Furniture 101: Basic Terms to Know

On the outside, buying furniture online is a fun experience; picking out items that you like, imagining them in your space, finding ways to express your unique style. At least, it’s supposed to be. But in reality, it can easily turn into a rabbit hole with 50 tabs open on your web browser. You might end up getting a dictionary involved just to see if there is a specific word to describe what you’re looking for.

Thankfully, you don’t have to do that anymore! iNSPIRE Q has created this handy-dandy guide explaining 11 basic furniture terms to know as you shop!

1) Modular

Modular is one of the most important furniture terms to know, and this image best depicts modular in use. Pictured here is the Modular Stacking Storage Bins in a grey finish by iNSPIRE Q Junior. The 7 grey bins in this image are being used in a kids playroom, storing books, pillows, and blankets.

Modular furniture are pieces that are designed to be arranged in more than one way. In other words, their design is flexible, customizable, catering to your space.

For example, you can buy the iNSPIRE Q Modular Stacking Storage Bins in units of 1 bin, 2 bins, or 3 bins. Because of this, you can stack and arrange as many as you would like to fit your needs!

2) Beveled (glass)

Another one of the furniture terms to know is beveled, which is most commonly seen with mirrors. This image shows the Mirrored Frame Square Wall Mirror by iNSPIRE Q Bold. The mirror has a simple and clean design, with beveled edges providing added visual interest.

Beveled most commonly refers to a type of glass or mirror. The edges of a glass or mirrored surface have angled cuts. This adds subtle visual interest and catches light differently than non-beveled surfaces.

3) Wingback

Wingback is one of those furniture terms to know that comes in a few different styles. This picture features the Nailhead Wingback Button Tufted Headboard in Cream White Linen Upholstery. The bed is dressed in white and purple bedding.

Wingback is a type of furniture design that has “wings” attached to it, as pictured with the iNSPIRE Q Nailhead Wingback Button Tufted Headboard in Cream White Linen. Upholstered furniture most frequently uses the wingback design because it adds a little extra coziness to it.

4) Cabriole (leg)

Cabriole is one of the more little-known furniture terms to know. Pictured are the French Ladder Back Wood Dining Chairs (Set of 2) in an oak finish by iNSPIRE Q Classic. The two front legs of the dining chairs have the cabriole style, with the gentle S-shaped curves.

Cabriole refers to a type of furniture leg that has two curves. The top of the leg curves outward and the bottom of the leg curves inward, similar to an S shape. This style adds an extra element of grace to the overall piece.

5) Live Edge

Pictured here is the Live Edge Wood and Metal Coffee Table by iNSPIRE Q Artisan. Of all the furniture terms to know, live edge is less common, but offers a distinctly bespoke, rustic look.

Live edge describes the natural edge of wood that’s exposed and part of the design of a piece. Most commonly seen with tables, this is a popular style among furniture designers because it gives a natural, authentic look to the overall piece, as opposed to looking pristine and manufactured.

6) Campaign (style)

Campaign is one of those furniture terms to know that has a bit of history to it! It has a distinct style that is deeply rooted to its origins as being furniture made for traveling. This image depicts the White X-Base Wood Accent Campaign Table by iNSPIRE Q Bold. The table top is decorated with a lamp and some colorful pieces of décor.

This one of furniture terms to know has a bit more history attached to it than others! Originally, campaign-styled furniture was made for travel; specifically, military campaigns. While people no longer use the furniture for travel, the style itself has stuck around. It typically involves clean, simple shapes with extra handles and metal accents.

7) Chevron

Pictured here is the Grey Chevron Storage Cocktail Ottoman by iNSPIRE Q Bold. One of the four lids on the ottoman is flipped, revealing a convenient tray to hold some glasses of water. The ottoman is also decorated with books and candle décor.

Chevron describes a type of pattern used in fabric that looks similar to a zig zag. It features stripes of a V or an inverted V.  

8) Distressing

This image is of the Grey Two-Tone Wood Dining Bench by iNSPIRE Q Classic. The two-tone grey finish of the bench is clearly distressed, making it look more like an antique.

Distressing is a type of wood finish (although sometimes used on metal and leather) to purposefully give the appearance that it is aged or antique.

9) Etagere

To illustrate etagere design, this image shows the Cornice Etagere Bookcase by iNSPIRE Q Artisan in a grey finish. The bookcase is placed next to a bed and is decorated with home accessories. With the etagere design, all eyes go to the décor displayed.

Etagere describes furniture designed with open shelves. The intent is to use the open shelves to display décor.

10) Inlay

This is a top-down view of the Walnut Finish Oval Dining Table by iNSPIRE Q Modern. By viewing the table from the top, we can see the beautiful, sunburst inlay design.

Most commonly used in wood and tables (but not limited to!), an inlay is a design, pattern, or piece of material embedded into the surface. It’s a very subtle way to elevate the look of a piece.

11) Tuxedo

This last image displays the Tuxedo Pink Velvet Sofa with Accent Pillows by iNSPIRE Q Bold. With the tuxedo silhouette, there is button tufting all over the back and arms. There is plenty of room to add even more accent pillows.

No, we’re not talking about clothing! Tuxedo is a streamlined style of seating where the arms of a sofa or armchair are the same height as the back. It’s a great choice if you’re looking to make a statement in your living room!

And there you have it! These are 11 basic furniture terms to know as you browse your options online. You can close some of those tabs now and enjoy shopping for furniture! We hope this guide has helped you find exactly what you’re looking for.

If you liked this post, then be sure to check out the other two parts of this 3-part Furniture 101 miniseries! Additionally, be sure to read our latest posts, follow us on social media, and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more tips and tricks like this!

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