Furniture Terms

a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

saber leg: a gently curving and tapered leg style often found in neo classical and federal style furniture.

saddlebag arms: exaggerated pillow top style cushion attached to the top of the arm on an upholstered piece.

Sauvage: A two-tone effect that adds depth and character to the leather.

scatter back sofa: sofa with more back cushions than seat cushions.

secondary colors: green, purple and orange; they are called secondary because they are made from combinations of the primary colors, red, blue and yellow.

secretary desk: desk with a drop-down door writing service and drawers below and occasionally a display case stacked above.

sectional: upholstered seating consisting of two or more sections arranged together (and sometimes joined through brackets) to create a larger piece. Frequently sectionals incorporate a directional change, forming the shape (when seen from above) of an "L" or "U".

semanier: lingerie chest with seven drawers.

Semi-Aniline: Protected Aniline.

semi-aniline leather: aniline dyed leather with a layer of matching pigment added to improve color consistency and add protection.

semi-attached back sofa: sofa construction in which the back cushions are attached at the top but loose at the bottom. Often, a hidden zipper in the lower portion allows access to the cushion for fluffing and the repositioning of fill materials.

serpentine: carved or appliqued ornamentation consisting of reflective "S"-shaped curves.

serpentine front: an undulating front surface on a piece of furniture. More commonly found on case goods, a sofa or loveseat may also be constructed with serpentine fronts.

server: a table and storage piece, used in dining rooms, that is relatively shallow and intended to be used against a wall. Traditionally, food is stored on top prior to being brought to the table. Drawers may be used to store silverware, linens, or other dining room necessities. While similar to a sideboard, a server does not contain cabinets.

settee: small sofa or loveseat with exposed, wooden legs

Shaker style: The Shakers were a religious sect in that grew from the Quaker religion around the time of the revolutionary war, in the state of New York. The Calvinistic bent of the group led them to develop a furniture style devoid of ornamentation, without carvings, inlays or veneers. Construction details, such as exposed dovetails, became prominent in Shaker designs. Shakers were also responsible for several design innovations such as swivel chairs and tilting chairs.

shelter back sofa: sofa with squared-off arms and back at the same height.

Sheraton: Historically 1780-1806. Thomas Sheraton was furniture designer in the late Georgian era, influenced by Louis XVI and French Empire designs. His innovative designs included the first twin beds, the roll-top desks and kidney-shaped tables. Like Chippendale, his styles were popularized through his published designs, but Sheraton was not known to have constructed any furniture himself. Hallmarks of Sheraton's designs included delicate straight lines and pieces ornamented by inlay and marquetry, and carvings of ferns, shells, floral swags and urns.

shield back: the back of a chair which is shaped like a shield.

Shoji screen: originally, a Japanese sliding door constructed of lacquered wood and rice paper. Today the form is reinterpreted as a folding screen of the same materials, used as a room divider.

side chair: a chair with a seat, back and legs, but no arms. Originally designed to sit against a wall when not in use, today they frequently accompany dining tables.

sideboard: table with a wide drawer at the center flanked by drawers or cupboards on the sides and made to be used against a dining room wall for storing and serving food.

sinuous spring: construction element of some upholstered furniture that uses a running s-shaped spring along the length of the deck (seat support).

skirt: fabric running along the lower perimeter of upholstered furniture, designed to hide the legs.

slat: a strip of wood that spans the interior space of a bed frame to support a mattress. May also refer to a narrow strips of wood or metal used in a case good's design.

slat back chair: a chair with a back consisting of one or more wide, flat vertical supports.

sleigh bed: bed that resembles the shape of a horse-drawn sleigh with scroll-shaped headboard and footboard. The headboard is slightly higher than the footboard.

slipcover: a removable, fitted fabric cover for upholstered furniture.

slipper chair: a high-backed upholstered chair with short legs.

snuggler: an oversized upholstered chair. Also frequently called "a chair and a half."

sofa table: a long, narrow table designed to sit against the back of a sofa. They are typically taller than cocktail or end tables.

softwood: wood from a coniferous (evergreen) tree. Pine, cedar and redwood are considered softwoods.

spade foot: a trapezoidal tapered foot.

splat: the center portion of a chair back that support the spine of the person sitting in the chair.

split foundation: a box spring that is divided into two components and designed to be used in pair under a single mattress. Common for king size mattresses, split foundations may also be available for queen mattresses at your local retailer.

split leather: the lower layers of a hide that are removed to create a uniform thickness on a top grain hide. These lower layers are also processed and treated with a protective sealant for use in upholstery.

stain (wood finish): pigment that penetrates the surface of wood, as opposed to sitting on the surface, used to alter the color of the wood. After staining, the wood surface is usually protected with a finish of oil, wax, lacquer, or shellac.

Stickley: Gustav Stickley pioneered the American version of the Arts & Crafts movement in the early 20th century. He founded his furniture company with his brothers, John George and Leopold, who eventually broke with Gustav and formed their own, more profitable company, producing furniture based on from Gustav's original designs.

stop: wood or nylon component of a case good that prevents a drawer from being pulled out too far.

stretcher: stabilizing element connecting the legs of a chair or table somewhat below the seat of a chair or the top of the table.

suite: a group of furniture with common design motifs intended for use in the same room.

summit top: a variety of pillow top mattress with a knife edge cushion construction.

Suzani: Traditional embroidery produced in Uzbekistan and Central Asia that was part of a young woman's dowry. Floral medallions and stylized foliage are common motifs on Suzanis. The needle work patterns have been reinterpreted by modern textile designers as bold and graphic prints.