From the Floor Up

Impress Your Interior Designer by Knowing these Terms

Posted by Daltile Team on Jun 16, 2016 10:30:00 AM

Designer-Speak Basics

Accent, accessories, and ageing are interior design terms you may already be comfortable with. But what about beading, balusters, and brise soleil? Not so sure? When you tell your interior designer exactly what you want—in their terms—you get rid of the risk that your gesticulating and lengthy descriptions can be mistaken for something other than the vision in your head.

Daltile natural stone featured in THE NEW AMERICAN HOME: top left split face travertine 1 x 2, bottom left flagstone quartzite,

Here are a few terms that you might want to know as you get ready to talk to your designer. Some will increase your vocabulary. Others you’ll be surprised to learn are actual terms used by designers.

Arabesque –scroll work or other decorative work that is composed of leaves, fruit, or figures

Armoire –a wardrobe with doors and shelves that can be used to store any assortment of items including entertainment equipment

Articulation –joining two separate parts so that each is distinct; think white subway tile with black grout

Art Glass –any decorative glass that is stained, blown, leaded, cut, fused, or beveled

Backsplash –material placed on the wall behind a sink or other potentially wet area; can measure from four inches to about 18 inches

Baluster –the turned columns that hold up the rail on the stairs

Beading –a row of round, bead-like decorations often used as a molding

An example of articulation as seen on FOX Home Free

Rittenhouse Square in black on the backsplash

Brise Soleil –canopies over windows that provide shade from direct sunlight

Cable –a molding design that looks like rope

Chevron –a pointed shape; often used in a series, creating a zig-zag type effect

Circulation –the flow of foot traffic through a building

Coffer –a series of sunken or recessed areas in a ceiling used for decorative purposes; similar to a tray ceiling but the tray ceiling has just one large recessed area

Copping –a cap or covering on a wall

Curlicue –a loop or spiraled line

Distressing –furniture or décor that is made to look used, rustic, and antique

Double Doors –two doors right next to each other that don’t have a vertical support in the middle where the doors meet; sometimes called French doors

Dry Brushing –running a paint brush over a glaze to make the surface cloudy or textured

Eclectic –combining design and décor from different periods and styles

Exposed Rafters –the support structure of the roof is exposed to either the exterior or interior of the building

Faux –a material that is meant to simulate something else, such as faux wood

Feng Shui –the Chinese tradition of designing a space so as to produce harmony

What exactly constitutes a chandelier?

A chandelier is any ceiling-mounted light fixture that has at least two arms with lights.

Figuring -the pattern created by natural wood grain

Finish –stain, paint, fabric, varnishes, etc. that provide the final surface; finish can provide color, texture, and protection

Fireplace Surround –the materials surrounding the fireplace

Gallerie –a large wrap-around porch with columns on one side; southern-style porch

Halogen –a type of light that is neutral, whereas other types of lighting that can give a space a bluish or yellowish color

Hue –a basic color like blue, yellow, or red

Inset Tile –cut tile that is inserted within a field of differing tile

Intaglio –a design cut into a surface

KD (Knocked Down) –furniture that needs to be assembled after purchase

Kitchen Cart –a moveable kitchen island that provides extra work space

Lifestyle –how an individual expresses him or herself; often refers to a style of furniture in interior design

Lodge –a rustic design style like you might find in a lodge

Medallion –an intricate plaque usually made of wood or tile

Modular –separate pieces that can be arranged together in different configurations

Mosaic –an arrangement of tiles under two inches; often used for backsplashes

Neutral Color –colors that combine easily with most other colors; white, black, brown, gray, and sometimes pastels

Davenport, Chesterfield, sofa, couch, settee, chaise lounge . . . you may think that these are interchangeable, or at least just regional words for the same thing. But in fact, they each describe different types of plush seating.

Niche –a small recessed area in a wall for storing or displaying items

Open Stock –individual pieces of a group that are sold separately

Patina –a sheen that develops naturally over time on a surface; sometimes created on new products to create an aged look

Scale –the size of something or the size of something in comparison to something else

Tint –white mixed with any color; pastels or light colors

Tone –gray mixed with any color; very pleasing to the eye, calming, and sophisticated

Transitional –design style that blends classic elements with modern elements


Impress your designer by using the terminology that communicates your design desires efficiently then translates into reality.

Topics: Design

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