Furniture Design & Décor Glossary

A man-made cellulose fiber. Used in limited quantities in upholstery fabric blends but is seldom used alone because of its low resistance to wear, particularly in flat weaves.
A man-made fiber with a soft, woolly feeling; fair resistance to sunlight. It has good cleanability characteristics and takes vivid color well. Acrylic is normally used to create velvet, plush looks.
Leather that is colored all the way through with a transparent dye. The effect is applied by immersing the leather in a dye bath. Because the finish is transparent and shows the natural markings of the leather, only the best quality hides can be used.
Leather that is dyed with one color over another (usually darker over lighter) so as to create rich highlights and an artificial aged appearance. Also called distressed leather.
Decorative panel that connects the surface or legs of a table or chairs.
Chair with side structures to support arms or elbows.
Large movable cupboard with doors and shelves that is typically used to store clothing or used as an entertainment center.
Attached Pillow Back
Back cushions made to resemble loose pillows but which may not be removed.
Bachelor's Chest
Very short set of drawers. Typically 30-36" tall.
Back Rail
The wood frame section which supports the back springs and/or cushioning material.
A coating material used on the reverse side of the upholstery fabric or cover to give it more strength.
Baker's Rack
Tiered open, slatted back shelving unit used for storing utensils or other kitchen amenities.
Ball Casters
Round metal, rubber and/or plastic balls which fit inside a swiveled cup attached to base of furniture to make furniture easier to move.
Ball Foot
Bottom of turned leg, shaped round and has a hooded effect.
Baluster Leg
Typically used on chairs, this is a curved vase-like shaped leg.
Ornate and heavily styled type of furniture or décor.
Barrel Chair
Chair type that is named after chairs that were originally made from half a wine barrel.
Base Rail
The part of the wood frame lowest to the floor.
Baseball Stitching
A double row of sewing which runs along both sides of a seam. It is used for a decorative effect but also strengthens the seam.
A simple plain flat fabric which gives the appearance of a woven basket.
Bedside Chest
Often times called a nightstand. Small, bed-high chest with drawers.
Bird's Eye
Small markings in wood grain that resemble a bird's eye.
A fabric woven with yarn of one or more different fibers, each bringing its own special properties to the finished fabric.
Blue Steel Springs
Flexsteel’s life-time-guaranteed seat spring, which serves as the foundation for almost all of their sofas.
French inspired term meaning commode, bureau, or armoire.
Foundation for a mattress.
A heavy flat fabric with a raised design, usually made with a satin yarn.
Buffed Leather
Leather from which the top surface has been removed by abrasion. Often known as suede or nubuc.
The base of a China Cabinet that supports the hutch and is often used as a place for storing dishes.
Bun Feet
Carved decorative foot that is shaped like a ball and often times flat on the bottom side.
Knot in wood grain surface. Sometimes creates a decorative pattern or swirl.
Wood that has been singed or burned in certain areas and then stained over the burned part.
The use of buttons to decorate or accentuate tufting.
Cabriole Legs
An "S" curved leg on a chair or table with an outcurved knee and an incurved ankle.
Irregular sofa back that is in the shape of a large, central hump.
Case Furniture
Term used in furniture to represent a piece that is not upholstery. For example - chest, bureau or cupboard.
Rolling wheel that helps facilitate the mobility of furniture.
Cedar Chest
Storage chest made of solid cedar or cedar veneers.
A sofa or loveseat with only one arm and typically the back does not reach the end of the cushion.
Edge or corner of a table that is beveled or cut at an angle.
Channel Back
Stool or chair with vertical lines sewn into the back.
The appearance of wide cracks or splits in wood due to expansion and contraction of the wood with changes in humidity.
Fuzzy plush yarn used to create upholstery fabric.
A combination of a dresser and a chest.
Fabric with a very shiny surface and appears glazed.
Claw Foot
Foot on furniture that emulates an animal's claw.
Club Chair
An upholstered chair with a low back.
Coffee Table
Long table most often used in front of a sofa.
Coil Springs
When resilient spring wire is coiled into a cone shape. Such springs are used in multiple rows for good seating comfort.
Chest with drawers.
Table that is intended to be placed against a wall.
Convoluted Springs
An S-shaped spring made of resilient steel spring wire. Used where full coil springs are not required by the furniture design.
A bracket of stone, wood, brick, or other building material, projecting from the face of a wall and generally used to support a cornice, arch, ceiling beam or shelf.
Corner Blocks
Triangular pieces of wood used to reinforce joints in the wood frame.
Corrected Grain
Leather that has been buffed to remove blemishes, then covered with a new, artificial grain created using pigments and other finishes.
Term used for daybed in the 17th & 18th century.
Counter Height
Refers to the height of a stool that is lower than a bar stool and usually between 24" - 27" range.
A paint brush is used to create streaks of paint across a surface.
A buffet, sideboard, or bookcase, especially one without legs.
Removing the crock, or excess coloring, that rubs off of a newly-dyed hide.
Crotch Walnut Veneer
A highly-prized veneer cut from just below the fork of a Walnut tree.
Silk with an elaborate floral design that is reversible.
A dual purpose piece of furniture that can serve as a seating piece or can be used as a bed.
Foundation or base on which loose seat cushions rest.
Dentil Molding
Ornamental cornice molding consisting of rectangular blocks spaced at regular intervals resembling teeth.
Wood finish that gives furniture the appearance that it has aged and looks like an antique. Also applies to leather, see antiqued.
Divided Back
The back of a sofa is given the look of detachable pillows or cushions.
Double Doweled
Two wooden pegs inserted into both sides of a frame to make for stronger construction.
Wooden headless pin used to join two pieces of wood together.
Soft feathers (duck or geese) used to fill upholstery or pillows.
Interlocking joint on a piece of furniture.
Drop Leaf Table
Extension leaves that are built with hinges which can be lowered when not in use.
Drum Dying
The process of coloring leather by tumbling it in a rotating drum immersed in dye. A very effective method, allowing maximum dye penetration.
Edge Wire
A special heavy gauge wire, which acts as a support framing for coils.
Eight-way hand tied
A series of twine strings tied, by hand, 8 ways to support the seat. Modern production provides for the use of machine applied metal clips and wire stabilizers to keep coil springs permanently in position, instead of hand tying.
Creating a 3-dimensional design or pattern on paper or on a surface of wood.
Engineered Wood
A man-made substitute for hardwoods. Also known as medium density fiberboard (MDF).
Envelope Arm
A fold-over arm design. The arm padding rises from the seat and flows over the arm with no seams.
A piece of furniture with open shelves and typically has an enclosed cabinet at the base.
Fall Front
A flap of a secretary or bureau that comes down to provide a writing surface.
Fiddle Back
Back of chair that is shaped like a fiddle. Commonly referred to as slat-back.
Any enhancing effect applied to leather after it has been tanned. Examples are dyeing, embossing, buffing, antiquing, waxing, waterproofing, and so on.
The outward curving on a furniture leg.
Flared Arm
An arm which slants or curves away from the seat.
Flat Weave
Fabric with no pile such as tweeds, twills and satins.
Fleur De Lis
A design that consists of three leaves or pedals and the middle pedal stands taller then the other two.
Flexible Polyurethane Foam
The synthetic foam that is used in upholstered furniture. The higher the density of the foam, the greater the durability.
A strip of fabric gathered as a curtain, or pleated, and applied to the base of upholstered furniture, a feature popular in Early American styling.
Grooves in a post or leg of furniture that typically is carved to the foot.
The lower bracket on a bar stool that acts as a resting spot for feet and is often times covered with metal or brass for extra reinforcement.
Four Poster Bed
A style of bed with posts extended upward.
Flexible polyurethane foam.
Basic structure or skeleton of an upholstered sofa or chair. Kiln-dried hard wood is best for durability in wooden frames.
Full Grain Leather
Leather which has not been altered beyond hair removal. Full grain leather is the most genuine type of leather, as it retains all of the original texture and markings of the original hide.
A piece of furniture that has dual purpose; can be a couch or transform into a bed.
Metal or Wood border around the top edge of a table.
Game Table
One side of the table is used for dining while the other side is used as a surface for playing games.
Gathering Table
Table that utilizes counter stools (36" high) as opposed to chairs.
A type of art print created by spraying. Giclee prints are large format digital reproductions made from original art or photographs printed on a variety of media, watercolour paper, cotton canvas, photographic paper or other material.
A fabric fold that is used to camouflage tacks and seams in upholstery.
Glazed Leather
Aniline-dyed leather which has been polished to a high luster by passing through glass or steel rollers under great pressure.
Buttons of plastic or metal applied to bottom of legs to make furniture easier to move around.
The natural pattern or design of the wood. All woods have unique grains that can be artistic. Also, a word used to describe the natural characteristics of an unprocessed hide, such as its pores, wrinkles, markings, and texture.
Wood or metal lattice used in the door panels of a china cabinet or book case.
A style of furniture that is inspired by American Colonel or European Style.
Hand Distressing
A technique that is hand applied to make furniture appear as though it is worn or aged.
Wood that comes from deciduous trees. Furniture created with hardwoods are higher in density and therefore are usually more durable.
Harvest Table
A narrow table typically rectangular and has hinged drop leaves.
Small, tightly coiled springs used to add extra comfort. Used, for example, to attach flat spring on all sides of material and frame for sleep/sofa.
Hope Chest
A chest that is used to store clothing, household linens or fine collectibles.
A small portable sideboard used for serving food/drink or featured solely as a decorative piece.
The upper enclosed part of a multiple tiered structure. Typically this area has glass doors and is used for displaying china.
When two different types of wood are laid to form a two-dimensional effect.
Inverted Seam
Seam joining underside of fabric with no welt.
A pattern fabric that has been woven on a Jacquard loom.
Sharp edge typically found on cabriole legs.
Kick Pleat
Tailored pleated skirt on the bottom of upholstered pieces.
Klik Klak
Similar to a futon, a klik klak converts from a sofa to a bed - perfect for small spaces.
A protective, clear top coat of finish applied to furniture.
Back of chair that has horizontal cross bars that connect the two vertical posts thus forming a ladder effect.
Process of taking two or more sheets of wood and gluing them together with the grains going in the opposite direction. This produces a material that is lighter and thinner than solid wood.
A design using materials in a crisscross, diagonal or square pattern that form visual intrigue.
Left-Arm Facing
If you are standing in front of a sectional and the chaise is on the left hand side, with the rest of the sofa going to the right, then it is left-arm facing.
Loose Pillow Back
When cushions can be easily removed and are not sewn into the piece of furniture.
Smaller version of a sofa typically with two cushions.
Mappa Burl
A beautiful burl that has dark brown to black eyes with surrounding color and figured patterns. Bark incursions are normal for the species. The wood is soft and light when dried. Most Mappa burl emanates from Europe.
Tightly woven flat fabric with a quilted puff effect.
Medium Density Fiberboard. A type of hardboard that is comprised of wood fibers that have been glued under heat and pressure.
Marble is a very durable stone derived from Limestone and is often times used as an accent on bars and tables.
Marble Veneer
A thin layer of marble that has been attached to MDF board.
Micro Fiber
Microfiber refers to the tiniest man-made fiber (less than one denier) that today's technology can produce. It has great appeal aesthetically and is lightweight and requires minimal care.
Mindy Veneer
A Tropical Hardwood. Very dense with a characteristic similar to Cherry & American Oak.
Mission Style
20th Century style of furniture that showcases classic oaks and cherry woods with straight lines and clean design features.
Modular Seating
Upholstered seating units that can be rearranged to form different types of seating configurations.
Motion Furniture
Furniture that contains a mechanism that allows it to move. Movement can either be in the form of reclining, rocking, gliding, etc.
A slender vertical member that forms a division between units of a window, door, or screen or is used decoratively.
Nail Head Trim
Decorative head nails or a simulated nail head strip used to accentuate a style, usually used on arms and rails.
Describes the soft, "fuzzy" effect achieved in leather by buffing or brushing.
Natural Grain
A leather that displays its original grain.
Nest of Tables
A set of occasional tables that can slide one under the other to "nest" into one spot.
Fabric with yarns of different thicknesses giving an irregular hand to fabric.
A leather whose surface has been buffed and brushed to create a soft, velvety effect. Differs from suede in that while suede is created from the flesh (inner) side of a hide, nubuc is created using the grain (outer) side, giving it added strength and durability.
Generic name for an important man-made synthetic fiber. Among the most durable synthetic fibers used for furniture fabrics.
Occasional Tables
Tables that are considered accent pieces like coffee table or sofa table.
Oil Tanned
Leather that is tanned using oils to create a very soft, pliable finish.
A lustrous pinkish-brown to light red wood with a fine, uniform texture. The grain is straight to slightly wavy and may be slightly interlocking. Most Okoume is sold as veneer or plywood.
Man-made synthetic fiber, good properties of strength, and resistance to abrasion, excellent cleanability.
Footstool or the footrest attached to a reclining chair.
Parsons Chair
Usually refers to a chair or stool that is skirted.
Particle Board
Wood type that is comprised of chips of wood coated with glue and pressed together under heat.
The aura or luster that develops in a quality piece of leather with age.
Pedestal Base
Base placed under the center of a piece of furniture. Commonly used on recliners and swivel rockers.
Pedestal Table
A type of table that is supported by a single, central pedestal with legs that extend to support its weight.
Pigmented Leather
Leather that has been coated with a flat surface color on top of or instead of the usual dye finish. Leather is usually pigmented to add durability and hide natural blemishes.
Pillow Top
Refers to a mattress, chair or bar stool that has an extra layer of cushion for added comfort.
The process of pressing leather under a heated plate. Often used in upholstery leather to mask imperfections.
A man-made fiber. Most like cotton in its appearance and physical properties.
A man-made synthetic used to simulate wood. Often used to reproduce expensive wood trim. Can also be used to make frame parts or entire frames.
Man-made synthetic foam used for filling and for cushions. Rigid polyurethane can also reproduce wood trim or make entire frame. Often used in furniture cushions.
Pub Table
Table top that typically measures higher than 36" and is taller than a dining table.
Describes the behavior of leather that has been treated with oils, waxes, and dyes in such a way that when the leather is pulled or stretched (i.e. on upholstery), the finish becomes lighter in the stretched areas. Considered a mark of high quality.
Quarter Sawn
Wood which is cut from a log and has been quartered lengthwise and at an angle of at least 45 degrees between the board face and the annular growth rings, to lessen warping and shrinking. This method is particularly common in Mission style furniture.
Horizontal slats in the back of chairs or bar stools.
A type of furniture that is constructed with natural climbing palms that come from tropical Asia.
A man-made cellulose fiber. Dyes well with high luster. Works well in dense pile or closely woven fabrics. Usually used in a blend with other fibers.
Refectory Table
A long table with heavy legs.
A second finish added over an underlying tannage.
Right Arm-Facing
If you are standing in front of a sectional and the chaise is on the right hand side, with the rest of the sofa going to the left, then it is right-arm facing.
Rolled Arms
Arms that flair out and then curve down to meet the sides of a chair or sofa.
Rush Seat
A long stem of marsh-growing plant that is often woven and used for seats of chairs.
Ready to Assemble.
Saddle Arm
An arm style which looks exactly as if you had placed a saddle on the arm. It dips down and wraps over the arm.
Saddle Seat
A style of seat that is carved and contoured.
Saddle Stitch
A decorative form of sewing the cover. Used more for ornamentation. It is not required for a good seam closure.
A tightly woven, high luster flat-weave fabric.
A coloring effect created by blending two similar dyes to create a mottled or marbled appearance.
This refers to a decorative edge on a dining or pub table.
Seat Height
The actual measurement of the height of the seat. Typically counter stools are 24-26 inches high, while bar stools are 28-32 inches tall.
A style of desk that has a hinged desktop surface that provides a work space, as well as, has compartments for organization of materials.
A sofa with several segments that may be "u" shaped.
Aniline leather to which a matching pigment layer is added to even out the color and add protection.
A large bench or seat with back and arms that seats two or more people.
A flat weave fabric with slub yarns. Achieved by using yarn of varying thicknesses. Large slub yarn, particularly, could catch on children's shoe buckles or jewelry.
Side Chair
A chair without arms.
Side Leather
Leather made from one half, or "side", of a full hide. Typically refers to leather whose top grain (outermost layer) has been left intact.
A piece of furniture that is typically used in the dining room that has drawers, shelves and sometimes even cupboards. The top of a sideboard is often used as a buffet or server.
A strip of fabric which carries the sofa or chair design down to the floor and hides legs or casters. A skirt is sometimes also called a flounce. It can be gathered or pleated.
Slat Back Chair
A type of chair back that resembles a ladder with two or more horizontal slats.
Sleeper or Sleep Sofa
A sofa which can be converted into a bed.
Sleigh Bed
A style of bed that resembles the old sleigh front with large scroll-like footboard and headboard.
Slub Yarn
Yarn which is irregular in size.
Snaps and Straps
A pair of straps sewn to the seat deck; on the end of each is a metal lock snap. This fits into a ring on a cushion to hold it in place.
Spindle Back Chair
Refers to a style of chair that has spindles placed vertically in the back to form both an artist design and provide support for the chair.
Splat Back
A single slat of wood, often ornamental, in the middle of the back of a straight chair.
Split Leather
Leather made from the lower (inner or flesh side) layers of a hide that have been split away from the upper, or grain, layers. Split leather is more fragile than side leather or full-grain leather, and is typically used in the form of suede.
Metal springs used to give interior support and resiliency to seat and back construction. Rarely used inside seat cushions today. Springs consists of two general types: Coil or cone and convoluted flat springs.
Spring Edge
Springs carried to the edge of a seat to provide resiliency to the edge.
Stump Panel
Panel on the front of an arm stump which is the vertical panel facing you.
Split leather that has been buffed and brushed to create a fuzzy surface feel.
A sample of upholstery fabric, often shown with other pieces, in what is called a Swatch Book.
Swivel Chair
A chair that is able to turn back and forth on its base in a 360° motion.
A seat or back cushion shaped roughly like a "T" in a chair. The ends extend beyond the arm or back giving an appearance of greater length.
The over-all appearance of the furniture. It refers to the neatness of sewing or the visual detailing.
Tapered Leg
A type of leg that decreases in diameter towards the bottom.
A type of fabric in which the pattern is an illustration depicting a story.
Quilting in which the design is outlined with two or more rows of stitches and then padded from the underneath for a raised effect.
A soft fluffy yarn used in an upholstery fabric.
Tempered Glass
Very durable glass that shatters into small squares when broken.
Top Grain
Leather whose top (outermost) layers have been left intact, in contrast to split leather.
A decorative design applied to the outside of furniture. It could appear on arms, back or base. It can be made of wood, metal or plastic.
Tripod Table
A table with a round top that is supported by a three-legged pillar.
A 3-part hinged mirror, panel or screen.
The process of drawing a cord through a deep cushion giving high puffs of padding and small low valleys where the cord is drawn. Names are given to tufting describing the shape of the tuft such as "diamond," "biscuit," or "square." Buttons are often attached to cords to highlight the tufting design.
A style in which the arms are the same height as the back.
A flat weave usually of heavy yarns in a moderately tight weave.
A very tightly woven flat weave.
An effect created by applying layers of similar or contrasting dyes to a piece of leather in order to create a mottled or aged appearance. Antiqued and Sauvaged leathers are examples of two-tone leathers.
Furniture that is covered with fabric, leather, vinyl or other such material.
Upholstery Leather
Leather created from a whole hide and intended for use in furniture, automobiles, airplanes, and other upholstery applications.
Vegetable Tanning
A method of hide tanning which utilizes materials from organic materials such as bark instead of the traditional chemicals. Vegetable tanned leather has greater body and firmness than traditionally-tanned leather.
A thin layer of wood applied to the surface of underlying wood solids or particleboard. It adds warmth, balance and visual appeal while also increasing strength and allowing for repair and renovation.
A large curio or china cabinet with glass doors.
Cupboard or large cabinet used for hanging clothes.
The manner in which cloth is woven both in terms of tightness and in terms of texture.
Straps that are woven together and attached to a seat base and form the foundation & support for bottom of a chair.
A term which describes the heaviness or thickness of leather. Typically given in ounces per square foot or millimeters (thickness).
Welt Chording
A fabric covered cord that is used as a decorative trim piece.
Whole Hide
Refers to leather created using a full hide, as opposed to a side, and typically intended for use as upholstery leather.
Durable matting (willow, reed or rattan) that is woven to construct furniture.
A general styled back of a piece of furniture that features a curved design.
Wing Back
Wing-like projections from the side of the back, often found in Early American furniture, where wings were used during early pioneer days as protection against drafts.
Wrapped Cushion
A seat or back cushion which contains an inner core, usually polyurethane, and an outer wrapping of "fiberfill" for greater softness and a more down-like appearance.
Wrought Iron
Solid metal that is formed into multiple and unique designs.
Wing Chair
An upholstered chair that has wings at the sides.
Used to connect four legs of a chair or table and provide additional reinforcement to the piece of furniture.
Trade name for convoluted or S-shaped springs. These are commonly used in upholstery furniture instead of coil springs.