Home & Living

12 Words Every Decor Lover (And Anyone Who Loves Them) Should Know

We wish we could tell you we've solved the mystery as to why shopping for furniture has such an adverse effect on relationships. We can tell you this: Your problems may have less to do with your conflicting tastes in side chairs and more to do with your ability to describe what your preference is in a way that your partner/roommate/design-challenged shopping buddy will understand.

Here to help: An intermediary of sorts -- 12 of the most commonly used and confused words from designers' mouths.

You aren't crazy for being confused about this one, which has also been used to describe a type of skirt. In home decor, however, it's a boxy type of window treatment used to conceal curtain rods and other hardware.
Commonly confused with: Cornices, which are, by definition, the exact same thing.

davenport sofa
This is not a place; it is a thing. A sofa to be exact -- the kind made by the now-defunct Massachusetts furniture manufacturer A. H. Davenport and Company. In the 18th century, the term became more widely used to describe a compact, secretary-style desk.
Commonly confused with: Chesterfields, settees and other "fancy" seating; towns in New England.

console table
If ever there were a more widely used word in the dictionary of decor, this is it. On one hand, the term is used in reference to a cabinet for TV and radio equipment. On the other, "an ornamented bracket with scrolls or corbel supporting a cornice, shelf, or tabletop," according to Merriam-Webster. And, when paired with the word "table," it becomes a fancy-sounding perch for your objets (we tackle that term below).
Commonly confused with: PlayStations and other video game systems your male companions probably wish they were shopping for instead.

This decidedly British-sounding word has nothing to do with socks. It is a thick, firmly-padded cushion used for kneeling in a church and for lounging at home.
Commonly confused with: Ottomans; footstools

coverlet bedding
If you're trying to avoid a fallout, don't even think about venturing down the bedding aisle until you get this one straight. A coverlet is a bedspread (yes, of the quilt variety), but its length -- typically shorter than the floor -- is what makes it unique.
Commonly confused with: Comforters, duvets, throw blankets.

WAINSCOT (Pronounced: Wain-scut)
You've likely seen it -- an area of wooden paneling on the lower part of the walls of a room -- but maybe you didn't know what it was called. Either way, we agree with This Old House who says that while a can of paint is great, "nothing beats a traditional wainscot of richly layered wood panels" to revamp and add dimension to a room.
Commonly confused with: A article of clothing; chair rails, a type of moulding fixed horizontally to the wall around the perimeter of a room.

OBJETS (Pronounced: Ob-jay)
decorative objects on shelf
This French word literally translates to "object," but if you want to escape the evil glare of high-end furniture store associates, try not to call it that (or gawk at the ridiculous price tag you'll find on many of these for-display-only pieces).
Commonly confused with: Junk.

Lighting terminology is a beast of its own and sconces are partly to blame. These are the smaller-scale fixtures that attach to a wall and are typically defined by some type of ornamental bracket.
Commonly confused with: Scones, among the sleepy... or tipsy.

This tall chest of drawers sits up on four legs and got its name from a corruption of the French word bois (“wood”).
Commonly confused with: Dressers; the highboy tables you're likely to place your empty cocktail glass at a celebratory event.

If you know what an objet is, chances are you know what a finial is, too. If not, it's the ornament at the top, end or corner of an object, most notably, a curtain rod or lampshade.
Commonly confused with: Knobs.

ETAGERE (Pronounced: A-ta-jair)
You call it a bookshelf, the French call it an etagere. Both are used for displaying ornaments; the latter has open shelves that become narrower as it goes up.
Commonly confused with: Rickety bathroom storage.

IKAT (Pronounced: E-cat)
ikat decor
You'll know this Indonesian fabric (and, now, a pattern) when you see it thanks to its threads, which are tie-dyed before weaving.
Commonly confused with: "Tribal" prints.

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