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Interior Design Dictionary

October 10th, 2019

Category: WB Jamieson

Author: Darren Seymour

Some of the interior design words and phrases you will come across and what they mean.

In the world of interior design there are words phrases and jargon that could catch you our. To dispel the mystery, we've put together this handy guide as to what they mean:


A design that is unstructured and unexpected.


A recessed area within a room


An antique item is one that is at least 100 years old. Often confused with the word Vintage which is actually an item anywhere between 50 and 100 years of age.


A decorative addition which is applied to an existing surface.


A pattern with multiple interlaced organic forms such as flowers, foliage, fruits and scrolls.

Art Deco

A geometric style of home furnishings and architecture which was popular in the 1920's and 30's.

Art Nouveau

A decorative style originally developed in France between 1890 and 1910 which typically featured ornate designs and organic shapes.


Something made to the exacting requirements of the client or user. The opposite of 'ready-made'.


An ornament used to occupy the centre of a dining table.

Chaise lounge/longe

A chaise is a comfortable chair with an extended seat which allows the user to recline. 


A soft thick piled fabric that has a shimmering appearance. a fabric option that is used for upholstery and soft-furnishings


A zig-zag pattern which is comprised of uniform arrow shapes.


a minimalistic style which is uncluttered with no frills.


Contemporary is a word that refers to a style or design that belongs to the present time.


Well organised and selected group of objects.


A wallcovering or fabric which features a pattern that's distinguished from the background.


A draped piece of fabric used as a window treatment.


Eclectic is a term used to refer to an overall design or style that draws from multiple points of inspiration and a diverse range of sources.


Using a extraordinary piece of design which increases the overall level of finish in a space.


The term faux is used to describe a finish or a material that mimics or imitates another. 


A finial is a decorative object which is used to finish the end of a curtain pole.


The surface coating of an object. This could include paints, stains, varnishes, fabric etc. Many raw materials require a finish for colour, texture and protection.

Floor plan

A diagram of a property show from above which shows all of the important structural features, dimensions and other useful details like sinks, water boilers and other fixtures.

Focal Point

A focal point of a room or a space, is one that draws your attention visually, this could be anything from a bold coloured piece of furniture, to an architectural piece such as a fireplace.


A grommet is a metal eyelet often found on curtains.


A design that is not contrived or overly fussy.


Hue is simply another word for colour.


A scandinavian term used to describe things that are cosiness, relaxation, and warmth.


A design or idea that references another.


A hard, protective varnish applied as a finish to furniture


Laminate is a man-made flooring option that is durable and gives the appearance of real wood with it's veneer finish.

Mid-Century Modern

Mid century modern is a term used to describe the design movement from the 1950's (middle of the century). The work of designers such as the Charles and Ray Eames is considered mid century modern in style.


A item of furniture which can be made of different components that can be used in a variety of configurations to offer maximum versatility. Modular sofas are sometimes described as a sectional sofa.


The word Monochromatic simply means one colour. 


Niche refers to both a small recess in a wall or a product, service or interest that appeal to a small specialised group.


An Ottoman is an upholstered footstool often covered in the same fabric as the chair.


A flooring design where planks are laid at angles to each other to form decorative patterns.


Patina is the surface pattern that appears through use, wear, and time such as denim and leather where a visible change in appearance can be seen.


a narrow border of fabric or upholstered wood which is used to cover window blind fittings.


A hanging ornament or light fitting.


The term pile refers to the fabric loops that make up the surface of carpet. high-pile refers to longer strands and a deeper carpet whereas low-pile would be more suited for areas of high traffic.

Ready made

Ready made are items that are mass-produced and readily available items. 


A collection of items selected specifically to complement one another and the space in which they reside.


A long narrow strip of carpet for a hallway, or a long strip of fabric for the centre length of a dining table.


A low cupboard with shelves and drawers.

Tapered Leg

A furniture leg that becomes narrower towards the foot.


A mixture of rough, smooth, thick, thin, soft and hard surfaces used with one another.


A piece of fabric used as furnishing for a sofa or bed. It can be purely decorative or used as a light blanket.


A design that avoids trends and doesn't date.


Small decorative elements such as cushion piping or fringes. 


A soft-furnishing technique where buttons are recessed into upholstered furniture to create detail and texture. Examples of tufting can be found on soda backs and headboards.


Furniture which is fully or partially covered in fabric.


Veneer refers to the thin decorative surface which is applied to a less expensive and more durable material.


Vintage which is an item aged anywhere between 50 and 100 years old.








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