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DESIGN GLOSSARY

A place to discover more about all things related to style and design, our glossary contains information on various eras, styles, colors, themes, and pretty much anything related to home and garden. Simply choose the letter your word begins with and scroll through the terms to learn more.

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  • A
    Arbalet
    A term meaning "crossbow" used to describe furniture with a bowed front.

    Acacia
    Acacia is a hard, strong, and durable wood that varies in color from pale yellow to golden brown. Acacia trees can be found in tropical and warm regions and are very common in Australia. Acacia was first discovered in Africa by a Swedish botanist, and its name is derived from a Greek term. The acacia tree is a symbol that represents purity. Acacia is thought to be the "burning bush" that Moses encountered in the desert, and the wood that was used to construct Noah's Ark.

    Acanthus
    The use of acanthus leaves began during ancient Greek years, and they are also found in Medieval and Renaissance styles. This type of ornamentation depicts leaves and is used for decoration on moldings, chair and table legs, and chair and table feet. The ornamentations are carved, painted, or inlaid on stone or wood. Acanthus leaves can be found in the capitals of Corinthian columns

    Adam Style
    Shortly before 1765, archaeologists discovered the ruins of the ancient city Pompeii. Back in England, designers were inspired by what was found in the ruins and two brothers (both named Adam) created a style of furniture that resembled Roman temples and bathing houses. Satinwood and olive green colored inlays were used to create this look. Columns, arches, classical figures, and rich detail and ornamentation are characteristic of this style.

    Aegean Cotton
    Grown in Turkey by the Aegean Sea, this long staple cotton is renowned for its superior absorbency, soft feel, and pure white color. Aegean Cotton is handpicked by local farmers to ensure high quality and purity.

    Appliqué
    Applique is a French word meaning "has been applied." It is a surfaced decoration on fabrics, including needlework and embroidery, to create a pattern. This art originated from west Africa in the 18th century, where it was extensively used for quilting.

    Apron
    The apron is the shaped piece on the rail of a table, cabinet, or chest that extends between the legs and is shaped ornamentally. The apron connects the legs below the main structure of a piece of furniture. Also called a skirt.

    Art Deco
    This style was the modern look of the 1930s. It was originally a French style, but really caught on in the U.S. in the 1930s. It is characterized by streamlined, simplified pieces that actually look like they were made by a machine. Most Art Deco pieces were made quickly and cheaply from bleached woods and metals to satisfy popular demand. This style is characterized by simple and geometric forms.

    Art Nouveau
    Art Nouveau is a French term meaning "new art," and this international movement occurred at the turn of the 19th century. It was an attempt to make art part of everyday life and this style drew off of other motifs like Gothic and Japanese styles. Fruit woods were used to create curves, ornamentation, and cabriole legs. This movement is characterized by floral-inspired designs and curves, and it spurred the Arts and Crafts Movement.

    Arts & Crafts Movement
    A British, Canadian, and American movement that occurred from the late 19th century into the early 20th century. The movement began as an attempt to return from machine made pieces of the Industrial Revolution to unique, meaningful pieces. Pieces from this movement are handcrafted, asymmetrical, and more simple than previous styles.

    Ash
    A British and French wood from a variety of trees that has a light brown color and is hard. The use of ash wood can be seen in early Windsor chairs.

    Atelier
    Atelier is the term for an artist's studio or workroom. The Atelier Method is a form of teaching art in which an artist works with a small number of students and trains them to draw, paint, and think similar to his or her method.

    Aubusson Tapestry
    This term refers to rugs, tapestries, and carpets handwoven in Aubusson, a town in central France. This region has been known for its carpet and rug making since the 14th century.
  • B
    Back-coating
    Fabric treated with sizing on the back only to give added weight, strength and opacity.

    Balsa Wood
    A large, fast-growing tree native to Central and South America. It's popularity comes from its lightweight nature and light density.

    Baluster
    This is an architectural term for a small turned column that forms a unit in a balustrade. It is wood, stone, or metal that is molded to form a column. Balusters have a bold shape with many curves.

    Balustrade
    This is a row of repeating columns called balusters that support the railing of a staircase, rail, etc. Balustrades were first used in ancient Greek and Roman architecture.

    Bamboo
    A group of woody perennial evergreen plants in the true grass family. Bamboo fabric is very soft without any chemical treatment. Textiles made of bamboo have natural antibacterial, antifungal and odor resistant properties, even after multiple washings. And because it grows so quickly, bamboo is an easily renewable resource. Bamboo uses less water to grow and requires minimal pesticides as it is naturally pest resistant.

    Banister
    This refers to the balusters of a stairway. However, the term banister refers to a more modern, narrower support to a handrail than a traditional balusters. The term is often used to refer to the handrail of a stairway.

    Banister Back Chair
    An American colonial and 17th century English chair with vertical bars, or spindles, forming the chair back. The bars on the chairs are made of the turnings from staircase railings and have been split down the middle so that the flat side is where your back rests.

    Banquette Sofa Seating
    A long upholstered seating bench or sofa that is placed against or built into a wall.

    Baroque
    An Italian architectural style from the 17th century, baroque is an Italian word that describes an over-the-top and exaggerated style of church architecture. Carvers and gilders were established during the Baroque era. Ornamented decoration was common on furniture and buildings, and the decoration and curves were bold and expressive. This style is representative of the Roman Catholic Church. The moldings, twisted columns, and details relate to an entire work rather than just one panel.

    Bentwood Chairs
    These light but strong chairs made of beech wood were first seen in England in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Designed by Michael Thonet, an Austrian furniture-maker, the beech wood can be bent into different shapes when exposed to heat and steam. These chairs often had caned seats.

    Bergère
    A French term used to describe the closed space under the arms of a chair. A characteristic of this type of chair is a long and comfortably padded seat. This type chair was common in the classical period in America.

    Beveled
    A slant or inclination on a surface creates a beveled look. It is often used to give objects a three-dimensional look.

    Biedermeier
    A German style during the first half of the 19th century that was heavily influenced by French Empire styles. This style was used by the middle and lower classes as its pieces were imitations of grand pieces from Paris. Details were done by using black or gold paint, and simple surfaces were made out of local German woods like walnut, maple, and fruitwoods.

    Birch
    This wood originated in the 18th century, and is native to Europe and the British Isles. It is light brown in color and is often streaked with silver and fine grain. Birch is strong wood, and it can also be used to make printing paper. When used to make plywood, it is lightweight and suitable for furniture production.

    Black Forest Style
    Black Forest, or in German, Schwarz Wald, is a mountain range in southwest Germany. Wood carving is a large industry in this region, and wooden sculptures of nature are incorporated into household items. Walnut and linden wood is typically used.

    Block Foot
    The foot of a chair or table that is plain and rectangular or square. Block feet are often found on Marlborough legs.

    Block Front
    An 18th-century New England piece where a piece is vertically divided into three sections. The middle section usually carves in and the two sides carve out.

    Bombe
    The front of a chest that is swelled outwards. This style was used in the late Louis XV and early Louis XVI eras of the 18th century and also in Baroque work. It inspired a similar but more curvaceous design in England and Holland where it was called a kettle front chest. It was also used in the Chippendale style.

    Bonnet Top
    An American term for a carved or hooded pediment on a bookcase or cabinet. This is an English design used in the late 17th and early 18th centuries.

    Boulle
    The French practice of inlaying thin strips of brass into furniture pieces. This practice was seen in the Louis XV Rococo style of the 18th century.

    Bourdon Stitching
    A close, narrow row of decorative raised stitching such as a monogram, finished edge or accent.

    Bowfront
    A chest of drawers, commode, or cabinet with a curve in front shaped like a bow, characteristic of the 18th century. Also called swell front or arbalet.

    Breakfront
    A Queen Anne piece of furniture from the early 18th century with the front of the piece made in different lengths. Most large book cases have a broken front.

    British Colonial Style
    This style began when British colonists settled in India after the Crown took power in 1857. Though they enjoyed the tropical landscape, they longed for home. Since the climate in India did not complement the woods used in England, local craftsmen recreated these designs with more durable materials found in the area like teak, mahogany, wicker, and rattan, and typically used only natural colors in fabrics since dyes were difficult to obtain.

    Brocade
    Neatly woven silk in multiple colors to create a bright, detailed look. Originating in India, brocade was used for bed hangings and upholstery during the Renaissance and Queen Anne's rule in England in the 18th century.

    Broken Arch Top
    Designed on bookshelves and cabinets, this is a typical Queen Anne style design made in the early 1700s in New England by young cabinet makers and apprentices who moved from England. The term broken arch refers to a pediment top with varying ornamentation.

    Bulbous
    A term used to describe wood decorated with bulbs and knobs, which is common to many European styles. This is found on table and chair legs as well as cabinets and shelves.

    Bun Foot
    A Jacobean term for a foot shaped like a stubby knob. This term came to use in the 17th century. This is an English term for ball foot.

    Bureau Plat
    A Louis XV French term for a flat-topped desk. This type of desk has a series of drawers directly under the tabletop to hold writing paper, utensils, etc. Also used in the Art Nouveau movement.

    Burled Wood
    Burled wood is used to create sculptures, furniture, and clocks in unique shapes and ring patterns. Burl wood is an abnormal growth found on trees that have experienced environmental damage or stress, and this wood is very rare.

    Butcher Block
    A stylized wood surface, either in blocks or panels, used in countertops, cutting boards, and table tops. Comes in end grain (most durable and more expensive) or edge grain (cost-effective and easier to make).
  • C
    Cabriole leg
    A cabriole leg of a table or chair joins two opposing curves, forming an S-shape. The upper curve is bowed out, and the lower curve is bowed inward. They were used by the ancient Chinese and Greeks, then re-emerged in the 18th century and made an impact on Dutch, French, and English furniture.

    Cambric
    Usually a thin, white closely-woven cotton fabric treated to give it a slight gloss. Normally used for pillow and duvet shells.

    Candelabra
    Dates from the 15th century and refers to large, detailed candlesticks that are often combined to create a branched look with many arms.

    Capitals
    Capitals form the head or crown of a column that is molded or sculpted. The capital is separated from the rest of the column because of its moldings. They originated in the 16th century.

    Carver Chair
    An early American chair that was made of twisted wood parts from ash wood, then later from maple wood. This type of chair was named after a chair owned by the Governor Carver or Plymouth.

    Caryatids
    This is an architectural term of Greek origin that describes female figures sculpted into furniture. Caryatids are seen in the English Regency style of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Male figures of the same design are called Atlantes.

    Casters
    Introduced in England at the end of the 17th century, casters are small and pivoted wheels that are attached to the bottoms of chairs and tables.

    Chamfer
    A term used to describe a beveled, slanted, or cut off corner of a furniture piece. The chamfer is the flat wood or stone surface where the slanted pieces meet.

    Chinoiserie
    Popularized in the 17th and 18th centuries, it is a decorative ornamenting that uses flourished representations of Chinese lifestyle. Asian culture was considered exotic and sophisticated in Europe, especially in art, so artisans painted or drew these detailed Asian scenes on fabrics, pottery, or even furniture, combining real elements with the fantastic. In French, the word chinoiserie means “in the Chinese taste.”

    Chippendale Style
    A combination of English and French design with a hint of Chinese influence from England circa 1740. What makes Chippendale different is that Chippendale pieces have applied decoration. Some of the main characteristics of the Chippendale style are the use of acanthus leaves on chair legs, ball-and-claw feet, and ribbon carving on chair backs. Most Chippendale pieces are made of Honduras mahogany. One unique design is the Chippendale partners' desk; so called because it has the same drawer on the other side.

    Chromoxylography
    A color-block printing process popularized in England in the mid-19th century. It was one of the first forms of multi-color print in publishing.

    Claw and Ball Foot
    The foot of a chair that is carved to resemble a bird's foot gripping a ball. This is seen in early Chinese pieces and also in Chippendale work.

    Coir
    A natural fiber produced from the husk of a ripe or unripe coconut shell. Brown coir is taken from ripe coconuts and the fiber is thicker and stronger than white coir, which comes from unripe ones. Coir is mostly waterproof and is one of the few natural fibers that can withstand damage from salt water.

    Colonial
    Most of the pieces from this English-influenced American style were made by cabinetmakers in Philadelphia, Boston, and New York. This style lasted from 1650 to 1750 and the majority of the pieces are simplifications of styles from England. The ladder-back chair and the Windsor chair were redeveloped during this time.

    Credence
    Another word for a side table that is used for serving purposes, usually made of oak wood. Credences were first seen in England in the 17th century.

    Cresting
    A dated term used to describe carved decoration on the top rails of various pieces, including chairs, mirrors, and beds.

    Crewelwork
    A thousand-year-old embroidery technique, where wool is sewn into an applied design, usually on a durable fabric such as linen.

    Cromwellian Chair
    A simple squarish chair developed in England in the 1600s and was popular in America. Most feature bobbin-turned legs and nail-heads, the only styling deemed acceptable in Puritan Colonial America. The Cromwellian chair is an evolutionary style of the Farthingale chair.

    Curly Wood
    Wood that has variations in grain that resemble waves and curves. This is often seen on birch and maple wood in early American pieces.

    Cusped Arch
    Also called a pointed gothic arch. This describes a pointed arch with gothic detail.
  • D
    Damask
    A woven cotton fabric made on a jacquard loom that has an alternating satin and matte texture. Damask fabrics are reversible and can be a combination of different materials woven together to form patterns. Made since the 12th century, damask was originally imported from Venice, Italy, and Italy was the principle source of damask until the 17th century.

    Demilune
    Pieces that have a rounded or crescent shaped design. Originated in France during the 18th century.

    Dhurrie
    A thick cotton or wool rug that is flat woven (made on a traditional horizontal loom) in India and used as a floor covering. Dhurries are made with cotton, wool, silk, or jute and are light in color. They are light weight and foldable, making them easy to transport to any room in your house. In some cultures, dhurrie rugs are part of the dowry gift given when a daughter marries. Dhurries do not get infected by bugs and can be used year-round as they are warm in winter and cool in the summer.

    Directoire Consulate
    This style describes the furniture of the French Revolution, from 1795 to 1804. The style is based on classical Roman architecture but with reduced scale and often has revolutionary motifs added to the pieces. Ebonized wood was used with some gilded decoration in a Greek manner to create revolutionary symbols like stars, arrows, wreaths, and hats.

    Dobby
    Woven on a dobby loom, this fabric can be made with a dot or geometric design.

    Drop Front
    The front of a desk or cabinet that is lowered to form a writing surface. Pieces with a drop front, also called a drop leaf, have hinged leaves that enable them to be lowered.

    Dupatta
    An traditional women's scarf or shawl worn in India and Pakistan. It is essential for them to wear this, and it can either be worn around the neck, torso, or draping the head.

    Dutch 17th Century Golden Age
    Vertical elements were stressed during this time and less ornamentation was used. Natural stone was used more often than brick to create a simpler look. This style is a slight adaptation from Renaissance style. Local woods like oak and walnut were used to create massive pieces, cupboards, etc.
  • E
    Eastlake
    This American Victorian style from the late 19th century is characterized by straight and geometric lines. The Eastlake movement was started by British-turned American designer Charles Eastlake. Pieces from this style were designed to be cheaper than other pieces from this time.

    Ébéniste
    A French term meaning "cabinet maker," this term relates to the use of ebony in furniture pieces. Ebony appeared in Europe in the 17th century and is seen in many Louis XVI pieces from the late 18th century. Ebony is thin and hard, so it is often used on surfaces.

    Ebonize
    The process of staining and then polishing wood to give it an appearance that resembles ebony, which is a hard but smooth grained wood with a lustrous black color.

    Egyptian Cotton
    Cotton that has a longer staple than the most other varieties. It can be spun into finer texture thread and woven into a softer, more lustrous fabric.

    Embossing
    A pressure process using engraved rollers and heat application to produce raised or relief patterns on the surface of the fabric.

    Endive
    Extensively used by Chippendale, the endive was favored during the reign of Louis XIV, with its carved decorative motif and variation on several acanthus leaves combined.

    Entablature
    The horizontal section about a row of columns. The entablature consists of an architrave (the bottom), frieze (the middle), and cornice (the top).

    Escutcheon
    An early 17th century Jacobean term used by cabinetmakers to describe the carved shield that covers a keyhole. These pieces were made of brass or metal.

    Étagère
    A French Directoire piece from the late 18th and early 19th centuries that has multiple shelves for placing miscellaneous items. Also called a whatnot in England and America. In French, étagère means shelf.

    Eyelet
    A style of decorative fabric stitched with small cut out openings.
  • F
    Fagotted
    A decorative trim created by pulling out horizontal threads from a fabric and gathering the remaining cross threads into an hourglass shape.


    Fall-Front
    The fall-front desk, sometimes called drop-front, is similar in function to the secretary desk, with a main front panel, which doubles as a writing surface and concealing panel, hiding papers and documents inside the desk compartment. The difference between the two is that the fall-front has a vertical drop-piece rather than slanted. In 19th-century Shaker design, it is called a cupboard desk.

    Farthingale Chair
    An overly simplified chair with a square frame, upholstered seat and back, with little to no carving designs. It was named after the wide-hooped skirts popular to women's fashion in the 16th century. Some consider this to be the first chair designed for comfort rather than style.

    Fauteuil
    A French term used to describe a chair with open arms and upholstered elbows. This term originated in England and America in the 19th century rococo revival period.

    Faux Bois
    This is a combination of concrete, mortar, and cement paste applied to steel frames to create an imitated wood look. It was very popular in the late 19th century through the 1940s.

    Federal
    The American Federal style lasted from 1770 to 1830 and was heavily influenced by the French classical styles. These pieces were made after the American Revolution and range from simple to very ornate. Many pieces from this style have classical influences like Greek, Roman, and Pompeian designs. Duncan Phyfe was a major character in designing pieces during this style, especially chairs that incorporated multiple styles. Mahogany was the predominant wood used during this time.

    Finial
    A carved ornament that is used on the top or end of many furniture pieces and buildings to add emphasis. The use of finials can be found in Gothic, Gothic Revival, and Italianate styles, as well as any classic furniture. Decorative finials are used as the screw on tip of lampshades. Other forms of finials include turned, drop, flagpole, ornamental, and steeples.

    Fleur-de-Lis
    Translates in English to "flowers of the lily." The fleur-de-lis has been around for many centuries, tracing all the way back to Mesopotamia, and is said to symbolize perfection, light, and life. It is a design element that resembles a stylized flower, and in the Middle Ages it gained an association with royalty.

    Fluting
    Fluting is shallow concave grooves that run vertically parallel on a column and have been used since the 16th century. Fluting was common in the Chippendale style. It is the opposite of reeding.

    Foxing
    Applies to paper or mirrors that have natural imperfections due to aging. With paper, foxing is the brown spotting that occurs from oxidation. In mirrors it is also called antiqued glass and is the gray veining and discoloration in the reflective finish.

    French Chair
    A modern term used to describe conventional elbowed chairs with upholstered seats and backs. These chairs have rococo ornamented frames with slender cabriole legs.

    French Empire
    This French style from the early 19th century can be characterized by dark Honduras mahogany and pieces that look like they belong in the Roman Empire. Furniture from this style is rectangular and large, with many details. This style spread all over Europe, and it inspired the German Biedermeier style.

    French Polish
    An elaborate technique used to finish high-quality wood furniture. The process involves using several coats of a shellac and soft oil mixture. The result is a dark brown finish that has a slight gloss and shimmer. Though slightly sensitive to heat, it is easy to repair patches in this finish than others.

    French Provincial Style
    This style emerged from the styles that were popular in Paris in the second half of the 17th century. But the French provincial style, also known as the French country style, is a simple style that reflects the countryside. A rustic, less ornate, and welcoming style, French provincial has a warm and casual feel with the use of natural materials and simple carvings. Pale French walnut, pear, and other fruit woods were used for these pieces. The most common French provincial piece is the armoire.

    Fretwork
    A 19th century Gothic term for thin wood or glass that is cut to make patterns on furniture pieces. The patterns are usually open or separated from the rest of the piece. The use of fretwork was popular during the Chippendale period of the mid-18th century.

    Frieze
    The middle part of an entablature that is located between the cornice and the architrave. This part has the most detail and decoration with ornaments, flowers, animals, etc. being carved, painted, or inlaid.

    Fumed Oak
    Fuming oak is the process of darkening oak wood by exposing it to acid and ammonia fumes then polishing. This method was used in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and was a cheap method of giving furniture a more valuable finish.
  • G
    Gesso
    In Italian, gesso means "board chalk," and gesso is a white colored powder that is used as a medium for carved decorations. It is used for sculpting, molding, and carving. It was known to medieval craftsmen, and the use of gesso declined greatly after the 18th century.

    German Silver
    Also known as nickel silver, German silver is a copper alloy combined with nickel and zinc. It's actually harder than silver. Used in a broad range of items from cutlery to musical instruments, this copper alloy gets its name from a competition held in Germany in the 1800s for the best recreation of silver.

    Gilding
    Gilding is the art of covering pieces in a thin gold substance. This art was established in ancient Egypt and has been used extensively since then. The process of gilding a piece is done by beating gold into very thin leaves with a hammer then applying them to a surface.

    Girandole
    A branched piece of wall art that often has candlesticks on the branches and a mirror against the wall. This is also a French term that describes crystal pendants on chandeliers or wall lighting from late 17th century French houses.

    Gothic (Middle Ages)
    Gothic style was first seen in Europe in the 11th century. Carved details were seen on almost every gothic piece, as the details were inspired by the church. Flowers, vines, leaves, animals, and humans were carved in large oak pieces, as oak was the most common wood. Paneling and molding was also seen. Chests were the main piece of furniture during this movement because they carried valuables as people moved from castle to castle. Gothic style became popular again in the mid-18th century, and the later style can be recognized by the use of the pointed Gothic arch.

    Gouge Carving
    A simpler form of carving that is seen in Spanish and English gothic pieces. This form of decoration is repetitive, forming a pattern.

    Graining
    The practice of imitating wood grain on a non-wood surface for decorative purposes by using paint. This has been used since the Middle Ages, although its value has decreased significantly since then.

    Greek Fret
    Also called Greek key; A decorative bordering, called meander, formed by a continuous line creating a repeating motif. Common in Greek and Roman art.

    Gustavian
    Gustav was the king of Sweden from 1771 to 1792. His style was inspired by Italy, France, and England, and he adopted much of their style into his courts during his reign. The rooms were filled with light due to bare windows and no floor treatments. Creams, whites, light blues, and grays were commonly used colors. Most furniture was handpainted, large, warm, and inviting.
  • H
    Haldu
    A pale yellow wood, mostly found in India and Burma, which tends to darken with time to a rich yellow. It is occasionally used for light colored furniture.

    Hand
    The assessment of fabric based on touch.

    Hemp
    A soft fiber from the cannabis plant. Hemp is popular worldwide for a variety of purposes because of its characteristic strong qualities and its rapid growth. Today, hemp is used for a variety of environmentally sustainable solutions because it requires little pesticide.

    Hemstitching
    A decorative stitching along the stitching lines of hems and borders to create an open weave pattern.

    Hepplewhite
    George Hepplewhite got his inspiration from the style of the Adam Style in England during the second half of the 18th century. The most common pieces from Hepplewhite's style are chairs with delicately carved backs (also called shield backs) and tapered legs. Hepplewhite is a pure and unique style of furniture in that all of its pieces were designed during this period. Another common piece from this style is the sideboard, which is used in dining rooms for buffets and to store silver, plates, etc.

    Highboy
    A tall chest of drawers that is usually separated into two sections. The upper is the chest of drawers and the lower section is like a table with long legs. This is an English style that appeared in the early 17th century and also developed in American colonies in the 18th century.

    Honduras Mahogany
    A reddish-brown wood from Central America that has a soft texture and a plain appearance. This wood has a great quality and is seen in furniture pieces from many styles and eras.

    Hope Chest
    Designed for portability, the hope chest is a coming-of-age right for young girls and holds all the things a young woman would typically bring to her marriage, such as a special dress, linens, quilts, and sometimes dishware. Also called a dowry chest.

    Hunan Province in China
    In this province, carved leaves were used for the enrichment of molding during the early Georgian period. Based on architectural prototypes of classical origin.
  • I
    Iconic
    Greek and Roman order of architecture, distinguished by double voluted capital.

    Ikat
    A traditional weaving style found in many cultures, including south and central Asia as well as south and central America. Ikats are made with resist dyeing techniques, very much similar to tie dye, on warp or weft threads before a piece of cloth is woven. The traditional patterns have been reinterpreted by modern textile designers as bold graphic prints with feathery edges.

    Imbrication
    A Roman and Italian Renaissance practice, imbrication is furniture ornamentation that resembles fish scales due to the overlapping of edges.

    Inlay
    Inlay dates back to the time of the Egyptians as a process for making designs on wood by adhering colored woods, ivory, etc. onto the wood then adding a finish. This process incorporates a lot of the Moorish style which explains the Islamic architecture and art that developed in north Africa and southwestern Europe. Today, Moorish design is associated with attributes of Moroccan art, which has intense colors and intricate designs.

    Intarsia
    A form of wood inlaying that often uses contrasting ivory or bone. It is the craft of using varied shapes, sizes, and species of wood fitted together to create a mosaic-like picture. Intarsia is created by selecting different types of wood then using their natural grain patterns and colors to create the different colors in the pattern. Each piece of wood is then individually cut, shaped, and sanded before fitting them together.

    Italianate
    A 19th century architecture style with Renaissance details. This style was actually developed in England in 1802 by John Nash. Furniture was straight and squarely cut yet asymmetrical, and painted panels and tile decorations were preferred over carvings and moldings.

    Ivory
    Elephant tusks and tusks of other animals that are used for decorative purposes such as inlay, plaques, and mounts. Ivory has been used for decorative purposes as early as ancient Egyptian times and is also seen in gothic and roman styles as well as 18th century French styles.

    Iznik
    A form of Turkish pottery crafted in the 15th-17th centuries, known for its deep cobalt and sage hues. The designs were flowing, with arabesque symbols, most likely the combined influence of the merging cultures of the Chinese and Ottoman Empire.
  • J
    Jacobean
    A general English style circa 1603-1688 that included the James I, Charles I, Commonwealth, the Restoration period, Charles II, and James II reigns. Different forms of oak were used and many of the pieces were taken from foreign influences. This period was the beginning of the Renaissance in England, and it was also the first time that lighter and more movable furniture like chests was used. Decoration on these pieces was geometric. The Jacobean style was very common in the United States in the 1920s, where many reproduction pieces were made.

    Jacquard
    A loom as well as a type of intricate fabric woven on a jacquard loom. The loom produces elaborate cloth weaves such as tapestries, brocades, and damask fabrics.

    Jali
    Sandstone carvings used in Indian architecture around the 16th-century. Primarily, they functioned as windows and room dividers, but because of their latticed design they were sometimes used to ornament railings, thrones, terraces, and balconies. They were installed in outer walls, to cut down the glare of the sun while still allowing air to circulate throughout the building. In the daylight, their patterns cast shadows on the floor, replicating their intricate design in the stone carving.

    Japanning
    An eastern process that became known in Europe around 1600, japanning is the art of covering surfaces of metal, wood, and other materials with varnishes. This practice was very common during the Louis XIV.

    John Belter
    John Belter was a cabinetmaker from New York City who trained in Germany during the early 19th century. He moved back to America in 1833 and crafted a design that was inspired by the Italian Baroque style. Belter glued and carved rosewood to create patterns that resembled that Baroque style. His designs were unique, and he was so proud of them, that before he died, he destroyed all of his patterns so that they could not be copied or reused in the future.

    Joinery
    Joinery is one of the oldest words that relates to woodwork. It is the process of joining pieces of wood together for the internal structures of buildings, furniture, and other items. This technique is a longstanding tradition in Europe, Japan, and China, where it has been used for more than 7,000 years.

    Jute
    Jute is an East Indian plant with fibrous vegetable roots. The fiber is strong and coarse and used for making mats, cloth fabric, cords, hangings, paper, and sacks. Jute is the second most important vegetable fiber after cotton in terms of the amount produced and the variety of products. It is an integral part of the Bengali culture in India and has been since the 19th century.
  • K

    Kameez
    A top worn by women in Asia, usually paired with the shalwar. It is typically cut very straight, though more liberal fashion trends use less traditional cuts and details in the pattern. They can be made of various fabrics with beaded and embroidered touches.


    Kantha
    Kantha is a typical embroidery used in India to make simple quilts. The embroidery is usually a decorative border with a running stitch motif. The word originated from the way in which housewives in that part of the country mended old clothes. Kantha cloths are double-sided quilts with kantha embroidery.

    Kas
    A Dutch word that describes cabinets or sideboards with painted or paneled pictures of vases, flowers, etc. A kas is very similar in structure to an armoire. These pieces were commonly seen in the Dutch-American colonies, where they were carved out of walnut, pine, maple, or cherry.

    Kilim
    A tapestry-woven rug with origins in an area that spreads from Eastern Europe to Pakistan. They are characterized by their flat-woven construction, intricate geometric patterns, and vibrant color.

    Kingwood
    Also called Violet wood. This wood from South America has a deep brown to purple color and a hard grain. First imported from Brazil in the 17th century, it is seen in the French Louis XV style.

    Kuba Cloth
    The Kuba people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo weave strips of raffia (natural fibers made from the leaves of the raffia-palm) to create a cloth that they drape around themselves at celebrations, called Kuba cloth.
  • L
    Lacquer Finish
    Lacquer has been used for centuries to give woodworking projects a tough, durable, and water-resistant clear finish. Lacquer is derived from the resin of a specific tree commonly referred to as a varnish tree. This resin is harvested from the tree's sap, and is then refined and mixed with lacquer thinner to create the common woodworking finish.

    Ladder-Back Chair
    A chair with horizontal back slats that was made in the American Colonial era between 1650 and 1780. Early ladder-back chairs were made with two slats, and as time passed, more slats were added. Ladder-back chairs were topped with turned finials at the top, and the top slat served as a towel rack. Also called splat-back chairs.

    Lattice
    A crisscross pattern that is carved in cutout work and often found on chair backs, pediments, and sides of trays, tables, and other pieces.

    Laurel Wood
    A deep-brown colored hardwood that is native to southern Asia, has a wavy grain, and is mostly seen on East Indian furniture. This wood was used in the early Georgian period.

    Linen
    Linen is spun and woven from flax, and therefore has several advantages over cotton. Its cooling effect makes it ideal for summer. Linen sheets grow softer and more precious with time and care. These extremely durable sheets can last 20 years or more.

    Lolling Chairs
    Originating in the Boston area of New England, this hollow-back chair is beautifully symmetrical, has a wide top and concave back that make this chair rather uncomfortable to some while others find enjoyment in the mahogany and slender arm supports.

    Loop Handle
    Also called Baille. A Jacobean drawer handle that is pendant-like and is jutted out from the drawer. Loop handles found from the early 17th century are mostly pear-shaped.

    Lotus
    An ancient flower ornament that was the principle floral motif for the Egyptians. This design was the basis for later floral decorations and is see in almost all ancient work.

    Louis Comfort Tiffany
    An American artist and designer (1848-1933) who is best known for his stain glass work during the Art Nouveau era. Instead of joining the family business, Tiffany and Co. jewelry, he began his career as a painter then in the late 19th century he shifted to decorative arts and interiors. His work with leaded-glass to create lighting and lamps is what he is best remembered for.

    Louis XIV
    Beginning in 1645 and lasting until 1705, this style featured baroque furniture with florid, bold, exaggerated, and irregular qualities. It also celebrated the Renaissance, Europe's rebirth. Everything was massive, including chairs and candle stands, since things were being made for castles. In the later part of this style (also called the Régence period), proportions were reduced and pieces were smaller and had softer lines.

    Louis XV
    Beginning in 1723 and lasting until 1774, this style rejects the traditional straight lines in that every line is curved. The idea was that furniture should seem to float or be about to jump in the air. Pastoral motifs were used instead of architectural motifs, and bright colors and bronze decorations (ormolu) were common. Vitrines, or glass paneled display cabinets, were designed in this period.

    Louis XVI
    Shortly before 1765, archaeologists discovered the ruins of the ancient city Pompeii, and the ruins inspired this French style that was an abrupt change from the previous styles with curves and flowing structure. Lasting from 1774 to 1793, the Louis XVI style marks a change from curves to straight lines. Chair legs from this style are straight, fluted, and look like Roman columns. Painted finishes and gildings were often used during this style.

    Lowboy Style
    Design of a typically small desk used in a dining room or library. These were commonly reproduced in England during the Victorian era.
  • M

    Mahogany
    A dark, reddish-toned hardwood used primarily in cabinetry and furniture-making due to its durability. Generally has a straight grain and small pore content so it is an attractive wood. It grows mainly in tropical climates and has a rapid growth pattern.

    Mango Wood
    This wood comes from same tree as the fruit and is found in Southeast Asia. It can be pinkish, light to dark brown, or golden with some dark streaks.

    Marlborough Legs
    A late 18th century English Chippendale term used by cabinet makers to describe a straight, square-shaped leg of a piece of furniture.

    Marquetry
    An elaborate process in which floral patterns were carved into oak and walnut furniture then inlaid with bone or mother of pearl during the reign of Charles II in the 17th century in England.

    Matelasse
    A cotton jacquard fabric. The term refers to the type of weave. It is a triple-woven fabric. This weaving process creates the signature raised pattern/appearance.

    Medallion
    A square, circular, oval, or rectangle shaped ornament that has carved, inlaid, or painted decoration. Medallions first appeared in 16th and 17th century French Renaissance and Italian pieces. The Adam style of the 18th century also used medallions.


    Mercury Glass
    Also called silvered glass, it is a decorative glass that is produced by placing mercury between two plates of blown glass. Though called mercury glass, it actually does not contain mercury, but is usually created with a silver nitrate solution. In the beginning, people attempted using mercury, but stopped due to its toxic nature and high cost.

    Micromoda
    Wonderfully soft, light and airy fabric made from beech wood cellulose.

    Milagro
    Translated, milagro means miracle or surprise. Historically, these small silver or gold figures in the shape of body parts, fruits, animals, etc. are given as offerings and are part of ancient Spanish folk culture. Milagros were often given to a saint for a prayer to be answered. Nowadays, they can be seen on church walls or as jewelry charms.

    Mission
    Spanish and Mexican missions in the southwestern part of the United States inspired this style of furniture in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Mission furniture is simple, square cut, and heavy. Pieces from this style lack carving, detail, and ornamentation. Leather was used for upholstery, and copper nail heads were common.

    Molding
    A strip of wood, plaster, marble, or other stones that is used for decoration. Moldings have carved ornamentation that add embellishment to walls or furniture pieces. This type of detail has been in use since ancient times. There are many different types of moldings that describe the angles and shapes carved.

    Moorish Style
    This term is used to describe the articulated Islamic architecture which developed in North Africa and south-western Europe.
  • N
    Nail Head
    The plain or ornamental "boss/rosette" that forms the head of a nail used to secure leather or fabric to chairs. This method was commonly used by upholsterers from the 16th to the 18th century.

    Napoleon III
    An architectural style during the Second French Empire that is associated with the renovation of Paris between 1852 and 1870. Rich decoration and embellishment characterize this style. Many authentic pieces from this style have Napoleon's monogram, an "N," mounted on bronze or embroidered onto chairs or sofas.

    Neoclassical
    Lasting from 1750 to the early 1800s, Neoclassical style is a fresh and revised interpretation of classical architecture and ornament. Designers looked to classical art for inspiration during this time and used slender, straight lines and rectangular shapes. They also had a desire to return to the "purity" of Roman art forms, such as sculptures like this bust.

    Notching
    Simple form of decoration found in primitive woodwork.
  • O
    Oak
    A light-colored hardwood that grows in the Northern hemisphere, ideal for furniture due to its strength and attractive grain.

    Occasional Furniture
    Small and simple pieces of furniture that can have multiple uses, depending on the occasion. These pieces include tables, chairs, chests, and nightstands, which are often rearranged and repurposed in homes for less definite uses. The term "occasional table" came into use in the 18th century and in the 19th century was used as the term for any small table.

    Old World Charm
    Old World Charm dates back as far as the 12th century but is concentrated in the 16th and 17th centuries and is influenced by various European styles. Old World style can be characterized by sizeable pieces with detailed carvings, distressed or weathered finishes, and textured walls. Colors are soft and subdued, although they may have started as dark colors and weathered over time.

    Ombre
    A French term meaning shaded. A color effect with gradual changes in shade from light to dark or one hue to another. Generally produced by arranging different tones in the warp.

    Ormolu
    Derived from a French term meaning ground gold, this term is used to describe gold leaves on gildings. The use of ormolu is seen in the French Empire style of the early 19th century.

    Ottoman
    An upholstered seating area that does not have a back or arms. The name ottoman came from Turkey in the 18th century, and ottomans were popular during the English Regency period.

    Oval Back Chair
    A chair with a rounded oval and carved back that was developed during the late 18th century in the Hepplewhite style. These chairs were inspired by French pieces.

    Oxbow Front
    An upholstered seat or bench having neither back nor arms. The ottoman was named after the Turkish influence in the early 18th century.
  • P
    Patina
    Patina is a film or layer acquired with age or exposure formed naturally on copper, bronze, and wood. Very much similar to weathering, it refers to natural accumulated changes in surface texture and color that result from normal use or age. It is valued aesthetically for its discoloration and its contribution to the ageing process and the history of the product. It can also be applied to new items to give them an antiqued look.

    Paulownia
    A fast-growing hardwood mostly found in Asia, Paulownia is favored for its rot and warp resistance. The wood is light, soft, and has a straight grain. In Japan, the Paulownia tree was once known as the princess tree, as it was customary to plant one when a baby girl was born and then later use the hardwood to make a dresser for her as a wedding present.

    Pediment
    A feature on the highest section of a cabinet or case style piece of furniture. A triangular or rounded form that breaks before the very top and leaves a gap for ornamental decoration.

    Pembroke Table
    A small, lightweight table with a few drawers and sides that can be dropped or extended to lengthen the table. Pembroke tables were seen in the English Sheraton Style in the early 19th century. They are often used as nightstands and breakfast tables due to their small size.

    Pine
    This wood is one of the most popular woods used for furniture, and it can be found in the northeastern United States, Spain, Italy, Scandinavia, and other Northern European countries. Pine from each region varies in color and density, but pine used for furniture is primarily soft and carves easily.

    Piping
    Cords covered in fabric used to enhance furniture. Piping is on the edge or border of the furniture to add an accent to it. This technique was used by George Nelson, an American designer who helped found Modernism. Also called welting.

    Prie Dieu Chair
    An early 18th century Louis XV piece that can function as a chair or a piece to kneel on for praying. Prie Dieu chairs have a high back and low seat. This type of chair was popular during the Victorian periods.
  • Q
    Quatrefoil
    A geometric pattern of four arcs enclosed in a circle. First seen in the 15th century, the use of quatrefoils are common in Moorish, Gothic, and Elizabethan Revival architecture and is also seen in mission style homes.

    Queen Anne Style
    Anne was the queen of England from 1702-1714, and the vast majority of the pieces from her reign are made of walnut wood and can be identified by their simple and graceful curves. The use of cabriole legs, broken arch pediments, inlays, and carvings were very popular. The Queen Anne style was the first to break away from the traditional boxlike furniture that was common to the English.
  • R
    Raffia
    A soft, pliable, and strong fiber made from the raffia palm tree, indigenous to Africa and South America. Its durability allow it to be used for textiles and rope. It is non-shrinking when wet. After it is dried in the sun, raffia takes on a yellowish-tan hue.

    Rattan
    A plant found in South East Asia that is used to weave furniture and baskets. Rattan supplies bark for caning and inner reed for wicker furniture and baskets. Pieces of rattan are less than 10 centimeters in diameter, which makes it perfect for weaving. The majority of rattan is found and produced in Indonesia, and smaller amounts are found in Bangladesh, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka.

    Reeding
    Reeding a decorated surface that has a series of parallel convex moldings. This is the inverted form of fluting, and has been used since the 16th century. Reeding was common in the Empire style.

    Regency
    The English Regency style that came after the Sheraton style and lasted from 1790 to 1825 is a modified version of Sheraton. Regency pieces have more carved decorations that were inspired by Roman architecture. Brass moldings and dark wood like Honduras mahogany and rosewood were characteristic of this style.

    Relief
    Carving on furniture pieces that is raised above the surface of the piece. A relief can either be high, low, or sunken (where the curving is lowered into the surface). Reliefs are common worldwide, and have been used for centuries.

    Renaissance
    This style grew out of Italy in the 14th century and was greatly inspired by Greek and Roman architecture. Carved, painted, and gilded decorations were characteristic to this style, along with the use of columns, moldings, and animal subjects.

    Renaissance Revival
    The Renaissance Revival period occurred from 1850 to 1885 in the United States shortly after the Civil War. This Victorian style was inspired by pieces seen in Italy, specifically the Renaissance architecture in Rome and Florence. Pieces from this style emphasize decoration, not design.

    Riband
    A term used to describe ornamentation that resembles ribbon on furniture pieces. Bows and knots of ribbon were elaborately carved into pieces during the Louis XVI style and German Rococo styles of the 18th century. Some Chippendale chairs have splats that resemble ribbons as well.

    Ribbon Back Chair
    A late 18th century English Chippendale chair that has a delicately carved or woven back that resembles a ribbon.

    Rococo
    This style from the early 18th century derived from a French word meaning rock-work. It was originated in France, but spread all over Europe. The term rococo is used to describe the fountains at Versailles. Lighter colored woods like rosewood and fruit woods were used. The rococo style is characterized by delicate details, very ornate furniture, and asymmetrical carving.

    Rosette
    A rose that is carved into a piece of furniture. This technique is commonly found in pieces from the mid-18th century.

    Rosewood
    A Brazilian wood that is brown and has very dark brown, almost black, stripes. It is also found in India and the East Indies. It is seen in multiple decorative furniture styles, particularly the English Hepplewhite style.

    Rubberwood
    A dense, lightweight wood that is commonly used for its production of latex. Environmentally friendly, this tree has a short life-span and is easy to reproduce. It comes from the maple family, commonly found in Southeast Asia.
  • S
    Sateen
    A weave construction for mercerized cotton fabrics, which produces a smooth, lustrous surface.

    Satin Stitch
    A closely spaced stitch that forms a line of closely spaced loops at the edge. It is used in embroidery for purely decorative purposes.

    Satinwood
    An Indian wood that has a rich, golden-yellow color and can be carved intricately and beautifully. It was used for decorative furniture during the late 18th century in England.

    Scallop
    A scallop is a carved shell ornament on furniture items or walls. Used alone, the scallop is typical Spanish style from the 18th century. When used at the center of various ornaments, this is 18th century Rococo style. Scallops are often carved into the knees of cabriole legs.

    Scalloped Edge
    A border that contains continuous curves finished with bourdon stitching.

    Scandinavian Furniture
    Simple, clean and lightweight furniture characterizes the Scandinavian style. Bent plywood was commonly used in the combination of quality craft and mass production.

    Seeded Glass
    This type of glass was very popular during the Colonial times. It has pinhead-sized bubbles inside of the glass to create a softer light for lanterns, lamps, etc.

    Semainier
    A French Louis XVI style chest of drawers that is tall and narrow. Each piece has seven drawers, one for each day of the week.

    Serpentine Edges
    A mid-18th century Queen Anne era term that describes flowing curved edges on chests, commodes, cabinets, and sideboards.

    Settee
    A furniture piece that is a bit smaller than a sofa with a low back and arms and is about twice the size of a wing chair. Most of the time, settees are upholstered. Settees came into use in the 18th century.

    Settle
    A settee that is constructed of all wood and no upholstery. Settles have higher arms and backs, a wooden hood, and are mostly made of oak, pine, and walnut. The seat to settles often opens to a box for storage underneath. Settles are seen in American and English pieces from the 17th and 18th centuries.

    Shalwar
    Loose, tapered trousers worn in Asia, often paired with the kameez.

    Sheathing
    An American term used to describe interior vertically-paneled wood walls extending from floor to ceiling. This technique was used from the late 17th century to the late 19th century.

    Sheesham Wood
    Indian rosewood that is heavy and hard with a rich chestnut color. It often runs vertical so that it resembles a floor-to-ceiling wall.

    Shellac
    A finish that is natural resin and can be brushed or padded onto a surface. The finish has a high-gloss yet brittle look to it, and is often called a French polish. Shellac finishes can be easily damaged by warm temperatures and moisture.

    Shepherd's Crook Arm
    A term used to describe a Queen Anne style chair with arms that form a double scroll. These arms curve up and out then back down and inwards to create a sophisticated look. Also called a scroll-over arm.

    Sheraton Style
    This English style that lasted from 1790-1830 is often called the French version of the Hepplewhite style. Chair legs were still tapered but were round instead of square, and fluting and reeding was used. More curves are seen in the Sheraton style than in Hepplewhite, but pieces were still fairly straight-lined. Chairs had square backs with varying ornamentation in the center. This style was the preferred furniture of George and Martha Washington.

    Shield Back
    A term that describes the back of a Hepplewhite chair shaped like a shield and with openwork design in the middle, open area.

    Silk
    A fine continuous protein fiber produced by various insect larvae usually for cocoons: a lustrous tough elastic fiber produced by silkworms and used for textiles; thread, yarn, or fabric made from silk filaments.

    Skirt
    The piece that connects a table's legs to the top. This area is often decorated with carvings or contains a drawer. Also called an apron.

    Snake-feet legs
    This is a late 18th century style English inspired. It describes the classical leg style still used in modern furniture.

    Spade Foot
    This late 18th century Chippendale and Hepplewhite term describes a tapered square foot to a furniture piece. This type of foot is slightly wider than the leg of the piece. Also called a plinth and a therm foot.

    Spanish Foot
    A late 17th century William and Mary chair or table foot that is scrolled, rounded, and carved so that it almost resembles an animal paw.

    Spindle
    A piece of wood that has symmetrical designs carved from a lathe. Typically used as support beam in furniture, but generally refers to any part of a piece that fits this description.

    Split Spindle
    A Jacobean term describing balusters that have been split and placed on a surface. A split spindle forms half of a baluster.

    Stamping
    Steel punches (circles, stars, etc.) that were used by carvers in the 16th and 17th centuries for stamping patterns on oak furniture.

    Stretcher Base
    Horizontal rails that connect the bottom legs of tables or chairs or that form a support for cabinets. Not only do stretcher bases stabilize the piece; they also served as a foot rest during the 18th century when they were first made.


    Supima Cotton
    Only the finest, most luxurious cotton grown in the world can call itself "Supima" cotton…and the Supima organization was put in place to ensure that the term maintains its exclusive status. American cotton producers from Arizona, New Mexico and Texas founded Supima—short for "superior pima"—in 1954, as a way to differentiate American pima cotton from conventional upland cotton. Pima cotton is an American version of Egyptian cotton.

    Suzani
    Antique oriental fabrics that are hand-embroidered from Southeast Asia and that are used as wall hangings, bedding, pillows, tablecloths, etc.

    Swedish Style
    Clean and light décor elements with refined elegance and casual appearance. The Swedish style reflects natural light and the furniture is straight-lined and gentle-curved.

    Swing Leg
    A type of table leg that is attached to the drop part of a drop leaf table. These type legs and tables were very common during the Queen Anne style of the early 18th century.
  • T
    Tambour Table
    A late 17th century desk that has desktop sliding panels that cover storage cubbies and drawers. The panels that cover the storage are straight vertical columns and horizontal rows. This type of desk is native to the United States.

    Tapered Leg
    Legs of chairs found in the late 17th century that are straight and square shaped. These legs narrow as they approach the foot to create an elegant look.

    Teak
    A hard, durable oriental wood that darkens with age. It can be found in Burma, India, China, Java, and Thailand and is used for table and counter tops, garden furniture, chairs and chests. Teak wood was very popular in the Danish modern style of the 1960s-70s. It is resistant to moisture and decay, which makes it a valuable wood.

    Teardrop Drawer Pulls
    Teardrop pulls are tear-shaped drops on drawers. This design was used during the Dutch King and Queen's (William and Mary) reign in England from 1690-1710. They had much influence on the furniture business and created other designs such as the trumpet leg.

    Tête-à-Tête Seat
    An S-shaped double seat. This piece seats two people next to each other so that they face one another. Tête-à-Têtes are seen in the French Louis XV style of the early 18th century. Also called a vis-à-vis.

    Ticking
    A very durable striped linen or cotton fabric with a twill weave. This closely woven material is primarily used for mattress and pillow coverings.

    Tiger Maple
    A traditional hard maple wood that is light in color and can be curved easily. Tiger maple was used during Queen Anne's rule in England during the 18th century and is also seen in many American Colonial pieces.

    Tilt-top Tea Table
    A Classical Queen Anne style. Tea Table are round, square, with tops that tilt or not. Some round tables tilt and turn and usually attached to two wooden cleats, connected to a wooden "bird cage" device that turns freely on the columnar base. By means of this mechanism the top turns, so the host can pour, rotate the table, and serve guests. It also tilts up, so the table can be stored against the wall to take up less space when it isn't being used.

    Toile de Jouy
    This is a late 18th century term from a French word meaning cloth or web. Originating from a town in north-central France, toile is a decorating pattern on cloth or canvas. It usually has a white or light colored background and conveys a complex scene.

    Tole
    Painted, lacquered, or enamored metal or wooden wares. This form of painting began as a folk art in the 18th century. Like japanned-metal.

    Tracery
    Ornamental design first seen in Gothic architecture in the 13th century and was typically created in the stonework that supported the glass of a Gothic window. Window patterns were typically laid out on tracing floors; hence the name ³tracery². The term can also be applied to vaulted ceilings, doors, panels, canopies, and tabernacles.

    Tramp Art
    A folk art technique that has no distinct style or method. A common wood carving technique of pyramiding layer upon layer of small pieces of wood was a popular form of Tramp Art.

    Trestle Table
    Tables with a loose board that rests on a base that is connected and stabilized by stretchers. Originally a medieval table, the trestle table is now associated with the Americana theme.

    Trumeau
    A mirror with a painted or carved panel above or below the glass that originated in 18th-century France. Trumeau mirrors serve functional and decorative purposes. These mirrors are unique in that there are two places that draw attention: the bottom section with the mirror and the decorated panel above the mirror.

    Trumpet Leg
    A late 17th century William and Mary type of chair/table leg that curves and expands to resemble a trumpet.

    Tudor
    Tudor furniture is typically massive, heavily carved, and influenced by the Italian Renaissance. Also, the Gothic style had some influence with straight lines.

    Tufting
    A type of textile weaving in which a thread is inserted on a primary base. It is an ancient technique for making warm garments. Usually, the tuft yarns form a regular array of “dots” on the outside, sometimes in a contrasting color.

    Turning
    An ancient woodworking process in which cutting tools are used on a rotating piece of wood to create a twisting and turning look. The device that cuts the wood is called a lathe, and it originated in ancient Egyptian times and was reformed in the Middle Ages. Turning is done on chair and table arms, legs, feet, stretchers, etc. Almost every style has used turnings in one way or another to create different shapes and touches on furniture.

    Turnip Feet
    An English and American term used to describe the foot of a furniture piece that is bulb-shaped with a slender neck.

    Twill
    This type of weave is characterized by the lines that are ribbed diagonally across the fabric.
  • U
    Underbracing
    The use of stretchers on tables, chairs, and various other pieces to create a distinct look for many styles. Also called a stretcher.

    Urn
    A vase-shaped decoration that is used as a finial or on cross stretchers. The use of the urn as a decorative motif was first seen in Greek and Roman carvings and later in the Adam and Louis XVI styles in the second half of the 18th century.
  • V
    Venetian Glass
    Glass, particularly mirrors, made in Venice and known for being elaborate and skillfully made. In the 15th century, it was clear and colorless, although now, as antiques, the glass often appears cloudy and opaque.

    Vermillion Wood
    Rich colored wood used for decorative woodwork, including cabinet making. Vermillion wood can be found on the Andaman Islands and in Burma, and is seen in many Louis XV Rococo pieces from the early 18th century.

    Victorian Era
    A general term for English and American furniture during the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century, where furniture was simplified for purposes of mass production. Pine wood was used then covered with sheets of inexpensive mahogany. Pieces from the Victorian Era had an eclectic touch but were borrowed from many other styles. The first half of the century was inspired by the French Empire, Louis XV, and Rococo styles, and the second by English Baroque and gothic styles. Pieces from this era are made of darker woods like rosewood or mahogany.

    Vitrines
    Vitrine comes from the Latin word for glass. Vitrines are glass paneled cabinets or tables that function as a display for china. It is made with wide and curved sheets of glass.

    Volute
    A spiral, scroll-shaped ornamentation that is carved into stone and forms the top and often bottom of a column. Volutes are used in Baroque and Renaissance styles throughout Europe.
  • W
    Walnut Wood
    A wood used for furniture since at least the 16th century, walnut has a rich, golden brown color and can be carved. The use of walnut can be seen in pieces from the French Renaissance, English styles, and the American Renaissance Revival style.

    Whatnot
    A whatnot isn't just a simple term used in conversation. It is actually a piece of English furniture inspired by a French piece called an étagère (meaning shelf). A whatnot is a stand with at least three open shelves that are supported by corner posts.

    William and Mary
    William and Mary were of Dutch origin, but they ruled England in the late 17th and early 18th centuries (circa 1690-1710) and redefined furniture from the previous Jacobean style. One design that is characteristic to the William and Mary style is the use of trumpet legs on chairs and tables, and also but not quite as exclusively, curved stretchers and Spanish feet. Walnut was the most commonly used wood, and the pieces were more domestic and elegant.

    Windsor Chair
    Seen from 1720 until around 1820 in America, but inspired by an English design. This style chair is functional and has a unique design.
  • X
    Xanthous
    Greek term xanthos "yellow" of unknown origin. It means yellow or having a yellowish tone.

    X-Chair
    An x-back chair's back is shaped like an "x" with two single lines intersecting to create an open back look. It is a structural form used in the late 18th and early 19th centuries during the English Sheraton style for drawing room chairs and in the mid 19th century for chairs of strip metal.
  • Y
    Yarn-Dyed
    Yarns dyed in a bundle or package before weaving into fabrics like ginghams, stripes and plaids. Also known as "color-woven" fabric.

    Yew
    A wood that has been used since the 17th century for veneer and inlaying. It is hard with a red-brown color and is resistant to wear and tear.

    Yoke-Back Chair
    The back of a chair that resembles a milkmaid's yoke. This is a plain chair with a horizontal splat and a vertical yoke on the top. These chairs were used in the 18th century Chippendale style.
  • Z
    Zomno
    An American term for a nightstand. These pieces usually have cupboards in them. Also called a somnoe.

    Zoophorus
    A piece that has carved representations of people or characters such as animals, beasts, fictional characters, or Zodiac signs. These were first seen on friezes in medieval architecture. Zoophorus is a Greek term meaning "bearing an animal."

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