Furniture Terms – B
bachelors chest: (typically) a three-drawer low chest. May be used as a nightstand or a foyer item.
bail: inverted arch handle, usually hinged to a back plate, that is used to pull open a drawer.
balloon shade: balloon shades are similar in construction to a Roman shades, but the billowy folds along the bottom edge when the shade is raised.
baluster: the supporting post of a handrail, often with a curved, vase shape; may also refer to a furniture leg, or chair back element of a similar shape.
bamboo turning: wood that has been turned on a lathe to simulate natural bamboo.
Barcelona chair: tufted, armless chair with an X-shaped, chrome base and leather cushions. Designed by Mies Van Der Rohe, the Barcelona chair is considered to be a classic of “international style.”
barley twist: a turned-wood element with encircling spirals along its length, so that a portion is raised like the threads of a screw. May be found on beds with posters, or on the legs and spindles of case goods
baroque: Historically from the early 17th century to the mid 18th century. European style of art architecture and music that features bold curving forms and elaborate ornamentation.
bas-relief: low relief carving.
Base Coat: Color that is applied to a compatible crust color to achieve the final color of a protected aniline.
batik: a fabric dyeing method that uses a wax resist (that is later removed) to create a design or pattern. Batik is often done in successive layers, with wax applied between multiple dye baths.
batting: sheets of fiber padding (cotton, wool or synthetic fiber) used in upholstery and quilt making.
Bauhaus: early to mid-20th century German school of art and design that emphasized the concept that “form follows function.” Furnishings in this style are marked by clean, simple, lines that are often hard-edged.
beading: decorative molding consisting of a line of small, convex half-spheres.
bed stand: small table used beside a bed as a night stand.
bed steps: a two-step stool intended to be used beside a bed.
bedside chest: a small chest of two to three drawers intended to be used beside a bed.
bedstead: the framework of a bed that supports a mattress and box spring.
bench made: furniture that is made one step at a time, piece by piece, as opposed to furniture constructed on an assembly line.
bentwood: process by which wood or rattan is softened by steam and bent around molds into a desired shape.
bergere: chair with an exposed wooden frame. The back and seat may be upholstered or may feature loose cushions.
bi-cast: split leather with a polyurethane coating that gives it a high sheen and increases durability.
Biedermeier: German style developed in the first half of the nineteenth century, influenced by French Empire styles, and name for a fictitious “every man” character.
blendown: a mixture of down and polyester fibers used to fill upholstery cushions. Blend down is wrapped around high density foam or foam-encased springs, then encased in down-proof ticking before being covered with the upholstery fabric. Feathers may also be used with the down and polyester.
block foot: the square end of an un-tapered leg.
bolster: along cylindrical or rectangular cushion.
bombe: from French, meaning curving or bulging outward; refers to a style of chest or table that has an outward-bulging profile that curves inward at the base.
bonded leather: leather fibers combined with other materials, such as polyurethane, and textiles. The leather content of the final material may range from 20% to 90%.
bonnet top: a rounded, bonnet-shaped crown to the top of a highboy, armoire or other similar case piece. Common in 17th and 18th century designs.
book matching veneers: veneers that are aligned so that grain patterns of adjoining pieces are reflective of each other.
Boston rocker: an American rocker (19th Century) with curved seat, spindle back, and a wide top rail.
boucle: a nubby fabric comprised of uneven yarns that creates a rough appearance.
bow back: a curved upper support of a chair back that is connected to the seat with spindles. Common in Windsor style chairs.
bow front: a case piece with a convexly curved front.
box cushion: cushion with four sides connecting the top and bottom of the cushion, resembling the construction of a box. A welt frequently runs the perimeter of the top and bottom.
box pleat: a flat double pleat made by folding under the fabric on either side of it to create an inverted pleat.
box pleat skirt: an upholstery skirt with alternating high/low folds of fabric to create a dentil pattern.
bracket foot: a low, right angle foot, usually constructed with a mitered corner. May be plain, molded, or scrolled. Common on Hepplewhite and Sheraton. Also known as a console leg.
braid: a flat, woven trim used for decorative edges on upholstery to cover staples or tacks.
breakfront chest: chest, cabinet or bookcase design in which a center section projects out from the rest. Also known as a block front.
brocade: a heavy woven fabric with raised woven decoration that resembles embroidery. Used in upholstery.
broken pediment: a crown at the top of case goods that nearly forms a low-pitched triangle, but has either a void or a finial at the triangle apex.
buffet: a cupboard or “dresser” used in a dining room used to hold platters and serving dishes. They are occasionally paired with a china cabinet hutch atop.
bullion fringe: a thick fringe composed of long, twisted loops of yarn covered in gold or silver thread.
bun feet: foot in the shape of a flattened ball, often with a slender ankle above.
bureau: a low chest of drawers; commonly a dresser.
burl: a beautiful swirled pattern in the grain of a piece of wood caused by a deformity in the tree. Burled wood is often used as a veneer.
butcher block: a wood table top comprised of multiple pieces of thick strips of hardwood bonded together.
butterfly leaf: a table with self-storing leaf mechanisms.
button tufting: upholstery treatment in which buttons (usually fabric-covered) are sewn through the surface and tied down to create a tailored, sometimes undulating, surface.