50+ Interior Design Terms You Need To Know

April 27, 2024

… Say what??

Designing a home is a personal journey that we all look forward to adventuring on at some point in our lives. It's almost like a rite of passage to becoming a full-blown adult. For those of you who have already dipped your toes into the tantalizing waters of interior design, you’re aware that it’s a world filled with its own terms. Mastering such vocabulary is the key to creating a truly special home. 

Shop Now

So, whether you're channelling the chic vibes of a Parisian pied-à-terre or the laid-back elegance of a rustic farmhouse retreat, we’re giving you VIP access to the glossary of interior design terms you need to know. 

1. Colour: 

The hue of something that plays an important role in creating visual interest, setting the mood, and defining the style of a space. 

“I choose blue as the main colour to evoke a sense of tranquillity in the room.”

2. Colour Scheme: 

The overall colour combination is used in a space to create a harmonious interior design. It’s based on a few design principles including, complementary colours, i.e., colours opposite each other on the colour wheel, analogous colours, i.e., colours next to each other on the colour wheel, and monochromatic colours, i.e., different shades of the same colour.

 “When designing a minimalist kitchen, use a monochromatic colour scheme of sleek blacks and whites, as it emphasizes clean lines and simplicity, creating a contemporary ambience” 

3. Colour Palette: 

A set of colours within a colour scheme. The range of colours is selected to create a particular mood or achieve a theme of the project at hand. 

“Drawing inspiration from the landscapes of Provence, we used a colour palette of soft lavenders, blush, and sage green to capture the romanticism Provence is known for.” 

4. Contrast: 

Using opposing elements to create visual interest of drama within a space. This can be achieved through colour, textures, or even styles. It’s a technique used to create dynamic depth and dimension within a space, making it captivating. 

Shop Now

“ Exposed beams, bold contrasting colours, and the juxtaposition of earthy tones and bright accents are a few defining factors of the farmhouse aesthetic.”

5. Balance: 

The artful distribution of visual weight, whether that is furniture or colour, creates a sense of stability in a space. 

“We used bold colours to help us create an eclectic look, but we didn’t want it to be too overbearing. Therefore, we paired it with neutral tones to create a sense of balance and visual interest” 

6. Focal Point:

A point in a space that immediately captures people’s eyes and demands one’s attention. This could be a mural, floral arrangement, or a decor object placed as a centrepiece on a coffee table. 

“The floor-to-ceiling fireplace immediately drew the eye and anchored the space with elegance and warmth, making it the focal point of the living room” 

7. Accent:

An object used to make a statement by adding a pop of colour to a space or by highlighting a particular interior style. This is usually done through wall art or cushions

Shop Now

“We added this upholstered accent rocking chair to the library, hoping to create an inviting spot of relaxation” 

8. Negative Space: 

Often referred to as white space, negative space is the unutilized or empty space in a room. Think of it as the ‘breathing room’ between objects. It defines the boundaries of items in a layout while creating bonds between them, necessary to create a captivating interior. 

“ Scandinavian interior design utilizes the concept of negative space to its advantage, allowing the eyes to be drawn to certain objects and rest.” 

9. Layering:

A technique that involves using multiple elements, textures, patterns, and colours to create a space that is both interesting and comfortable in equal measure. 

“ We added warmth and dimension by incorporating a combination of woven placemats, linen table runners, and ceramic serving dishes to create an inviting tablescape that encourages lingering conversations and shared meals.”

10. Texture: 

The feel or appearance of a surface or material used. 

“The surface of the wooden desk top mimicked the rough texture of a tree trunk, adding a touch of natural charm to the office space." 

11. Lighting: 

Lighting enhances the atmosphere and highlights specific items of spaces within a room. It’s used for both functional and decorative purposes. 

“ The retro-style pendant lights used above the dining table created a warm and inviting atmosphere”  

12. Fabric: 

Fabric is any woven or produced material used to upholster furniture, create window treatments such as curtains, or add accents to a space in the form of cushion covers. They can greatly affect the style and heaviness of a room. 

“ We choose velvet curtains to add a sense of grandeur and elegance to the space” 

13. Pattern:

A repeated design or motif that is used on surfaces such as fabrics, soft furnishings, wallpaper, and tiles. 

“ The floral patterned rug added some much-needed personality and whimsy to the bedroom” 

14.  Elevated: 

A design of objects or a style that is heightened or emphasized by certain elements that increase its look or the feeling it evokes. 

“That chair has an elevated design” 

15. Faux: 

An element or item that is artificially made to look like another type of material or object such as wood, marble, leather, or stone. 

“The chair is upholstered with faux leather”

16. Interior Wall: 

A wall that is found on the inside of the house to either be a load-bearing wall or divide the space inside the building.  

“The interior wall separating the kitchen from the dining room was adorned with a series of framed photographs”

17. Feng Shui:

A traditional Chinese design form that is based on energy form and used to make an individual feel at one with their surroundings. 

“The feng shui of the room is absolutely spot on, allowing one to create a serene and balanced atmosphere around them” 

18. Countertop: 

A horizontal surface typically found in the kitchen and used for cooking or eating. 

“The sleek granite countertop in the kitchen served as a durable and elegant surface for food preparation and dining” 

19. Floor Plan: 

A bird’s eye view plan or diagram of a house or property. It includes design and structural elements such as the placement and size of walls, windows, doors, and staircases, as well as kitchen appliances and bathroom fittings. 

“Before we started renovating, we consulted an architect who drafted a detailed floor plan of each room and the flow of the entire house.”  

20. Refined: 

Despite having numerous options, you only choose a few factors to create something spectacular. 

“They say the world is your oyster, but the spaces that never go out of style showcase refined elegance.” 

21. Honest:

A room that is extremely spacious rather than cluttered, allowing it to breathe. 

“We felt the room was stuffy and, as a result, remodelled to create an honest vibe that is more breezy and spacious”   

22. Hygge: 

A Danish term that roughly translates to cosy togetherness. 

Shop Now

“Hygge, a blissful element of winter, where plush blankets are brought out, soft lighting is dimmed to perfection, and cosy seating arrangements are made up.” 

23. Ambience: 

The mood or atmosphere of the room that goes beyond the furniture placed in it or the colours of the wall. Think of it as the personality. 

“The soft glow of the candles created a romantic ambience” 

24. Curated: 

A style of design that incorporates aspects or factors of various styles or elements to form a singular object. 

“We curated a selection of vintage furnishing and modern artwork to showcase the owner’s personality” 

25. Hue: 

A particular shade of a colour. 

“This particular hue of blue is the vibrant touch needed for the accent wall, adding a pop of colour and personality to a neutral-toned room” 

26. Chair Rail:

A horizontal wall moulding that is typically placed in the middle of the wall or at the height of a standard dining room chair, hence the name. 

“The chair rails in the dining room added a touch of elegance and visual interest to the walls, breaking up the space and providing a sophisticated backdrop”

27. Cabriole Leg:

An ornate furniture leg that features double curves. 

“The cabriole legs of the antique dining table showcase exquisite craftsmanship.” 

28. Crown Moulding:

An architectural feature or a form of cornice created out of decorative moulding and installed in the space where the walls meet the ceiling. 

“The house has original crown mouldings from the 18th century” 

29. Wall Plaster: 

A protective construction material that is used on walls and ceilings which are then coated with decorative paint or wallpaper. 

“We used a textured wall plaster finish on the walls to add depth and character to the space” 

30. Light Fixture:

A device that holds a bulb or lamp and distributes light in a space. 

“The modern chandelier suspended from the ceiling served as the stunning centrepiece light fixture in the grand foyer, illuminating the space with elegance and brilliance."

31. Sconces:

A type of light fixture that is mounted to the wall.

“The sleek sconces on both sides of the bathroom mirror provide the perfect lighting I need to get ready” 

32. Upholstery: 

The materials such as leather, suede, or cotton, and padding that are used to cover furniture, specifically the seating part of chairs, sofas, and ottomans to provide comfort. 

“The armchair in the living room featured a luxurious velvet upholstery in a deep shade of navy blue, adding both elegance and comfort to the space."

33. Textile: 

While textile and fabric are often used interchangeably, textile refers to the broader term of any material that has been weaved, knitted, or crocheted together, whereas fabric is the finished product of a textile. 

Think of textiles as the initial phase or building blocks to create fabric.  

“Soft breathable textiles like cotton and linen are best for bedding as it ensures a comfortable night’s sleep” 

34. Chaise: 

An upholstered long chair that is similar to sofa. 

“The chaise would look perfect in the balcony. We can lie there and admire the sunset every evening” 

35. Alcove: 

A recessed space in a room that is usually embedded in the wall to create a cosy space for one to relax. 

“The alcove between the bookcase is the perfect reading spot to enjoy some good literature and the serenity of nature” 

36. Baluster:

A vertical pillar used to support the handrails of a staircase or balcony. 

“I want grand, vintage style balusters in the foyer to create elegance and grandeur in the entrance” 

37. Dining Room:

A designated and dedicated room used solely for formal dining experiences. It’s separate from the kitchen, and is usually furnished with a long dining table and chairs to accommodate large parties. 

“We’re hosting mom’s birthday this year and we’re thinking of having a nice dinner, setting up the dining room, and having a full course meal. What do you think?” 

38. Living Room: 

Often dubbed as the heart of the home, the living room is a dedicated room that is often used for entertaining guests, reading, talking, or simply relaxing. 

“Let’s hang out in the living room today. We can chill, watch some movies, have some great conversations… basically a wholesome night, What say you?” 

39. Chic:

A design style characterized by fashionable and elegant pieces of furniture and decor items that are on trend, whether it’s a sofa, coffee table, dinner sets, vases, or even planters

“That dining table is so chic” 

40. Artistic:

A design style that is purely based on individual style, making it unstructured and unexpected. 

“If you’re unsure of what specific style to lean towards, why not create something that is artistic. There are no rules or boundaries, giving you room to create something that perfectly reflects you.”

41. Tailored:

Furniture or home decor items that feature clean lines and can be passed down through generations. 

“This tailored ottoman was your great-grandmother’s” 

42. Eclectic:

Eclectic refers to an interior design style that is achieved by incorporating elements from a few different styles to create an aesthetically cohesive space. 

“What makes this room eclectic? 

Well we’ve mixed a piece of vintage furniture with modern art pieces and thrown in a few global-inspired decor items to create a vibrant and captivating space” 

43. Maximalist: 

The loudest design style that possibly exists, allowing a person to go all out and incorporate as much color and as many patterns, textures, and decorative elements. It embraces an abundance and extravagance to create spaces that stimulate our senses. 

“Have you seen Sarah's new living room? It's a total maximalist paradise with vibrant colors, bold patterns, and an eclectic mix of furniture and decor. It's like stepping into a work of art!”

44. Minimalist:

The opposite of maximalism, minimalist is another interior design style that highlights the beauty in simplicity and restraint. 

“Kim Kardashian’s home is a minimalist’s wonderland.” 

45. Contemporary: 

Contemporary refers to a design style that is currently on trend. This means that it’s forever evolving. It often features clean lines, minimalism, and a focus on open spaces and natural light.

"In the master bedroom, the contemporary design aesthetic shines through with its clean lines, sleek furnishings, and minimalist decor, offering a tranquil oasis for rest and relaxation."

46. Modern: 

 An interior style that emerged during the mid-20th century and highlights features of clean lines, simplicity, and functionality. It’s often used interchangeably with contemporary design, however the two are very different. Modern has a specific style and is attached to a time period, whereas contemporary design is “what’s currently hot”. 

“The clean lines of the expansive windows on the living room, they blurr the lines between inside and outside, giving it the ultimate modern vibe” 

47. Cottagecore:

A design style that often features floral prints, vintage furniture, natural materials, and rustic accents, reflecting a romanticized vision of rural life. It embraces elements of nostalgia, simplicity, and nature, creating cozy and whimsical spaces that evoke a sense of tranquility and comfort.

“My grandmother’s home has a very cottagecore aesthetic. She always has vases filled with fresh blooms, soft pastels, and really embraces the rustic charm. But, then again she lives in the country side, so it’s expected.” 

48. Retro: 

Refers to a design aesthetic that is inspired by styles and trends that were prominent in the 1950s through to the 1980s. It often incorporates bold colors, geometric patterns, and iconic design elements from specific decades.

“Those graphical wall-art posters are so retro” 

49. Scandinavian:

A style that originated in the Nordic countries, specifically Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland during the mid-20th century. Its main characteristics are simplicity, functionality, and minimalism, and focuses on creating bright, airy spaces that prioritize comfort and practicality. 

“With the grandeur of the city, we wanted something that highlighted cosiness and practicality, almost like creating a haven in the city. That’s why we chose a Scandinavian interior style. What do you think?” 

50. Farmhouse:

An interior style that combines rustic elements with modern touches to create a warm, cozy, and inviting atmosphere.

"The living room has a farmhouse vibe with its distressed wooden coffee table and cozy plaid throw blankets. It feels like a little slice of the countryside right in the heart of the city."

51. Vintage:

A design aesthetic that draws inspiration from past eras, typically from the early 20th century through the 1980s. It often features antique or retro furnishings, nostalgic decor elements, and a sense of charm and nostalgia.

“If you want to add some of the vintage charm to your home, black and white checkered tiles are the perfect addition.” 

52. Coquette:

A French word that roughly translates to “ a woman who flirts” the coquette aesthetic is anything that evokes a sense of femininity, softness, and romanticism. It’s typically characterized by soft pastels, ruffles, and bows. 

Shop Now

“The coquette trend is so in right now, so I got these cute bathroom sets. What do you think?” 

53. Contrived Patina:

Marking on the surface of pieces of furniture that are a result of years and decades of use that gives the furniture character. 

“We discovered contrived patina on the office table from years of late nights working and writing, giving it an alluring, homey feel” 

54. Soft Furnishings:

Textiles and fabrics that are typically used to add comfort, warmth, and style to a space, such as curtains, rugs, bathroom floor mats, throw blankets, and cushion covers. 

“By adding soft furnishings we turned this room into a space that exudes warming elegance” 

55. Hard Furnishings:

Furniture and fixtures that are made from solid materials such as wood, metal, glass, or stone. They are used to provide structure and functionality to a space. 

“We furnished the living with sleek hard furnishings like this mahogany coffee stable and leather-upholstered sofa to create an elegant and contemporary aesthetic” 

56. Vastu Shastra: 

Similar to Feng Shui, Vastu Shastra is a traditional Hindu system of architecture and design principles that are meant to synergize the flow of energy. 

“It was very important to us that our architect included Vastu into the layout of the house to ensure that the orientation promoted a continuous flow of positive energy” 

57. Bespoke:

A one-of-a-kind item that has been made specifically for a person to reflect their personality or style. 

“It’s a bespoke book-case that we had specially designed to tailor fit the wall and hold all my books” 

share with: