Interior Design Glossary

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

Line – An object or form whose actual or visual length greatly exceeds any actual width or depth it many have.


Linocut – A relief print process similar to woodcut. Wood blocks covered with a layer of linoleum are carved with woodcut tools, coated with ink, and printed by hand or in a press.


Lintel – A horizontal supporting beam that spans the distance between an opening, often above a window or doorway.

List Price

List Price – Generally accepted to be the same as suggested retail price – a price to the consumer.


Lithography – A planographic printmaking process based on the repellence of oil and water and characterized by soft lines and blurry shapes.

Loose knot

Loose knot – A knot in timber that is not sound and may end up becoming dislodged over time.

Low-fire Glazes

Low-fire Glazes – Low-temperature ceramic glazes, usually associated with bright, shiny colors.


Lumber – Timber of logs dressed for use.


Lumen – Is the unit of luminous flux equal to the flux in a unit solid angle of one steradian from a uniform point source of one candlepower.


Luminaire – A complete lighting fixture with all components needed to be connected to the electric power supply.


Luster – A brilliant iridescent film used on a ceramic glazes; formed from metallic salts.


Magma – Liquid or molten rock material, it is called lava when it reaches the earth’s surface.


Majolica – An opaque glaze, usually white, with a glossy surface. Typically decorated with bright overglaze stains.


Market – In reference to designer resources, a term that many interior designers use to mean they are going to visit one of the annual shows held at the marts.

Market Centers

Market Centers – Concentrations of trade sources in one area of a city.


Marquetry – Decorative patterns formed when thin layers of wood (and sometimes other materials, such as ivory) are inlaid into the surface of furniture or other wood products.


Marts – Where many firms have located in one building.

Mechanics Lien

Mechanics Lien – A legal recourse related to the labor and materials payment bond. It is an action that prevents the owner of the property of giving or selling the property to anyone until the lien is satisfied.


Merchant – Anyone who is involved with the buying and/or selling of the kinds of goods with which he or she is dealing. A person acting in a mercantile capacity.


Metamorphic – Rocks which changed from another rock by the action of heat, pressure, or both.


Mezzotint – An intaglio printing process that produces areas of tone rather than clean lines.


Ming – Chinese dynasty that ruled form 1368 to 1644 and was noted for artistic works produced during its reign.

Mission Statement

Mission Statement – A philosophical statement of what the firm sees as its role in the profession. It contains broad statements of what the company wishes to achieve during an unspecified time period.


Modillion – Ornamental bracket found under a cornice, similar in appearance to dentil, only larger.


Molding – A strip of contoured wood applied to a wall or other surface, normally used to hide seams between materials or to add a decorative element to a wall or structure.


Monoprint – A print produced by painting directly onto an already-etched surface and printing the image by hand onto the paper.


Monotype – A print made when an artist draws or paints on a glass or metal plate and then prints the image onto paper.


Mortise – A carved slot in a timber shaped to receive a tenon placed at the end of another post or beam, ensuring to secure it.


Mosaic – The process of creating a design or picture with small pieces of glass, stone, terra cotta, etc.


Mullion – A vertical element that divides a window into a separate lights or panes.


Muntin – A strip of wood that separates panes of glass in a window.


Murrini – A small wafer of glass bearing a colored pattern. Formed by bundling and fusing colored glass rods together and then heating and pulling the resulting cylinder to a very small diameter. When cut into cross-sectioned wafers, each piece bears the original pattern in miniature.


Ninja – Secret agent of practitioner of ancient art of ninjutsu or subterfuge, a supposedly magical art of making oneself invisible by artifice or stratagem in order to evade detection.


Nogging – The infilling between the timbers of half-timbered homes in the seventeenth century, normally composed of brick or plaster.


Obi – Wide sash word around the waist with a kimono.


Ogee – A pointed arch with a curve near the apex.

Oil Paint

Oil Paint – A paint in which natural oil-usually linseed-is the medium that binds the pigments.


Oolite- The small round particles which make up a sedimentary rock. On mass they look just like fish eggs.

Open Competitive Selection

Open Competitive Selection – When clients such as government agencies advertise impending bids so that anyone interested in the project who meets qualifications may submit a bid.

Open Grain

Open Grain – A wood grain where the annual growth rings are pronounced and there is an obvious difference between the pore size of springwood and summerwood. Oak and ash and examples of open-grained wood.

Open Specification

Open Specification – A bid specification written in such a way as to allow multiple numbers of products for the item being required.


Opencast – The method of mining near the surface, by cutting into it from above rather than digging underground.


Orders – Columns influenced by the Greeks and Romans are placed into specific orders, such as Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, Composite, and Tuscan.


Oriel – A bay window supported by corbels or brackets. Normally found on the second story of a home.


Origami – Art of folding paper to form figures and objects.


Overburden – The unusable rock and matter lying over the stone to be quarried.


Overflow – A pipe in bathtubs and lavatories used to prevent flooding. The pipe is located just below the rim or top edge of these fixtures.

Overlay Door

Overlay Door – The door is on the outside of the frame and, when closed, the door hides the frame from the view.

Palladian Window

Palladian Window – A three-part window in which the center window is arched and larger than two smaller, often-rectangular windows flanking it on either side.


Palladium – A photographic process in which the image is produced by palladium crystals deposited on the paper.


Paneling – Wood used to cover the entire expanse of a wall, from top to bottom.


Parquetry – Geometrically patterned wood inlay.


Pastel – A crayon of ground pigment bound with gum or oil. Pastel crayons have varying ratios of pigment to chalk and gum; the more pigment, the more intense the color.

Pate De Verre

Pate De Verre – A “paste” of finely crushed glass that is mixed, heated, and poured into a mold.


Patera – A round or oval raised surface design.


Patina – A surface coloring, usually brown or green, produced by the oxidation of bronze, copper, or other metal. Patinas occur naturally and are also produced artificially for decorative effect.


Pattern – Is the repetition of a decorative motif on a surface.


Pediment – Awn ornamental detail placed over a door, portico, or window, often found in a triangular shape.

Performance Bond

Performance Bond – Required of the winning bidder as a guarantee that the designer/vendor will complete the work as specified and will protect the client from any loss up to the amount of the bond as a result of the failure of the designer/vendor to perform the contract.


Petrology – The study of rocks, their origin and what they are made from.


Photoetching – A printmaking technique in which a light-sensitive metal plate is exposed to photographic film under ultraviolet light.


Photogravure – A printing process based on the production, by photographic methods, of a plate containing small ink-receptive pits.


Pilaster – A shallow rectangular column built into a wall for decorative purposes.

Pin Knot

Pin Knot – A knot smaller that one-half inch in diameter.

Pitch Pocket

Pitch Pocket – An opening between growth rings that may contain resin or bark or both.

Plain sawn

Plain sawn – The most common way in which a log is cut, tangentially to the growth rings. Results in the common flam-grain appearance.

Pleasing Match

Pleasing Match – A veneer method where attention is given to matching color and grain for a pleasing final effect.


Plenum – The space between a suspended ceiling and the floor above.


Plinth – A square or rectangular base for a pilaster or column.


Plutonic – Igneous rocks which have formed from magma at a great depth in the earth’s crust.


Point – Is perceived when a two-dimensionally perceived object appears relatively small in relation to the plane against which it is seen.

Polaroid Transfer

Polaroid Transfer – A trademarked named for the process by which an image recorded by the camera’s lens is reproduced directly onto a photosensitive surface, which functions as both film and photograph.


Polychromatic – Having various or changing colors.


Polyurethane – A paint and varnish resin that forms a protective coating on wood. Sold under the names Varathane, Urethane, and Durathane.


Porcelain – A clay body that is white, strong, and hard when fired. When sufficiently thin, it is also translucent.


Portico – A covered entry structure normally supported by columns.


Power – The quality of acoustic energy as measured in watts. It is this power that people perceive as loudness.

Premium Grade

Premium Grade – Gives the highest level of quality in materials, workmanship, and installation.


Print – An image made from an inked surface. Prints are usually, but not always, produced by multiples.


Proportion – Is the relationship between one part of an object or composition and another part and to the whole, or between one element and another.

Proprietary Specification

Proprietary Specification – Names the products and materials by manufacturer’s name, model number, or part number.


Purlin – A horizontal timber laid parallel to the wall plate and ridge beam, providing extra support for common rafters.


Quartersawn – Lumber that has been cut so that the grown rings are at an angle of between 45 and 90 degrees to the board face.


Quartzite – The metamorphic equivalent of a quartz sandstone, which has recrystallised into closely fitting granules.


Rafter – One of the series of members designed to support roof loads.


Raku – The technique of rapidly firing low-temperature ceramic ware. Raku firings were used traditionally in Japan to make bowls for tea ceremonies.

Random Match

Random Match – A way to join veneer where no particular attention is paid to the color or grain of the material or the pattern in which it meets. Considered a rustic or casual look.

Relief Print

Relief Print – A process in which a print is produced from the relief carving on a metal plate or a wood or linoleum block.


Repousse – An ancient process in which sheet metal is hammered into contours from both the front and the back.

Residential Interior Design

Residential Interior Design – Concerned with the panning and/or specifying of interior materials and products used in private residences.

Reverse Painting

Reverse Painting – A technique where paint is applied to the back side of the surface (typically glass) and viewed through the front. This process requires the painting to be done in reverse order; what appears closest to the viewer, as a detail or highlight must be painted first rather than last. Any lettering must likewise be painted in the mirror image4 so it will appear right facing when viewed from the front.


Rhythm – Is the repetition of elements in a regular patter.

Ribbon Window

Ribbon Window – A continuous band of windows.


Riftsawn – Wood that haws been cut so that growth rings are at an angle of 30 to 60 degrees to the board face.

Ring Porous

Ring Porous – Hardwood that shows a distinct zone between early and late wood, such as oak and ash.


Riser – The vertical board that spans that space between the stairs treads.


Rock – Any natural material formed of a single mineral or various minerals.

Roman Shades

Roman Shades – Pull up with a cord into accordion folds.


Rosette – A decorative element featuring a floral design often used with a plinth and fluted molding in Victorian architecture.


Rug – A soft floor covering laid on the floor but not fastened to it. It does not cover the entire floor.

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