Bernie & Phyl’s Furniture Glossary

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

American Country
A rustic and simplistic furniture style incorporating common woods in wide planks and larger logs for durable function in rural America.

Aniline
Term applied to dyes derived from coal tar used to color fabrics and leather.

Apron
Skirt or rail usually seen under a dining room tabletop.

Armoire
A large moveable cabinet with doors most often used for the storage of clothing or linens or to house entertainment equipment. Armoires may be fitted with drawers, shelves and/or hanging rods.

Arts & Crafts
A design style originating in the mid-1800s by William Morris to offset the clutter and ornate designs of the Victorian styles. Its purpose was to show a simple handcrafted artist's touch to furniture design. The popular Mission furniture is a variation of this design.

Art Deco
Ultra-modern design of the roaring 20's featuring sleek lines and exotic finishes a very distinctive look.

 

B

Ball and Claw Foot
The base of a leg is carved to resemble a talon grasping a ball.

Banding
Inlay or Marquetry that produces a color or grain contrast along the perimeter of a surface.

Bergere
A French (Louis XIV and XV) occasional armchair with upholstered back, sides and seat cushion.

Beidermeier
A relatively inexpensive, clean lined 19th Century German style of furniture reminiscent of the much more expensive Empire design that utilized light woods and black or gold painted decorations. Popular decorations were wreaths, festoons and stars that were painted rather than carved on the furniture.

Block Foot
Square vertical Foot at the base of any straight, untapered leg.

Bombe
Case piece with an outward swelling towards its base.

Bonnet Top
An arched pediment that covers the entire top of a case piece.

Book Matching
Two adjacent sheets of veneer are opened like a book and glued side by side to produce a symmetrical pattern.

Boston Rocker
19th Century rocking chair featuring a curved seat, spindle back and a wide top rail.

Bow back
A type of 18th century Windsor chair.

Bracket Foot
A decorative and functional square leg with diagonal piece behind it for stability used in both upholstery and case goods.

Breakfront
A cabinet made of a protruding center section flanked by to two sidepieces that are recessed.

Brocade
A fabric featuring textured patterns woven in contrast.

Broken Pediment
Ornamental design usually found on the top of case pieces or headboards, consisting of a broken triangular design with a finial in the middle.

Buffet
A functional cupboard; can be used by itself or as a base for a china cabinet.

Bullion
Long corded fringe used in Upholstery or Window Treatments.

Bunn Foot
A rounded leg with a flat bottom used in upholstery or case goods.

Burl
A knot in a tree that creates a swirled design when used as a veneer on case goods.

Butt Joint
Wood joined together at flat edges.

 

C

Cabriole
A bowed leg that curves to a tapered foot.

Camel Back
A sofa characterized by a large central hump used by Hepplewhite and Chippendale, usually found in more traditional sofas.

Cane
Split Rattan, often used to cover chair seats.

Case Good(s)
Any piece of furniture that is used to house (or Case) household goods and is not an upholstered piece.

Chaise
An elongated chair for stretching out (like having an ottoman attached to a chair).

Channeling
A grooved or furrowed effect.

Chenille
A textured fabric featuring an evenly cut plush pile of softly woven loops.

Chesser

Combination of a dresser and a chest; narrower than a dresser and shorter than chest that can normally utilize a tilt or small mirror.

Chest

A tall, narrow piece featuring a series of drawers for clothing storage.

Chesterfield
A smaller type of sofa with the low arms and back at the same level.

Chest-on-Chest
Tall, narrow piece of furniture featuring an upper level of drawers stacked on top of a lower level of wider drawers.

Chiffonier
a tall very narrow chest of drawers (Lingerie Chest).

Chintz
a printed cotton fabric with a glazed, high sheen.

Chippendale -
Wooden furniture featuring fretwork designed by Thomas Chippendale in 1754 with Oriental or Gothic flair.

Club Foot
A turned foot resembling a club usually found at the bottom of a Cabriole leg.

Colonial
Early American furniture design many times featuring wings and exposed wood on upholstered pieces.

Cottage Furniture -
A type of casual furniture that is characterized by painted and/or decorated pieces, turned legs and simple forms.

Crest Rail/Top Rail -
The top horizontal rail of an upholstered piece; can be very detailed.

Curio
Case piece featuring glassed in shelves and doors for displaying collectibles.

 

D

Damask
A fabric featuring woven characters against a flat background in the same color.

Dentil Molding
Decorative molding found in more traditional designs consisting of blocks and spaces resembling teeth.

Dhurrie Rug
Flat woven wool or cotton rug featuring beautiful designs.

Dining Room
A formal room dedicated to the serving of meals.

Dinette
More casual dining pieces, many times used for the Kitchen.

Down
Feathers from ducks or geese used in furniture as fill for upholstery cushions or mattresses.

Distressed
A furniture detail where wood pieces are purposely dented, scuffed or otherwise marked to render an antique or rustic appearance.

Dovetail
A type of joinery, usually found in drawers, where two perpendicular pieces of wood are carved in a way that the "fingers" are interlocked for added structural support.

Dowel
A type of joinery where round wooden pegs are inserted into flat pieces.

Dresser
A case piece that is usually long and low enough to utilize a mirror featuring a multitude of drawers for clothing storage.

Drop Leaf
A table with its leaves hinged to raise or lower as needed.

 

E

Eclectic
A design style featuring a mix of styles, periods and patterns creating a very unique and individualistic look to a room.

Eight-way Hand Tied
Used traditionally in upholstered furniture, each spring is tied in eight directions by hand both securing the springs inside the frame.

Embossing
A manufacturing technique to "stamp" a design onto a piece of furniture; mostly used on wood pieces to resemble carving but can also be used on fabrics and leathers to add texture.

Empire
This style of furniture is Neo-Classical and simple in design usually utilizes Egyptian motifs and wood inlays.

End Matching
Two adjacent pieces of veneer are joined end to end to form a continuous pattern.

Entertainment Center
A large case piece featuring pocket or wide-opening doors with adjustable shelving to house Entertainment equipment such as TVs and stereo components.

Ergonomic
A 90's term that relates furniture design and function to the human form; very commonly found in Home Office furnishings.

Escutcheon
The shield around the outside of a keyhole on a piece of furniture.

 

F

Fancy-faced Veneers
Veneers cut in an exotic pattern usually used in more visible areas of wooden furniture (e.g. door fronts, table tops).

Fiberboard
A board made of compressed wood fibers and glue, used in place of solid wood to effectively reduce costs of production.

Fiddle back
A chair designed with the splat resembling a violin's shape.

Filling
The step in the finishing process where the back filling of natural pores found in wood allows the surface to become smoother, flatter and more reflective.

Finger Joint
A type of joinery where two pieces of wood are cut in an elongated Zigzag pattern and joined together with glue.

Finial
A turned or carved piece at the top of a post or the piece that holds the shade to the harp of a lamp.

Fluting
A series of carved out semi-circular grooves usually found on columns, molding or wooden legs.

Fretwork
Perforated ornamental decorative wood work.

Four Poster
A colonial bed with four posts extending upward that may or may not hold a canopy.

Futon
A wooden sofa frame featuring a large single cushion where the frame and cushion can be unfolded to use as a bed.

 

G

Gilding
Coating with a thin layer of gold or similar gold-like substance.

Glaze
A coloring technique in the finishing process that is hand blended to highlight grain characteristics of wood or give a high sheen to leather.

GooseNeck Arm
An occasional or dining chair with a curved wooden arm resembling that of a gooseneck.

Grain
The natural markings in wood caused by growth rings; the grain of each wood species is specific to that species.

 

H

Hand
the touch or feel of a fabric, as in "the soft hand of glove leather"

Headboard
The back portion or head of a bed, can be used by itself with a metal bed frame or with rails and a footboard for a complete bed.

Hepplewhite
An 18th century French design featuring detailed chair backs in shield, heart or wheel cutwork shapes and case pieces often featuring oval panel inlays.

Highboy
Large case piece up on legs, usually found in traditional styles of furniture, consisting of a series of full and smaller drawers.

Highlighting
A color-removal technique done in the finishing process to highlight natural grain characteristics.

Hutch
A cabinet with doors or open shelving, usually on legs, used to store and/or display dinnerware.

 

I

Imbrications
Ornaments which take the form of fishes' scales or the segmented edge of tiles that overlap.

Inlay
A design of contrasting woods, ivory, or other materials, set into a surface.

Intaglio
A design or illustration made by cutting into the surface of the material.

Intarsia
An Italian type of decoration, similar to marquetry where a design is sunk into an entire surface.

Ionic
Designating or of a Greek style of architecture characterized by ornamental scrolls on the capitals.

 

J

Jacobean
More common 17th century English design featuring ornate cutwork and carving, especially as a turned rope found on legs and armrests.

Japanning
A version of Oriental lacquering often substituting paint for the layers of varnish.

 

K

KD - "Knocked Down"
Term applied to furniture that must be assembled upon delivery.

Kiln-Dried
Wood that has been dried a huge Kiln at tremendous temperatures to reduce the moisture found in that lumber to a certain predetermined percentage.

 

L

Lacquer
A clear, protective substance applied as a topcoat to furnishings.

Ladder Back Chairs
A dining or occasional chair with wide horizontal back slats resembling a ladder.

Laminate
The binding of a thin piece of material (wood, melamine, etc) to another material.

Lattice
Carved, crisscross cutout wood pattern found in a variety of furniture pieces.

Leather - Hide of an animal used in home furnishings a variety of ways.

Lectus
A daybed or reclining sofa with Roman influences.

Lifestyle
A relatively new term to the industry that describes an "individual expression of life"; tends to be casual in nature and simple in design.

Louis VIX and XV
French designs of an extremely ornate character utilizing rich fabrics and an abundance of carving and gilding.

Loveseat
Small sofa designed to accommodate 2 people.

Lyre Back
Chairs whose splats resemble a harp.

 

M

Manchette
A small upholstered patch or cushion on an armrest.

Marquetry
The inlay of a material (contrast wood, Mother-of-Pearl, ivory, etc) into the veneer of wood to create a beautiful pattern.

Matte
Rough and warm surfaces, more flat than shiny.

Mission
An American version of the Arts & Crafts movement in furniture design created by Gustav Stickley featuring the simple and symmetrical designs found in Southwestern missions.

Modernist
Clean lined contemporary design of the 20th century utilizing freedom of form and without ornamentation.

Moiré
A fabric featuring a swirled pattern that resembles water patterns on silk.

Molding
Used for decoration, shaped strips protruding from or sunk into a surface.

Mortise and Tenon
A type of joinery used to attach two perpendicular pieces of wood where a carved out notch of one fits into a carved out hole of the other.

 

N

Nest of Tables
Tables of varying sizes stored one under the other.

 

O

Occasional Table
A term used for any small table but, more commonly, for cocktail, end and sofa tables.

Ogee Bracket Foot
Commonly used in Chippendale case good pieces, the double-curved leg wraps around two sides of the piece.

Ottoman
A low upholstered seat with no arms or back used as a footstool.

Overlay
A decorative trim piece of a material applied to a flat surface of wood.

Oxbow
The opposite of a serpentine curve, somewhat resembling the curve of an oxbow, used on the fronts of case pieces.

 

P

Pediment
Ornamental, typically triangular, crown on the top of a case good or bed.

Pineapple
A carving used in 19th century furniture as a symbol of hospitality.

Plinth
"To the floor" squared off base of a piece of furniture.

Plywood
Layers of wood products attached in a cross grain method (1st layer grain is east to west, 2nd layer north to south, 3rd layer east to west and so forth) to assist in preventing the contraction and swelling of wood surfaces due to the rise and fall of humidity in the air.

Polyurethane
A synthetic material used as cushion material in upholstered furniture, available in varying degrees of density and softness.

 

Q

Quatrefoil
An ornamental figure divided into four foils, leaves or lobes.

Queen Anne
18th century style featuring simple designs and soft shapes, typically made of cherry or mahogany and more formal in nature.

 

R

Rail - The horizontal piece of support or design (e.g. base rail of a sofa).

Rake - The angle or slant of a non-vertical leg.

Reclining Chair - An upholstered chair or rocker that reclines back.

Refectory Table - Short table with extension leaves stored underneath and pulled out from the ends.

Reeding
The reverse of fluting, beaded lines projected onto a surface.

Ribband-back
A chair with back splats resembling an entwined ribbon.

Rococo
A style noted for ornate, asymmetrical designs with interpretations of the shell and running water carvings utilized by Louis XIV and XV periods.

Roll-top Desk
Desk where the writing table and compartments are enclosed by a curved slatted panel.

Rush Seat
A seat woven with a series of rushes.

 

S

Scalloped
A curved ornamentation, many times in the shape of the scallop shell.

Secretary
A tall case pieces with drawers on the bottom, a drop down writing desk in the middle and, possible, small compartments or a cabinet on the top.

Serpentine
The utilization of two curves giving a soft flow to the furniture reminiscent of a serpent's movement; typically found on fronts or tops of case pieces, tops of sofas, etc.

Settee
A small sofa or bench.

Shaker
A simple, clean line design created by members of the Shaker religious group. Free from any ornamentation, the true beauty of this style is that it is virtually devoid of style and created with function in mind rather than beauty.

Sheraton
Straight lines and smoothly elegant proportions are characteristics of this design style.

Shoji Screens
Standing Oriental screens, many times used as room dividers.

Skirt - The piece of fabric that is applied to the bottom edge of an upholstered pieces, hiding the legs; the three most popular are Gathered skirts used in Country styles, Dressmaker skirts used in more formal applications and Waterfall skirts for more casual or transitional styles.

Sheaf-back Chairs
The back is designed with spindles coming together in the middle inserted into a piece of wood and then flaring out again to the bottom of the chair; made to resemble a sheaf of wheat, representing home, hearth and warmth.

Sideboard
Similar to a buffet table, but usually longer and more narrow, it is used in the dining area as a serving piece, many times ornamented with a brass rail along the back edge, called a "gallery", to keep things from falling off the back.

Sinuous Springs
Also known a "S" coils and "Zigzag wire" the Zigzag wire attaches to the front and back rails of the upholstered piece seat area or top and bottom rails of the upholstered piece back and are used in place of actual coil spring units.

Sisal
A natural and durable fiber often used in rugs.

Slat Back
Chair designed with flat vertical pieces of wood as the back.

Slip Match
Produced by slipping sheets of veneer into a side-by-side position to form specific patterns, such as diamond, reverse diamond (or sun burst), herringbone, checkerboard, etc.

Slip Seat
A dining chair whose seat is easily removable in order to change the upholstery.

Spade Foot
Tapered to the base leg design usually found in Hepplewhite styles.

Spindle -
A slender, turned piece of wood used for chair backs, headboards, footboards and decoration.

Spiral Leg
A leg carved in the shape of a rope twist or spiral.

Splayed Leg
Legs that slant outward from the piece of furniture to which they are attached.

Spring Down

A type of cushion constructed of coil springs wrapped in polyurethane and covered with down batting.

Staining
The step in the finishing process that applies color to a piece of furniture while allowing the grain to show through.

Stretcher
Supports that are attached to the legs of furniture pieces such as chairs, cocktail tables, etc., to add additional support.

Swivel Chair
A chair that revolves on a stationary platform or on legs.

 

T

T-Cushion
A "T" shaped cushion designed to fit around the arm of the upholstered piece of furniture.

Taped Leg
A leg that gets incrementally smaller towards the bottom.

Tapestry
A highly decorative fabric where the design is woven onto the loom.

Tester - A canopy over a bed; a Tested bed is a bed with high posts that will allow the use of a canopy.

Toile
A cotton fabric with designs of country settings, animals, people and other objects are printed on a solid background of one color in another color.

Tongue and Groove
A type of joinery used to attach two perpendicular boards by fitting and gluing the slat of one into the groove of the other.

Trestle Table
A braced form supporting the tabletop.

Trompe l'oeil -
"Fooling the eye" is the translation of this phrase used to describe decorative painting on walls or furniture pieces that appear to be three dimensional, thus the name.

Trundle Bed
A low bed that can be rolled under a regular bed for storage when not in use.

Turned
The process of removal of wood from a block to form a particular shape; the wood is clamped into something similar to a rotisserie and turned at a high speed while a sanding machine, or lathe, is moved across its surface to shape it.

 

U

Upholstery
Furniture that is covered in fabric, vinyl, leather or other materials.

Uprights
The outer vertical posts of a chair.

 

V

Veneer -
This is a thin sheet of wood, usually about 1/22 of an inch, that is then glued onto another surface. The VERY rich hired artisans to make pieces of furniture for them using veneers to make beautiful patterns creating original and unique pieces of art. The common-man was relegated to using solid slabs of wood for furniture.

Vitrine -
A glass front china cabinet used to display fine pieces.

 

W

Wainscoting -
The application of wood molding to the middle or lower half of a wall.

Webbing -
Interwoven strips of material attached to a wooden frame used for support in upholstery in place of the traditional spring system.

Windsor Chair
Where slat back chairs have flat pieces of wood forming the back, this 18th century designed chair has rounded spindles forming the back and attached to the graciously curved top.

 

X

X-Chair -
This "X" type folding chairs dates back to ancient Roman times.

 

Y

Yorkshire Chair
An oak chair with turned front legs and stretchers.

 

Z

Zigzag
Molding or stitching with a series of frequent sharp turns from side to side.

 

 

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