Basics: Design Dictionary

When I started in interior design there were words that I had no clue what they meant.  They were interior design specific and I was clueless, but you don't have to be clueless like me with this dictionary!  #interiordesignbusiness #interiordesigndictionary #designdictionary #cktradesecrets

When I first started working in an interior design office, there were words that were being used that I had no idea what they meant, but I also didn't want to ask in case I looked stupid.  True story.  There were a lot of words that I was embarrassed to not know.  But no fear my friends, I have complied a list of all those interior design industry words that confused me and I'm defining them for you.  You don't have to feel stupid in the not knowing.  

There are many interior design acronyms, some which are taken from architecture/construction and some that we've created all on our own.  This list is by no means exhaustive, but a good start of some of the most common ones.   If you feel like I've missed some or that you don't use the words quite as I've defined, please comment below and add your words + definitions to this resource!

Upholstery/ Fabric Terms

COM: Customer's Own Material - This is the acronym used when the client already has fabric to be used on upholstery or when you are sending the fabric that you purchased to the upholsterer.  I usually write COM followed by the detailed fabric information for the upholsterer.  Variation is COL: Customer's Own Leather.  

What's the price for the sofa COM?  

CFA: Cutting for Approval, when you order fabric you should always get a CFA, this is an actual piece of the fabric roll that you'll be getting your fabric from.  Since dye lots (see below) can differ you want to make sure that the roll you'll get your material from is what you want.  

Did the CFA arrive?  Did you approve the CFA?

Dye Lot: Fabric and wallpaper are done in batches and colors can vary.  If you're ordering fabric or wallpaper you'll want to get them all from the same dye lot, or at least get CFA to make sure they all match.  This can sometimes be a problem when you order material and then have to order more and there is none left from your dye lot.  Measure twice!

What do you mean that you only have 2 yards of that dye lot left?!

Welt: The finishing rim around upholstery. Here is a single self-welt (selt-welt is done in the same material as upholstery). Can also have a double welt.  Or a contrast welt (done in different material as upholstery).  May also be called cord/cording/pipe/piping.  

I need a single self-welt on that tuxedo sofa.  

Flange: Another type of finishing trim around the edges of upholstery is flange.  Instead of a round cord, flange is flat material.  Here is an image of a sofa with flange detail (contrast).  And a double flange.  Don't like fussy details, try Knife Edge which is weltless and has a flat seam.  

I just can't get into flange on sofas, it feels so flabby.  

 Off-the-Bolt & Railroad (RR): This one is hard to describe without using visuals - so check this out.  Essentially, unless you specify otherwise upholsterers will pull the fabric off the bolt and run it vertically on the furniture.  When you ask for it to be railroaded, the fabric is pulled horizontally over the furniture.  You'll need this if you want the pattern on the fabric to run a different direction than Off-the-Bolt, especially if you have vertical stripes that you want horizontal.  

I'd like the fabric to be railroaded so that the stripes run horizontal.  

Cut/ting fee: Often if you are only ordering a couple yards of fabric there is a cutting fee.  

Orders under 3 yards have a cut fee of $75.  

Abrasion Tests/ Double rubs: Durability of fabric is measured by abrasion tests and double rubs, a double rub is the back & forth motion on these tests.  The higher the double rubs the higher the durablity.  A sheer curtain fabric is going to have low double rubs, but since it'll be used on curtains, not a problem.  You wouldn't want to use that same sheer fabric on upholstery because it wouldn't stand up to the wear of use.  Wyzenbeek uses the double-rub method and Martindale uses a figure-8 motion to test durability.  You may see one of the other written on the fabric samples.  

What's the abrasion rating on that fabric?  Or simply, How many double rubs?

This is a nice page for different upholstery elements.  

Project Management Terms

Punch List: The final to-do list before a job/project is complete.  This is all the last minute final things like getting a rug pad or paint touch-ups or buying the obscure light bulbs for the lamp.  

We're about 3 weeks away from wrapping up the punch list.  

Sidemark or S/M or SM: Job Name - For my business I use a 3 letter code for my client projects - JBE or STU.  Sometimes the sidemark is the client's last name or the project street name.  If you are doing a lot of ordering, it helps the vendors call and quickly identify the order by sidemark -  the entry tile for JBE is in (for example).  

What's the sidemark for that order?

Leadtime: What's the leadtime? is a common phrase interior designer's say.  (PS: Sh*t Designer's Say is still funny) Leadtime is just the time between ordering and shipping or sometimes delivery.  A lot of custom furniture has a 12-16 week leadtime.  I also ask contractors this when I want to know when they can start the project - What's your current leadtime?

The leadtime for that sofa is 16 weeks, so we need to order now to make it to your house before the holidays. 

Backorder: When something is out of stock.  You have to watch out for order things on backorder, they may sell out the first run and you'll have to wait longer.  In my experience, things on backorder often take longer to arrive then what is originally quoted.  

That chair is backordered, so it's going to add another 4 weeks to the leadtime.

Freight/Delivery/Installation/Shipping Fee: You need to watch for the transportation terms used by you and your vendors.  Because sometimes there are multiple of these fees attached to a single item and it can be confusing to the client.  Shipping is generally a catch-all term, the rest are a bit more specific.  But! These are not universal, so ask your vendor if you're confused too.  Freight generally refers to the charge to get it from the vendor to a receiving warehouse.  Then you could have a delivery charge to get it from the warehouse to the client's home.  Installation charge will be for assembly and putting the piece in place in the client's home.

We're going to be shipping the sofa to the warehouse for a freight charge of $400, then the delivery guys will bring it to you house and install it with the rest of your furnishings in May.  

Drop Ship: Delivery direct to a client's home.  Some vendors only deliver to a location with a loading dock and can't drop ship.  Sometimes there is an additional fee to drop ship.  When delivering to a client's house, you also need to know if the service includes White Glove Delivery - which is installation of the piece - bring it into the client's home and setting it up and removing packaging materials.  Or if it only includes Curbside Delivery - dropping at the front door.  

That piece can't be drop shipped, it needs to go to a receiving warehouse.  

FOB: Freight on Board.  This is the origin location of the item.  Buying something from an antique dealer in New York will often have FOB: New York.  However, in doing research for this article, it seems that using it this way may cause confusion.  But most of the time I use this for my own internal records, so this works for me.  FOB usually means that this is the starting point for where you must pay for transportation.  

The fabric is coming from Paris, but the vendor ships to New York, so we consider the FOB to be New York and then you have to pay for shipping from New York to Kansas.  

ESD: Estimated Ship Date / Estimated Delivery Date - This is the date that you'll get from the vendor or shipping company to let you know when they expect to ship or delivery the piece.  

Right now we have an ESD of May 16, but with the weather we've been having that may be a little later.  

Pricing Terms

Proforma: This really just means that you're going to pay for the goods before you receive them (as opposed to Net30 - see below).  Usually you'll call the vendor and ask for a proforma invoice, which is essentially a quote.  You'll have to pay for the goods before they release them for shipment.  Learn more about setting up trade accounts.  

Will you send me a proforma invoice for the carpet?

Net30: This is a type of credit in which you have 30 days to pay for the goods after purchase.  If you have good relationships with vendors and/or can provide credit references you can use this credit to get goods shipped quickly.  I really never use this because my clients pay 100% deposit for goods and then I mail a check to the vendors to place the orders.  

I'll be paying Net30.  

Wholesale cost:  Often vendors and manufacturers have tiered pricing based on volume that you purchase.  So the wholesale cost is usually the lowest price tier, unless you source direct from the producer (if different).  Sometimes this is also the stocking dealer price - which means that you keep stock of the product or that could be another tier.  Usually the designer's net price is between wholesale/stocking dealer and retail.  

Designer's net: This is the price that the designer pays, usually more than wholesale, but less than retail.

Designer's net is 20% off $4500 for that piece.  If you want to apply for a wholesale account the opening order is $10,000.  

Construction Terms

FF&E: Furniture, Fixtures, & Equipment.  Seen more in new construction or commercial documents, this term is to call out things outside of the building portion - the furniture, accessories, artwork, lighting, windowcoverings, and rugs.  

We need to start thinking about FF&E to get this project delivered on time.  

Change order: The official document that a change in scope has been made and agreed to by the parties involved (architect/contractor/designer/client.  If it is outside your contract a change order is a smart move.  Change orders protect all parties from disputes down the road.  

The client wants to add some fancy millwork to the Den, so we need to issue a change order for the schedule and budget so they know both are increasing.  

AFF - Above Finished Floor.  When you specifying how high the sconce fixture should be and you've measured before the floor in installed- you may want to call out AFF so that the contractor adds the floor thickness to the electrical rough-in. 

This light is 1" lower than specified, the drawing said 66" AFF, but looks like the contractor didn't take the flooring thickness into account, because right now it is 65" AFF, it'll have to be raised.   

NTS - Not to scale.  If your drawings are not to scale, write NTS on them so that there is no confusion. 

You can't use your architectural scale ruler out to take the measurements from this drawing because it's NTS.  

OC / On Center - Measurement taken from the center point rather than an edge. 

Is that light fixture installed at 54" on center

Did I miss something?  Do you use alternate definitions for the same words?  Share below in the comments!