen such as cook books, wine, etc. Most commonly made of wood and metal or a combination of the two. Find a baker's rack.
Balance: The arrangement of objects around an epicenter, or creating an even feel or atmosphere in a room.
Ball & Claw: A carved lions or birds claw clutching a sphere, usually at the end of a cabriole leg or tables base.
Ball Foot: The rounded end of a turned leg having a hooded effect.
Balloon Back Chair: A rounded back Hepplewhite style chair in the shape of a hot-air balloon. Find a chair for your living room or dining room.
Balloon Shade: A window treatment with gathered fabric and soft billowy folds. Find window treatments and curtains.
Baluster: A small turned, square or flat column that supports a rail. Also used to form chair backs.
Bamboo Turning: Style of turning and painting wood to resemble bamboo. Popular in the 19th Century.
Banding: An Inlay or Marquetry that produces a color or grain contrast along the perimeter of a surface such as a tabletop.
Bandy Leg: American colonial term for the cabriole, or curved leg.
Banister-Back Chair: Generally made of maple and often ebonized. Features vertical split banisters in the back. Widely used in rural America in the 1700's.
Banquette: A long upholstered seat, settee or bench, that's usually built-in. Term also refers to the ledge at the back of a buffet.
Bar: A counter like piece of furniture or built-in cabinetry typically used for mixing and serving drinks. Find a bar or pub table.
Bar Stool: A stool that has a seat height of about 30", opposed to a counter stool that normally has a seat height of 24" to 26". Find a bar stool.
Barkcloth: A soft and textured fabric that resembles the bark of a tree.
Barley Twist: A furniture leg that's turned so that it resembles a screw thread.
Baroque: A highly ornate decorative style that originated in Italy in the 1600's. The style is characterized by irregular curves, twisted columns, elaborate scrolls and oversize moldings. The Italian equivalent of French "rococo".
Barrel Back: A chair or sofa with the arms and back forming a continuous curve. Find living room furniture.
Barrel Chair: A semicircular upholstered chair with a loose seat cushion. Find a living room chair.
Bassinet: A bed for a baby. Originally basket shaped. Find baby furniture.
Batik: Form of hand-printing fabric that originated in Indonesia; technique involves using wax as a resist to create a negative image.
Batten: A strip of wood that's attached to a wall to provide supports for fixing fabric or paneling.
Batting: Thin layers of natural or synthetic cloth used to line cushions, pillows, quilts or crafts.
Bauhaus: A style of the early 1900's taking its name from the German School of Architecture. This minimalist style has had a great effect on contemporary architecture and furniture design.
Bead: A small, convex molding of a nearly semi-circular section.
Beadboard: Traditionally, wood paneling that's routed vertically so that parallel lines span the height of the board. Beadboard is often used as a wall material, wainscoting and on cabinet doors.
Beading: A decorative detail that resembles a row of flattened beads.
Beau Brummel: A Georgian dressing table for men. Named after an English fashion arbiter.
Bed Frame (or Bed Base/Frame): A frame or type of platform that a bed rests on. Usually, a metal or wooden frame with legs used to raise the bed off of the floor, headboards can be attached to most bed frames. Find bed frames and bedroom furnishings.
Bed-In-A-Bag®: Bedding set that includes flat and fitted sheets, standard pillowcase pair, comforter, bed skirt and standard sham pair. Twin has one pillowcase and sham, king and California king have king size pillowcases and shams.
Bed Rails: Metal or wooden frames that join a headboard and footboard together and also support the mattress set. Most commonly used bed rail styles include hook-on and bolt-on designs.
Bed Skirt: A gathered or pleated strip of cloth reaching from the bottom of a mattress or box spring to the floor. Also referred to as a dust ruffle or bedskirt.
Bedding Ensemble: Can be any combination bedspreads, pillow shams, bed skirts, etc. Find bedding sets.
Bedspread: A decorative covering for a bed that can reach to the floor on either side and usually is large enough to cover the pillows. Find a bedspread.
Bell Flower: A hanging flower of three to five petals carved or inlaid one below the other in strings. Used primarily down the legs of tables and chairs, or on chair splats.
Bench: A long seat that can seat at least two people. Benches can be made from any material from wood to concrete. Find an entryway bench or bedroom bench.
Bench Cushion (or Bench Seat): A long seat cushion that covers the entire deck area of a sofa, loveseat or settee, opposed to individual cushions.
Bentwood: A process of steam bending wood for shaping into furniture parts, particularly chairs.
Bergère: An upholstered French arm chair with closed arms. Features include an exposed wood frame, loose seat cushion and wide proportions. Popular during the Louis XIV and Louis XV periods. Find a living room chair.
Bias: The cutting and sewing of fabric at a diagonal or 45 degree angle in relationship to the fabrics pattern.
Beidermeier: A German furniture style from the first half of the 1800's. The furniture is often plain and squared in form and borrows elements from many styles, particularly French Empire. The Beidermeier style concentrates on strength and comfort at the expense of grace and refinement.
Bibliotheque-Basse: A low cupboard with shelves for books. Doors are often of glass and sometimes fitted with grilles.
Bird's-Eye: A marking of small spots often found in the wood from sugar maple trees. Highly prized throughout furniture history.
Bishop's Sleeve: A drapery treatment with side panels of lightweight fabric tied back slightly above the midpoint to form a billowing drape above and a flowing effect below. Find window treatments and curtains.
Bistro Table: Term conventionally refers to a round table about 40" in height designed for small spaces and intimate dining. It is common for people to also refer to bistro tables as pub tables. Find a pub table.
Blanket: A large piece of woven material used as a covering for warmth, especially on a bed.
Blanket Chest: A low box-like chest for storing blankets often called a hope chest. Used during Colonial times for storage and as a bench. Find a cedar blanket chest or hope chest.
Blinds: Window coverings designed of either horizontal or vertical slats. Blinds can be made of wood, aluminum, fabric, or other materials. Horizontal blinds traditionally open from the bottom up, while vertical blinds open and close to the side. Find window blinds.
Block Foot: A square foot at the base of a straight leg.
Block Front: An American furniture form of the 1700's, used primarily in chests. The front is divided into three vertical segments consisting of a concave panel in the center and convex panels on each side.
Block Printing: The oldest form of printing known to man. Motifs are obtained by the use of wooden, linoleum or copper blocks.
Bobeche: A glass ring placed at the base of a candle to gather wax or dangle crystals. Find candle accessories.
Body Impressions: The "normal compression" of upholstery layers as they lose resilience over time. Often mistaken for sagging on mattresses, sofas and other upholstered furniture. Find a new mattress set.
Boiserie: Carved panels used on French pieces from the 17th Century.
Bolster: A long and usually cylindrical stuffed pillow or cushion. Also an oversized backrest or pillow which can be rectangular or wedge-shaped. Find accent and throw pillows.
Bombe: Traditionally a low baroque style chest with bulging convex sides originated in France. Term can also apply to some commodes, bureaus and armoires. Find living room furniture.
Bonheur-du-jour: A small French writing table that usually features tall legs; sometimes fitted to hold toilet accessories and miscellaneous items.
Bonnell Coil: An hourglass-shaped mattress coil that's cylindrical at the top and bottom and tapered in the center. Mostly used in promotional and lower-priced bedding today. Find a new mattress set.
Bonnet Top: A hooded top usually found on secretaries, china cabinets, bookcases and curios.
Book Matching: Two adjacent sheets of veneer that are opened like a book and glued side by side to produce a symmetrical pattern.
Bookcase: A piece of furniture with shelves that is normally used in an office or study for storing books. Find a bookcase.
Borax: Borax really isn't a period of furniture as it is a term that refers to lower priced, mass produced furniture from the 1920's to current day. Upholstered pieces are characterized by a large overstuffed design and usually have wood trim. Case pieces are often decorated with veneer panels and plastic moldings. A popular design of Borax furniture is a "waterfall" front.
Border Rod: A heavy wire that's normally placed around the perimeter (top and bottom) of a mattress and/or box spring. The border wire is attached to the outermost coils to provide the shape and form for the mattress set.
Boss: An oval or round ornament applied to a surface. Term also applies to works in relief.
Boston Rocker: A large wooden rocker with a spindle back and wide top rail, which is often painted or stenciled. Originated in America in the 1800's. Find a rocking chair.
Boucle': Knitted or woven fabric with characteristic looped or knotted surface that often resembles a spongy effect. Term also applies to a variety of looped, curled, or slubbed yarns. In French, "boucle'" means "buckled" or "ringed."
Boudoir Pillow: A small or baby size decorative pillow, usually measuring about 12" x 16". Find a decorative throw pillow.
Boulle: A designer of the Louis the XIV period who was famous for his inlays of metal and tortoise shell. "Boullework" can be used as a descriptive phrase.
Bowback: A popular type of Windsor chair, also the style of a back such as a bow back rocker. Originally popular in America during the 18th Century. Find a dining room chair.
Bowfront: A rounded curve on the front of a piece of wood furniture to appear convex.
Box Pleat (or Boxpleat): A symmetrical skirt pleat made by folding the fabric to the back of each side of the pleat to create a dentil pattern.
Box-Spring: A foundation that's designed to support an innerspring mattress. Find a mattress or box-spring set.
Boys and Crowns: A very old term for a type of carved ornamentation used on the cresting of chairs, daybeds, etc.
Bracket Foot: A low foot running both ways from the corner of wood furniture to form a right angle.
Braganza: An inscrolled or knurled foot, also commonly called a Spanish foot.
Break Front: A china cabinet or bookcase that's divided vertically into three segments with the middle segment projecting forward. Find a china cabinet or bookcase.
Brewster Chair: An American Colonial style chair with large turned posts and spindles. Named for Governor Brewster of Massachusetts.
Broadcloth: Dense cotton fabric with a smooth, semi-gloss finish.
Brocade: A rich fabric with a raised pattern woven into it. Brocades use richly colored, sometimes metallic threads that make the design stand out against the background.
Broken Pediment: An ornamental crest running across the top of a tall piece such as a highboy or chest. The pediment is interrupted or broken by an opening that highlights a carved finial such as an urn or other shape.
Buffet (or Sideboard): A sideboard without a hutch or storage cabinet on top. The French definition of the word is "a small sideboard, a place to keep dishes." Find a buffet or sideboard.
Bullion Fringe: Corded fringe that's twisted into a rope or braid. Primarily used on the base of upholstered furniture, window treatments, accent pillows and lamp shades. Also called bullion trim.
Bun Foot: A flattened ball or bun shaped foot with a slender ankle above, normally used on a chest or seating piece. Very popular during the William and Mary period.
Bungalow Style: An architectural style of a small house or cottage usually having a single story and sometimes an additional attic story. Most commonly associated with Victorian and Craftsman period bungalow homes and decor.
Bunk Bed: Two beds that are joined together so that one is placed above the other. Find kid's furniture.
Bunkie: Commonly refers to a twin-size mattress used on bunk beds.
Bunkie Board: A platform type of base or a board usually covered with fabric. Used to support a bunkie mattress on a bunk bed.
Bureau: A dresser used to store clothing also a piece of furniture with drawers used as a desk. Bureau's normally feature either a fall-front, which slopes at 45 degrees, a tambour front or a cylinder front. Find bedroom furniture.
Burjar: A large upholstered arm chair style that was made by Thomas Chippendale.
Burl: Wood cut from a large rounded growth on a tree. Burl is characterized by a strong distinctive grain and is often used as a special veneer or inlay.
Butler's Tray Table: A tray with four flip-up handholds that can be removed from the table legs on which it stands. When the sides are down an oval tabletop is created. Find coffee and cocktail tables.
Butt Joint: The junction of the ends of two pieces of wood such as on a sill.
Butterfly Table: A small drop-leaf table whose leaves are supported by a swinging support resembling a butterfly wing on a rudder. Find dining room and kitchen tables.
Button Tufted: Buttons that are fabric covered and sewn through the upholstery surface and tied down. The placement of the buttons and their resulting folds produce geometric patterns.
Byzantine Chair: A three cornered chair originated in the Orient and later used in Italy.

Furniture & Interior Design Glossary Terms - C

Cable: A molding design that resembles inter-twined rope.
Cabochon: A gem shaped ornament of convex, hemispherical form.
Cabriole Leg: A decorative S-shaped table or chair leg that curves outward at the knee then tapers at the ankle. Commonly found on Queen Anne, Chippendale and other 18th Century pieces. Often seen with ball and claw feet.
Café Curtain: A curtain that covers only the bottom half of a window and hangs from a wire or thin curtain rod. Find curtains.
Calico: Cotton or cotton-blend fabric printed with small, colorful patterns.
California King: A bed size that measures 74"x86". This style is popular on the West coast of the United States. The additional size comes in the length creating a rectangular shape rather than the square shape of a standard king (Eastern King). Find a mattress set.
Cambrick (or Dust Cover): A non-woven cloth that covers the bottom of an upholstered piece of furniture such as a sofa or box spring. Also commonly called a "dust cover".
Camel Hair: Wool-like underhair of the camel that is lustrous and extremely soft. Because it is expensive, often used in blends with wool for coats, blankets and oriental rugs. Natural colors range from light tan to brownish black. Classified as wool under the Wool Products Labeling Act.
Camelback: A curved sofa back characterized by a large central hump. This design was often used by Chippendale and Hepplewhite. Find a sofa.
Campaign Furniture: Portable furniture that's folding or collapsible, or made of flat components that can be assembled or disassembled. Initiated for military use and usually features handles, it is most associated with colonialism.
Canape: A type of French settee with padded back and seat, open arms, and a decorated frame. Most commonly associated with Louis the XV design.
Candle Follower: A device that fits onto the top of a candle. As the wax melts the follower keeps the wax from dripping down the side of the candle. Find a candle accessory.
Cane: Split rattan, often used to cover chair seats and backs.
Cane Chair: These chairs were first made in England and were very popular since they were cheap, light and durable. First used in America in the late 1600's.
Canopy: A fabric covering attached to a frame at the top of bedposts.
Canopy Bed: A bed supported by four tall posts with a cross members joining the posts that may be used for a supporting a fabric canopy cover, swags, curtains, etc. Find bedroom furniture.
Canted: Slopping at an angle, such as a sofa or chair back.
Canterbury: A portable magazine rack named after the Bishop of England.
Cantonniere: A bed hanging used in 16th Century France. It hung outside of the bed curtains to prevent drafts.
Capping: A turned ornamentation used to make furniture pieces more decorative.
Captain's Chair: A Windsor chair with a lower, rounded spindle back. Find a dining chair.
Carcase: The basic structure of a piece of furniture; often forms the foundation for veneering.
Card Table: A folding table that originated in England during the late 1600's to accommodate the nobility's passion for gambling.
Carlton Table: An 18th Century writing table that featured an adjustable top.
Carolean: Restoration and Late Jacobean furniture is also known as Carolean furniture. Carolean furniture includes Charles the second through James the second reign. This period of furniture is a result of Cromwellian severity in shape and style. Carolean furniture is appealing because of its beautifully carved spiral turned legs and stretchers. Chairs, tables, and beds usually have scroll shaped feet. Seats are often made of cane. Upholstery fabrics are luxurious tapestries. The most common wood used was walnut. Some pieces were made of oak.
Cartonnier: A piece of furniture that took on many various forms. It usually stood at the side of a writing table to hold papers.
Cartouche: An ornamental shield or decoration usually placed above a door opening or fireplace mantel, often containing the name of a king, queen, or deity. Term also applies to a sculpture or back ornament in the form of an unrolled scroll.
Carved Rug: A rug with a three-dimensional design/pattern. Find an area rug.
Carver Chair: A modern term for a 17th Century "Dutch" type of arm chair that featured turned posts and spindles.
Caryatid: A top member of a pedestal or leg used for support in the form of a conventionalized human figure.
Casegoods (or Case Furniture): Non-upholstery pieces such as tables, hutches, dressers and chests, which have functional or storage capabilities.
Casein (or Buttermilk): A traditional paint made by blending earth colored pigments with buttermilk (or skimmed milk) and a small amount of lime. Casein dries to a flat, smooth finish.
Casement: A cloth drapery made of an open weave material that's normally somewhat opaque. Find curtains.
Cashmere: Fine downy undercoat hair of the cashmere goat from Tibet, the Kashmir province north of India, Iran, Iraq, and southwest China.
Casing: An enclosing frame around a door or window opening.
Cassapanca: A wooden bench with a built-in chest under the seat.
Cassone: Italian chest, often highly decorated with carving and inlay.
Cast Iron Furniture: Iron furnishings made with molds. Very popular since the 1800's for many items including garden furniture, plant stands and cast iron beds.
Casters: Round wheels attached by a swivel to furniture pieces for mobility. Commonly used on dining and office chairs.
Casting: The method of forming metal objects by pouring molten metal into a mold and allowing in to harden.
Causeuse: A small settee that was very popular in early French furniture.
Ceiling Fan: Both decorative and functional fans, which are installed on the ceiling to circulate air in a room. Find a ceiling fan.
Cellaret: A case on legs or a stand for wine bottles.
Center Draw: A pair of draperies which open and close at a window's mid point. Find draperies and curtains.
Center Glide: A center track (glide) that guides a drawer.
Center Rail: A support beam that runs head to toe down the middle of a mattress foundation or bed frame for added support.
Centerpiece: An ornament used to occupy the center of a dining table. Find home accessories.
Ceramic Tiles: Glazed clay tiles, which stand up to large amounts of wear and tear very well.
Certosina: An ivory inlay found on some fine Italian antique furniture.
Chair and a Half: An upholstered seating piece that's larger than a armchair, but not as large as a loveseat. Find a living room chair.
Chair Rail: A molding placed on a wall about thirty inches from the floor to protect the wall from being scratched by chair's back.
Chaise Lounge: An upholstered armchair with the back and seat lengthened for reclining. Styles ranges from formal to contemporary. Also referred to by some as a French long chair. Find a chaise lounge chair.
Chambray: A popular variety of cotton fabric that combines colored warp and white filling yarns in a plain weave.
Chamfer: A corner or edge that is cut at an angle or beveled.
Chandelier: A ceiling-mounted lighting fixture consisting of two or more arms bearing lights. Styles can range from small and simple to extremely large and ornate. Find a chandelier.
Channel Back: A sofa or chair with a back design of vertical sections of cushioning in a shell-like pattern. Find a sofa.
Channel Quilt: Stitching in lines that run parallel to the length or width of a fabric.
Channeling: A grooved or creased effect in wood.
Charles of London: A style of sofa or chair with a low rolled arm. Find living room furniture.
Chased: A metal surface that's ornamented by embossing, engraving or carving.
Checks: Splits or cracks in wood, which are ordinarily caused by seasoning. A common characteristic of genuine cherry wood pieces.
Chenille: A fuzzy yarn that is like velvet when tightly woven.
Chesser: A combination of a dresser and a chest. Chessers are narrower than a dresser and shorter than a chest, and normally have a small tilting mirror. Find bedroom furniture.
Chest: A tall, narrow piece featuring a series of drawers for storing clothing. Find a chest of drawers.
Chest on Chest: A tall chest with a larger chest of drawers that supports a slightly smaller chest. Find a chest of drawers.
Chesterfield: A sofa style with deep button tufting and large rolled arms that are the same height as the back. Term is still common in Canada and England. Find a sofa.
Cheval Mirror: A freestanding mirror swung in a vertical frame. Also called a dressing mirror or cheval glass. Find a cheval mirror.
Chevron: A V-shaped ornamentation inspired by military insignia.
Chiffonier: A tall and narrow chest of drawers normally used for storing undergarments and lingerie. Term is a French word denoting a lady's work table, derived from chiffons, which means rags. Term can also be used in reference to a lingerie chest or highboy. Find bedroom furniture.
Chifforobe: A combination of wardrobe and chest-of-drawers. Find bedroom furniture.
China Cabinet (or China Hutch): A cabinet with with, or without, glass fronts to store and display china, the sides may or may not feature glass. Seldom found in America before the late 1700's. Find a china cabinet.
Chinese: Chinese art and furniture design heavily influenced European furniture periods, particularly during the 1500's through the 1800's. Styles especially influenced include Chippendale, Regency, and Louis the XV styles. All Chinese furniture is lacquered and usually features relief carving for decoration. Most pieces are small and simple and rely on decorative details for their beauty. Most common woods on authentic pieces were teak, sandalwood, and bamboo. Chinese rugs and wallpaper are famous throughout the world.
Chinoiserie: A decoration inspired by Chinese art, which can be painted or lacquered on furniture or used as themes on wallpaper, fabric, etc.
Chintz: A printed cotton fabric that is often "shiny" or glazed.
Chippendale: A design that's more rectangular and heavier than Queen Anne pieces. Chippendale design features include cabriole legs, ball and claw feet, and highboys with broken pediment tops.
Cinquefoil: Term refers to a any five petaled design.
Claw & Ball (or Ball & Claw): A carved lions or birds claw clutching a sphere, usually at the end of a cabriole leg or pedestal tables base.
Club Chair: An upholstered chair with arms, normally made to match a sofa and covered in the same material. Find a living room chair.
Club Foot: A turned foot resembling a club; often found at the end of a cabriole leg.
Club Sofa: A fully upholstered piece of furniture with arms that are lower than its back. Find a sofa.
Cockbeading: Bead molding applied to the edges of drawers.
Cocktail Table (or Coffee Table): A long and low table normally positioned in front of a sofa, which provides a surface for serving. Find a coffee table.
Coffer: A multi-functional traveling chest with handles and a domed lid but without feet, usually made of oak. Term can also refer to a chest or box covered in leather or some other material and banded with metalwork.
Coil Count: The specific number of coils in a mattress or box spring unit. The standard count is based on the coils within a full size piece. A high coil count was once touted to indicate better quality, however this term is no longer applicable to many of today's better mattress sets. Find a new mattress.
Coil Springs: Wire coils used in more expensive upholstered seating pieces to give a desired resiliency and firmness to the seat and back.
Colonial: American furniture from the 1700's through the Revolutionary era. The formal styles are usually mahogany or cherry while plainer furniture was done in pine, oak, and maple. Queen Anne and Chippendale designs are often included in this category.
Colonial Revival: Reproductions of classic American styles from the 1700's, although not always accurate in detail. Revival pieces were popular from the late 1800's through the early 1900's. Also known as just "Revival".
Colonnade: A range of columns connected by a horizontal entablature or cornice at the top.
Color Scheme: Color combinations for the interiors of rooms and homes in general.
Color Transfer: The process of applying a color from one material onto another by the means of moisture or heat. The term can also refer to the accidental seepage of color from one material to another.
Color Way: A term used in interior design to describe a color combination.
Colorfast: A term used to describe fabrics of sufficient color retention so that no noticeable change in shade takes place during the normal life of the fabric.
Colorwashing: A decorative painting technique where a thin glaze (or water-based wash) is applied over the base coat of paint to create an effect of subtle layers of color.
COM/COL: Furniture industry term for "Customer's own material" or "Customer's own leather." Typically expressed in square yards for fabric (COM) and in square feet for leather (COL). Figure references the amount of material required for custom fabric or leather coverings.
Comb Back: A Windsor chair having an extension of the back above the arm rail that consists of five or more spindles and a curved top rail resembling a comb. Find a dining room chair.
Combing: A painting effect in which a comb (or comb like tool) is dragged across the paint or glaze to create a series of lines.
Comfort Layers: The layers of material in a mattress or upholstered seating that provide the comfortable surface feel.
Comforter: Comforters cover the mattress, but not the box spring. Since the top and bottom fabrics of a comforter are quilted together with a filling material in between, they are usually fluffier and thicker than a bedspread or coverlet. Comforters are usually used with a dust ruffle to cover the box spring. Comforters are usually too short to cover the bed pillows, therefore most people use shams. Find a comforter.
Commode: A small, low chest with doors or drawers, many traditionally styled nightstands are referred to as commodes. Find a nightstand.
Commonwealth (or Puritan): Commonwealth furniture is also known as Puritan, Cromwellian and Middle Jacobean. Commonwealth furniture was a design devoid of ornate style. This style was characterized as straight and severe. Pieces were square and rectangle. Sturdy underbracing was used on chairs. Settees had straight backs and low seats. Upholstery pieces had dull or dismal fabrics. Oak was the favored wood. Most popular during the mid to late 1600's.
Computer Desk: A desk that's specifically designed to accommodate a personal computer. Find a computer desk.
Connecticut Chest: A low chest on legs that normally contains a double set of drawers.
Console (or Console Table): A term originally applied to a bracket that supported cornices or shelves and later used to describe tables that were affixed to a wall and supported with legs at the front. Today it describes any type of table used along a wall. Find a console table.
Contemporary: A term covering many styles of furniture that developed in the latter half of the 1900's. Contemporary pieces have an updated look that's softened and rounded compared with the stark lines of modern design.
Continental: A pillow that's 26" square, which is the traditional European sized pillow.
Continuous Coil: A mattress design in which each row of coils is made using a single, continuous wire. Find a mattress set.
Contrasting Welt: Welting or piping at seams that's covered in fabric contrasting or different from the main body fabric. Used on upholstered furniture and fabric accessories such as accent pillows and drapes.
Corduroy: A cotton or rayon velvet that's woven with ridges (or cords).
Corner Block or Brace: A diagonal brace placed at the corner of a frame structure to provide strength. Commonly found on the inside corners of dressers and chests for example.
Corner Cupboard: A triangular shaped dining room china cabinet made to fit into a corner. Find a china cabinet.
Cornice: A molding that crowns or runs along the top of a curio, hutch, etc.
Cornucopia: The horn of plenty, which symbolizes peace and prosperity, used as a design motif.
Corrected Grain Leather: Leather that's buffed to remove unattractive blemishes and embossed to simulate an attractive grain pattern or to add a decorative texture. Find leather furniture.
Cottage Furniture: A style of casual furniture that's characterized by being painted and/or decorated. Cottage pieces often feature turned legs and very simple lines. The term originated during the Victorian period to refer to mass-produced simplified designs.
Couch: A term from the 17th and 18th Century used to refer to a daybed. Not used as a term for a sofa or settee until more recent times.
Counter Stool: A stool that has a seat height of about 24" to 26", opposed to a bar stool that normally has a seat height of 30". Find a counter stool.
Country Style: A casual style that gained popularity in the 1980's and remains popular today, often featuring nature and nostalgic motifs. The "appearance" of handcrafting is also important. Distressing is commonly seen.
Court Cupboard: A small cupboard that's used for storing silver, china, or other precious items.
Coverlet: A bed cover that reaches to the top of the bed and to the bottom of the box spring on three sides.
Coving: A decorative plaster or polystyrene molding used to cover the join between walls and ceiling.
Crackle Glaze (or Craquelure): A special type of glaze used to create a fine network of cracks.
Credence: An early Italian cabinet that was used for carving meat or displaying plates. It was the original forerunner of the sideboard.
Credence Table: A type of small table used for storing food before serving; generally a semi-circular table with a hinged top.
Credenza: Normally a sideboard or buffet. In office furniture, credenzas are a horizontal filing cabinet that may also feature doors or shelves for storage, often placed behind a desk.
Crest Rail (Top Rail): The top horizontal rail of an upholstered piece, which can be very detailed.
Cresting: A shaped ornamentation on the top of a structure, as in the cresting of a chair.
Crinoline Stretcher: An arched stretcher found on certain Windsor chairs.
Crocheting: A fabric, trimming, or lace made by interlocking successive loops or stitches with a hook or needle.
Crocking: The loss of transfer of leather coloring or finish by abrasion.
Croft: A small filing cabinet from the 18th Century that had many small drawers and a writing top.
Cross Stretcher: An X-shaped stretcher in straight or curved lines. Found on some traditional style tables, chairs and on highboys and lowboys.
Crown Molding: Molding where the wall and ceiling meet or the uppermost molding along a piece of furniture or cabinetry.
Cupboard: A cabinet, box or closet with shelves designed to hold cups, dishes or food.
Cupid's Bow: Term used to describe the typical top rail of a Chippendale chair back, which curves up at the ends and dips slightly in the center.
Curio (Collectors Cabinet): A case piece featuring glassed in shelves and doors for displaying collectibles. Find a curio cabinet.
Curule Legs: X-shaped legs used on a portable backless folding chair.
Curved-Back Sofa: A sofa whose back arches in a smooth, even curve with large, scrolled arms. Find a sofa.
Cushion Drawer: A convex drawer below a cornice that runs the full width of a piece of furniture.
Cushioning: Materials used to provide comfort in upholstered furniture and bedding. Popular cushioning materials include polyurethane foam, polyester, cotton, latex and wool.
Cyma Curve: A distinctive 'S' shaped curve incorporated into Queen Anne furniture.
Note: Some furniture glossary terms may no longer be in common use and are posted for reasons of historical interest.

Furniture & Interior Design Glossary Terms - D

Dacron: Registered Trademark of DuPont for polyester fibers in the form of continuous filament yarns, staple, tow and fiberfill.
Dado Joint: A rectangular groove across the width of a board or plank that another piece of wood fits into.Dado Rail: A Wooden rail or molding that's fixed horizontally along a wall, usually about a third of the way up from the floor.
Damask: A heavy reversible fabric featuring a pattern that's distinguished from the background by contrasting luster.
Davenport: Term originates from a the last name of a Boston upholster who made overstuffed couches. His couches were so popular people called them Davenports. This word has been replaced with sofa.
Daventry: A small chest of drawers with a sloped top for writing.
Daybed: A seating piece that can also serve as a bed. Find a daybed.
Deboss: To depress a design in leather, paper, or composition board.Decoupage: A method of decorating walls and objects with paper cutouts.Denim: Heavy cotton twill woven from coarse yarns.Density: Normally used as a measure of weight per cubic volume, which is usually expressed in pounds per cubic foot. An important quality of foam used in upholstered furniture. Greater density in foam is generally equated with better quality and durability. Density can also be used to refer to the number of coils per given area in a mattress.
Denim: This basic cotton cloth - first brought to America by Columbus almost 500 years ago as the sails on the Santa Maria - is rugged, tough, and serviceable. It is easily recognized by its traditional indigo-blue color warp and gray or mottled white filling, and its left hand twill on the face. Today, we most commonly associate denim as the material used for making blue jeans.
Dentils (or Dentil Molding): Rectangular tooth-like blocks spaced at equal intervals along a cornice molding.
Design: The art of conceptualizing the appearance of an object or space. The term also refers to the style, appearance, or characteristic of an item such as a modern lamp or rustic bench.
DeStijl: A 20th Century style originating in the Netherlands. As with other Dutch furniture of the period, DeStijl furniture is characteristically simple and clean-lined.
Dhurrie Rug: A flat woven wool or cotton rug featuring beautiful designs. Find a rug.
Diamond Tufting: An arrangement of tufted buttons which yields a diamond shaped pattern on the back of an upholstered piece of furniture.
Diaper-Work: A surface decoration that consists of a series of reticulations each of which contains an ornamental unit, such as a flower or leaf.
Dinette: A small dining set, which is often used in the kitchen. Find a dinette set.
Dining Room: Traditionally a formal room dedicated to the serving of meals. Find dining room furniture.
Direct Printing: Also known as roller, calendar or cylinder printing; the colors are printed directly onto the fabric in the same manner as the printing of wallpaper.
Directoire: The Directoire period of furniture (late 1700's to early 1800's) was a result of French reign under five directors. Styling was controlled by a Jury of Arts and Manufactures. All emblems of royalty and aristocracy in furniture design were abolished. Classic decorations including griffins and caryatids are familiar in Directoire furniture. This period is influenced hugely by Greek, Egyptian, and Roman styling. Simple elegance characterizes this period.
Disc Foot: A flat, disc-shaped foot used on tables and chairs. Very common on chrome dining furnishings from the 1950's and 1960's.
Distemper: Paints made by mixing pigment with water and bound with casein, glue or egg. Widely used before the arrival of emulsion.
Distressed (or Distressing): A furniture trait where pieces are purposely dented or otherwise marked to render an antique or rustic appearance.
Dormer: A window set vertically in a structure projecting through a sloping roof.
Double Bed (or Full Size): Refers to a bed for a mattress that measures 54"x75". Was once the standard or most popular size bed. Sometimes referred to as a full, double or standard. Find a mattress set.
Double Extra Long (or Full Extra Long): A double/full mattress that measures 54"x80". Find a mattress set.
Dover Chest: An early American hope chest that was normally made of maple or oak.
Dovetail: Joint construction made by cutting pins in the shape of dovetails, which fit between dovetails upon another piece. Commonly found in drawer construction.
Dowel: A headless wooden pin used in furniture construction.
Down: Soft breast feathers from ducks or geese.
Dowry Chest: A chest that was made to hold the personal possessions of a prospective bride. Notable examples in American furniture history include the Hadley chest, the Connecticut chest and the paint Pennsylvania-German chest.
Dragging: A paint effect that produces fine stripes on a surface, usually done by dragging a dry brush or through a glaze.
Drapery: A draped fabric window treatment. Find draperies and curtains.
Draught Chair: The early English equivalent of a wingback chair.
Draw Draperies: Curtains or drapes mounted on a horizontal traversed rod so they can be open and closed with a pull cord. Find draperies and curtains.
Drawer Guides (or Glides): Term referring to the track or runners allowing a drawer to move freely and evenly in a piece of furniture such as a dresser. There are many types of guides including wooden center guides, metal glides with rollers, and metal ball bearing guides.
Dresser: A long chest of drawers used to store clothes. Term originally referred to a type of sideboard that was used for serving food and storing dishes. Find a bedroom dresser.
Drop Front: The hinged front of an upright desk that drops down to provide a surface for writing.
Drop Handle: A pear-shaped handle made popular in the late 17th Century.
Drop-In Seat: An upholstered seat frame that sits in the main framework of a chair.
Drop-In Spring Unit: A coil spring assembly (much like a mattress coil unit) used in upholstery to simulate an eight-way-hand-tied feel and support.
Drop Leaf: A dining or occasional table with hinged leaves that can be lowered. Find a drop leaf dining table.
Drop Lid Desk: A desk with a hinged front that covers the inner compartments. Find home office furniture.
Drop Seat: A concave seat where the middle and front are lower than the side.
Drum Dyeing: Maximum dye penetration of leather by immersing it in a dye solution in a tumbling drum.
Drum Table: A circular top table on a tripod base with a deep skirt that may contain drawers.
Dry Brushing: A paint technique in which a brush is worked over a glaze to create a cloudy effect.
Duck: A closely woven heavy durable material.
Duck Foot: A webbed foot attached to a table leg which curves outward.
Dumb Waiter: A type of dining room stand with a central shaft and circular trays, which often revolves to enable those who are dining to help themselves to additional plates. Term also applies to a pulley type elevator that brought food up from a basement kitchen to the first floor dining room.
Duncan Phyfe: A furniture style popular in the late 1700's to early 1800's. Duncan Phyfe pieces are characterized by feet that gracefully curve outward on both tables and sofas. Duncan Phyfe seating pieces often have lyre-shaped backs, rolled top rails and arms.
Dupioni: A lustrous silk woven from two different colors of threads so that it shimmers or changes color in the light.
Dust Cover (or Cambrick): A non-woven cloth that covers the bottom of an upholstered piece of furniture such as a sofa or box spring. Also referred to as cambrick.
Dust Ruffle: Dust ruffles fit under the mattress and on top of the box spring to decorate with fabric to the floor. Find home accessories and bedding.
Dustboard (Dust Panel): A panel placed between drawers in a chest or dresser to eliminate dust.
Dutch Dresser: A cabinet with open shelves on the upper portion, and drawers or cupboard below.
Dutch Foot: A simple pad used as the foot on a cabriole leg. Sometimes confused with a duck foot.
Dutch Renaissance: This furniture style was a huge influence on late English design. It is characterized by its square heavy style and its straight dominate lines. Chairs were made with turned legs, straight stretchers and low backs that were also straight in design. The main decoration was carving with leaves and scrolling. Chair seats often had leather attached with brass nails, also referred to as nailhead. Oak was the favored wood of choice. Most popular during the 1500's through the 1600's.
Dutch Style: Early Flemish Baroque furniture, dating from the 17th Century, was but a slight adaptation of the late Renaissance style. Typical are oak cupboards with four doors and chairs with seats and backs of velvet or leather held in place by nails. Most pieces are massive, solid unpretentious pieces made of local woods with turnings.
Duvet Cover: A removable cover that encases a down-filled comforter known as a duvet. Find bedding and home accessories.
Dye Lot: Because fabrics are dyed in varying quantities of yardage, consistency of color will vary. Therefore there will be differences in color from bolt to bolt.
Dying: The process of applying color to fiber stock, yarn or fabric; there may or may not be thorough penetration of the colorant into the fibers or yarns.
Note: Some furniture glossary terms may no longer be in common use and are posted for reasons of historical interest.

Furniture & Interior Design Glossary Terms - E

Early American: American furniture design of the late 1600's to early 1700's (still popular today), adapted from popular European styles such as Jacobean and William and Mary. The look is characterized by straight lines and minimal decoration. The style has merged into what is now called Colonial, normally featuring elements of Queen Anne and Chippendale design.
Early Renaissance: Early 1500's, the transitional period between Gothic Arts and the Classical Revival. Characterized by arch form, ornament and detail in style and decoration, high relief carving with diamond shapes and architectural pilasters, and ornamented with olive, laurel and acanthus leaves. Pieces usually featured no hardware.
Eastlake: Charles Eastlake designated the Eastlake period and was popular in both England and America in the late 19th Century. Eastlake furniture had a medieval styling with a Gothic and Japanese decoration. The favorite woods were cherry wood and other fruitwoods. Panels were sometimes adorned with tile and metal for an added decoration.
Easy Chair: Any large chair which is suitable for lounging. Find a living room chair.
Ebeniste: An ordinary term for a French cabinet maker.
Ebonize: A painting effect where an object is treated with color to make it look like ebony.
Eclectic: A style of decorating combining furniture and accessories of various styles and periods.
Egg & Dart: A classic design of alternating oval and dart shapes, commonly applied to cornices.
Eggshell: An oil-based paint that has a low-sheen satin finish.
Egyptian: This is arguably the first "influential" style of design dating from 4000 to 300 B.C. Pieces were very colorful and highly decorated. Carvings featured papyrus, lotus, and human and animal forms. Seating was usually of leather or cane and loose cushions were common. The most popular woods of choice were sycamore, cedar, yew and olivewood. Royal pieces were normally further decorated with inlaid ivory, gold and jewels. Egyptian styling has also been a huge influence on craftsmen of later eras.
Egyptian Cotton: Fine lustrous long staple cotton. Several varieties - usually brown in color. 1-2/5" average. Used in U.S. for thread and fine fabrics.
Eight-Way Hand Tied: Springs used in upholstered furniture, in which each spring is tied in eight directions by hand securing the springs inside of the frame.
Elizabethan: A large furniture style of severe form that emerged during the reign of Elizabeth I in England during the latter half of the 1500's. Elizabethan pieces are characterized by heavy carving and massive size.
Embossing: A technique to impress or stamp a design onto a piece of furniture; mostly used on wood pieces to resemble carving.
Embroidery: Ornamental needlework consisting of designs worked on fabric with either silk, cotton, metalized, or other threads, either by hand or machine.
Empire: A style inspired by the Napoleonic Empire, which features heavy looking classical designs and combines straight lines and curves, sleigh beds are a good example of this styling.
Emulsion: A water-based paint that's mainly applied to walls and ceilings.
Encarpa: A festoon of fruit and flowers traditionally used to decorate friezes and other flat spaces.
Encoignure: An 18th-19th Century casework piece similar to a corner cabinet. Its front is typically rounded or diagonal, and it rests on three or four feet. Often, the top portion contains shelves in graduated sizes.
End Matching: Two adjacent pieces of veneer, which are joined end to end to form a continuous pattern.
End Table: A small accent table that is usually placed at the end of a couch, beside chair or beside. Most commonly made of wood, metal and glass, or a combination of these materials. Find an end table.
Endive: A carved leaf design following the lines of the endive plant.
English Regency: Often referred to as the English version of the French Empire, this period (1810-1830) reflected the general European interest in antiquity and return to classic forms, rich ornamentation. Furniture was small-scaled, well-proportioned; combining curves and straight lines.
English Style: The period distinctions of English furniture are somewhat indefinite owing to the variety of labels according to monarchs, designers, typical woods and external influences. Changes were happening so rapidly that primarily the type of wood used distinguished the boundaries of the English style.
Entertainment Center: A piece of furniture designed to hold entertainment equipment such as TV's and stereo components. Find an entertainment center.
Ergonomic: Term that relates to furniture design and function for the human form; very commonly found in home office furnishings such ergonomic chairs for example.
Escritoire: A writing desk with a fall front that lowers to form a writing surface. The English word "secretary" was derived from this term.
Escutcheon: The shaped metal fitting/backing behind a drawer pull or surrounding a keyhole. The term can also apply to a tiny plate that hangs over a keyhole to stop drafts from coming in. The term can be further applied to a shield upon which a coat of arms or other devices are emblazoned.
Espagnolettes: A long bolt sometimes found on French windows. It consists of a handle that sends the bolt into the top and bottom of the wall.
Etagere: A freestanding set of open shelves commonly used for displaying accessories. Term also applies to a small work table consisting usually of shelves or tray sets one above the other.
European Style: Sophisticated style with great attention to detail and ornamentation.
Evolute: A recurrent wave motif for a band, frieze or cornice.
Eyeball Spots: Semi-recessed lights set in the ceiling, which can be adjusted to shine in different directions.
Eyelet: A small hole in a piece of fabric designed for a cord to be thread through or used for decoration (as in embroidery).

Furniture & Interior Design Glossary Terms - F

Faceted: Decorative surface cut into sharp-edged planes in a crisscross pattern to reflect light.
Fall Front: The flap of a bureau or secrétaire that pulls down to provide a writing surface. Find home office furniture.
Fan Patterned: The description of a chair back when fitted with ribs or channels that resemble the stalks of a half open fan.
Fancy-Faced Veneers: Veneers that are cut into exotic patterns, which are usually used in more visible areas of wooden furniture such as door fronts and table tops.
Fanlight: A window, which is usually semi-circular, with radiating glass sections that make it look like an open fan. Commonly found above doors.
Farthingale Chair: An armless upholstered chair for ladies wearing enormous skirts of the early Stuart era.
Fauteuil: An upholstered French armchair with open spaces between the arms and seat. Find a living room chair.
Faux: A simulation of something else. An example of this would be faux marble, which is a marble-like surface painted onto walls or other surfaces (see trompe l'oeil).
Feather Banding: Two narrow bands of veneer laid in opposite diagonals.
Feather Bed: A quilted mattress topper stuffed with feathers or goose down. Find a feather bed.
Federal: Design period following the American Revolution and running roughly through the early 1800's. Federal styles incorporate the neo-classical influences of Sheraton and Hepplewhite including straight and delicate lines, tapered legs, and contrasting veneers.
Felt: A cotton material commonly used for cushioning or lining the inside of a piece of furniture such as a jewelry armoire or the drawers of a buffet.
Feng Shui: Literally translated as wind and water, it's an ancient Chinese scientific practice based on selecting or configuring a site, structure or interior so as to harmonize with the spiritual forces that inhabit it.
Ferrule: Normally a metal cap attached to the end of a slender shaft for strength or to prevent splitting.
Festoon: A length of garland, foliage, flowers or branches that are entwined or bound together, usually hanging in a curve between two points.
Festoon Blind: Similar to an Austrian blind, but with gathered scallops throughout the length of the blind.
Fiber: A natural or synthetic substance such as cotton or polyester that can be separated into thread-like filaments and be spun, woven or matted.
Fiber Rug: A floor covering made of tightly twisted strips of paper often coated with vinyl to resist friction and moisture.
Fiberboard: A board made of compressed wood fibers and glue.
Fiberfill: Generic term for all stuffing fibers or materials used in battings, quiltings, sleeping bags, pillows, etc.
Fiddle Back: A backsplat in the shape of a violin (fiddle) that is typically seen on Queen Anne chairs.
Figuring: A pattern made by the natural grain of wood.
Filament Lighting: Light that's produced by heating a small filament inside a bulb, as with a common light bulb.
File Cabinet: A piece of office furniture used for storing files. File cabinets normally consist of one to four drawers. Find a file cabinet.
Filigree: A decorative ornamentation that's often produced with fine wires of gold or silver in the form of scrolls and arabesques.
Fill (or Weft): Visible yarns in a fabric that are woven through the less visible foundation of the warp yarns. The term "fill" can also apply to how an item is stuffed such as a 100% down-fill pillow.
Filling: A step in the manufacturing finishing process where the filling of natural pores in wood allows the surface to become smoother and more reflective.
Finger Joint: A joint in which two pieces of wood are cut in an elongated zigzag pattern and joined together with glue.
Finger Plates: Narrow rectangular panels, often made in the same material as the door knob, which are fixed to the door to protect against dirty finger marks.
Finial: A decorative detail that's carved or shaped to ornament the top of an upright piece such as a bedpost. Finials are commonly found in the opening of a broken pediment or on the topping a lamp. Common motifs include flames, urns, and pineapples.
Finish: The surface coating of an item, which can include paints, stains, varnishes, fabric treatments, etc. Wood, metal, fabric, stone and many other materials require a finish for reasons such as coloring, texture, and protection from moisture.
Finnish Style: Finnish furniture designers used bent and laminated (layers of solid wood) woods to create organic, humanistic forms and lightweight open shapes. These designers were also the first to experiment with tubular steel in furniture design.
Firmness: A sought after quality by many in upholstered furniture and mattresses, which is usually interpreted to mean support. Firmness for some is a comfort term synonymous with hardness, and for others it is a structural term associated with support.
Flambeau: A carved decoration in the shape of a flaming torch.
Flame Stitch: A wavy angular pattern that looks like the shape of a flickering flame, normally found on brocade fabrics.
Flange: An erect, projecting flattened ridge such as the top and bottom horizontal projections of an I beam. Also refers to a decorative finish sewn into a seam.
Flannel: Usually a cotton or rayon fabric slightly napped on both sides to resemble woolen fabric used for some, blanketing, coating, etc. Woolen and worsted flannels are also popular.
Flare: The outward concave curve of a furniture leg.
Flax: A plant from which linen is derived.
Flemish: Flemish furniture was a product from master craftsmen of Flanders (Belgium). Flemish is usually included in Dutch Renaissance furniture and is not necessarily defined as a period of furniture, but more as an influence in design. Flemish furniture is famous for its distinct and careful carving and the Flemish foot. Flemish furniture is a product of French influence.
Flemish Scroll: A baroque form with the curve broken by an angle.
Fleur-De-Lis: Term for a decorative French emblem in the form of a conventionalized floral design.
Flock Wallpaper: Wallpaper that has a raised fabric pattern. Find wallpaper.
Floor Lamp: A tall lamp with a base that stands on the floor. Find a floor lamp.
Flow: A smooth continuity achieved by design and decor elements being arranged harmoniously with some sense of shape, style and color.
Fluting: A series of carved out semicircular grooves usually found on columns, molding or wooden legs.
Fly Rail: The folding bracket that supports the drop leaf of a table.
Foam: Padding material used in upholstered furniture and mattresses. Common types of foam include polyurethane, latex, and Viscoelastic ("Visco" or "Memory Foam").
Foam Core: A cardboard-like material with a foam center available in varying thickness; commonly used to mount photographs and display materials.
FOB: "Free on board" at named port of export. A pricing term commonly used in the home furnishings industry indicating that the quoted price covers all expenses up to and including delivery of goods upon an overseas vessel provided by or for the buyer.
Focal Point: An area to which the eye is drawn. This could be a part of a room, a view, landscaping, etc.
Foliated: Decorated with leaf designs of an intricate pattern.
Footboard: The piece at the foot of a bed of a headboard and footboard set. Find a headboard and footboard.
Foundation: The bottom part of a mattress set that gives the mattress its support and durability. Find a mattress foundation.
Four Poster: A bed with posts that are tall enough to hold a canopy. Find bedroom furniture.
FQ: Full/Queen size. Fits both Full and/or Queen size. Approximate size for Comforter, Duvet Cover is 88"x96". FQ is also the abbreviation we use for the FurnitureQuest.com website.
Frame: The wooden framework of an upholstered piece of furniture.
French Bed: A bed with ends that roll outward. It has no posts. Commonly referred to as a sleigh bed today.
French Classic: French Classic design was largely base on a complete avoidance of the curved line in furniture. This type of furniture is usually quite straight and simplistic in design. French Classic is considered an influence rather than a defined style and was influenced by an Italian flavor of styling. Decoration depends on fluted and grooved accents, geometric patterns and marquetry. Mahogany is the favored wood of French Classic designs, however rosewood, tulipwood, and ebony were used though less frequently. Most popular during the later 1700's.
French Empire: Style of the early 1800's that expressed the imperial ambitions of Napoleon and was created at his command. Greek and Roman influence is apparent and though somewhat ostentatious, many pieces are considered quite exquisite even today. French Empire has simple construction with a deep rich varnish. Empire-wreaths. Roman eagles, lions, sphinx, and the letter "N" (for Napoleon himself of course) are the emblems that are familiar to this design. This style of furniture has mostly straight lines and often will have metal feet. Tabletops have marble tops. The most commonly used woods were mahogany, rosewood, and ebony.
French Polishing: Treating a wooden surface with French polish to give it a highly reflective, smooth finish.
French Provincial: Rustic versions of formal French furnishings of the 1600's and 1700's, such as the Louis XIV and Louis XV styles. Early French Provincial pieces were considered as peasant furniture.
French Regence: Popular in Europe during the early 1700's. French Regence' furniture designs have many similarities of Louis XIV furniture but definitely had its own styling. Rococo decoration is familiar in this style. Pieces from this era are very curvy and are intensely decorated. Many pieces from this period are somewhat whimsical and different. French Regence' also introduced commodes, secretaries, and chiffoniers.
French Renaissance: Style dating from the mid 1400's to the early 1600's. French Renaissance spans through many rulers, Francis I, Henry II, and the most noted Henry IV. French Renaissance was mostly inspired by Italian taste but the pieces are much smaller in scale. This period is famous for its exquisite woodcarving. French Renaissance is also noted for its betterment in tapestry weaving. Early pieces are mostly manufactured of oak. Later pieces are made of walnut. Later pieces are also known to be a bit more elaborate in decoration.
Fresco: A durable painting technique for walls and ceilings, created by blending water-colors directly into wet plaster.
Fretwork: An open or pierced woodcarving with an oriental influence, primarily used as a decorative element in Chippendale-style furniture.
Frieze: A decorated horizontal band attached or painted along the top of a wall, building, mantle, etc.
Full Bed (or Double Size): Refers to a bed for a mattress that measures 54"x75". Was once the standard or most popular size bed. Sometimes referred to as a double, full or standard. Find a mattress set.
Full Extra Long (or Double Extra Long): A full/double mattress that measures 54"x80". Find a mattress set.
Full-Forward Arm: An arm extending continuously from the back to the front of a piece of furniture.
Full Grain Leather: A top-grain leather without any corrections or alterations to the natural grain pattern. Find leather furniture.
Functionalism: A form of design based on use rather than on ornamentation.
Futon: A Japanese-style mattress placed on a folding frame, which can be used as both a seating piece and a bed. Find a futon.
Futon Cover: Basically a giant pillowcase that pulls over a futon mattress, that has a zipper or Velcro-type of closure. Find a futon cover.

Furniture & Interior Design Glossary Terms - G

Gadroon Molding: A rounded molding carved in convex curves that is used along the edges of table tops and chairs.
Gainsborough Chair: A deep armchair with an upholstered seat and back, padded open arms, and carved decoration. Find a living room chair.
Gallery Rail: A small slender railing, usually brass, that borders a sideboard or table.
Gargoyle: A grotesque carved figure or head. Were originally used to carry rainwater from the gutters.
Garland: An architectural ornamentation representing foliage, flowers or fruits plaited and tied together with ribbons.
Garnetting: A production process in which short cotton fibers are combed into a specific orientation and formed into layers.
Gateleg Table: A style of drop-leaf table with leaves that are supported by extra legs that swing out like gates. Developed during the Jacobean period and was popular in Colonial America. Find dining room furniture.
Gauge: The measure of the diameter of wire used in furniture and mattress springs. The lower the gauge, the heavier/thicker the wire. Find a new mattress.
Geometric Panels: Decorative panels forming or consisting of regular lines, curves and angles.
Georgian: Elegant design of the 1700's, which is heavier and more ornate than Queen Anne. Georgian features include elaborately carved cabriole legs, ball and claw feet, pierced back splats and ornate carving.
Gesso: A painted or gilded bas-relief plaster decoration.
Gilding: A coating with a thin layer of gold or gold-like substance.
Gimp: An ornamental flat braid or round cord used as a trimming.
Gingham: A fabric with a checked pattern that's created by weaving together two different colored yarns.
Girondole: Term refers to a round, convex mirror used as a wall ornament.
Glastonbury Chair: An X-framed Gothic seat with a sloping paneled back. Arms had a drooping curve in which a priest's vestments rested.
Glaze: A coloring technique used in the finishing process of furniture to highlight the grain characteristics of wood or to give a high sheen to leather.
Glyph: Term refers to a short, vertical groove or channel. A common feature in Doric architecture.
Gobelin: A French tapestry and the name of the Parisian factory that produced it.
Goblet Pleat: A pinch-pleated drapery heading filled out with batting or stiff paper.
Goose-Neck Arm: A chair with curved wooden arms resembling a goose's neck.
Gothic: Pieces from this period (late 1100's to early 1500's) were large with straight lines, and very heavy in weight and scale. Production often took place in monasteries and pieces were usually decorated with shapes of religious figures and detailed carving. The Gothic era introduced the Trestle table, stools, and cupboards. A famous piece of this era is the box chair. The box chair had paneled sides and back with a storage space under the seat. The dominant woods used in producing this style were primarily pine and oak.
Gothic Revival: Style influenced by Gothic and medieval influences popular in the mid-1800s, this style is characterized by lines flowing up to a pointed arch or other architectural features.
Gouache: An opaque water-based paint in which the pigments are bound with glue.
Grain: The direction of the fibers in wood. Flat grain wood is sawed perpendicular to the growth rings. Edge grain wood has been sawed parallel to the growth rings.
Grand Rapids Style: Style inspired by several furniture factories in Grand Rapid Michigan at the turn of the 20th Century, which is still popular today. Pieces of this design are inexpensive and usually made of oak. The most popular item of this style is the oak pedestal table stained in a light finish.
Grandfather Clock: A freestanding floor clock with a pendulum inside its tower casing. Grandfather clocks normally range from six to seven feet in height. Find a grandfather clock.
Grasscloth: A natural fiber wallpaper.
Greek Style: Dating from the 9th Century B.C. with Egyptian roots. Characterized by use of bronze animal legs, gilding, encrusted jewels and stones. Used native woods such as olive, yew and cedar. Features include sweeping curves on legs and backs, and centers on couches, chairs, stools, tables, chests and boxes. Usually not highly decorated.
Griffin: A chimerical beast employed in decoration during the early Georgian period.
Grille: A metal lattice work used on many 18th Century bookcases.
Grommet: An eyelet in a piece of fabric reinforced with two pieces of affixed metal.
Grosgrain: A strong, close-woven corded fabric usually of silk or rayon.
Grout: Thin mortar used for filling spaces such as tile, bricks, etc.
Gueridon: A small rounded topped table or stand, elaborately carved, usually with three legs. Primarily used for holding candles or small articles.
Guilloche: An ornamentation formed by two or more intertwining bands or interlacing figure "8's" frequently enclosing rosettes or other details.
Guimpe: A round or flat braided trim used on upholstered furniture.
Gusset: A narrow panel that's shaped or gathered to give a sense of fullness, such as the side panel of a box shaped cushion for example.

Furniture & Interior Design Glossary Terms - H

Hadley Chest: A colonial chest with a drawer that was used as a hope or dowry chest.
Haitian Cotton: A highly textured woven material with a loose, rolled cotton weft.
Hall Tree: A piece of furniture that's usually placed in an entryway or hallway to hang coats and hats on. Hall trees often have a mirror back and a table surface or storage bench seat. Find a hall tree.
Halogen: A light that emits true color characteristics, unlike fluorescent and other lighting that tend to give a room a yellowish cast, halogen's light remains neutral.
Hand: The feel of cloth or leather, the sensation of its textural qualities.
Hand Distressing: Creating a marred surface, which lends an aged look to furniture.
Hand Tied: Coil springs that are attached to the webbing with links and then "hand tied" to each other and the frame to achieve differing amounts of elasticity in the seat. Two, four, and eight way hand ties are commonly used.
Handkerchief Table: Term refers to a single leaf table with a leaf and a triangular top. Closed the table fits in a corner, opened it's a small square.
Hardwood: Wood derived from trees such as oak, beech, maple, mahogany, and walnut.
Hardwood Frames: Upholstered furniture frames made from hardwoods such as oak or birch. These woods are normally kiln dried and resist splitting.
Harvest Table: A narrow rectangular table that has hinged drop leaves, this design takes up very little space and offers a nice amount of surface area when the leaves are up. Find dining furniture.
Hassock: Upholstered footstool large enough to be used as seating, often referred to as an ottoman. Find chairs and ottomans.
Headboard: An upright structure rising above the mattress at the head of the bed. Find a headboard.
Heading: The hemmed, stiffened, layered portion on the top of a curtain or drapery.
Heat Transfer Printing: Method of printing fabrics by transferring designs to fabric from special pre-printed paper.
Helical Wire: Thin wire spirals that hold adjacent rows of mattress coils together and may be used to hold coils to the border rods. They can run horizontally or vertically. Not present in mattresses with individually pocketed coils. Find a new mattress.
Hepplewhite: A neo-classic furniture style that followed Chippendale from the late 1700's to about 1820. It overlaps with Sheraton styles and shares similar elements of restrained design, tapered legs and classical ornamentation like urns and shields.
High Relief: Term refers to deep carving of the plane surface of any material.
High Resiliency Foam: A pure foam with a cell structure different from conventional foam which results in more durable and more supportive material. This foam will retain its shape longer.
Highboy: Simply a tall chest of drawers. The style was developed in the 1700's and is usually composed of a base and a top section with drawers, which is often topped with a decorative broken pediment crown. The name comes from the French "haut bois" which means "high wood". Find bedroom furniture.
Highlighting: A color-removal technique in the finishing process, which is used to highlight natural grain characteristics.
Hinged King: A king size mattress with a divided border rod in the center to allow for slight bending or folding without causing damage. Find a mattress set.
Hitchcock Chair: A black-painted/finished chair of the 1800's with gold powdered stenciling of fruit and flowers on the backrest, named after its designer Lambert Hitchcock. Heavily influenced by Sheraton designs. Web site of the Hitchcock Chair Company.
Hitchcock Style: Style created by Lambert Hitchcock of Connecticut from the early to mid 1800's. Although most famous for the design of Hitchcock chairs, Lambert also produced stools, settees, rockers, cabinets and cradles. The Hitchcock chair is still reproduced to this day.
Hock Leg: A cabriole leg having a broken curve on the inner side of the knee.
Hood: A shaped top on cabinet work that usually overhangs the vertical lines.
Hoop Back Chair: Hepplewhite or Queen Anne chair with a top rail curving directly into its arms.
Hope Chest: Traditionally a hinged-top chest for storing items such as household goods and textile items in anticipation of marriage. Also referred to as a dowry chest. Find a hope chest.
Hue: A color tone such as red, yellow, blue, etc.
Huntboard: Designed to be light and portable so it could be moved outdoors. Originally used for serving food and drinks after a hunt.
Hutch: Enclosed cupboard with shelves resting on a solid base such as buffet or desk. Find dining room furniture.

Furniture & Interior Design Glossary Terms - I

Imbrications: Ornamentation in the form of fish scales or the segmented edge of tiles that overlap.
Incandescent: The most commonly used household bulb, which emits light through a wire filament.
Initial Load Deflection (ILD): A measure for the firmness level of foam used in upholstered furniture and mattresses.
Inlay: Decorative patterns created with pieces of different woods or other materials, which have been set into the surface of wood furniture.
Inner Quilt: A true pillow top mattress will have an inner quilt, which means that the first layers of upholstery are actually covered with a layer of fabric that is sewn to the tape edge of the mattress. Some so called pillow tops do not have inner quilts. These imitation pillow tops have border panels around the perimeter with two tape edges to give the appearance of a pillow top. Find a mattress.
Inner Tufting: A very durable method of attaching and combining layers of padding below the quilted cover of a mattress to prevent shifting and settling of the padding layers. This method is rarely used in mass-produced mattresses due to the labor intensive process. Find a mattress.
Innerspring Unit: The spring and wire units made up primarily of coils, helical wires and border wires, which is the inside of an innerspring mattress. Some upholstered furniture such as sofas and loveseats can also feature innerspring units.
Inset Tile: A tile with a different design than the surrounding body of tiles.
Insulator: A mattress component that separates and protects the mattress cushioning from its innerspring coils. Common insulators consist of a compressed polyester fiber pad, compressed cotton, or a polypropylene mesh screen. Find a mattress.
Intaglio: An illustration or design cut into a surface.
Intarsia: An Italian type of decoration that's similar to inlay and marquetry, where the design is sunk into the wood.
International Style: Functional modern furniture style developed in Europe during the 1920's and 1930's. The most important origin of this style was Germany's Bauhaus School. Simple lines and an absence of decoration are hallmarks of this design. Popular materials used included chrome and glass.
Iron Bed: Term commonly used to describe beds made of metal that are coated with colored finishes. Find an iron bed.
Italian Finishing: Bed linen finishing technique developed in Italy, where luxury single ply yarns are treated individually to remove fibers and smooth the surface. This special finishing then compresses the fabric, reduces shrinkage that imparts a smooth lightweight feel to sheets.
Italian Provincial: Loose term applied to furniture of the Italian provinces made during the 1700's to mid 1800's. These pieces, although more rustic, copied the elaborate furniture styles of Milan, Venice, Rome and Florence. Later pieces (Late Italian Provincial) were heavily influenced by French design. The pieces feature simplified lines and lack ornate decorations. Very few of these pieces are reproduced today.
Italian Renaissance: Popular through the 1400's to 1600's. Italian Renaissance furniture features a very rich appearance and is decorated with carving, inlay, and marquetry. Chairs have a very straight construction and are built with flat runners. Chairs usually have very sturdy stretchers. Tables are very big and elaborately decorated. Tables have stretchers and are rectangular in shape. Most pieces are made of walnut.

Furniture & Interior Design Glossary Terms - J

Jabot: The cascading fabric at each side of a swaged valance.
Jacobean: This furniture period spans almost the entire first half of the 17th Century from James I to Charles I reign. Many furniture specialists claim that all furniture of the 17th Century is influenced and encompassed by this design. Pieces are large, square or rectangular. Carving is intricate and done in a tasteful low relief style. Seats of chairs are flat and stretchers sit low on the frame. Stretchers are usually rectangular and show up on most tables and chairs. Oak is the dominant wood.
Jacquard: Intricate fabrics such as tapestries, brocades and damasks whose patterns are woven with yarns of different colors.
Japanese Style: Japanese domestic usage required little furniture. Chests and cupboards were built in with sliding doors. Usually finished with highly polished lacquer flecked with gold and decorated with fine-scaled flower, animal and landscape motives. Thin mats made of rice straw covered the floors and were used for sitting. Cloth cushions were also used, as were small tables of wood and lacquer. The folding screen was an indispensable adjunct to the other furnishings as it could be moved to change the entire aspect of the room. Japanese furniture forms have changed very little for centuries.
Japanning: A European and American technique of painting that requires several coats of heat-hardened lacquer, commonly used in creating chinoiserie designs.
Jewelling: Ornamental carving in the shape of jewels. Very popular during the Renaissance period.
Jewelry Armoire: A small and narrow upright chest for the storage of jewelry and fashion accessories. Find a jewelry armoire.
Jute: A plant that's used in natural fiber flooring.

Furniture & Interior Design Glossary Terms - K

K: Marking for king size bedding. Approximate size for Comforter, Duvet Cover is 104"x96", Bedspread is 116"x118", Coverlet is 108"x98", Blanket is 108"x100". King shams approximate size is 20"x36".
Kas: An early American cabinet of Dutch origin, made with painted or paneled wood.
KD: (See Knocked Down).
Keeled: A sharp edge often found on the corner of cabriole legs, the term "keeled" is used because it resembles the keel of a boat.
Kelim: A flat-woven (not tufted) tapestry rug. Find a rug.
Kick Pleat: An inverted pleat that's usually found at the corner of a flat or box-pleated skirt on a piece of upholstered furniture.
Kidney Desk: A desk or table with a curved front and a top shaped like a kidney bean.
Kiln Dried: Wood that's dried by a means of controlled heat and humidity in kilns or ovens to specific ranges of moisture content.
King Mattress: A standard king sized mattress that measures 78"x80", often called an Eastern King. Find a king mattress.
Kitchen Cart (or Kitchen Island): A kitchen cart is a piece of furniture usually on casters that provides extra kitchen storage and surface space. Some people interchangeably use the term "kitchen cart" with "kitchen island". However, the term "kitchen island" most commonly refers to a built-in piece of cabinetry. Find a kitchen cart or island.
Klismos: Ancient Greek style of chair with saber shaped legs splayed at the front and back. The back legs continue up to support a shoulder-height curved back.
Kneehole Desk: A desk with a recessed central cupboard. Find home office furniture.
Knife Edged: Loose or attached cushion treatments that use a single horizontal seam or welt in the middle of the cushion's front edge.
Knit: A type of upholstery fabric that is made from polyester or nylon. It is knitted as opposed to woven and is softer and more stretchy than other fabrics.
Knob Turning: Term refers to a turning resembling a series of knobs and bosses.
Knocked Down (or KD): Furniture that is sold unassembled or partially assembled.
Knot: In wood, the area where a branch or the limb of a tree appears on the face or edge of a piece, such as knots commonly found in knotty pine furniture.

Furniture & Interior Design Glossary Terms - L

Lacche: Term is used in Italian to cover all painted decoration applied to furniture.
Lacquer: A hard, protective varnish that is applied as a topcoat to furniture.
Ladder-Back: Normally a country style of chair with a back that resembles a ladder. Find dining and kitchen chairs.
Lamb's Wool: Elastic, soft, resilient wool fibers, obtained from lambs when they are seven or eight months old - the first or virgin clipping from the animal. This lofty stock is used in better grades of fabrics.
Lambrequin: A short piece of hanging drapery, often imitated in metal or wood for decorative purposes
Laminate: Any thin material such as wood or plastic that's glued to the exterior of a cabinet or other surface.
Lap: A joint of two pieces lapping over one another.
Latex: A natural foam from the rubber tree or a synthetic rubber. Latex is often used in premium foam mattresses. Find a latex mattress.
Lattice: An openwork decoration of crisscrossed wood, iron plate bars, etc. in a diagonal or square pattern.
Laurelling: A decorative feature using the laurel leaf motif as its basis.
Lawson: An overstuffed furniture style that has square seat cushions, short squared or rectangular backrests, and high rolled or squared arms. Variations of this style are often referred to as transitional.
Lay Off: To brush an unloaded paintbrush across a wet painted surface to create a smooth as possible finish.
Lazy Susan: Term refers to a revolving tray or stand, normally made of wood or metal.
Leather: The hide of an animal used in home furnishings. Find leather furniture.
Leather Finishing: After dyeing leather, the finishing may include waxing, buffing, waterproofing, etc. Find leather furniture.
Lectus: A style of daybed or reclining sofa featuring Roman influences. Find a daybed.
Library Storage: Drawers, trays, cabinets or racks designed to store cassettes, CD's or video tapes. They often roll or slide out for easy accessibility. Find media storage units.
Lifestyle: A term to describe an individual's expression of life. Lifestyle furniture pieces tend to be casual in nature and simple in design.
Limewash: A finish that's made of slaked lime and water, which is used for whitening outside walls.
Liming: A technique of using liming wax to stain wood a whitish color.
Lincoln Rocker: An upholstered high back rocker that has an exposed wood frame and padded armrests. Find a rocking chair.
Linen: A type of cloth that's made of flax, which is woven somewhat loosely allowing more air through. Linen is known for having a generally cool feel.
Linen-Press: A cupboard with shelves for storing linen and clothes.
Linenfold Panel: A decorative panel that's molded or carved to look like folded cloth.
Lingerie Chest: A tall narrow seven-drawer chest normally used for storing undergarments and lingerie. Find bedroom furniture.
Lining Paper: A special type of wallpaper that's used as a base for the decorative paper. Lining paper is often used to cover cracks and other imperfections in a wall.
Linoleum: An all-natural flooring material made of linseed oil, cork dust, wood flour, tree resins, ground limestone and pigments.
Linters: Short cotton fibers clinging to cotton seed after it has been ginned. Used for mattress filling.
Lodge: Traditionally a rustic house or inn that's located in a remote area such as the mountains of Montana. The word has also become a decor term for a trend of furnishings and accessory items inspired by the rustic elements and objects found in lodges.
Loft Bed: A raised bed like a bunk bed that has drawers or other case pieces such as a desk underneath instead of an additional bed. Find kid's bedroom furniture.
Log Furniture: Western and rustic style furnishings that are made out of actual wood logs.
Loo Table: A large Victorian card or games table.
Loop-Back: An oval chair back without arms. Find a dining room chair.
Loose Cover: A throw or fitted cover that goes over a sofa, chair, etc.
Loose Pillow-Back: A pillow treatment that can be removed from an upholstered piece of furniture.
Loper: A pullout arm used to support the hinged fall of a bureau.
Lotus: The conventionalized Egyptian water lily as found in classic ornamentation.
Louis XIII: Popular during the early 1600's. Louis XIII furniture pieces tend to have a straight line. Case pieces are usually symmetrical and separated into two parts. Panels on cabinets have square panels and have a broken pediment design. Favored details are twisted columns, turned legs, and balusters. The prominent decorations are inlay, marquetry and intricate carvings. Ebony, walnut, and oak are the most popular woods of Louis XIII pieces.
Louis XIV, XV and XVI: Classic French furniture designs ranging from the mid 1600's to the late 1700's. These styles grew to be simpler and more refined. Louis XIV style is larger and more ornate. Louis XV is simpler and features curved lines and some ornamentation. Louis XVI features geometric shapes, straight lines and minimal ornamentation.
Louvered Doors: Doors that are made up of horizontal wooden slats.
Loveseat (or Love Seat): A smaller two-seat version of a sofa, originally associated with the Queen Anne style. Find a loveseat.
Low Relief: Term refers to shallow carving of the plane surface of any material.
Lowboy: A short chest or table with drawers, normally set on short legs.
Lozenge: A diamond shaped decorative panel. Term comes from the Middle English word for stone.
Luggage Stitching: A sewing technique featuring two parallel rows of stitching.
Lunette: An ornament or mural decoration in the shape of a half moon.
Lurex: Fibers from finely slit aluminum film covered in plastic. The luster of the yarn imitates gold and silver threads.
Lyre Arm: A bow-shaped section of a piece of furniture resembling a harp.
Lyre Back: A chair with a back resembling a harp.
Lyre Motif: Representations of a harp-like instrument used on many French and English designs. The lyre is used extensively in the chair backs and table supports of Duncan Phyfe.

Furniture & Interior Design Glossary Terms - M

Manchette: A small upholstered patch or cushion used on an armrest.
Mantel: The shelf above a fireplace. The term is also commonly used to refer to the decorative trim around a fireplace opening. Find fireplace mantels and accessories.
Mantel Clock: A relatively small clock traditionally placed on a fireplace mantel or shelf. These clocks were originally developed in France in the mid 18th Century. Find a mantel clock.
Marbleizing (or Marbling): Decorative painting/finishing of a surface which is marble like in appearance.
Marlborough Legs: Heavy strait legs used in Chippendale designs and others.
Marquetry: Decorative patterns made of inlays, usually applied to veneered surfaces.
Married: A term referring to an item of furniture that has been made up from two or more associated pieces, usually from the same period/style. Also, a term for upholstered furniture that's normally manufactured in a particular fabric or leather (opposed to a custom or special order covering).
Marshall Unit: Coil springs inserted in separate pockets and joined together to form cushions.
Mat Board: A thick paperboard used to add dimension to framed artwork; available in a wide variety of colors and textures.
Matchboarding: Form of cladding where long wooden boards are held together with tongue-and-groove joints.
Matelassé: A double-woven fabric with puckered surface effects.
Matte Finish: A finish that's more flat than shiny.
Mattress: A piece of bedding to sleep on that conventionally consists of multiple layers of foams and fibers with a metal innerspring unit to provide support. Mattresses are usually used along with a box-spring or foundation unit to support the mattress and reduce wear. Many of today's better quality mattresses no longer use innerspring units and are made entirely of latex or other types of foam products. Find mattresses.
Mattress Pad: A protective pad used to cover a mattress to protect it from soiling. Find a mattress pad.
MDF: Medium density fiberboard; made from compressed particles of wood and used in the construction of furniture.
Medallion: A decorative plaque made of wood or metal.
Mediterranean: This style originated in counties of the North Mediterranean Sea, such as Spain, Greece and Italy. Mediterranean has been popular since the 1500's and is often referred to today as Spanish Modern. Mediterranean furniture ranges from simply functional to extremely formal. The style is characterized by being built short and squat with ornately turned legs and feet. The hardware used is usually heavy and often burnished. Primary woods used include pecan, chestnut, mahogany and walnut. Mediterranean can often mix with contemporary, country and provincial pieces.
Mélange: Handmade pillow lace of silk which shows a combination of conventional Chantilly lace with Spanish effects in the design.
Melon-Bulb: Term referring to the swollen member on legs or posts of furniture.
Memory Foam: Heat sensitive, polyurethane foam. Also referred to as viscoelastic or visco foam. Find a memory foam mattress.
Memphis: A modern style of design from about 1950 to 1970 that is still considered by many as a stylish fad. The Memphis style was created by a group of furniture and household accessory designers that were known for erratic, avant garde, and anti-establishment styles. Popular characteristics of the Memphis style include the use of bright colors, fantastic forms and intentional elements of bad taste.
Menuisier: Term corresponds roughly to an English carpenter or joiner. Term is pretty much obsolete except in France to refer to a carpenters tool that we refer to as a planer.
Merino: The highest, finest and best wool. This fiber is used only in the best of woolen and worsted fabrics, billiard cloth, etc.
Micro Fleece: Lofty micro fleece fibers offer warmth without the weight. The fabric is velvety soft, ultralight and breathable with unique thermal qualities. Commonly used for making throw blankets.
Microfiber: A fabric that's tightly woven from a very fine poly thread and has a suede like finish. Microfiber fabric is water repellent due to its construction process and when specially treated it can also be waterproof. Find microfiber living room furniture.
Mirror Stand: An adjustable mirror mounted on a shaft and tripod base, resembles a pole-screen. Popular at the end of the 18th Century.
Mission (or Mission Style): This style grew out of the English Arts and Crafts movement and was a direct reaction against the ornate Victorian furniture styles of the time. Original Mission furniture was produced between about 1895 to 1910. Its styling is rooted in Southern California. Mission has absolutely no decoration and has a very sturdy simple construction. Desks, tables, and chairs are straight and legs are attached with stretchers. Chair backs have a slat design. Seats are usually made of cane or solid wood. Mission has a very utilitarian design and is almost always made of oak. Currently there is a resurgence of popularity in this design. Its simple basic look blends well with Shaker and Danish pieces.
Miter Joint (or Mitered Corner): A diagonal joint formed at the intersection of two pieces of wood. For example, the joint found at the side and head casing of a door opening is made at a 45-degree angle.
Modern (Moderne or Modernist): A clean streamlined furniture style of 20th Century with roots in the German Bauhaus School of design and Scandinavian design. Sometimes referred to as International Style.
Modillion: An enriched block, or horizontal bracket, used in series under a Corinthian or Composite cornice.
Modular: Furniture units that can be rearranged or stacked in different configurations.
Modular Seating: Seating units (usually upholstered), which are easily joined to or arranged with other units to form different seating arrangements. Find modular and sectional furniture.
Mohair: The long, lustrous and strong hair of the Angora goat which is spun into yarns for knitting and fabrics. Also called Angora.
Moiré: A fabric with a swirled pattern that resembles water patterns on silk.
Molding: Ornamental shaped strips that are applied to and project from a surface.
Monochrome: A single hue.
Morris Chair: An early twentieth Century Arts and Crafts style chair with an adjustable back, padded wooden arms and loose seat and back cushions. Named after its inventor William Morris.
Mortise & Tenon: A slot cut into a piece of wood to receive a tenon of another piece of wood to form a joint.
Mosaic Tiles: Colorful natural stone tiles, usually sold in squares.
Mother of Pearl: Inlay of nacreous shell slices, often used on early 19th Century American fancy chairs, tables, mirrors, etc.
Motif: A decorative theme, component or element.
Motion Furniture: Reclining sofas, loveseats and chairs with mechanisms that allow the user to extend their legs and, or, lean back. Find reclining furniture.
Mule Chest: A chest with drawers in the base, the forerunner of the chest-of-drawers. Find chests of drawers.
Mullion: The vertical wood between window frames.
Muntons (Muntins, Muttons or Mutons): Dividers over glass panels in windows and china cabinets.
Muslin: A plain-woven cotton, typically used as the under layer on a piece of upholstered furniture, over which the decorative upholstery material is mounted.

Furniture & Interior Design Glossary Terms - N

Nailheads: Decorative brass nails attaching fabric or leather to a frame, thereby outlining its design elements. Nailhead trim is often applied along the arms and backs of upholstered pieces such as sofas.
Nap: A fabric with a texture or design that runs on one direction such as corduroy and velvet.
Natural Finish: A transparent finish that doesn't seriously alter the original grain or color of the natural wood. Natural finishes are usually applied with oils, varnishes, and or similar materials.
Natural Grain Leather: A leather with an unaltered grain. Find leather furniture.
Neo-Classic (or Neoclassicism, Neoclassical Style): A design style that's elegant and simple, with motifs borrowed from ancient Rome and Greece. This style was widely popular during late 1700's through the 1800's and relates to the Sheraton, Hepplewhite, Empire and Federal periods.
Neo-Gothic: Revivals of aspects of Gothic detailing, which took place in the 1700's and 1800's. These aspects included Gothic arches and tracery applied to rococo furniture. Later Neo-Gothic styles applied Gothic ornamentation to neoclassical forms.
Nesting Tables: Tables of varying sizes stored one under the other, normally consisting of a set of three. Find living room furniture.
Neutral Color: Colors such as white, black, gray and tan, that easily blend with other colors.
Niche: A recess in a wall for displaying a sculpture or other accessory.
Niello: The traditional art of decorating metal plates by incising designs on them and filing incised lines with alloy.
Night Stand: A small, low table or cabinet with drawers that sits by a bed. Find a nightstand.
Nubuck Leather: A top-grain, aniline dyed leather that's buffed to create a soft nap. Nubuck leathers are especially vulnerable to stains even if treated with a stain protection product. Not recommend for use where spills are likely to occur. Find leather furniture.
Nulling: A projecting detail of a carved ornament, similar to gadrooning.
Nylon: A synthetic yarn derived from polymers. Nylon is famous for its excellent wearability.

Furniture & Interior Design Glossary Terms - O

Occasional Table: General term for small pieces of furniture such as coffee and end tables. Find living room furniture.
Office Chair: Any chair that's specifically designed to be used in an office environment such as a desk chair or an office guest chair. Term most commonly used to refer to swivel desk chairs with casters. Find an office chair.
Ogee: A decorative S-shaped molding.
Ogee Bracket Foot: A foot commonly used on Chippendale case pieces, which features a double-curved leg that wraps around two sides of the piece.
Olefin: A synthetic fiber derived from a hydrocarbon source. Olefin is famous for its strength and stain resistance.
Onlay: A ornament applied to the surface of wood or other materials.
Opaque: Applies to any material that does not allow light to pass through (i.e. non-transparent).
Open Stock: Individual pieces from a furniture grouping that are sold separately.
Organdy: Very light and thin, transparent, stiff and wiry cotton cloth used in bedspreads, curtains, baby bonnets, artificial flowers, etc.
Oriental Rug: Hand-tied Oriental rug made in India, the Near East, or China.
Ormulu: A metal resembling gold. Used as mounts and decorative effects on furniture.
Ottoman: A low upholstered footstool or seat without arms or back. Find an ottoman.
Outdoor Lighting: Term typically refers to any hardwired, low-voltage or solar powered lighting that is used for illuminating outdoor areas such as walkways, patios, driveways, etc. Find outdoor lighting.
Oval-Back: The shape of a chair back that's often associated with Hepplewhite designs.
Overlay: A decorative trim piece applied to a flat surface. Overstuffed Furniture: Upholstered pieces in which the frame is completely and deeply covered by the upholstery with little or no exposed woodwork. Find living room furniture.
Ovolo: A continuous ornament in the form of an egg which generally decorates the molding called the "quarter-round". Eggs are often separated from each other by pointed darts.
Oxbow (or Oxbow Front): The opposite of a serpentine-curve, they somewhat resemble the curve of an oxbow and are used on the fronts of case pieces.

Furniture & Interior Design Glossary Terms - P

Pad Foot (or Club Foot): A simple foot treatment at the end of a cabriole or Queen Anne leg commonly found on living room and dining room tables of these styles.
Pad Seat: Upholstered furniture built without springs.
Padding: Soft materials such as foam that's used between the frame and covering material of an upholstered piece of furniture to create comfort and shape.
Palladian Style: Furniture styling based on designs from the mid 1500's Italian architect Andrea Palladio. This furniture and decor style features very large and spectacular cornices, pediments and sculptural decorations of scallop shells, eagles, acanthus leaves and other motifs. Windows and columns in this style of decor still carry the Palladian name today.
Palladian Window: A large window divided into three parts consisting of an arched center section and two smaller side sections.
Palmette: Term refers to a carved or painted ornament resembling a palm leaf.
Panel: Normally a thin flat piece of wood or similar material, framed by rails and stiles as in a door, or fitted into grooves of a thicker material with molded edges for a decorative wall treatment.
Papier (or Paper Mache): Material that's made from paper pulp and molded into various products, which is suitable to be painted and varnished when dry.
Parquet: Wood flooring that's usually laid in blocks with boards at angles to each other to form decorative patterns.
Parquetry: Furniture that's inlaid with geometrical designs similar to parquet floors.
Parsons Leg: A relatively long fully upholstered leg, such as those found on a parsons dining room chair.
Parsons Table: A simple squared table with legs and apron of equal widths. The name is derived from the Parsons School of Design where the table was developed during the 1950's. Find dining tables.
Passementerie: Fancy decorative trimmings such as tassels, tiebacks and ribbon.
Pastel: A light, soft color.
Paterna: A dish link ornamentation often worked in bas-relief on a frieze.
Patina: A luster or sheen that develops with use over time, usually associated with fine antiques, vintage furniture and leather furniture.
Patio Furniture: Furniture that is specifically made and finished for outdoor use. Find patio furniture.
Pattern: The decorative or ornamental design of a fabric, veneers, etc.
Pattern Repeat: The interval between the repetition of the same pattern.
Pedestal: The supporting base for a table, vase, sculpture, etc.
Pedestal Desk: A flat desk, usually with a leather top, that stands on two banks of drawers. Find home office furniture.
Pedestal Table: A table that's supported by a single center base or column. Find dining room tables.
Pediment: An ornamental crest running across the top of tall piece such as a highboy chest, curio cabinet, grandfather clock, etc.
Pegged Furniture: Early joined furniture constructed by a system of slots and tenons, held together by dowels.
Pelmet: A wooden or fabric edging used to conceal the top edge of a curtain or blind.
Pembroke Table: A drop leaf table with leaves that almost drop to the floor. Named for Lady Pembroke.
Pencil Pleat: A tightly gathered drapery heading. Find window treatments and curtains.
Pencil-Post Bed: A bed with four slender posts generally rising from six to eight feet in height. The design is normally very simple with straight lines. These beds can be used alone or with a canopy. Find bedroom furniture.
Pendant: A hanging ornament, usually in a matched or parallel series.
Pennsylvania Dutch: Furniture style produced through the late 1600's to mid 1800's by German families settled around New York and Pennsylvania. They were commonly miscalled Dutch for "Deutsch". The styling is simple with a sense of rustic utilitarianism and is normally squared with minimal rounding or turning. Decorations predominately include paintings of flowers, fruit, animals, human motifs and German script. Most popular woods were walnut, maple, fruitwoods and pine.
Percale: A finely woven cotton fabric that's usually used for bedding.
Persian Rug: A hand-tied Oriental rug made in Iran. Examples: Kirman, Kashan, Shiraz, Tabriz.
Pickling (or Pickled Finish): A term for a piece of wood that's been limed. Also a method of painting furniture and then wiping off the paint before it has completely dried leaving some on the edges.
Picture Rail: A molding that runs along the top of the wall a short distance from the ceiling, from which pictures are hung with hooks.
Pie Crust Table: A round occasional table on a three-legged pedestal base that features an ornamented edging resembling a crimped piecrust. Find living room furniture.
Pier Glass: A large window height mirror suspended above a table between two windows.
Pier Group: Normally two tall, narrow chests (pier cabinets) which sit on either side of a bed that are joined by a headboard assembly often consisting of a mirror, or shelves and light bridge. Find bedroom furniture.
Piercing: A cutout or carved decorative detail seen in chair splats and other furniture originating from the 1700's.
Pigment: A substance that gives color to paint, stain, dye, etc. Pigments are derived from both natural and synthetic resources.
Pigmented Leather: A leather finished with a pigmented coating for consistency of color and texture. Pigments may be used to cover imperfections in the hide, as well as to add protection to leather used for furniture. Find leather furniture.
Pilaster: A flattened column-like detail applied to furniture such as bookcases, grandfather clocks, etc. to serve as a support for a cornice or pediment.
Pilling: A condition that can affect textiles such as fabric and carpet. Pilling occurs when fibers become entangled with one another, creating hard masses of fibers in the form of knotted tufts. Some materials can be more prone to pilling than others.
Pillow Top Mattress: A mattress with extra foam and padding on top of the mattress. Better quality pillow tops will have the pillow top on both sides of the mattress. There are also fake pillow tops that do not have extra foam or padding. Find a pillow top mattress.
Pinch Pleats (or French Pleats): Where individual drapery pleats are equally divided into smaller pleats and sewn together at the bottom of the pinched pleats.
Pineapple: A carving detail commonly used on 19th Century furniture and home decor items (and today's reproductions) as a symbol of hospitality. Found frequently on 19 Century bed posts.
Pinnacle: A carved ornament at the top or crest of a piece of furniture.
Piping (or Welting): A cord wrapped in fabric, which is used to trim upholstery seams and places where the fabric meets with exposed wood.
Plaque: Term refers to a flat, thin ornament, usually made of metal or porcelain and inserted into wood.
Platform Base: Three, or four, cornered flat table bases supporting a central pedestal and standing on scrolled or paw feet.
Platform Bed: A bed whose base consists of a raised, flat horizontal surface meant to support a mattress. Find bedroom furniture.
Platform Foundation: Normally a mattress base made of wood with no metal wire. Foundations are usually covered with a layer of foam and fabric to look like a box spring. Find a platform foundation.
Plinth: The base of a chest or other furniture that rests on the floor, opposed to sitting on legs.
Plush: Fabric in a velvet weave with a long pile.
Plywood: Layers of wood attached in a cross grain method to assist in preventing the contraction and swelling of wood surfaces from humidity changes in the air.
Pole Top: A channel running along the top of the curtain/drapery between the double sides of fabric that allows for a pole or rod to be inserted along the top for hanging.
Poly Dacron Wrap: A cushion construction method in which a soft resilient polyester material is wrapped around a polyurethane foam core. Poly Dacron wrapping is a feature commonly found in many of today's upholstered furniture designs.
Polyester: A synthetic polymer derived fiber that's often blended with other materials such as wool, cotton and rayon. Polyester is famous for its durability and wrinkle resistance.
Polyester Batting: A synthetic fiber wadded into rolls or sheets used for stuffing furniture and mattresses.
Polyurethane Foam: A synthetic material used for cushions in upholstered furniture such as sofas and chairs; better upholstered furniture uses high-density polyurethane foam.
Pop: Term meaning popular, used to describe design and artwork developed in the 1950's and 1960's that drew its inspiration from commercial art such as product packaging, comic strips, etc. (think Andy Warhol).
Poppy-Head: The decorative finial of a bench or desk end as in ecclesiastical woodwork.
Portieres: Hinged metal curtain poles from which a curtain is hung to eliminate drafts. Find curtain rods and hardware.
Post-Modernism: A reaction against Modernism that began during the 1950's and promoted the reintroduction of bright colors and decorative components to furniture and home decor related designs.
Posturized: A word created and used by the bedding industry to describe additional support in the center of a mattress or foundation unit. Find a posturized mattress.
Poudresse: A small table with a mirrored lid covering space for cosmetics.
Press: A broad, tall, enclosed, and doored structure comparable to a wardrobe.
Pressboard: A strong, high density board used for case backs, dust proofing or as the underlying structural base for veneers or vinyl wrap. Also known as composition board or particle board. Pressboard is commonly used by even the best furniture manufacturer's today because of it's proven strength and stability.
Prie-Dieu Chair: A high-backed chair of Italian origin with a narrow shelf, rail or pad upon which the user may rest his arms while kneeling in the seat.
Primary Colors: Three colors; red, yellow and blue.
Printing: Producing patterns and designs of one or more colors on fabric. Methods include Application Printing, Block Printing, Blotch Printing, Direct Printing, etc.
Prints: A fabric with a pattern. The term is also applied to lithographed reproductions of original paintings, drawings, etc.
Provincial: Furniture from the hinterlands inspired by designs from the major centers of a country, which have been adapted to local tastes, materials and ways of living.
Pub Table: Term conventionally refers to a round table about 40" in height designed for small spaces and intimate dining. It is common for people to also refer to pub tables as bistro tables. Find a pub table.
Pull-Up Chair: Term refers to a small and light weight arm chair. Sometimes called an "occasional chair".
Pull-Up Leather: A full grain, aniline dyed leather that is oiled or waxed. When pulled, the oils or waxes cause the coloring to migrate and become lighter in the pulled areas. A look commonly associated with better quality leather furniture. Find leather furniture.
Pure Aniline Leather: A top-grain leather that's aniline dyed and receives no additional coloring. Also called full aniline. Find leather furniture.

Furniture & Interior Design Glossary Terms - Q

Quatrefoil: An ornamental figure, which is divided into four foils, leaves or lobes.
Queen Anne: The major furniture style/period of the 1700's, which is noted for being rich and innovative in design. This design is elegant and characterized by graceful curved lines such as cabriole legs and broken scroll pediments.
Queen Mattress: The mattress size between a full (or double) and a king. Queen mattresses measure 60"x80". Find a queen mattress.
Quilt: A bed covering that is composed of two layers of fabric and a layer of batting in between. Find a quilt.
Quirk: A narrow groove channel molding sometimes called a sunken fillet.

Furniture & Interior Design Glossary Terms - R

Rabbet Joint: A joint used in furniture and home decor construction that's formed by fitting together boards into which rectangular grooves have been cut.
Ragging Off: A paint effect caused by rubbing/wiping a painted surface with a rag or piece of leather.
Rail: The horizontal piece running across the top of a dining room chair back. Term also applies to the horizontal piece in framing or paneling.
Rail Joints: The places where the horizontal members of an upholstered frame meet.
Railroaded: A fabric that's been applied with warp (length) running horizontally across the piece of furniture and from front to back along the arms.
Rake: The angle or slant of a chair back or non-vertical furniture leg.
Rattan: A type of climbing palm with very long and tough stems that are often used in wickerwork. Find wicker and rattan furniture.
Rayon: A synthetic fiber that's derived from the cell wall of plants. Rayon is famous for its rich luster, pilling resistance and absorption of dye colorings.
Ready-Mades: Standard sized draperies that are factory-made. Find curtains and drapes.
Récamier: An elegant sofa or chaise popularized in the Victorian and Empire eras of furniture design. Often called fainting couches. Find a fainting couch or chaise lounge.
Receding Colors: Colors that appear more distant, such as blue, gray or bluish-greens.
Recliner: A chair or rocker that reclines back. Find a recliner.
Reclining Furniture: Furniture that has a mechanical system allowing the user to adjust into a reclining position. Also called motion furniture. Find reclining furniture.
Reeding: Basically the reverse of fluting in which beaded lines are projected onto a surface. Commonly used by Sheraton, Adam and Phyfe.
Refectory Table: A narrow long table design that was originally used in the dining rooms of religious orders. It was later shortened in length and provided with underleaves.
Regal: Generically, a traditional furniture style characterized by majestic forms. Many especially European furniture styles are further characterized by the name of the specific monarch or monarchical dynasty during the style's time period, such as William and Mary and Tudor style furniture.
Régence Style: This furniture style spanned from about 1715 to 1723, when France was ruled by a regent. This style of furniture design was a transition from massive straight lines to graceful curves.
Regency: Neoclassical style of British furniture popular during the first half of the 1800's. This style spawned adaptations and true reproductions of Greek and Roman furniture and coincided with Directoire and Empire furniture styles in France.
Relief: Any sculptural ornamentation raised above its surface or background.
Renaissance Style: This furniture design movement began in Italy in the 13th Century and continued through the 17th Century. It often features ornamentation inspired by Michelangelo and Raphael. The furniture is true to the purpose of the piece and often incorporates mythological or biblical figures. Walnut is often the wood of choice.
Rep: A plain-woven fabric that has a heavy filler thread, which creates a corded effect.
Reproduction: New furniture that's a copy of an antique style or period.
Republic: A variation of the Federal furniture style.
Resiliency: Term used to describe the property of foam, fiber, fabric or a spring unit to spring back to its original form.
Restorations: Antiques or collectibles that have been brought back to their original condition through reconstruction, refinishing, and/or the replacement of parts. Restoring a significant piece can considerably decrease its value, which is important to consider before doing, or when buying a piece of furniture that may have been restored.
Retro: A contemporary retrospective view, which reinterprets some of the best-loved furniture looks from the 1930's to 1980's. The mood of these pieces is playful and ironic. The classics have extra emotional punch because you recognize such items as exaggerated Hollywood sofas, 1950's boomerang tables or wacky 70's chairs.
Return: The piece of an L-shaped desk that is perpendicular to the main desk unit, which provides extra working or computer space. Find office furniture.
Revival: Reproductions of classic American furniture styles from the 1700's, although not always accurate in detail. Revival pieces were popular from the late 1800's through the early 1900's. Also known as just "Revival".
Ribbon-Back (or Ribband-Back): A chair with a back resembling entwined ribbon.
Ribbon Band: A narrow trim of fabric around the edge or base of a sofa, chair, pillow, drapery, etc.
Rice Carved Posters: Tall heavy bedposts that are carved with decorative details such as rice or tobacco plants. They are symbolic of the wealth of plantation owners in northern Georgia and the Carolinas where the style originated.
Rick-Rack: A waved braid used for trim.
Rietveld Style: In the early 20th Century, the Rietveld furniture style grew from the Dutch Arts and Crafts movement with a strong Frank Lloyd Wright influence. Machined forms and manmade materials figured in this furniture style, which sought to preserve the integrity of Arts and Crafts while embracing the modern world.
Rinceau: A classic ornamentation composed of intertwining stalks of acanthus or other foliage.
Rising Sun: When a fan shaped ornament is carved half-circle and the resulting spray of stalks suggest sun rays.
Rocaille: An ornament style from the Rococo Period consisting of an abstract shell or leaf motif.
Rococo: A very elaborate style of European furniture design originating in France during the early 1700's. Ornamentations imitated rockwork, shells, foliage and massed scrolls.
Rococo Revival: A very ornate Victorian furniture style originally popular in the mid 1800's, which is best known for elaborately carved rosewood parlor furniture, balloon-backed chairs and triple-crested sofas.
Rod Pocket: The hollow space in the top or bottom of a curtain through which the rod is inserted. Find curtains.
Roll-Together: The result of a worn-out or defective mattress that sags in the center, which causes your body to want to roll towards the center. Find a new mattress.
Roll-Top Desk: A desk with a slatted panel front that rolls down to hide its writing surface. Find home office furniture.
Rolled Arms: Arms appearing to have ruffled effect that flare out and down, and return to meet the sides of a sofa or chair.
Roman Shade: A tailored fabric window shade that folds sideways. Find shades and blinds.
Romanesque: Early medieval furniture with crude Roman influences. Characterized by arches and curves, simple geometric arrangements, coarsely rendered animal and plant forms, and painted in decorative hues. Found throughout Europe, the Romanesque style preceded Gothic and Renaissance furniture styles.
Romayne: Term refers to a Renaissance ornamentation that featured human heads on medallions.
Rosemaling: A Scandinavian/Norwegian folk art rose painting.
Rosette: An ornament resembling a rose. A painted or sculptured architectural ornament with parts circularly arranged like rows of leaves in a circle around a bud.
Roundabout Chair: A corner chair with a triangular front and usually a circular back.
Roundel: Circular ornament enclosing sundry formal devices on medieval and later woodwork.
Ruching: A narrow gathered/pleated strip of decorative fabric.
Ruffled Pleat (Sheer Pleat): A skirt treatment in which fabric is gathered to achieve a ruffled effect.
Rug: A thick, heavy fabric usually with pile and commonly made of wool, mohair, synthetic, nylon or mixtures.
Rule Joint: A knuckle joint as between a table top and drop leaf that leaves no open space when the leaf is down.
Runner: A rocking chairs curved rocker, the piece that allows the chair to rock. Find a rocking chair.
Rush Seat: A seat that's woven with a series of rushes. Used in America since the earliest times, generally on simple furniture.
Rush Seat Chair: Traditionally a rustic American or French chair with woven rush seats.
Russian Style: The Russian furniture style is a blending of styles from throughout Europe. The production of metal furniture can be considered a purely "Russian" phenomenon since the production of metal furniture was not found elsewhere in Europe at the time.
Rustic: Simple furniture style typical of country life, more recently the term has been applied to rustic southwestern furniture.

Furniture & Interior Design Glossary Terms - S

Saber Leg: Term describes a sharply curving leg in the classical style; also commonly called a scroll-shaped leg. Sabre legs are generally reeded.
Sabot: A French term for the gilt-bronze "shoe" at the bottom of furniture legs.
Saddle Seat: A wooden chair seat which has been hollowed to the sides and back to resemble the pommel of a saddle.
Saltire: A straight, X-shaped stretcher used on chairs or tables.
Sateen: A cotton fabric that's made to mimic satin with a smooth silky finish on one side.
Sauvage: A two-toned or contrasting color effect applied to leather furniture.
Sawbuck Table: A table with an X-shaped frame either plain or scrolled.
Scale: The size of an object, or comparisons between a drawing size and the actual size of a piece.
Scallop: A curved case piece ornamentation, commonly in the shape of a scallops shell.
Scandinavian: At the 1930 Stockholm Exhibition and the 1939 World's Fair in New York, the larger world was first exposed to the simple, clean, and lightweight forms of Scandinavian furniture. Quality craft combined with mass production where appropriate are hallmarks of the style. Bent plywood is a commonly used material.
Scatter-Back Sofa: A sofa with back loose back cushions that can be rearranged. Find a sofa.
Sconce: A light fixture fixed on a wall. Commonly sconces are tall and narrow and are often made to hold a candle. Find a wall sconce.
Scoop Seat: A wooden chair seat that has been hollowed out to fit the body.
Scotchgard: Registered Trademark of the 3M Company for fabric protector that repels against staining from water and spills.
Scroll: Scrolls are the supportive and decorative members shaped like a scroll or curl which are connected to posts, rails, and each other on many brass (especially traditional) headboards and footboards.
Scroll Foot: A foot in the form of a spiral line. It is not fully articulated with part above it.
Seat Rail: The framework that supports the seat of a chair and holds the legs together.
Secondary Color: Orange, green, and violet are secondary colors.
Secrétaire à Abattant: A type of writing cabinet with a fall front and resting on a chest-of-drawers or small cupboard. Find home office furniture.
Secretary (or Secrétaire): A drop-leaf desk normally sitting on a base of drawers, usually with slots and cubbyholes for organizing papers. Find home office furniture.
Sectional: Similar to a sofa but in several sections. Sectionals may be curved or straight and have two, one or no arms. The sections may be used in combination or in some cases separately. Find a sectional sofa.
Seersucker: A lightweight textile with a puckered surface and striped pattern.
Segmental: A less than semi-circular, unbroken pediment with an abruptly ending curve.
Seignorail Chair: An imposing highback chair for the master of a house.
Self-Deck: To cover the frame area of an upholstered piece of furniture beneath the seat cushions with the same fabric as the body as opposed to using a muslin or other neutral fabric. Normally seen only on better furniture.
Self Storing Leaves: Leaves that store within an extension table. Find a dining table.
Selvage: Finished sides of a lengthwise grain that prevents raveling.
Semenier: A tall narrow seven-drawer chest, the term is often used in reference to a lingerie or similar type of chest. Find bedroom furniture.
Semi-Aniline Leather: A top grain leather that is aniline dyed and coated with matching pigment and, or, other topical finishes to add protection and even out the color. Also commonly referred to as aniline-plus or protected aniline. Find leather furniture.
Semi-Attached Back: Back cushions that are attached with a zipper or seam to the inside back of a piece of upholstered furniture such as a sofa or chair.
Serpentine: Two curves reminiscent of a serpent's movement; commonly found on fronts or tops of case pieces.
Serpentine Front: A waving curve on the front of a desk or chest.
Serrated: A saw tooth or zig-zag ornament that is one form of a notched dentil.
Serving Table: A long narrow table with drawers for items such as silver and linens. Find dining room furniture.
Settee: A long seat or bench with a back and arms that can seat two or more people, originally popular in the 1600's.
Set-Back Arm: An arm that is set back from the front edge of the seat.
Settle: A wooden bench with a high back and solid arms, often featuring drawers or a hinged seat that covers storage space, originally brought to America by the pilgrims. Find an entryway bench.
Shabby Chic: Feminine design style inspired by thrift store and antique finds, usually themed in light neutral colors.
Shaker: A simplistic furniture design including features such as straight, tapered legs, and woven-strap chair seats. Style originated in the mid 1770's from an American religious sect (Shakers). The Shaker style is renowned for exceptional design and craftsmanship combined with functionality and beauty.
Sham: Historically a cover that laid on top of a pillow, today the sham is a decorative cover that fully encases the pillow.
Sheaf-Back Chairs: Chairs with spindled backs that come together in the middle-back through a piece of wood and flare out again to the bottom of the chair; the style resembles a sheaf of wheat. Find dining chairs.
Sheet Set: Sheet sets includes flat and fitted sheets, standard pillowcase pair. Twin has one pillowcase, king and California king have king size pillowcases.
Shellac: A resinous varnish obtained from the lac insect and used in japanning.
Sheraton: A formal style of design that developed from Hepplewhite. Sheraton features include delicate straight lines, tapered legs that are usually turned opposed to being square and skilled inlay and veneer work.
Shield Back: A chair with a back shaped like a shield. Find dining chairs.
Shirring: A method of gathering wide fabric along both long sides to create a soft effect. Often used to emphasize the curve of a sofa or other upholstered piece.
Shoe: A projecting piece rising from the back rail of a chair seat into which the base of the splat is fixed.
Shoji Screen: A freestanding Oriental style screen, often used as a room divider. Find floor screens.
Shutter: Typically a louvered or flush wood or vinyl frame in the shape of a door placed at each side of a window. Shutters are made and used for many purposes including protecting windows from storms, filtering or obscuring light, and for nonfunctional decorative accents. Find shutters.
Side Chair: Term normally used to refer to an armless dining chair or a small-scale, armless chair designed to stand against a wall when not in use. Find dining chairs.
Sideboard: A serving piece with drawers and, or, open shelves for displaying plates, crystal, silver, etc. Find a sideboard or china cabinet.
Silk: A natural fiber derived from the silk worm. Silk is famous for being soft, smooth and lustrous. Hence the saying, "smooth as silk".
Sinuous Springs: Also known a "S coils" and "Zigzag wire". Sinuous springs are used in place of coil spring units in upholstered pieces such as sofas.
Sisal: A natural, durable fiber that's frequently used in rugs.
Size (Sizing): A solution used as a finisher for fabrics, which stiffens the surface and helps protect against wear.
Skirt: A piece of fabric at the bottom of a sofa, loveseat or chair that hangs in a way resembling a woman's skirt. On case-goods the term refers to the panel connecting the surface and legs of a table or chair.
Slant-Front Desk: A frame or chest of drawers with a top section as an enclosed desk for writing, with the hinged lid sloping at a 45 degree angle when closed.
Slat Back: An early American chair incorporating horizontal slats. Find dining and kitchen chairs.
Slats: Wooden boards used as the bottom structure to support box spring units within their frames. Also used in headboard and footboard sets with wood rails and in bunk beds to support the mattress in place of a box spring. Slats can also be used as a feature in furniture construction. Slatted construction is commonly seen in mission and arts and crafts furnishings.
Sleeper (or Hide-A-Bed): A sofa, loveseat, or chair that converts into a bed. Also available in some sectionals. Find a sleeper sofa.
Sleepy Hallow Chair: A large upholstered chair with a hollowed seat, high back and solid low arms.
Sleigh Bed: An American adaptation of a popular French Empire design. Sleigh beds have a high scrolled headboard and footboard resembling the front of a sleigh. Find a sleigh bed.
Slip Match: An effect produced by slipping sheets of veneer side-by-side to form patterns, such as diamond, sunburst, herringbone and checkerboard.
Slip Seat: A removable upholstered chair seat.
Slipcover: A fabric cover used on cushions, or on complete upholstered pieces such as sofas and chairs. Find slipcovers.
Slipper Chair: A low armless upholstered chair, often featuring a skirt.
Slub: An uneven section in a yarn which gives fabric a rough texture.
Sofa: A long upholstered seating piece with a back and arms, which can seat three or more people. Find a sofa.
Sofa Table: A table normally used behind a sofa or loveseat that has been positioned away from the wall or that's in the middle of a room. Find a sofa table.
Soft Wood: Wood from a conifer trees such as pine and cedar.
Southwestern: Contemporary style which is highly influenced by Native American Indian traditions. Light-colored woods, light and bright color palettes, rich patterns and desert scenery characterize the style.
Spade Foot: A tapered to the base leg design, usually found in Hepplewhite styles.
Spandrel: An arch bounded by a horizontal and vertical frame such as was used by Sheraton in some chair backs.
Spanish Renaissance: Style during the 1500's to 1700's, which had a huge Moorish influence. Decoration relies heavily on patterns that have elaborate geometric carving. Spanish Renaissance pieces often have decorative metal accents and brass nails. Familiar upholstery is red and green leather. Chairs and tables can have iron or heavy wood stretchers. Spanish Renaissance blends well with other Renaissance furniture, as the favored woods were walnut, oak, and cedar.
Spattering: Painting effect created by flicking a brush with wet paint.
Spindle: A slender turned and shaped column, which often swells out in the lower half and is usually used in rows such as the back of a Windsor chair.
Spinet Desk: A writing desk that was designed using a musical instrument of the colonial period. After the instrument wore out, the keyboard was removed and the cabinet was modified to be used as a writing desk.
Spiral Leg: A leg that's carved, or turned, into the shape of a rope twist or spiral.
Spiral Turning: A column twisted like strands or filaments of rope.
Spiral Wave: A series of turning, wave-like scrolls used as decoration.
Spiral Welt: A decorative welting trim that features one or multiple colors arranged in a spiral pattern.
Splat: A flat, vertical piece in the middle of an open chair back, which is often carved or ornamented.
Splayed: A pitched spread or slant; a surface canted outward, beveled or angled.
Splayed Leg: A leg that slants outward from a piece of furniture.
Splint Seat: A seat made of oak or hickory strips interlaced. Used in country furniture throughout the 18th Century.
Split-Back Sofa: A sofa that's made with vertical seamed indentations in the back, which usually divides the surface in three. Find a sofa.
Split Leather: The bottom layers of the hide, which have been split from the top-grain leather and then pigmented or sueded. Find leather furniture.
Split Queen Box: Two queen size foundation units that measure 30"x80" each. Designed to accommodate the passage of a single-piece foundation. Find a queen mattress set.
Spool Bead: A continuous turning having the form of a series of connected beads.
Spoon Back (or Spooning): A curved chair back designed to fit the sitter's form. Common on Queen Anne chairs.
Spring Down: A type of cushion constructed of coil springs, which are wrapped in polyurethane and covered with down batting.
Spring Edge: An upholstered seats front edge that's supported by springs rather than the frame.
Springs: The most commonly used springs for upholstered furniture are coil springs and sinuous springs.
Squab Cushion: A loose flat cushion on the seat of a chair.
Square Leg: A four sided leg of equal dimensions on all sides (resembling a fence post) that supports a piece of furniture such as a coffee table or dining table.
Stacking: The wall or window area that's required for draperies when they are completely opened.
Staining: The step in the finishing process where coloring (stain) is applied to a piece of wood furniture.
Stamps: Various names and letters are often found stamped on French furniture made in the 18th Century or later. These stamps are an important means of identifying the makers of individual pieces of furniture.
Steam Bend: A method of bending a single piece of wood (bowback chair, bowed splat, etc.) into a furniture part.
Stenciling: Method of creating patterns by covering an area of a surface and applying color to the uncovered area.
Stereo Cabinet: A cabinet used for housing stereo components and related media such as a CD player, AM/FM stereo receiver, audio CDs and related items. Find a stereo cabinet.
Stickley: Furniture designed and built by Gustav Stickley who pioneered the American Arts and Crafts movement, also known as Mission style, which is known for clean straight lines and durability. Web site of Stickley.
Straight-Back Sofa: A sofa style with the back top being straight, narrow arms extend forward. Some variations have set-back arms and T-cushions for the seat. Find a sofa.
Strapwork: A narrow band folded, crossed, and sometimes interlaced. Also an ornament consisting of a narrow band in convolutions similar to those of a leather strap thrown at hazard.
Straw-Work: Method of decorating furniture in the 17th Century with tiny strips of bleached and colored straws to form landscapes, geometrical patterns, etc.
Stretcher: A horizontal brace in an H or X shape connecting the legs of a table or chair. Often decorated with carving or turning.
Stripping: Removing the old surface or finish from a piece of furniture.
Student Desk: The term normally applies to a small pedestal type of desk or smaller writing table constructed for use by a child or teenager in their bedroom. In most cases these desks are a bit shorter in height than conventional adult desks. Student desks are most commonly made of wood or metal. Find children's furniture.
Style: The decorative design of an object, room, home, etc.
Suede: A leather that's produced from a fresh split hide, which has a velvet like nap. Find leather furniture.
Suite: A complete matched set of furniture, such as a bedroom suite.
Suspension: The combination of components such as coils and foam in an upholstered piece of furniture that provide the support and comfort for the seating and back areas.
Sussex Chair: A chair with an ash frame and rush seat, based on a traditional country design. Find kitchen chairs.
Swag: A fabric that's draped in a looped garland effect or any imitation of the same. Find draperies and curtains.
Swan-Neck Handle: A curved handle popular in the 1700's.
Swing Leg: A hinged table leg (as in a gate leg) which swings out to support a drop leaf.
Swivel Chair: A chair that swivels, such as a swivel office chair or swivel recliner.
Symmetrical: A formal, mirror-image balance in design or decorating.

Furniture & Interior Design Glossary Terms - T

Table Ambulante: A French term for a small, portable occasional table. Find living room furniture.
Table Lamp: A freestanding lamp designed to be placed on a surface such as an end table or nightstand. Find table lamps.
Table Runner: A narrow decorative strip of fabric running down the middle of a dining table. Find home accessories.
Tabouret: A stool or small seat that can also be used as a stand.
Taffeta: A fine plain-woven fabric that's smooth on both sides.
Tailored Upholstery: A furniture frame which has fabric fitted and permanently attached.
Tallboy: A tall chest with a larger chest of drawers that supports a slightly smaller chest. Find bedroom furniture.
Tambour Desk: A roll-top desk's flexible draw-down cover made of "tambours," which is made up of a succession of narrow strips of flat wood glued to a stiff backing such as canvas. Find home office furniture.
Tape Edge: The cord-like seam that is stitched around the perimeter of a mattress to join its tops and sides. Find a mattress.
Tapered Leg: A leg that becomes incrementally smaller towards the bottom.
Tapestry: Traditionally a "heavy" woven fabric featuring decorative designs or pictures to be hung on a wall. Today, the term commonly refers to highly decorative fabrics with a woven design. Find a tapestry.
Tavern Table: A small, sturdy rectangular table on four legs, usually braced by stretchers. Generally features a drawer or two in the apron. Commonly used in taverns of the 18th Century.
Tea Table: A small portable table, which is frequently used in place of a coffee table. Traditionally the top has raised edges like a tray and side pullouts for candles. Find a coffee or tea table.
Teapoy: A small piece of freestanding furniture designed for holding tea.
Tee Cushion (or T-Cushion): A loose seat cushion with the outside front edges extending laterally in front of the arm of an upholstered piece.
Teen Bedding: Bedding such as comforters and sheets designed in themes that are generally less elegant or as expensive as adult bedding sets, yet not childish like children's bedding. Find teen bedding.
Tertiary Color: Color created by mixing of two secondary colors.
Tester: A wooden frame for supporting draperies or a canopy at the top of a poster bed.
Therm Leg: Term refers to a square or four cornered tapered leg used on chairs or tables.
Three-Way Switch: A type of switch commonly found on lamps that allows three different degrees or levels of light.
Throw: A lightweight fabric item meant to be used as a light blanket or as a decorative element commonly placed at the foot of a bed or draped over the back of a sofa. Throws usually measure about 64" x 72" in size. Find a throw.
Throw Pillow: A small, decorative type of pillow usually placed on couches or armchairs. Throw pillows also come in various sizes and shapes. Find a throw pillow.
Thrown Chair: A chair constructed from turned pieces of wood.
Thumbpiece: A flange attached to a hinged lid, which when pressed by the thumb raises the lid.
Tieback: A decorative fabric, cord or metal hook used to hold a drapery open.
Tight-Back Sofa: A sofa with a back that is totally smooth with no indentations. Find a sofa.
Tight Seat: Upholstered furniture which has the fabric pulled directly over the springs, with layer of padding in between, and padding over the springs.
Tilt Top: A small occasional table with a hinged top that can stand vertically when not in use. Find living room tables.
Toile (Toile De Jouy): A plain-woven cotton fabric printed with a repeat pattern of country settings, animals, people or other objects printed on a solid background of one color in another color.
Tongue & Groove (or Matching): Wood pieces that join on edge with a groove in one piece and a corresponding tongue on the other to interlock. Commonly used on furniture doors for example.
Top Grain Leather: The uppermost layer of a hide, which is the highest quality part of the hide and the most preferred for leather upholstery. Find leather furniture.
Torchiere Lamp: A floor lamp that directs light upward from a reflective bowl or inverted cone shade. Find a torchiere lamp.
Traditional: Traditionally styled furniture is available in both original antique pieces and quality reproductions. This type of furniture usually follows a particular period style such as Georgian, Tudor, Regency or Louis XV.
Traffic Pattern: The flow or direction in which people move through a room.
Trail: Undulating bands of formal looking leaf, berry or floral patterns.
Transitional: A style of design that blends influences from various style categories.
Traverse Drapery: A drapery that opens or closes across a window by means of the traverse rod from which it is hung. Find drapes and curtains.
Tree-Of-Life: Term refers to a carved tree or vine design with fruit and often birds or animals in foliage.
Trefoil: A three-leaved or three-cusped ornament usually contained within a circle.
Trespolo: Elegant three-legged tables usually designed to stand against a wall.
Trestle: A braced frame, forming the whole support for a table top.
Trestle Table: A long narrow table with two T-shaped uprights that are joined by a single stretcher for added support. Find a dining table.
Tri-fold Mirror (or Tri-View): A mirror that sits on or hangs above a dresser and features a center mirror panel and two mirrored side panels that produce three images of the person looking in the mirror. Find a dresser mirror.
Trim: Decorative elements such as fringe on an accent pillow or moldings on a bookcase.
Tripod: A small table or stand with a round top supported by a three-legged pillar, originally made for serving tea. Adam and Chippendale favored it. Find an end table.
Triptych: A large three-part hinged mirror, panel, or screen. Find a floor screen.
Trivet: Traditionally a three legged stand or small table that normally flanked a fireplace. Term today often refers to a wall decoration or accessory for placing a hot dish on a table.
Trompe l'oeil: French term meaning "fool the eye". Trompe l'oeil is usually a two-dimensional painting designed to look like a three-dimensional object or scenery.
Trumpet Leg: A leg that's shaped like a trumpet and having its characteristic flared profile.
Trundle Bed: A low bed that can be rolled under another bed for storage when not in use. Find bedroom furniture.
Trunk: Commonly a rectangular container like open chest with a hinged top for holding clothes or other personal belongings. Trunks are commonly used for extended periods away from home such as a long trip abroad. However, they can also be used for home decorating in entryways, as coffee tables, etc.
Tuckaway Table: A hinged leaf gate-leg table with cross legs which fold into each other as compactly as if tucked away.
Tudor-Elizabethan: This phase of the English renaissance covered the 1500's on up to about 1603. Furniture shapes are straight and stiff (like Gothic), and feature elaborate carving and decoration. All pieces of this style are massive and normally constructed of oak. All chairs, tables, and cabinets of this style feature sturdy underbracing.
Tudor Rose: A decorative motif compounded of the white rose and red rose.
Tufting & Buttoning: A method of securing the filling of an upholstered piece of furniture by pulling stitches through the material and securing them to the frame. The evenly spaced tufting is then finished with buttons, which are usually upholstered.
Tulip: A decorative design in the shape of a tulip that's carved or painted on American furniture, especially Shaker.
Turning: The lathing to shape table and chair legs, etc.
Tuxedo: A sofa or chair design with a square frame created by the arm and back rests being equal in height.
Tuxedo Arms: Arms found on upholstered pieces that are slightly flared and are the same height as the back.
TV Armoire: An entertainment center made to hold a TV in the style of an armoire. Find a TV armoire.
TV Stand: A small, low cabinet used to set a TV on. TV stands often have shelves or doors for additional storage. Find a TV stand.
Twill: A fabric that is diagonally ribbed, therefore a strong weave.
Twin Bed: A bed made for one person, sometimes called a single. Twin mattresses measure 38"x75". Find a twin mattress.
Twin Extra Long: A twin mattress that measures 38"x80". Find a mattress.

Furniture & Interior Design Glossary Terms - U

Under-Drapery: A lightweight, usually a sheer drapery that hangs behind the heavier over-drapery. Find draperies and curtains.
Unfinished Furniture: Furniture made from wood that hasn't been treated with any type of finish, which allows the buyer to stain or finish the furniture to their particular taste. Find unfinished furniture.
Upholstery: Furniture such as sofas and chairs covered in fabric, vinyl, leather or other materials. Find living room furniture.
Uprights: The outer vertical posts of a chair.
Urethane Foam (Polyurethane): Flexible polyurethane foam is used as a cushioning material in upholstered furniture seats, backs and arms. For seat cushioning, foams that have a density of 1.8 pounds per cubic foot or higher offer the best support and durability.

Furniture & Interior Design Glossary Terms - V

Valance: A horizontal feature used as a header for draperies, which can be made of fabric, wood, metal or other materials. Find valances and curtains.
Value: The lightness or darkness of a color.
Vanity: The countertop and cabinet used to support a sink in a bathroom. Find bathroom furniture.
Vanity Table: Normally a small table with a drawer and mirror for use in a woman's or girl's bedroom for doing their hair, applying makeup, etc. Find a vanity table.
Vargueno: A fall or drop front desk of Spanish origin. Popular in the 16th and 17 Centuries.
Vase: A decorative container of urn, commonly used for flowers. Find home accessories.
Vasselier: A traditional French style china cupboard/hutch and buffet. Find a china cabinet.
Vegetable Dye: Dye colors that are derived from the natural pigments of plants and botanical products.
Velvet: A luxurious fabric that is soft in texture and features a thick pile.
Veneer: Thin sheets of wood applied to a furniture surface to create decorative inlay patterns of wood grain.
Venetian Blind: A window treatment consisting of a series of horizontal slats that can be turned or raised to control light or privacy. Find window blinds.
Verdigris: A greenish blue patina that forms on copper, brass, or bronze surfaces. Faux verdigris (or verdi) finishes area common on the metal work of coffee tables, etc.
Vertically Run: A fabric that's been applied with the warp threads (bolt length) running top to bottom over the furniture's back, front and arms.
Victorian: A furniture style named after England's Queen Victoria, which was very popular through the latter half of the 1800's. Victorian furniture was usually constructed of mahogany, walnut and rosewood in dark finishes, which were often highlighted with elaborate carved floral designs. Common elements of this style include oval chair backs and marble tops on tables and dressers.
Vinyl Wrap: Flexible vinyl wrapping applied to underlying wood solids or particleboard to produce a surface that most often resembles wood.
Vis-A-Vis: A tete-a-tete chair in which two sitters face oppositely.
Viscoelastic Foam: Heat sensitive, polyurethane foam. Often referred to as visco or memory foam. Find a viscoelastic mattress.
Vitrine: A china or curio cabinet with a glass-front for displaying collectibles or other fine pieces. Find a curio cabinet.
Voile: A sheer lightweight fabric used to make sheets, pillows, shams, duvet covers, and draperies for canopy beds.
Volute: A spiral, scroll-like ornament on Iconic and Corinthian capitals.

Furniture & Interior Design Glossary Terms W

Wabi-Sabi: Representing a Japanese worldview, it's a style of perceiving art and beauty that pervades all things imperfect, impermanent and incomplete.
Wainscot Chair: An Elizabethan oak chair with a back that's paneled like wainscoting on a wall. These chairs are quite massive and ornately carved with strap work.
Wainscoting: An application of wood molding up to the middle or lower half of a wall.
Wall Clock: Any type of clock that's made specifically for hanging on a wall. Find a wall clock.
Wall Mirror: Any type of mirror that's designed to be hung on a wall. Find a wall mirror.
Wall Sculpture: A decorative wall hanging made from any material including wood, metal and synthetic materials. Find a wall sculpture.
Wall Units: Large free-standing or wall hung units which can have drawers, shelves, cabinets, desks, entertainment centers or other features.
Wallpaper: A decorative material which is used to cover and decorate the interior walls of homes, offices and other buildings. Wallpaper is usually sold in rolls and is put onto a wall using wallpaper paste. Find wallpaper.
Wardrobe: A tall upright cabinet with a door or doors. Designed for storing clothing. Find a wardrobe cabinet.
Warp (or Weft): The yarns running lengthwise in a piece of fabric, i.e., perpendicular to the woof (or welt).
Wash Stand: A cupboard or chest of drawers on four legs with a basin sunk into the top. These were specially adapted for bedroom use after 1750.
Waterfall Skirt: A skirt on an upholstered piece of furniture that falls from the top of the base below the cushion line to the floor without interruption.
Webbing: Interwoven strips of material attached to a frame; used for support in upholstery pieces in place of traditional spring systems.
Wellington Chest: A tall, narrow, relatively plain type of chest named after the Duke of Wellington. Find a chest of drawers.
Welsh Cupboard: A cabinet with a large enclosed storage base and upper area with open shelves.
Welting (or Piping): A cord wrapped in fabric, which is used to trim upholstery seams and places where the fabric meets with exposed wood.
What-Not: A mobile stand/cart with open shelves. In use after 1800 for books, decorative accents, etc.
Wheat: Term refers to carved ornamentations representing three ears of wheat. This motif was extensively used by Hepplewhite.
Wicker Furniture: Furniture woven from materials such as willow, reed, and rattan. Find wicker and rattan furniture.
William & Mary: This style is named after the 17th Century English King and Queen. This style came to America in the early 1700's. Common pieces of this style included high-backed upholstered armchairs, highboys, lowboys, etc. The elements of this design include features such as curved lines, marquetry, bun or ball feet, inlay and oriental lacquer-work.
Williamsburg Style: A style of decor inspired by the early colonial settlement of Williamsburg, Virginia.
Windsor Chair: A style of wooden chair originating in the early 1700's, which is still very popular today that features a spindle back shaped in fans, hoops or combs. This style was named for Windsor Castle but gained true popularity in America. Woods used included birch, pine, hickory, ash, maple and oak. Find dining room chairs.
Wine Rack: A rack for storing bottles of wine. Wine racks can vary in size from a small rack used on a kitchen counter to something as large as a big bookcase. Find a wine rack.
Wine Table: Traditionally a horseshoe shaped serving table for serving wine and hor d'oeuvres.
Wing Chair (Wing-Back Chair): A high backed upholstered chair featuring rolled arms and wing shaped protrusions that extend over the arms at the head level. Introduced in America around the early 1700's. Find a wing back chair.
Woof: The yarns running crosswise on a piece of woven fabric that interlace with the warp (or weft).
Worm Holes: Small holes found in wood, considered a defect in many instances and a character-providing element in others such as rustic furniture pieces.
Wrap Group: Bedroom furniture that's usually designed for children's bedrooms to go against the walls so it can wrap around a room. Wrap groups often include small chests, dressers, student desks and hutches. They make a great use of limited space and provide a lot of storage.
Writing Desk: A smaller sized desk or table commonly used for personal use such as writing letters or paying bills. Find a writing desk.

Furniture & Interior Design Glossary Terms X

X-Chair: An "X" shaped folding chair. X-chairs date back to ancient Egypt, Rome and the Middle Ages.
X-Stretcher: A crossed stretcher at the bottom of a chair or table.

Furniture & Interior Design Glossary Terms Y

Yorkshire Chair: An oak chair featuring turned front legs and stretchers. Native of Yorkshire, England during the 17th Century.
Yorkshire Dresser: A dresser or cupboard, of oak or deal with a low back.

Furniture & Interior Design Glossary Terms Z

Zenana: Furniture that was reserved for the part of a home in which women and girls were secluded in ancient Persia.
Zigzag: A molding or stitching with a series of frequent sharp turns from side to side.

(Glossary under development - available soon)



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