Baffled by the vast array of strange decorating terms and phrases? You're not alone. Learn the correct pronunciations and become a savvy home design expert.
You're hosting a dinner party, and your friend asks about your new furniture. What did they call it at the store? Faux bois? You stumble over the word as your friend looks on quizzically. Don't worry, we get interior design terminology mixed up sometimes too. Many decor-related words come from French, and unless you're fluent, you might not know how to say them correctly. Learn eight commonly flubbed decor terms, what they mean, and how to pronounce them so you can impress your friends and family.
What it is: A small piece of decorative fabric hung along the top of a window, sometimes paired with curtains.
You can use a valance to draw attention to and dress up a single window. They're popular for windows above kitchen sinks and in bathrooms for this reason. Valances may also be used in conjunction with another window treatment, such as blinds or curtains. These little pieces of fabric work wonders at unifying several curtain sets or hiding bulky hanging hardware.
What it is: Literally, "fake wood." A pattern meant to imitate wood on a piece of furniture, wallpaper, or other decor item.
Imitation wood patterns are an inexpensive way to add texture to a room. Faux bois items may actually be made of stone or concrete and carved to resemble wood, or a wood grain pattern may be painted on or affixed with decoupaged paper. Rubber wood graining tools allow you to quickly mimic the look of wood with paint.
What it is: A duvet is a plush bed covering that may be stuffed with feathers or synthetic filling, and its cover is a removable layer that can be easily switched out or taken off for washing.
Duvet covers should be washed every few weeks. Duvets come with varying levels of filling, identified by a number on the label. The higher the number, the warmer and thicker the duvet will be. They may also be labeled by weight based on season or region—a lighter one for summer or southern areas, for example.
Putting on the duvet cover can sometimes mean wrestling with the fabric and ending up with a lumpy, uneven result. Take the woes out of putting on the cover with our tips.
What it is: Typically refers to a type of outdoor chair with a deep seat and tall, rounded back.
Adirondack chairs add a rustic look to a cabin or backyard patio. They also come in a variety of colors to match your decor. Traditional versions are made with wood, but cheaper plastic ones in the same shape are available.
What it is: Sometimes called a chaise "lounge" in the US, it's a long chair (often upholstered) meant for resting your legs on and relaxation.
A sort of mix between a chair, daybed, and couch, a chaise longue makes a comfortable spot for reclining and relaxing. Early versions date back to the Greeks and Romans. Today, slatted versions made of wood or plastic are popular for lounging poolside. The upholstered sofas make cozy reading spots for bedrooms or living rooms.
What it is: A traditional method of dyeing fabric that involves resist dyeing the threads before weaving, giving the pattern its characteristic "fuzzy" look.
Ikat textiles are produced all over the world, but they're especially prominent in Asia and Latin America. Bring a touch of this lively pattern to your home; ikat plays along well with traditional or modern decor styles thanks to the wide variety of sizes and colors available.
What it is: An upholstered bench placed along one wall, usually seen in kitchens or at restaurants and often set within easy reach of a table.
Often associated with diners, banquettes are finding their way into more and more modern kitchens. Their versatility in space-saving is a major appeal, as they can be designed to fit the space you have. A banquette can also work with round or square tables of different sizes.
What it is: Popular in the 17th and 18th centuries, a Western style of design meant to imitate Chinese art and design elements.
Express Eastern-inspired style with lacquered wood and bamboo furniture, blue and white pottery, Oriental rugs, Asian-style wallpapers with nature motifs, and paneled privacy screens.