Interior Design Phrases: Learn the Home Decor Lingo

Interior Design Phrases: Learn the Home Decor Lingo

Decorating your home can be challenging as you need to become familiar with the styles, colors and materials to choose from for each project.

This challenge can become more pressing when you do not understand the lingo interior designers use to create your vision for the design. If you are working with a home decorator, you want to understand what she or he is telling you. Otherwise, you may not be sure what your project is going to look like upon completion.

If you are decorating your home on your own, you have more incentive to understand design lingo. While you do not need to know the names of every type of wood or fabric to successfully design the home of your dreams, you will need to learn the basic jargon required to purchase specific items. Additionally, understanding home decor lingo can help you when you are instructing your contractors to fulfill your visions appropriately.


Each material used in interior design has certain qualities and features that aid in envisioning how the completed space will look once you have selected a specific option. The terms used to describe materials are commonly used to categorize them for easy reference and to assist in finding complementary designs.

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By understanding the décor lingo used for specific materials, you can ensure you are making the right selection for your interior design project. These material names include:

  • Accessories – Small items of decor like candlesticks and decorative bowls.
  • Case goods – Furniture pieces built of sturdy materials like metal or wood that are used for storage.
  • Finish – The pattern or color of wood stains, paint, textiles and flooring.
  • Line – The shape of an item. Line can be used in reference to certain architectural features or furniture styles as well.
  • Texture – The way an item feels to the touch. For example, a ceiling can have texture if you choose to make the ceiling a focal feature in a specific room.
  • Well-appointed – An item of superior craftsmanship and quality. Often, your well-appointed pieces are your room’s highlighted elements.


Certain phrases and design lingo can be used to describe the process of planning to redesign a home’s interior. These phrases include the following:

  • Aspirational – Crafting a space with the purpose of fitting your lifestyle, such as one encouraging time outdoors, or meeting a specific goal, such as entertaining or working from home.
  • Color Board – A visual representation of a space intended to convey an overall impression of how it is going to look, using material samples and photographs.
  • Lead Time – The length of time it takes after ordering materials to receive the materials before a project can begin.
  • Material or finish schedule – The master document listing each decor item, finish and furnishing going into a space, including the order amount and delivery dates.
  • Reimagine – Similar to starting over, this term refers to the process of entirely reinterpreting a space’s whole design scheme.


Various eras and regions have given the design world new decorating styles that shape the look and feel of a space. Knowing the more common and popular styles can help you create cohesion in your design scheme and assist you if you choose to stray away from a broad style to produce a specific effect.

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There are specific design qualities within these styles that create a specific atmosphere and produce certain effects. Some of thee most common styles include:

  • Artistic: A spontaneous, unexpected and unstructured design.
  • Asian: It incorporates an abundance of rich colors and natural finishes. Additionally, it implements the techniques of Feng Shui in placing furnishings.
  • Clean: This style focuses on straight lines and simple curves without any frills or clutter.
  • Conversational: It invites inquiry and discussion through a special and unique piece that can be considered outlandish or extravagant.
  • Curated: It pulls from history to combine a specific decorating style with an individual perspective.
  • Edited: This space is typically well organized and planned out, often minimalistic without feeling drab, empty or cold.
  • Elevated: A design element or scheme used to advance the space to a new, grander level, such as using a color or material in more parts of a space, or upgrading the type of materials used.
  • Honest: A space permitted to breathe which appears natural and has been spontaneously created, not deliberate or artificial.
  • Layered: It employs the use of various elements to create a cohesive design.
  • Moody: A scheme marked by dark, textured layers.
  • Modern: Makes use of straight, clean curves or lines and polished industrial finishes, like metal and shiny plastic. Its color scheme is mainly monochromatic.
  • Tailored: An unfussy and uncluttered design element or scheme built of clean lines.
  • Textured: Incorporating materials and patterns of different textures in a space to give it both visual and tactile depth.
  • Timeless: It draws on enduring classical and traditional elements and avoids trendiness.
  • Traditional: Based on classic European architectural and decorative design, it focuses on the home’s architectural features and incorporates dark woods and furnishings that are either antique or implement classic lines.
  • Whimsical: Design elements infusing lightness, joy and humor into a space.


How you implement stylistic choices and actualize them in your home using the materials you have chosen is a matter of technique. There are numerous techniques you may use to achieve the desired effect within your home or throughout a designated space, including:

  • Contrived patina – Placing markings on a surface to give it a sense of character.
  • Focal point – The portion of a space or a specific item in a space that draws the eye first upon entry.
  • Collect – Producing depth in a space lacking in it by filling it with unique and interesting elements obtained throughout your life.
  • Contrast – Juxtaposing two items to accentuate their differences. In a space lacking in visual interest, this can produce contrast with a humbler selection of materials or elements. Contrast can be used to draw out the visually interesting elements of a piece, which it might not be as apparent when it stands on its own.
  • Proportion – How an item’s size fits within the scale of a finish, item next to it or within the total space.

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By Admin