Decorating Terms: Defined and Explained
Decoding the Language of Decor
There sure is a lot of terminology associated with interior design and home furnishings! The world of interior design is constantly changing and evolving as new trends come and go, and classics stick around. It’s a part of human culture, history, and tradition, and the terms can be enough to make your head spin! Luckily we’ve got a helpful cheat sheet here to help you navigate interior decor lingo:
Not to be confused with the very similar “sideboard” or “buffet”. A credenza is essentially a long low cabinet. They are often used as TV stands but can go in the dining room or office as well.
BreakfrontA breakfront is a large cabinet or bookcase with one defining feature. The center on a breakfront projects out - like the bow on an icebreaking ship.
This is simply a narrow table, that is designed to be placed against a wall. These will often be found in hallways or entranceways.
SideboardSimilar to a credenza, a sideboard is a long, low cabinet, although a sideboard is usually a little larger than a credenza. On a sideboard, the cabinets often extend all the way to the ground.
Banquette Dining table
A banquette dining table is essentially a long dining table that comes with a bench instead of chairs to maximize seating.
Most readers will recognize this one! A low, long table designed to go in front of the sofa or in the middle of the living room.
COMThis stands for “Customer’s Own Material”. The term is used in the furniture design process when a customer wants a certain material they have already chosen used on the furniture.
In the world of interior design, ‘custom’ is a term used to refer to anything that is tailor-made. Usually, the customer is heavily involved in the design process.
ArmoireAn Armoire is essentially a freestanding closet. A decorative cabinet designed to hang clothes.
Cabriole LegA cabriole leg is a term used to describe a specific style of a decorative furniture leg, characteristic of Queen Anne furniture.
UpholsteryThe soft, padded, covering that is attached to the furniture is like a sofa.
SetteeThis is a style of sofa or long upholstered seat that comes with a back and arms.
VictorianFurniture and architecture often fall under the same design eras. Victorian design refers to both the architecture and furniture styles of the Victorian age.
Another term for both architecture and furnishings - mid-century modern refers to the style of America around the 1940s.
Focal PointA design term is used to describe the centerpiece of the room.
ÉtagerèThis is a style of hanging shelf that is used to display ornaments, photos, and decorations.
ChinoiserieThis is another term to describe a style. This 17th-century design style reflects Chinese motifs.
ChaiseA term to describe an elongated, decorative chair.
This is interior designer slang for any furniture that features storage.