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Glossary

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A

Contrast colours used to enhance room colour schemes.

Controlled and specifically focused lighting for accentuating interior décor elements or architectural details.

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 socket height, and more.

Objects such as books, plants, vases, lamps, and decorative items.

A synthetic fibre made from cellulose, which is a common material in the cell walls of many plants. It is usually combined with other fibres to add a luxurious feel and appearance.

A synthetic fibre that’s derived from a plant or chemical resin. Acrylic’s best properties are its moderate strength and tolerance of brilliant colour dyes. Acrylic also has a plush loft that will not flatten.

A coverlet or shawl in wool –knitted or crocheted – with colourful geometric designs.

Decorative technique used to create the effect of wear-and-tear on wooden, painted, plastic or other surfaces.

Recessed part of a room. There are bed alcoves in Pompeian rooms, and placing the sleeping quarters in an alcove was common in northern Europe throughout 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 sets etc.

A bed with a canopy, but no front support.

Soft long hair of the Angora goat, often called mohair. The animal is native to Anatolia in the Angora province of Turkey.

A paint or stain finish applied to an object to give it an aged look.

A drapery fabric that has a lustrous effect, normally made of rayon/acetate blends.

A low chest with small drawers that was originally used to store herbs for cooking and medicinal purposes.

Decorative scroll work or other intricate ornamentation consisting of foliage, vases, leaves and fruits, or fantastic human and animal figures.

A series of arches, with supporting columns or piers.

A small rug or carpet which covers only part of the floor.

Seating that has both a backrest and armrests.

A tall wardrobe with doors and shelves for clothing. More recently armoires have been adapted for use as an entertainment centre or computer workstation.

Decorative glass – includes stained, bevelled, fused, blown, etched, leaded and cut.

A print that is a reproduction of an original piece of artwork.

A style characterized by fine but not overly ornate workmanship that celebrates the maker’s community identity or ethnicity.

 

 

B

A coating that is applied to the back of fabric to prevent seam slippage and excess wear.

A device fixed to a light fitting to prevent glare.

A long upholstered seat, settee or bench that’s usually built-in. Term also refers to the ledge at the back of a buffet.

A counter-like piece of furniture or built-in cabinet, typically used for mixing and serving drinks.

A frame or type of platform that a mattress rests on. Usually, a metal or wooden frame with legs used to raise the mattress from the floor; headboards can be attached to most bed frames. Search bed frames and bedroom furnishings.

A gathered or pleated strip of cloth that extends from the bottom of the mattress or box spring to the floor. Also referred to as a dust ruffle or bed skirt.

Can be any combination bedspreads, pillow shams, bed skirts, etc.

A decorative covering for a bed that can reach to the floor on either side and usually is large enough to cover the pillows.

A long piece of furniture that can seat at least two people. Benches can be made from any material, from wood to concrete.

A long cushion that covers the entire seating area of a sofa, loveseat or settee, as opposed to individual cushions.

A process of steam-bending wood to shape it into furniture parts, particularly chairs.

The cutting and sewing of fabric at a diagonal or 45-degree angle in relationship to the pattern of the fabric.

A slanted and polished edge finishing detail used on wood, marble, glass, etc.

A low cupboard with shelves for books. Doors are often made from glass and sometimes fitted with grilles.

Term usually refers to a round table about 40 inches high, designed for small spaces and intimate dining. It is common for people to also refer to bistro tables as pub tables.

A large piece of woven material used as a covering for warmth, especially on a bed.

A low box-like chest for storing blankets, often called a hope chest. Used during colonial times for storage and as a bench.

Window coverings with either horizontal or vertical slats. Blinds can be made of wood, aluminium, fabric, or other materials. Horizontal blinds traditionally open from the bottom up, while vertical blinds open and close to the side.

The oldest form of printing known to man. Motifs are obtained using wooden, linoleum or copper blocks.

Carved panels used on French pieces from the 17th  century.

A piece of furniture with shelves that is normally used in an office or study for storing books.

A small or baby-sized decorative pillow.

A designer of the Louis XIV period who was famous for his metal and tortoise shell inlays. “Boullework” can be used so describe this style of work.

the outwardly curved piece on the front of a piece of wooden furniture.

A foundation that’s designed to support an innerspring mattress.

Dense cotton fabric with a smooth, semi-gloss finish.

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.”

Two beds that are joined together so that one is placed above the other.

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.

The junction of the ends of two pieces of wood such as on a sill.

A small drop-leaf table whose leaves are supported by a swinging support resembling a butterfly wing on a rudder.

 

 

C

A gem-shaped ornament, convex and hemispherical in shape.

Cotton or cotton-blend fabric with small, printed colourful patterns.

A type of French settee with padded back and seat, open arms, and a decorated frame. Design most commonly associated with Louis XV.

Split rattan, often used to cover chair seats and backs.

A fabric covering attached to a frame at the top of bedposts.

A bed supported by four tall posts with a cross member joining the posts that may be used for supporting a fabric canopy cover, swags, curtains, etc.

The basic structure of a piece of furniture; often forms the foundation for veneering.

A piece of furniture that has taken many different forms. It usually stood at the side of a writing table to hold papers.

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.

A rug with a three-dimensional design/pattern.

Fine downy undercoat hair of the cashmere goat from Tibet, the Kashmir province north of India, Iran, Iraq, and southwest China.

The method of forming metal objects by pouring molten metal into a mould and allowing it to harden.

A small settee that was very popular in early French furniture.

A centre track (glide) that guides a drawer.

ornament used to occupy the centre of a dining table.

Glazed clay tiles, very resistant to wear and tear.

An upholstered armchair with the back and seat lengthened for reclining. Styles range from formal to contemporary. Also referred to by some as a French long chair.

A corner or edge that is cut at an angle or bevelled.

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

Grooved or creased effect in wood.

Tall, narrow piece with a series of drawers for storing clothing.

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.

A V-shaped ornamentation inspired by military insignia.

A tall and narrow chest of drawers normally used for storing undergarments and lingerie. The term is a French word denoting a lady’s work table, derived from chiffons, which means rags. The term can also refer to a lingerie chest or a tallboy.

A printed cotton fabric that is often shiny or glazed.

An upholstered chair with arms, normally made to match a sofa and covered in the same material.

A fully upholstered piece of furniture with arms that are lower than its back.

A long and low table normally positioned in front of a sofa, which provides a surface for serving.

A range of columns connected by a horizontal entablature or cornice at the top.

Colour combinations for the interiors of rooms and homes in general.

The process of transferring a colour from one material on to another by means of moisture or heat. The term can also refer to the accidental seepage of colour from one material to another.

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 colour.

A painting effect in which a comb (or comb-like tool) is dragged across the paint or glaze to create a series of lines.

The layers of material in a mattress or upholstered seating that provide the comfortable surface feel.

A small, low chest with doors or drawers; many traditionally styled nightstands are referred to as commodes.

A desk that’s specifically designed to accommodate a personal computer.

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 table placed along a wall.

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.

A term covering many styles of furniture that developed in the latter half of the 1900s. Contemporary pieces have an updated look that’s softened and rounded compared with the stark lines of modern design.

Leather that’s buffed to remove unattractive blemishes and embossed to simulate an attractive grain pattern or to add a decorative texture.

A style of casual furniture that’s painted and/or decorated. Cottage pieces often have turned legs and very simple lines. The term originated during the Victorian period to refer to mass-produced simplified designs.

A decorative plaster or polystyrene moulding used to cover the join between walls and ceiling.

A special type of glaze used to create a fine network of cracks.

shaped ornamentation on the top of a structure, as in the cresting of a chair.

A fabric, trimming, or lace made by interlocking successive loops or stitches with a hook or needle.

the removal of dye from leather through rubbing.

A case piece featuring shelves and doors behind glass, for displaying collectibles.

Materials used to provide comfort in upholstered furniture and bedding. Popular cushioning materials include polyurethane foam, polyester, cotton, latex and wool.

 

 

D

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.

Traditionally a formal room for serving meals.

Also known as roller, calendar or cylinder printing; the colours are printed directly on to the fabric in the same way as for wallpaper.

Soft breast feathers from ducks or geese.

A paint effect that produces fine stripes on a surface, usually done by dragging a dry brush through a glaze.

A draped fabric window treatment.

Curtains or drapes mounted on a horizontal rod so they can be opened and closed with a pull cord.

The hinged front of an upright desk that drops down to provide a surface for writing.

A paint technique in which a brush is worked over a glaze to create a cloudy effect.

A lustrous silk woven from two different colours of threads so that it shimmers or changes colour in the light.

A removable cover that encases a down-filled piece of bedding known as a duvet.

 

 

E

An ordinary term for a French cabinet maker.

A painting effect where an object is treated with colour to make it look like ebony.

A style of decorating combining furniture and accessories of various styles and periods.

Fine lustrous long staple cotton. Several varieties – usually brown in colour. 12/5″ average. Used in U.S. for thread and fine fabrics.

An elevation is a view of a 3-dimensional object from the position of a horizontal plane beside an object. In other words, an elevation is a side-view as viewed from the front, back, left or right.

A piece of furniture designed to hold entertainment equipment such as a television set or stereo equipment. Search: an entertainment centre.

A term that refers to furniture design and function for the human form; very commonly found in home office furnishings such as ergonomic chairs.

A writing desk with a drop front that lowers to form a writing surface. The English word “secretary” was derived from this term.

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.

A small hole in a piece of fabric designed for a cord to be thread through or used for decoration (as in embroidery).

 

 

F

Surface cut into sharp-edged planes in a crisscross pattern to reflect light.

Two narrow bands of veneer laid in opposite diagonals.

A quilted mattress topper stuffed with feathers or goose down.

A cotton material commonly used for padding or lining the inside of a piece of furniture such as a jewellery armoire or the drawers of a buffet.

Literally translated as wind and water, this is an ancient Chinese scientific practice based on selecting or configuring a location, structure or interior to harmonize with the spiritual forces that inhabit it.

A natural or synthetic substance such as cotton or polyester that can be separated into thread-like filaments and be spun, woven or matted.

A floor covering made of tightly twisted strips of paper often coated with vinyl to resist friction and moisture.

Light that’s produced by heating a small filament inside a bulb, as with a common light bulb.

Decorative ornamentation that’s often produced with fine wires of gold or silver in the form of scrolls and arabesques.

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 top of a lamp. Common motifs include flames, urns, and pineapples.

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 colouring, texture or to protect it from moisture.

Finnish furniture designers used bent and laminated (layers of solid wood) wood to create organic, humanistic forms and lightweight open shapes. These designers were also the first to experiment with tubular steel in furniture design.

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.

Usually a cotton or rayon fabric slightly napped on both sides to resemble woollen fabric used for blanketing, coating, etc. Woollen and worsted flannels are also popular.

Term for a decorative French emblem in the form of a conventionalized floral design.

Wallpaper that has a raised fabric pattern.

A tall lamp with a base that stands on the floor.

A diagram, usually to scale, showing a view from above of the dimensions of rooms, spaces and other physical features of one floor of a building. Dimensions are usually drawn between the walls to specify room sizes and wall lengths. Floor plans will also include details of fixtures like sinks, water heaters, furnaces, etc. Floor plans will include notes to specify finishes, construction methods, or symbols for electrical items. It is also called a “plan”.

Padding material used in upholstered furniture and mattresses. Common types of foam include polyurethane, latex, and viscoelastic (“visco” or “memory foam”).

Decorated with leaf designs of an intricate pattern.

The bottom part of a mattress set that gives the mattress its support and durability.

The wooden framework of an upholstered piece of furniture.

A durable painting technique for walls and ceilings, created by mixing water-colours with wet plaster.

A decorated horizontal strip attached to or painted along the top of a wall, building, mantle, etc.

A top-grain leather without any corrections or alterations to the natural grain pattern.

A form of design based on use rather than on ornamentation.

A Japanese-style mattress placed on a folding frame, which can be used as both a seat or a bed.

 

 

G

A small slender railing, usually brass, that borders a sideboard or table.

A grotesque carved figure or head, originally used to carry rainwater from the gutters.

An opaque water-based paint in which the pigments are bound with glue.

A coating with a thin layer of gold or gold-like substance.

A colouring technique used in the finishing process of furniture to highlight the grain of the wood or to give a high sheen to leather.

A French tapestry and the name of the Parisian factory that produced it.

A writing desk with a drop front that lowers to form a writing surface. The English word “secretary” was derived from this term.

An eyelet in a piece of fabric reinforced with two pieces of affixed metal.

A small rounded topped table or stand, elaborately carved, usually with three legs. Primarily used for holding candles or small items.

 

 

H

A light that emits naturally coloured light. Unlike fluorescent and other lighting that tend to give a room a yellowish cast, halogen light remains neutral.

The feel of cloth or leather; the sensation of its textural qualities.

An upright structure rising above the mattress at the head of the bed.

A deep carving on the flat surface of any material.

A colour tone such as red, yellow, blue, etc.

 

 

I J K

In the form of fish scales or the segmented edge of tiles that overlap.

Decorative patterns created with pieces of different woods or other materials that have been set into the surface of wood furniture.

Intricate fabrics such as tapestries, brocades and damasks whose patterns are woven with yarns of different colours.

A plant that’s used in natural fibre flooring.

Flat-woven (not tufted) tapestry rug.

 

 

L

A hard, protective varnish that is applied as a topcoat to furniture.

Any thin material such as wood or plastic that’s glued to the exterior of a cabinet or other surface.

A natural foam from the rubber tree or a synthetic rubber. Latex is often used in premium foam mattresses.

The hide of an animal used in home furnishings.

After dyeing leather, the finishing may include waxing, buffing, waterproofing, etc.

A finish that’s made of slaked lime and water, which is used for whitening outside walls.

An all-natural flooring material made of linseed oil, cork dust, wood flour, tree resins, ground limestone and pigments.

A raised bed like a bunk bed that has drawers or other features such as a desk underneath instead of an additional bed.

 

 

M N

A small upholstered patch or cushion used on an armrest.

Decorative painting/finishing of a surface which is marble-like in appearance.

A double-woven fabric with puckered surface effects.

This style originated in countries on the North Mediterranean, such as Spain, Greece and Italy. Mediterranean has been popular since the 1500s and is often referred to today as Spanish Modern. Mediterranean furniture ranges from simply functional to extremely formal. The style is characterized by a short and squat construction with ornately turned legs and feet. The materials used are usually heavy and often burnished. The most frequently used woods are pecan, chestnut, mahogany and walnut. Mediterranean can often be mixed with contemporary, country and provincial pieces.

This term corresponds roughly to an English carpenter or joiner. Term is pretty much obsolete except in France to refer to a carpenter’s tool that we refer to as a planer.

A single hue.

Colourful natural stone tiles, usually sold in squares.

A decorative theme, component or element.

A transparent finish that doesn’t seriously alter the original grain or colour of the natural wood. Natural finishes are usually applied with oils, varnishes, and or similar materials.

Colours such as white, black, grey and tan, which easily blend with other colours.

A recess in a wall for displaying a sculpture or other accessory.

A synthetic yarn derived from polymers. Nylon is famous for its excellent wearability.

 

 

O P Q

Applies to any material that does not allow light to pass through (i.e. non-transparent).

Wood flooring that’s usually laid in blocks with boards at angles to each other to form decorative patterns.

Fancy decorative trimmings such as tassels, tiebacks and ribbon.

A light, soft colour.

A lustre or sheen that develops with use over time, usually associated with fine antiques, vintage furniture and leather furniture.

The decorative or ornamental design of a fabric, veneers, etc.

The supporting base for a table, vase, sculpture, etc.

A substance that gives colour to paint, stain, dye, etc. Pigments are derived from both natural and synthetic resources.

Term meaning popular, used to describe design and artwork developed in the 1950s and 1960s that drew its inspiration from commercial art such as product packaging, comic strips, etc. (think Andy Warhol).

Three colours; red, yellow and blue.

Producing patterns and designs of one or more colours on fabric. Methods include Application Printing, Block Printing, Blotch Printing, Direct Printing, etc.

A fabric with a pattern. The term is also applied to lithographed reproductions of original paintings, drawings, etc.

A bed covering that is composed of two layers of fabric and a layer of batting in between.

 

 

R S

Any sculptural ornamentation raised above its surface or background.

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 it, or when buying a piece of furniture that may have been restored.

A contemporary retrospective view, which reinterprets some of the best-loved furniture looks from the 1930s to 1980s. The mood of these pieces is playful and ironic. The classics have extra emotional punch because you recognize such items as exaggerated Hollywood sofas, 1950s boomerang tables or wacky 70s chairs.

A cotton fabric that’s made to mimic satin with a smooth silky finish on one side.

The size of an object, or comparisons between a drawing size and the actual size of a piece.

Orange, green, and violet are secondary colours.

A drop-leaf desk normally sitting on a base of drawers, usually with slots and cubbyholes for organizing papers.

A serving piece with drawers and/or open shelves for displaying plates, crystal, silver, etc.

A natural fibre derived from the silk worm. Silk is famous for being soft, smooth and lustrous. Hence the saying, “smooth as silk”.

A piece of fabric at the bottom of a sofa, loveseat or chair that hangs like a woman’s skirt. On case-goods, the term refers to the panel connecting the surface and legs of a table or chair.

A sofa, loveseat, or chair that converts into a bed. Also available in some sectionals.

A long upholstered seating piece with a back and arms that can seat three or more people.

Wood from a conifer trees such as pine and cedar.

Painting effect created by flicking a brush with wet paint.

The decorative design of an object, room, home, etc.

A complete matching set of furniture, such as a bedroom suite.

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.

 

 

T U

A freestanding lamp designed to be placed on a surface such as an end table or nightstand.

A narrow decorative strip of fabric running down the middle of a dining table.

A stool or small seat that can also be used as a stand.

A fine plain-woven fabric that’s smooth on both sides.

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.

Colour created by mixing of two secondary colours.

A small, decorative type of pillow usually placed on couches or armchairs. Throw pillows also come in various sizes and shapes.

A large three-part hinged mirror, panel, or screen.

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.

A bed made for one person, sometimes called a single. Twin mattresses measure 38″ x 75″.

 

 

V W

The lightness or darkness of a colour.

The countertop and cabinet used to support a sink in a bathroom.

A decorative container or urn, commonly used for flowers.

A traditional French style china cupboard/hutch and buffet.

Dye colours that are derived from the natural pigments of plants and botanical products.

A luxurious fabric that is soft in texture and has a thick pile.

Thin sheets of wood applied to a furniture surface to create decorative inlaid patterns of wood grain.

A window furnishing consisting of a series of horizontal slats that can be turned or raised to control light or privacy.

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.

A fabric to which warp threads (bolt length), running top to bottom, have been applied to the back, front and arms of the item of furniture.

A sheer lightweight fabric used to make sheets, pillows, shams, duvet covers, and draperies for canopy beds.

A spiral, scroll-like ornament on Ionic and Corinthian capitals.

A decorative wall hanging made from any material including wood, metal and synthetic materials.

Large free-standing or wall-hung units that can have drawers, shelves, cabinets, desks, entertainment centres or other features.

A decorative material that is used to cover and decorate the interior walls of homes, offices and other buildings. Wallpaper is usually sold in rolls and is applied to a wall using wallpaper paste.

A tall upright cabinet with a door or doors. Designed for storing clothing.

 

 

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