Furniture Terms

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acanthus leaf: ornate decorative motif, found most commonly on case goods, of a stylized leaf. While the design originated in the architecture of ancient Greece, it persists as a mark of rich, opulent design.

accent colors: colors used sparingly in a color scheme, and for emphasis.

acetate: a synthetic-fiber fabric with a silky feel and luster.

acorn: a turned ornament that resembles an acorn.

Adam style: Historically 1760-1792. Four Scottish brothers, John, Robert James and William, were architects and furniture designers in the late Georgian period. The furniture they designed was intended to complement the houses they built. Their designs were delicate, yet restrained. They were greatly influenced by travels to Greece and Italy where they toured the ruins at Pompeii. The lines of their furniture were more often straight than curved and were accentuated by fluting, with ornamentation of carved wreaths, swags, urns and waves.

Adamesque: reminiscent of the style of the Adams brothers. (See Adam style.)

adjustable beds: The term adjustable bed refers to a mattress over a foundation that incorporates motors that allow the user to raise and lower the foot and head of the bed. Adjustable beds offer benefits to people with certain medical conditions, like sleep apnea or acid reflux disease, but they are also useful for those who like to watch TV or read in bed. King size adjustable beds usually consist of two twin units side-by-side and require separate fitted sheets. Adjustable beds can often be used with traditional headboards and footboards to better integrate them with traditional decors.

air chamber beds: mattress that uses pockets of air that can be inflated or deflated at will, rather than using coils or springs. This allows for two people to have different mattress firmness in one bed. The chambers are surrounded by high density foam for support and structural integrity.

American Colonial: Historically 1620-1790. American versions of formal English and European styles. Early Colonial Style could be considered a pared-down version of the Jacobean style with sturdiness and simplicity emphasized by straight legs and arms on chairs and scant carved ornamentation on other case goods. Late Colonial Style embraced the elegant curves of Queen Anne style. Decorative aspects such as cabriole legs and carvings appear, but are distilled to their essence. Styles ranged across the colonies and were derivations of styles from the colonists homelands with English influence strongest in the north, and French and Spanish more prevalent in the south.

analogous color scheme: a color scheme that consists of adjacent colors in a color wheel; for example, yellow and green.

angle bed: bed with a canopy at the head, but not the foot.

aniline leather: a translucent dye applied to leather in vats. The translucent quality allows the grain to show through, but it can also show imperfections, therefore only the best quality hides are used for this process. May also be referred to as true aniline, naked aniline, pure aniline, naked leather, unprotected leather, or natural leather.

antimacassar: An unattached covering for the arms and / or back of a piece of upholstered furniture that is intended to protect the furniture from soiling. Originally made with crochet, knit or cruel techniques, in the twentieth century manufacturers began offering them in matching upholstery fabric. The come in two styles: fitted style, to go around the end of the arm, or napkin style, to lie across the arm or the back.

antique: furniture or object that is more than a century old.

antique finish: a furniture finish that is distressed and stained to simulate the aged patina of an antique.

antiquing: the process of creating an antique finish.

appliqué: decorative ornament adhered to a surface. Can refer to pieces of fabric sewn together, or to carved wood elements attached to the surface of a case good.

apron: rail that runs between table legs and helps to support a table top.

architrave: a molding around a doorway, window or other opening.

arm chair: a chair with side supports on which the seated person may rest their arms.

armoire: large freestanding cabinet with doors traditionally used for clothes storage, but today armoires often serve to function as entertainment centers and computer/home office storage. Also known as a wardrobe.

arrow back chair: a variety of Windsor chair in which the vertical members of the back that connect the seat and the top of the back resemble arrows. These spindles are round at both ends but flatten in the middle with an arrow-like flare.

Art Deco: architectural and home furnishings style popular in the 1920's and 1930's that is characterized by streamlined silhouettes and "modern" materials, such as plastic, glass and chrome.

Art Noveau: artistic, architectural and home furnishings style of the late 19th and early 20th century, characterized by flowing lines and nature motifs.

Arts & Crafts: an aesthetic movement, with political overtones, in decorative arts that originated in England as a reaction to the impact of the industrial revolution which created inhumane working conditions and produced shoddy work. Arts & Crafts emphasized the handiwork of the artisan with simple, rectilinear lines, and exposed construction techniques. Mid-toned oak finishes that highlight the natural grain of the wood are predominate in this style. The style grew out of a rejection of the ornate, dark and heavy fashion of Victorian furniture.

attached back sofa: sofa with the back cushions attached to the body of the sofa.

Austrian shade: similar in construction to a Roman shade, Austrian shades, however, are shirred so that the hanging fabric forms a scalloped edge at the bottom.

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