We're here to help 800.301.9720

Ideas & Advice

Glossary

Our helpful glossary of furniture terminology will take you from casual furniture enthusiast to interior design aficionado.

Absorption rate

Refers to the rate at which dyes are absorbed into fabric. High absorption rate dyes are more eco-friendly because they require less rinsing, reducing water waste.

Aniline leather

A type of leather treated with aniline (an organic compound) to produce a very delicate, soft, supple hide. Aniline conditions and protects without coloring the hide, letting the leather breathe and making it more comfortable for use.

Annealing process/annealed

Treatment that alters the physical properties of a material by heating it to extreme temperatures, then slowly cooling it. For glass, annealing relieves internal pressure and creates a strong, durable panel. For steel, the process enables custom shaping, stamping and forming.

Arts and Crafts

A reformist aesthetic movement extending from the late 19th century through the early 20th century. Also known as Mission style, Arts and Crafts challenged the tastes of the Victorian and Industrial eras by focusing on hand craftsmanship and affordability in design.

Axminster weave

A machine-weaving method long used in the Netherlands to make high-quality carpets that stand up to commercial use. Axminster weave rugs feature a backing woven into the rest of the carpet for durability and longevity. Some of our shag rugs are made using Axminster weave.

Bench seat cushion

A single sofa seat cushion that spans the width of the seating area and is typically connected to the sofa frame.

Blend-down seat cushion

An eco-friendly cushion containing a plant-based, high-resiliency foam core wrapped with a fiber, down and feather blend and placed in a channeled, down-proof ticking envelope. The horizontal channeling helps prevent the feather and down blend from shifting to give you a more even and enveloping sit. Blend-down cushions are casual and relaxed in both comfort and appearance.

Bouclé

Bouclé is a textured fabric created by weaving together curly, knotted yarns. Bouclé fabrics are soft to the touch and have looped, nubby surfaces that resist wrinkling and camouflage signs of wear.

Box-edged

A seat front that's square (not curved) across the front of the piece, and features either welting or a sewn seam on the top and bottom of the cushion.

Butcherblock

Often used to create chopping blocks, tabletops and cutting boards, butcherblock is formed by bonding together thick, laminated strips of unpainted hardwood.

Button back

Refers to sofas, chairs or pillows that feature fabric-covered buttons sewn through upholstery surfaces and tied down. The placement of buttons and the resulting folds produce geometric patterns.

Carved pile

A three-dimensional design created by cutting into the pile of a rug, around a pattern or between different colors.

Chenille

Chenille is constructed from soft, tufted chenille yarn and offers an inviting feel and a consistent texture. Chenille fabrics resist pilling and help minimize the appearance of fabric wrinkles.

Comfort sleeper

A sleeper sofa that takes up less space than standard sleepers. Easy to unfold, it features a solid folding plank under the mattress instead of a metal crossbar.

Consistent granite

Because it contains the same pattern throughout, this type of granite is easier to join at the seams and can fit next to other slabs without losing a sense of continuity.

Cut pile

Refers to a carpet or rug with fibers that are cut instead of looped. The cuts are made either during or after the weaving process.

Danish Modern

From the 1930s to 1970s Danish Modern design evolved, and overlapped with other movements of the 20th century including mid-century modern. With its sleek lines and warm wood accents, the impact of Danish Modern design still resonates today.

Dovetail joinery

A joint that consists of a tapered, fan-shaped "pin" part that slips into a matching recess in the opposing part. Dovetail joinery is often used in drawer and cabinet construction.

Dual Flexolator suspension

A Dual Flexolator suspension consists of a tempered steel grid attached with small springs to the frame of an upholstered piece of furniture. Each seat has its own independent steel grid, providing undisturbed comfort for each person on the sofa or sectional.

Eight-way hand-tied suspension

An eight-way hand-tied suspension refers to coil springs in the seat or back of an upholstered piece of furniture that are tied together by hand, traditionally with twine. Each spring is secured in eight different directions to attach it to the surrounding springs and also to the frame of the furniture.

Engineered hardwood

Engineered hardwood is made by adhering thin layers of solid wood together. With multiple layers and the grain patterns running in alternating directions, engineered hardwood is stronger than one piece of solid wood of the same thickness. Often used for structural beams or flooring, we use engineered hardwood in our upholstery frames and some storage pieces.

Ergonomic

A characteristic found in furniture design or architecture that maximizes productivity by minimizing operator discomfort and fatigue. With regard to furniture, "ergonomic" often refers to a shape or configuration molded to human contours.

Fabric weave

Weave is the most common type of fabric construction and is the result of intertwining multiple yarns together. One of the most versatile types of fabric construction, woven fabric is available in a wide range of styles. The characteristics and performance of a woven fabric will vary based on the technique and materials used.

Feather and down back cushion

Crafted from a blend of down for softness and feathers for loft and support, feather and down cushions offer relaxed comfort and livability. A channeled, down-proof ticking envelope wraps the feather and down blend to prevent the materials from shifting. Cushions will soften and settle over their lifetime for a lived-in appearance.

Fiber

Spun synthetic fill for furniture cushions and throw pillows.

Fiber back cushion

Fiber cushions consist of soft-cell foam and polyester fibers placed in horizontal channels that minimize shifting and movement for a supportive and comfortable sit. This style of cushion offers a more neat and tailored appearance with a relaxed feel, though its overall shape may soften over time.

Fiber down blend back cushion

A fiber down blend cushion provides a silhouette similar to feather and down cushions with the added resiliency of fiber. A combination of luxurious feathers, fiber and down gives this cushion relaxed comfort and livability, while horizontal channels prevent the materials from shifting.

Fiberboard

An engineered wood product made from wood fibers. Types include particle board, medium-density fiberboard and hardboard.

Flared arm

An upholstered arm that arches away from the sofa or chair. Flared arms are used in both traditional and modern sofa and chair styles.

Float glass

A glass sheet made by floating molten glass on a bed of molten tin. This process results in extremely flat, parallel surfaces, and offers a high level of light transmission and visibility. We feature float glass in our Top + Base program.

Floating panels

A technique often used for furniture with large panels (e.g., cabinets). Floating panels are set into grooves instead of being glued into place. This method allows for the wood to expand and contract with changes in temperature and humidity, without the risk of cracking or splitting.

Foam and fiber cushion

In place of a traditional loose cushion, this cushion style consists of a layer of plant-based, high-resiliency foam topped with a layer of high-quality fiber to create a tight, attached seat or back cushion. Foam and fiber construction offers a structured and even sit while maintaining a streamlined, tailored look.

Frosted glass

Translucent material produced by acid-etching or sand-blasting a clear sheet of glass on its face-down (or interior) surface. Frosted glass is useful for transmitting light while partially concealing and blurring images (for example, dishes in a cabinet). We feature frosted glass panels in our Top + Base program.

Full-aniline leather

Full-aniline leather—also known as pure aniline leather—has minimal color and protection applied in order to highlight and preserve the leather's natural characteristics. Though the hide is dyed all the way through, it is left in its purest state to allow for a beautiful patina with age.

Full top-grain leather

Full top-grain leather is high-quality leather that has not been buffed or sanded, preserving the original grain and allowing the natural markings and slight color variations to remain. Considered the hallmarks of fine leather, these characteristics highlight the pure, unprocessed beauty of full top-grain leathers.

Granite

A non-absorbent natural stone used in tabletop surfaces. Our Top + Base program features four distinct types of granite: tropic brown granite from Brazil, Mesabi black granite from Northern Minnesota, India pearl granite and Luna pearl granite.

Hair-on-hide leather

Hair-on hide is natural leather with the hair left intact. Soft and supple, hair-on hide's defining characteristic is the soft, silky hair that adds texture and depth to upholstered furniture. Each hide is one of a kind and variations in hair color, pattern and length make each piece unique.

Hand block-printing

An ancient Indian printing process that involves applying dyes to textiles using carved wooden blocks. Characterized by bold colors and ornate patterns, block printing is widely used to decorate linens.

Hand-knotted

Refers to rugs crafted by individually tying each piece of yarn. The meticulous process can take up to six months.

Hand-tooled

Refers to an object formed, worked, or decorated by hand with a tool.

Hand-tufted

Refers to a technique in which an artisan uses a hand-tufting tool to hook each piece of yarn. Hand-tufted rugs feature a backing used to anchor the stitches.

Hand-welded

Refers to metal or steel welded by hand, rather than by machine.

Hand-woven

Refers to textiles produced on a hand-operated loom or woven by hand.

Hardwood

Wood harvested from trees that lose their leaves in the fall (deciduous), such as maple, walnut and cherry. Hardwood contrasts with softwood, which comes from evergreen trees. As its name implies, hardwood is on average denser and harder than softwood.

Ipe

A dense wood with a smooth surface, natural luster and rich, interwoven grain similar to rosewood. Highly resistant to the elements, Ipe is durable and low maintenance, making it ideal for decking and outdoor furniture.

Jacquard

Jacquard is a woven fabric that adds interest and depth to upholstered furniture. Using a jacquard loom, a blend of yarns is woven together to create multi-color patterns or intricate designs, often with a slightly raised texture. Jacquard resists pilling and is an excellent choice for accent pieces.

Joinery

Refers to the act of joining together pieces of wood to make furniture, cabinets, and other items. "Joinery" can also refer to the woodworking joints themselves.

Kiln-dried wood

Kiln-dried wood has been placed in a kiln and heated until the moisture content of the wood is balanced with the humidity of the environment in which it will be used. Kiln-drying ensures that wood is stable and durable for use in furniture and other applications.

Knot

A knot is formed when yarn is looped around the warp threads in a rug.

Lacquer finish

A finish applied to seal and protect wood or steel. Lacquer allows the natural steel color or wood grain to show through. A lacquer finish does not require waxing or polishing.

Laminate

A material constructed by uniting two or more layers of material between coats of plastic and sealing them with heat or pressure.

Left-arm or right-arm

Refers to the side on which the arm is located when you're facing the sofa. These specifications are useful to keep in mind when considering a sectional configuration.

Loom

The basic frame structure used for weaving. Two horizontal beams hold warp threads under tension so weft threads can be woven into them.

Loose back

Refers to a sofa or chair with cushions that rest against the inside back of the furniture piece but are not attached to the frame.

Loose seat

Refers to a sofa or chair with cushions that rest against the seat of the furniture piece but are not attached to the frame.

Memory foam

A temperature-sensitive foam developed by NASA and widely used in mattresses and pillows. Memory foam molds to your body, then slowly recovers once pressure is removed.

Micro-fabrics

Fabric composed of a blend of synthetic yarns or threads. Micro-fabrics may include micro-suede, micro-velvet, micro-bouclé and micro-chenille.

Micro-suede

Micro-suede consists of fine polyester yarns woven tightly together to create a fabric that is exceptionally strong and durable. Soft to the touch yet able to withstand heavy use, micro-suede is considered easier to clean and maintain than other fabrics. Due to the suede-like appearance of micro-suede, tracking may occur.

Mid-century Modern

Refers to an aesthetic movement from roughly 1933 to 1965 that included objects and structures characterized by simplicity, beauty and functionality.

Mitered corners

A mitered corner is a joint made by beveling two pieces of wood or steel, usually at a 45 degree angle to form a corner (typically of 90 degrees).

Modern Scandinavian

The Scandinavian design movement emerged alongside Modernism in the 1930s. The countries that impacted the design world included Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland. Scandinavian modern design is noted for beautifully made furniture cast in organic shapes inspired by nature, and mainly crafted from wood.

Mortise-and-tenon joinery

A simple and strong woodworking joint used to unite pieces of timber, usually at an angle of 90 degrees. One piece features a precisely cut cavity, or mortise. The other features a peg-like projection, or tenon, cut to fit tightly into the mortise. The joint may be glued, pinned, or wedged to lock it into place.

Nap

Refers to the face of the rug or fabric where the knot ends have been cut.

Natural leather

Natural leather is tanned for stabilization, but it is not dyed or finished. It's left in a natural state to preserve the hide's unique characteristics, such as hair pattern and texture.

Natural steel

Left unpainted, natural steel has a dark grey color that varies from piece to piece, much like the grain patterns in wood. Our natural steel is hand-selected and hand-welded. Each finished piece is lacquered to protect against rusting.

Oil-and-wax finish

A traditional protective wood treatment, an oil-and-wax finish enhances the natural beauty of fine wood while sealing in moisture.

Omalon® Foam

A brand of memory foam, Omalon® uses a patented densification process that results in excellent initial comfort and luxurious feel, even in firmer mattresses. Due to the strength of its engineered elliptical cells, our latex foam mattress made with Omalon won't compress under body weight over years of use.

Pile

Refers to the height and thickness of the fibers that create the weave for a rug or a carpet.

Plissé cloth

Fabric featuring a puckered finish created by a treatment of caustic soda.

Polycarbonate/recyclable polycarbonate

A strong, lightweight, flexible plastic often used as a shatter-resistant substitute for glass. Polycarbonate is 100 percent recyclable.

Powder-coat finish

A finish applied to metal furniture that's designed to withstand extreme temperatures and protect against rust and fading. Powder-coating is applied as a dry powder and then cured under heat to form a hard finish that's more durable than paint.

Quartz composite

A synthetic, engineered material made up of natural quartz pieces and bound with resin. We feature quartz composite through our Top + Base program.

Reinforced joinery

Reinforced joinery refers to connecting two pieces of wood with more than one construction technique for added stability. For example, two pieces of wood can be nailed together and reinforced with glue.

Resin

A clear or translucent organic (typically plant-based) substance used in lacquers, varnishes, synthetic plastics and adhesives. Our quartz composite features pieces of quartz bound together with resin.

Responsibly forested

Refers to trees that have been harvested using environmentally friendly and sustainable techniques. Harvests are managed so the land around the trees is not harmed, and trees are replanted in direct proportion to the number harvested.

Rolled arms

Refers to upholstered arms that curve outward, creating a softened, classic appearance.

Rug Weave

Refers to the process of interlacing yarns to make a rug, or the pattern created by the weaving process.

Self-storing leaves

Table leaves that store beneath the tabletop and extend from both ends of the table.

Semi-aniline leather

Semi-aniline leather is a high-performance, low-maintenance leather. It is typically dyed all the way through the hide, and then treated with pigment for added protection and color consistency. This finishing process makes semi-aniline leathers easier to clean and maintain than full-aniline leathers.

Sinuous coil suspension

A sinuous coil suspension consists of s-shaped metal springs that are stretched across the frame of an upholstered piece of furniture to create seat or back support. Each coil is securely attached to the frame with clips that allow the metal to flex while still remaining supportive.

Solution-dyed fabric

When you think of solution-dyed fabrics, picture a carrot versus a radish. Solution-dyed fabrics, like a carrot, have fully saturated color throughout each fiber. Traditionally-dyed fabrics, like a radish, have color on the surface of each fiber. Thanks to a unique dyeing method that permeates each fiber with color before it's spun into yarn, solution-dyed fabrics are exceptionally colorfast and resistant to fading.

Spring and down seat cushion

Eco-friendly spring and down cushions offer the best of both worlds. A resilient Marshall Spring Unit containing individually-wrapped coil springs is wrapped in plant-based, high-resiliency foam to provide a supportive sit. An envelope of feathers and down surrounds the core and offers sink-in comfort on the cushion surface. Spring and down cushions are casual and relaxed in both comfort and appearance.

Stainless steel

A type of steel used in furniture making. Stainless steel won't stain, corrode or rust as easily as other types of steel.

Sunbrella®

A soft, synthetic fabric brand that resists mold, mildew and weather conditions.

Tight back

Refers to a sofa or chair with a back cushion that cannot be removed and is attached to the frame of the piece.

Tight seat

Refers to a sofa or chair with a seat cushion that cannot be removed and is attached to the frame of the piece.

Tip-shear

A technique in which a shearing machine skims the surface of a rug, trimming some loops, while leaving others intact. Tip-shear results in a more tonal look, creating dimension and texture in the rug design.

Top-grain leather

Top-grain leather is made from the outermost layer of the hide, which is valued for its strength and supple texture. It is buffed and sanded to remove most of the natural markings and to enhance color consistency. A finish may also be applied.

Tubular steel

Because it's hollow, tubular steel reduces structural vibration and increases overall stability.

Tufted cushion

A cushion featuring one or more threads that pass through its layers. These threads are often secured with a button or knot.

Tufted rug

A rug created by knitting balls of cotton or woolen rags into strips and sewing them together.

Twill

Twill is a casual, relaxed fabric that consists of cotton yarn or similar materials woven together to create the appearance of diagonal lines. Twill fabrics pair a soft feel with the resiliency of natural fibers for a balance of comfort and longevity.

Velvet

Velvet is a pile fabric with a plush, soft feel that offers extreme comfort. The three-dimensional texture of velvet adds depth to fabric colors. Velvet will patina beautifully with time and normal use, although its pile makes it prone to bruising and crushing.

Veneer

Refers to a sheet of wood glued and positioned by hand onto a solid board. Veneer is used as a construction technique to ensure greater consistency in grains and patterns across large surfaces, such as doors and drawer fronts. Wood veneers also keep joinery tight and increase stability and integrity over time.

Visco-elastic foam seat cushion

A cushion with a visco-elastic (memory) foam core that conforms to your body for superior comfort and support. The flexible foam core creates a more structured silhouette and allows cushions to quickly recover their original shape, even after prolonged use.

Warp

The initial vertical threads of a rug set on the loom, and through which horizontal (weft) strands are woven. Warp yarns are fully attached to the loom before weaving begins.

Weather-resistant

Fabric or furniture designed to withstand mold, mildew, rust and weather conditions.

Webbing suspension

A webbing suspension is made by interweaving strips of nylon material to create a resilient seat or back surface for an upholstered piece of furniture. The elasticized webbing is securely attached to the wood frame with staples.

Weft

Strands inserted horizontally over and under the warp to form the foundation of the rug.

Welting

Decorative cord wrapped in fabric, used to trim upholstery seams for interesting detail.

Wire management

Refers to special holes or slats in the rear panels of media cabinets or storage dressers. These openings safely accommodate cords and wires from electronic components so they can remain hidden and out of the way.

Wood veneer

Refers to a sheet of wood glued and positioned by hand onto a solid board. Veneer is used as a construction technique to ensure greater consistency in grains and patterns across large surfaces, such as doors and drawer fronts. Wood veneers also keep joinery tight and increase stability and integrity over time.

Wrap-around doors

Hinges that allow doors to open 270° so they lie parallel with the sides of the cabinet.

Wrapped foam cushion

A cushion consisting of a high-resiliency foam core wrapped in fiber and encased in ticking. Wrapped foam cushions are designed to retain their shape while offering comfortable support and a neat, tailored appearance.

We will not share, sell or trade your e-mail