Today marks my 3rd list of interior design terms you should know! It’s been so fun relearning the terms myself as I do further research to prepare for these posts. If you want to see my previous posts with more interior design terms and their proper definitions, you can read them here and here. Today I have 19 more words that could use some clarification. Let’s get started!
When referring to overhead lights, flush mounts are mounted flush with the ceiling leaving no gap. Semi-flush lights have a plate that mounts to the ceiling and the bulb portion hangs slightly off the ceiling.
Hardwood floors are solid planks of wood flooring while engineered hardwoods are a manmade alternative featuring layers of materials and a thin layer of real wood on top.
Both furniture pieces seat 2 people. A loveseat is just a shorter couch while a settee is essentially an upholstered bench with an upright high back and tall wood legs. Settees are typically more formal and have taller legs than a loveseat which is more casual. A settee can be placed in an entryway, breakfast nook, bedroom, and dressing room while a loveseat works best in a living room.
Both terms are referring to a chest of drawers. Highboys stand on tall wooden legs and were originally built as two separate sections that stacked on top of each other. The bottom portion is often slightly wider than the top and the upper half contains drawers. (This is not to be confused with a “Tallboy” which is extremely similar except that the upper half contains a wardrobe instead of drawers.) Lowboys are just the lower half of the highboy. It’s a short dresser with drawers. Nowadays, people often use the term lowboy to describe any long and low dresser with drawers and short legs.
There are many different ways to seal stained and painted wood, but the two products that I use most often are polyurethane and polycrylic. Polyurethane is an oil based top coat that provides a hard protective layer over stained or unstained wood. It often adds a soft amber color to the wood. Polycrylic is a water based top coat that also provides a hard protective layer. Polycrylic can be used on stained, unstained, and painted wood and dries completely clear. Because it is water based, it dries much quicker than Polyurethane.
Shams are the decorative pillow covers that often sit in the back of your bed pillow arrangements. The difference is in the sizing. Standard shams are approximately 20”x26” while Euro shams are square and approximately 26”x26”.
Decorative wood legs are such a huge part of furniture design! Tapered legs are wider at the top and taper in slightly at the bottom. This style is most often seen on Mid Century Modern furniture. Spindle legs are long and skinny wood turned legs with stacked spheres. Cabriole legs feature several soft curves creating an “S” formation. This was very popular in the Queen Anne style.
We know what a bench is – a long seat that’s either wood, metal, wicker, or upholstered. A banquette is a built-in upholstered bench along a wall or in a corner and is most often seen in restaurants or in a breakfast nook.
Truthfully I often use the word “nook” in place of alcove because that’s what most of the world does too! But if I’m getting technical, a nook is a corner of a room where two walls meet. An alcove is a small recessed area that’s connected to a larger room.
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