In a Word-Beautiful: Design Terms Everyone Should Know

Say what you mean and mean what you say. It’s an adage that comes in handy when shopping for furniture or home accents. The more clearly you can describe what you’re looking for the more likely you’ll find exactly what you want. Here’s a list of some of the most commonly confused design terms.

console:  Can refer to a cabinet that houses a TV and other media equipment, or an ornamented bracket with scrolls or corbel supporting a cornice, shelf, or tabletop. To add to the confusion:  A ‘console table’ refers to a display piece that can hold collectibles or objets d’art.

wainscot: Wooden paneling on the lower part of the walls of a room. Not to be confused with chair rails.

sconce:  A light fixture that attaches to a wall and usually features some type of ornamental bracket.

highboy:  A tall  chest of drawers supported by four legs. Distinguished from a dresser by its chest-on-chest configuration and significant height.

ikat:  Originally an Indonesian fabric featuring threads that are tie-dyed before weaving. Today, the term ‘ikat’ also refers to a fabric pattern.

hassock:  Not an ottoman, not a stool, a hassock is a firmly padded cushion that can be used as a footrest or a resting spot for a tray of noshes and nibbles.

davenport:  A type of sofa once manufactured by A.H. Davenport and Company in Massachusetts. Oddly enough, during the 18th century the term referred to an entirely different type of furniture:  a secretary-style desk.

pelmet:  Although sometimes confused with a type of skirt, ‘pelmet’ refers to a boxy window treatment that conceals curtain rods.

objets:  A French word that translates to ‘object’. Can suggest everything from high-end collectibles to everyday bric-a-brac, depending on the style of your maison (French word that translates to ‘home’!).

finial:  An ornament at the top, end, or corner of an object such as a curtain rod or lampshade.

Know your decorating terminology and you’ll have the last word on how to beautifully style your home.

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