Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Interior design terms and definitions series A-F

Illustration for Design Portal.Image via Wikipedia
The Interior design and decorating world can be a confusing place to be. If you live in South Carolina and would love to find an Interior designer or decorator, visit: South Carolina Interior Design Scout for available listings in your county. Here is a list of commonly used interior design terms that may help you with your own interior design quest.

Advancing colors
Warm colors that make items and surfaces appear larger or closer, such as red, yellow, orange.

Ambient lighting
Lighting throughout an area from any source that produces general illumination, as opposed to task lighting.

The definition of an antique varies from source to source; however, it is generally agreed that antiques are decorative or functional items that show a degree of craftsmanship or special attention to design elements. Customs officials in most countries deem all items, including furnishings, art, accessories, and personal possessions over 100 years old to be antique and, therefore, duty free. Most collectors use 50 years as a benchmark. Cars in the United States are considered antique if they are 25 years or older.

A large tall French cabinet originating in the late 16th century and used as a wardrobe for storing clothing. Today, it is commonly used for housing linens, computer or entertainment equipment. It usually has one or two doors with adjustable shelves rather than drawers.

Art Deco
A streamlined, geometric style of home furnishings and architecture originating in France in the 1920s and popularized in America in the 1920s and 1930s. Characteristics include rounded fronts, stylized ornamentation, fine traditional craftsmanship, and wood furniture with chrome hardware.

Ball and claw
A carved lion's or bird's paw or furniture foot clutching a ball or sphere, usually at the end of a cabriole leg or table base.

Camel back sofa
A sofa style characterized by a large symmetrical rise or "hump" located at the center of the back.

A tall and narrow double door chest of drawers normally used for storing undergarments and lingerie. Lingerie chest.

A multi-colored, woven, shiny or glazed bright calico cotton printed fabric. Originally manufactured in India for export. Frequently used for upholstery and draperies. Unglazed chintz is called cretonne.

A decorative style covering many types of furniture that were developed in the latter half of the 1900s. The look includes clean lines, simple contours, and bold colors.

The zone or decorative treatment on the lower portion of an interior wall between the baseboard and the chair rail or lower part of a window sill.

Dhurrie rug
A flat wool or cotton woven rug from India.

Luxurious 100% silk fabric with fibers from double cocoons using two different colors of threads so that it shimmers or changes color in the light.

French word for comforter or cover. Fabric casing or removable cover that usually encases a down-filled comforter. Sometimes used on the bed as a blanket.

A personalized decorative style that combines elements from multiple periods, sources, textures, origins, and styles. Sometimes called "mix and match."

The study of workplace design and the physical and psychological impact it has on workers. The science of analyzing human beings and how we function in conjunction with a variety of equipment, products, methods, and work circumstances to improve our health, safety, and welfare.

Euro shams
Square bed pillow shams, typically 24" x 24", used in combination with other decorative pillows. Commonly seen in most Bed in Bag sets these days.

Environmental design
The field of developing physical, spatial environments (interiors and/or exteriors) to solve a particular need or create a specific experience, including air quality and circulation, temperature control, ergonomic layout, and physical circulation plans. This field includes architecture, urban planning, landscape design, interior design, exhibit design, and sometimes event design.

The face or front exterior of a building given special architectural treatment.

A French words meaning imitation, false, fake, not genuine. A reproduction or re-interpretation of a finish on another surface, for example faux marble is a marble-like surface painted onto walls or furniture. In interior design, fabrications include faux leather, faux fur, faux suede, etc.

Feng shui
Literally translated as "wind" and "water." An ancient Chinese scientific practice based on selecting or positioning a site, structure, or interior so that positive effects are realized and negative effects are minimized. This ancient art of placement was established to achieve comfort, harmony, and balance in and around one's environment and thereby in one's life to enhance health and prosperity. Actively practiced in Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines.

Decorative hardware, wood, or metal ornaments used to cap drapery rods, newel posts, furnishings, woodwork, etc. Common motifs include leaves, flames, urns, balls, and pineapples.

Focal point
Center of interest or point of emphasis in a well-designed room. Something that draws your eye to it.

A decorated horizontal band with designs or carvings attached to or painted along the top of a wall or above doorways or windows.

A Japanese-style filled mattress placed on the floor, a folding wooden or raised frame which can be used as both a seating piece and a bed.

A note from the author: Didn't find the term you were looking for? Don't worry this article is the first in a series, the next publication: Interior design terms and definitions series G-K is forthcoming.
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