December 1st//Design, Lifestyle

Words to Build Upon – Design & Architecture Lingo Decoded

Whether you’re building or buying, terms are being thrown around that might be somewhat foreign. And like any new venture, you’ll need to know the lingo if you want to be successful. The language of home design, interior design and architecture is often one that needs to be defined more than others. When your architect talks about the “louver,” they’re not referring to the Parisian museum, and when when he mentions the “parti,” chances are they’re not talking about the soiree you’ll host once your home is complete. Have you heard your designer talk about layering and each time it leaves you somewhat lost?


Pictured: 33583 Mulholland Highway, Malibu

From concept to completion, home design has a lot of parts and even more build-specific terminology to go along with it. Knowing that, here are 15 words you ought to know more about.


In the interiors world, “layered,” translates to taking a simple concept and adding collected pieces that build upon that idea. The exact opposite of minimalism, layering is a way of thoughtfully and purposely filling a space for a cohesive composition.

Mitered Windows

545Catalonia_HiRes (2.3 of 33)

Pictured: 545 Catalonia Avenue, Pacific Palisades

A seamless corner window where the glass is cut at complementary angles so it fits together perfectly to create 90-degree angles and unobstructed views. Frank Lloyd Wright birthed this idea after considering that it was done with wood and other materials, so there was no reason it would not work for glass as well.


When metal is weathered (usually copper), overtime it assumes a rich brown or green shade.


A beautiful and classic way of letting light into the home that dates back to Ancient Rome. Here, there is an open roof court (often in the center) surrounded by the building, allowing sunlight to flow in.  


Beams that are only anchored at one point. This is typical when architects reference a roof or deck.



Pictured: 920 Alta Avenue, Santa Monica

A mix of materials including wood, metal, steel, stone or cement designed to protect the exterior (particularly from leaking) as well as provide architectural dimensions and appeal.


Horizontal slats (often a blind or shutter) angled to allow light and air to flow through, but keep out rain, direct sunshine and noise.


Simply put, it’s strong, engineered wood. Stronger than steel.


A general term for the design, construction or presence of any and every opening in a building including windows, vents, skylights, doors, curtain walls or louvers.


The shortened form of “parti pris” is an architectural reference to the project’s bigger idea or overall architectural concept.

Bifold Door

Narrow panels that pleat on hinges that are on a track (above and below) coming together at the center. Bifold doors often take up less space when opened than conventional doors.

Tray Ceiling


Pictured: 308 North Sycamore Avenue #206, Hancock Park

A ceiling featuring a three-dimensional contrast to what would otherwise be a flat ceiling.

Curtain Wall

868 leonard brentwood_hero add windowlight-1

Pictured: 868 Leonard Road, Brentwood

Typically designed from glass, a curtain wall is a thin aluminum frame that is not a part of the building’s structure, but supported by the structure’s framework.  


Also referred to as the “eaves,” this is an exterior ceiling or underside of an architectural structure that extends to create an arch and often hides wires or plumbing.

Pony Wall

A short wall (either in height or length) that can be placed anywhere in the home and offers a wide range of versatility.

Posted in Design, Lifestyle .

Leave a Comment

Never Miss a Post!


Follow Us on Instagram