The Language of Furniture Pt 2

Here we are again to bombard you with more jargon from furniture glossaries galore! Etagere, vitrine, reclaimer — these were some of the words we discussed in our first furniture language chat. Now, we’ve got even more terms to make you scratch your noggin and help you win a few more trivia games.

Strap in! We’re about to plow through 10 furniture terms to find out what they mean and how they came to be.

1. Hassock

Ming Stool, foot stool
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Simply put, a hassock is an upholstered footstool — an ottoman. As its history goes, it was designed as a cushion for kneeling, particularly in a church setting.

2. Breakfront

Theodore Alexandore, breakfront bookcase
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Descriptive of many bookcases and china cabinets, this terms merely means to break the line of a curve or angle. Any storage unit that is composed of three vertical sections in which the middle section protrudes in front of the two on the sides is considered a breakfront cabinet.

3. Secretary

Durham Furniture, secretary chest
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This multi-purpose piece of furniture is a classic, which most associate with traditional, Victorian furniture; however, its contemporary design is still just as practical. Not just a cabinet or cupboard, this design is comprised of a few drawers, one of which drops down and lays flat to create a writing surface and makeshift desk.

4. Marquetry

Theodore Alexandore, side table
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A style of inlay which uses different types of veneered wood or other materials placed together to form a pictorial pattern. Marquetry can be contrasted with parquetry to form a geometric pattern, such as a parquet floor.

5. Bergere’

Four Hands, Boutique Accent Chair, blue velvet
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A French Regency term for an upholstered armchair with open arms, an upholstered seat and back, which first became popular in the 18th century. With padded armrests, bergere chairs are considered the first comfortable occasional chair.

6. Credenza

Magnolia Home, silhouette sideboard
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A low sideboard with doors, used for storage or for serving food. Its name comes from the Italian word for “belief.” In the 16th century, the act of credenza entailed the tasting of one’s food by a servant to ensure it was not poisoned. There are also office credenzas, which typically provide storage behind a home office or corporate office desk.

7. Stretcher

Kincaid, Homecoming refractory trestle table
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Often forming an H, X or Y shape, the stretcher runs between the legs of a chair or table to reinforce the structure. This type of construction is often found in dining tables and chairs.

8. Bombe

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This French term is used to describe a protruding curve or swelling. This design choice is most often seen on case goods such as chests, commodes or dressers.

9. Commode

Century Furniture, Hannah Commode
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This is not just a term for your toilet in your modern-day bathroom. However, its definition is helpful to understand why these porcelain thrones are sometimes called commodes. Originally, this was a French term for a small chest that was used historically to house chamber pots. Today, we commonly like to refer to commodes as nightstands.

10. Chippendale

MAITLAND-SMITH Chippendale Arm Chair with Cabriole Leg
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This English Rococo style is based on the works of cabinet maker Thomas Chippendale (1718-1779). Chippendale furniture has graceful proportions and delicate decoration applied to Queen Anne and Georgian styles. Original Chippendale variations include his interpretation of Chinese and Gothic designs, too.

Hopefully, you’ve learned a little bit about the original and modern use of furnishings. If you learned something new, share it on Twitter with the hashtag, #furniturelanguage and tag us!

Ready to find your furniture style? Shop Furnitureland South online or plan your in-store trip today!


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