Interior Design Glossary

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Abacus – The slab that forms the uppermost member of a column capital.


Abode means living quarters or residence.

Abrasion Test

Material abrasion test measures the ability of warp and weft yarns to withstand friction from wear.


Design elements showing general forms instead of a detailed and realistic representation.


Ornamental design motif representing leaves of the acanthus plant, native to the Mediterranean.


Acknowledgments – The paperwork forms that the supplier sends to the designer to indicate what the supplier interpreted the designer’s order to be.


Acrylic – A water-soluble paint made with pigments and synthetic resin; used as a fast-drying substitute to oil paint.


Addenda – Corrections or changes are made to the contract documents by the issuance of addenda. Addenda are written by the person or firm responsible for the original set of contract documents.


Adit – A sloping tunnel or shaft driven through a hill or mountainside to reach beds of rock.


Aga – A closed iron range fueled by coke, oil, or gas.


Agrillaceous – a fine-grained sedimentary rock with grains less than 1/16mm, e.g. clay.


Alabaster – A fine-textured, regularly white, gypsum that is easily carved and translucent when thin.

Allied Board of Trade

Allied Board of Trade – A national credit agency that specializes in the interior design industry.


Aluminum – A lightweight, silver-colored metal used extensively in commercial applications, and occasionally by metal artists.

Analogous Color

Analogous colors are hues that are next to one another on the color wheel. Examples would be red and orange or blue and green.


Appliqué – A technique whereby pieces of fabric are layered on top of one another and joined with decorative stitches.


Aquatint – Printmaking process used to create areas of solid color, as well as gradations of white through black tones. Usually has the appearance of transparent watercolor.


Arcade – A series of arched columns.


Architrave – The lower horizontal band of an entablature, located below the frieze.

Articulation Class

Articulation Class – A single-number summation of how effective a ceiling is in absorbing sound reaching it from over low partitions.

Articulation Index

Articulation Index – Measures the performance of all the elements of a particular configuration working together, including ceiling absorption, space dividers, furniture, light fixtures, partitions, background masking systems, and HVAC system sound.

Asahi Ware

Asahi Ware – Pottery made at Uji, Kyoto Prefecture, since the 17th century. Tends to be made of coarse, sandy clay. Kiln is still in making and is well recognized for its modern, computer-controlled technology.


Ashlar – A block of stone with straight edges for use in building.

Back Band

Back Band – Additional molding piece adhered to the outer edge of casing to create a more substantial appearance.


The vertical supports of stair railing. Can range from very simple to very ornate turned pieces.


Balustrade – The railing that is supported by the balusters.


Bargeboard – Elaborately carved trim used around the edge of gables, most commonly found on gothic revival homes.

Bas-Relief – Literally

Bas-Relief – Literally, “low-relief.” Raised or indented sculptural patterns that remain close to the surface plane.

Base Molding

Base Molding – The molding placed at the juncture of the floor and wall.


Batik – A method of applying dye to cloth that is covered, in part, with a dye-resistant, removable substance such as wax. After dyeing, the resist is removed, and the design appears in the original color against the newly colored background.


Beading – The process whereby decorative beads are sewn, glued, or otherwise attached to a surface.


Beam – The primary horizontal load-bearing element in a structure.


Bed – A coating of sedimentary rock.

Bedding Plane

Bedding Plane – Surface in sedimentary rock parallel to the original surface on which the sediment was deposited.

Beveled Glass

Beveled Glass – Plate glass that has its perimeter ground and polished at an angle.


Bidet – A sanitary fixture for cleansing the genitourinary area of the body.

Bills of Lading

Bills of Lading – The form that the supplier provides to the truck driver to show what is being shipped and who has title to the goods.


Bleaching – Using chemicals, such as bleach, to dramatically lighten or to remove color in a wood.


Bleed – Color penetrates through another coat of paint.


Board-and-Batten – A form of vertical siding composed of boards laid side by side, with the resulting joints covered by narrow strips of wood, or battens.

Bonded Glass

Bonded Glass – Glass pieces that have been adhered together by glue, resin, or cement.


Bonsai – The art of dwarfing trees or plants by growing and training them in containers.

Book Match

Book Match – A look achieved when alternating pieces of veneer are placed so that adjacent edges meet. The name comes from the final appearance, which resembles the pages of an open book. This is one of the most common veneer methods.

Box Burns

Box Burns – Furniture damage caused when the shipping carton rubs against the fabric or frame materials.


Bracket – Supporting element found below an eave.


Brass – An alloy of copper and zinc. Brass is yellow in color, and though harder than either of its constituents, it is appropriately malleable for jewelry making.


Breccia – A clastic sedimentary rock with angular fragments.


Brickmould – Exterior wood moulding to cover the gap between a door or window and its frame.


Bronze – Habitually, an alloy of copper and tin generally used in casting. The term is often applied to brown-colored brasses.


Burl – A dome-shaped growth on the trunk of a tree. Intricately patterned burl wood is often used by wood turners and furniture makers.


Burl – A swirl or twist in wood grain, usually occurring near a knot. This unusual pattern is used for decorative elements such as cabinet panels and veneers.

Butcher Block

Butcher Block – A surface made from thick cubes or strips of hardwood used for cutting or chopping food items.

Butt Hinges

Butt Hinges – Two metal plates joined with a pin, one being fastened to the door jamb or frame and the other to the door.


Candlepower – Is the unit of luminous intensity approximately equal to the horizontal light output from an ordinary wax candle.


Capital – The top component of a column.

Casement Window

Casement Window – A tall, narrow window that opens by swinging outward from the side.


Casing – The type of molding found around openings such as windows or doors. Casing hides the seam between the structure and the adjoining wall.


Casting – The process of pouring molten metal or glass, clay slip, etc. into a hollow mold to harden. Some casting processes permit more than one reproduction.


Caulk – To fill a joint with resilient mastic.


Celadon – French name for a green, gray-green, blue-green, or gray glaze produced with a small percentage of iron as the colorant.


Celadon – French name for a green, gray-green, blue-green, or gray glaze produced with a small percentage of iron as the colorant.


Ceramics – The art and science of forming objects from earth materials containing or combined with silica; the objects are then heated to at least 1300F to harden.

Chair Rail

Chair Rail – A molding that normally falls at a height of three to four feet and bands an entire room. Originally incorporated for wall protection, chair rails are now used primarily for decoration, to cap wainscoting, or as a divider between different wall treatments.


Chasing - A technique in which steel punches are used to decorate and/or texture of metal surface.


Chasing - A technique in which steel punches are used to decorate and/or texture of metal surface.


Check – A lengthwise separation of a wood board that extends across the annual growth rings.


Chi – The life force or essential energy of the universe. Chi can be either auspicious or inauspicious.

China Paint

China Paint – A low-temperature overglaze fired onto previously glazed and fired ceramic.


Chinking – The weatherproofing material placed between logs in a log home.


Clastic – Sediments formed from the breaking up of earlier rocks.


Cleavage – The tendency of some rocks to split or break along smooth planes that are more or less parallel.


Closed-Grain – A wood that exhibits narrow, inconspicuous, annual growth rings is considered closed-grain. Examples are cherry and maple.


Column – A rounded vertical structural element. Can be functional or decorative.

Columnar Jointing

Columnar Jointing – In igneous rocks, a regular six-sided form of jointing that produces regularly shaped pillars or columns.

COM (Customer’s Own Material)

COM (Customer’s Own Material) – When a designer uses a fabric on a special-ordered upholstered furniture item other than of the fabrics available from the furniture manufactured.


Composite – One of the architectural orders. The composite column was the result of combining both the Ionic and Corinthian columns.


Conglomerate – A rock composed of rounded fragments, anything from a few millimeters to several centimeters in diameter.


Conifer – A softwood tree type, with needles and cones rather than flat, broad leaves.


Contrast – The difference in illumination level between one point and nearby points.

Convection Oven

Convection Oven – Heated air flows around the food.

Conventional Oven

Conventional Oven – Food is cooked by radiation.


Corbel – A decorative bracket carved from wood; used under shelving, vent hoods, countertop overhangs, and mantel shelves.


Corinthian – The Corinthian column, featuring acanthus leaves on its capital, is the most ornate of the architectural orders.


Cornice – The top horizontal band of an entablature, found above the frieze.

Cost Plus Percentage Mark-Up

Cost Plus Percentage Mark-Up – A design fee method that allows the design firm to add a specific percentage to the net cost of the merchandise being purchased by the client.

Cost Price

Cost Price – The price that the designer must pay for the goods.

Cost Price

Cost Price – The price that the designer must pay for the goods.


Country-rock – The rock or rocks into which an igneous intrusion is placed.


Coving – Angled sides of firebox.

Critical Path Method (CPM)

Critical Path Method (CPM) – A preparation method that begins by identifying the interrelationships of the tasks to be performed. This study shows the designer, which tasks must be completed before the next or other tasks can be performed, thus establishing the vital path.

Crown Molding

Crown Molding – A decorative molding used at the juncture of the wall and ceiling; it can be flat or sprung, plain or complex.


Crystallized – The stone forms into crystals.


Cure – Maintaining the humidity and temperature of freshly poured concrete for a period of time to keep water present so the concrete hydrates or hardens properly.


Curtains – Like draperies, curtains use fabric, but they are usually hung with in the window frame and close to the glass.

Custom Grade

Custom Grade – Is the most common grade and still produced a high-quality job.


Dado – The lower part of an interior wall, which has been treated with decoration.


Dentils – A small square block used in series in Ionic, Corinthian, Composite, and, more rarely, Doric cornices.

Descriptive Specification

Descriptive Specification – Describes, often in intricate detail, the materials, workmanship, manufacture methods, and installation of the obligatory goods.

Design Development Phase

Design Development Phase – Involves the preparation of all final plans, presentation graphics, and specifications required to explain design concepts to the client.

Dichroic Glass

Dichroic Glass – A thin metallic coating on any type of glass. This coating is applied at a high temperature in a vacuum chamber.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T V W Z _ All