April 12, 2012
to enjoy enhanced features like these.
Alkyd: Oil-based paint. It’s thicker than latex, but has a strong odor and requires special cleaners. Best for exterior metals like patio furniture and mailboxes.
Chevron: Zigzag stripe pattern, often two-toned (white and another color). Its angles draw you in, helping to animate neutral rooms and harmonize colors.
Cornice: Valance-like panel mounted horizontally above a window to conceal hanging hardware, and mimic the look of ornamental molding.
Earth Tones: Colors pulled from nature, usually with some trace of brown. Neutral and warm, they have a mellow, calming quality.
Faux Bois: Artistic imitation of wood or wood grain, seen on a variety of accents, fabrics, furniture and even wallpaper.
Floor Plan: Rooms drawn to scale, with doors, windows and other features mapped out, used to experiment with possible furniture arrangements.
Gilding: Giving surfaces—from lamps to mirrors and frames to furniture—a metallic glint with gold, silver or bronze leafing.
Home Staging: Cleaning and decorating a property to create a simple, neutral setting that mimics the look of a model home. It allows potential buyers or renters to focus on the best features and visualize the home as their own.
Mobile: A hanging sculpture designed to bob and spin, often hung over cribs to entertain and mentally stimulate babies.
Ombre: A single color that gradually goes from dark to light or light to dark. Typically applied to fabrics, but easy to create with paint, too.
Paint Edger: Handheld paint tool, usually fitted with wheels, that lets you paint corners, edges and around trim without having to tape.
Pastel: Any color with white undertones. These pale, uplifting tints reflect light, making tight quarters look bigger and brighter.
Pouf: Large circular floor pillows that double as extra seating or an ottoman, available in endless colors, patterns and textures.
Scale: How items in a room relate to the room’s size and who uses it. Examples of good scale: Loveseat (not sofa) in a small room; lower tables in kids’ rooms.
Silhouette: Outline of person—usually in profile—thing or place, filled in with solid color (traditionally black, but any color goes).
Stud Finder: Handheld tool used to locate studs—vertical pieces of wood that make up a wall’s interior frame—when hanging items, especially heavy ones.
Sun Print: Patterns developed in natural sunlight. Light-sensitized paper or fabric turns blue, while anything covering it (like a leaf or doily) remains white.
Tassel: Tuft of cord or fabric knotted on one end and frayed on the other. Used to embellish furnishings like drapery, but great for making garlands, too.
Tertiary Color: A primary color and a secondary color mixed together; for instance, red-orange and blue-green.
Thread Count: Number of threads per square inch, often in reference to bed and bath linens. For example, 200 count sheets are 100 threads woven widthwise and 100 threads woven lengthwise. A higher thread count doesn’t always mean softer; the fiber quality, yarn size and construction matter just as much.
Tie-Dye: Process of folding fabric, binding it with rubber bands or string, then dyeing it to create unique, colorful patterns.
Upholstery Tacks: Also called nail head trim. Decorative nails with large, usually domed heads used to embellish chair, couch and other furniture frames.
Wabi-Sabi: Ancient Japanese principles that center on celebrating and finding beauty in the imperfect and unconventional, and balancing the new with the old.
Wall Decal: Also called a wall sticker, wall tattoo or wall vinyl. Designs can be big or small, are usually removable and can be bought or made from contact paper.
Window Film: Translucent coverings for clear glass surfaces that add privacy and style without blocking out natural light.
Stumped by a decorating term? Tell us what else you’d like to see defined.
Paint Color Ideas
Our 10 Favorite: Home Décor
Embrace Every Space
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