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Design Glossary

Solar Outdoor Fixture

Mostly used for an ambient glow rather than a source of adequate illumination less expensive lights usually have only one bulb. New lines of solar lughts are sturdier and boast up to four bulbs which give off a much brighter light. Solar lights are environmentally friendly and require little maintenance.

Spindles or balusters

The posts supporting the handrail.

Stair Nosing

The front overhang of a step where the tread and riser meet.


A window covering that is made of vinyl; opacity depends on the weave. It is available in many colours.

Thread Count

The actual number of threads in one square inch of cloth.


U-shaped metal loops or straight pegs with decorative finials or band or fabric or cording with tassels that hold drapery open.

Tongue and Groove

Panelling that fits together with a tongue-and-groove joint: a tongue on the edge of one board fits into a corresponding groove on the edge of the next boards.

Traverse rod

A plain rod with cord at side for drawing drapery.

Tread or runner

The top plane of a step.

Trisodium phosphate (TSP)

TSP is a white powder used as a cleaning agent stain remover or degreaser often used to prepare surfaces for painting and is available at most hardware stores.

Trompe l'oeil

"French term meaning fool the eye"". Trompe l’oeil is usually a two-dimensional painting designed to look like a three-dimensional object or scenery."""


The curtain which is closest to the window in a treatment that includes at least two layers.

Vapour barrier

Any material that stops the passage of vapour-laden air but in residential applications the term is used to describe flexible often clear polyethylene sheet plastic.


Varathane manufactured by Rust-Oleum is a water-based acrylic polyurethane finish that works well with wood paper and fabric.


ExxonMobil’s low-odour petroleum solvent used to remove oil and grease thin oil-based paints urethanes and varnishes and clean paint brushes.


French for velvet a material similar in look and feel to velvet usually made from cotton in the same way as velvet but has a denser deeper pile and a heavier weight. Often used for upholstery draperies hats and clothing.

Vessel Sink

Also known as countertop sink. These highly stylized sinks sit directly on top of the vanity or counter. Some are pre-drilled for faucets but most require a wall-mounted faucet or a vessel faucet which has a longer shank to reach inside the bowl. Often rendered in beautiful colours and finishes.


An application of wood molding and/or wood panelling up to the middle or lower half of a wall to visually break up the space and protect the wall surface. Used especially in entryways and major rooms like dining rooms.

Wickerware Bottles

In Colonial India bottles were wrapped with straw or wicker to protect them and keep their contents cool. Today these beautiful bottles are hot decorative items.

Wide-slat Blind

A window covering that is in real wood or faux-wood; twill or fabric tapes can cover the strings.

Window frame

Consists of the top and side jambs and a still. It is the fixed part of the window that encloses the sash. The interior frame is often wood that can be stained or painted. Freames can be injected with insulating foam to increase energy efficiency.

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