Furniture Terms – C
cabriole: a bowed, curved leg that tapers to a smaller foot, similar to the shape of an animal’s leg.
California king: a mattress size that measures 74″ x 86″. This style of mattress is popular on the West coast of the United States. The additional size comes in the length creating a rectangular shape rather than the square shape of a standard king (Eastern King).
cambric: fabric attached to the underside of upholstered furniture
camelback: sofa or chair style in which the back is raised in an arch in the middle, similar to a camel’s hump.
campaign chair: a style of light, foldable chair. Also known as a director’s chair.
campaign furniture: portable furniture that folds, collapses or is easy to disassemble and reassemble. It often features handles and recessed hardware. Originally designed for military use, it is associated colonial style.
cane: split rattan that is used in an open weave for chair seats and backs.
canopy bed: traditionally, a bed with a fabric roof over it. Originally a symbol of rank and privilege, today the canopy may be a wrought iron or wood frame with stretchers between the posters, with or without the fabric draperies.
canted: sloping at an angle.
cantilever: horizontal projecting beam or structure anchored at one end only.
captain’s bed: large, high bed featuring a number of storage drawers located below the mattress cavity.
case good: non-upholstered furniture, especially chests and cabinets.
cedar chest: a storage box with a hinged lid and lining or bottom of cedar wood, intended to ward off moths and other insects that could damage clothing or linens.
cellarette: a dining room case good which may function like a sideboard, but is designed to hold wine and liquor bottles, as well as wine glasses.
chaise: a long chair for reclining. May have one arm, two arms or no arms at all.
chaise recliner: a recliner with a fully-padded extending footrest.
chaise sectional: a sectional sofa that incorporates a built-in raised footrest.
channel back: an upholstered chair or sofa back having deep vertical grooves.
Charles of London: style of arm on upholstered furniture which is low at the back and slightly raised and curved at the front. The inside of the arm is usually well padded and curves over the edge of the arm in the front, contrasting to a flatter treatment on the outside of the arm.
checking: the appearance of wide cracks or splits in wood due to expansion and contraction of the wood with changes in humidity.
chenille: a soft thick fabric usually made of cotton or silk with a raised pile, that is used to make furnishings and clothes.
chest: a box with a hinged lid used for storage. May also be used as an abbreviation of a “chest of drawers.”
chest of drawers: cabinet with drawers, usually taller than wide, used for storage.
chest-on-chest: a two-part chest of drawers with one section designed to be stacked on top of a wider chest of drawers.
chesterfield: overstuffed couch or sofa with upholstered ends and no exposed wood. Back and arms are usually of one continuous curve.
cheval mirror: free-standing full-length mirror that may be tilted between its vertical supports.
chiffonier: a narrow chest of drawers or lingerie chest.
china cabinet: often used in dining rooms, china cabinets generally consist of an upper portion with glass-doored display case, and lower enclosed cabinet for storage.
Chinese Chippendale: a style of furniture established in the mid-18th century England. Innovations by the English designer Thomas Chippendale expanded upon Chinese-inspired motifs. The style, overall, is more elaborate than true Chinese designs and is distinguished by open fretwork, some with faux bamboo carvings, and lacquer finishes.
chinoiserie: a style in found in art, ceramics, textiles and furniture design that reflects an occidental (European) interpretation of traditional Chinese motifs.
chintz: printed and glazed cotton fabric, often in bright colors.
Chippendale: Historically 1740-1779. Thomas Chippendale was a furniture and cabinet maker in the Georgia era. His name became synonymous with his style, in part because he published a widely-copied book of designs. His early designs often employed cabriole legs with claw and ball feet. In later work legs were straight. He carved embellishments in a wide variety of motifs: lion paws, acorns, acanthus leaves, roses, dolphins and scrolls. Fretwork was another common element in his designs.
cigar arm: a narrow rolled arm that slopes downward as it approaches the front edge of a sofa, loveseat, chair or settee.
claw and ball foot: a carved foot at the base of a leg that looks like a an animal paw or a bird talon grasping a ball. Often found on cabriole legs.
club foot: thick and substantial foot with a slightly pointed toe, usually found on cabriole legs.
cocktail table: short-legged table, usually positioned in front of a sofa or loveseat. Also known as a coffee table.
coffee table: short-legged table, usually positioned in front of a sofa or loveseat. Also known as a cocktail table.
colonial: In America, this style dominated from the earliest settlements to the Revolution of 1776. Here as elsewhere it represents styles that are rooted in mother countries but adapted to the materials and uses of the colonies, primarily Africa, India, the Americas, and the Caribbean.
color ways: multiple variations of color combinations in which a fabric pattern is available.
color wheel: a circular arrangement of the colors of the spectrum. The primary colors, red, yellow and blue, form a triangle within the circle with their complimentary secondary colors (green for red, purple for yellow and orange for blue) on the opposite side.
combing: decorative paint technique in which wet glaze is removed with a comb, or notched tool, to reveal the base coat underneath.
commode: a moveable stand or cupboard, historically used to house chamber pots.
complimentary colors: two colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel; i.e.. red and green, purple and yellow, blue and orange.
console: narrow table designed to sit against a wall for support; often used in entryways. May also mean a free-standing storage cabinet for housing a TV, stereo or other electronic equipment
contour top: a variety of mattress pillow top. similar to a summit top. Contour tops employ a gusseted, knife edge construction and are attached with a distinct separation between the top and the mattress. What differentiates a contour top is the use of a zoned fill (foam of different densities for specific areas of the body) in the mattress top.
convoluted foam: a layer of foam used in mattress construction that often overlays the springs in an innerspring mattress. It resembles the bottom of an egg crate with peaks and valleys between two and three inches tall. This layer of foam is good for relieving muscle tension as the peaks and valleys have a gentle massaging effect.
cool colors: generally, colors that are associated with ice, the sky and water: blues, purples and greens. It should be noted, however, that colors that are generally cool can have warm qualities, for example a deep olive green can have yellow overtones and be considered a warm green.
corner block: reinforcing blocks of wood bolted to the interior corners of furniture for increased strength and stability.
cornice: horizontal molding at the top of a wall or case good; can also mean a decorative molding at the top of a window that hides curtain fixtures
corrected grain leather: leather that has been buffed and coated with pigments or other finishes to hide imperfections. Also known as protected leather.
couch: sofa or daybed.
credenza: a buffet, sideboard or bookcase, typically with a functional top surface near table height.
Crocking: Transferring of color or finish from leather to other materials caused by rubbing or abrasion.
cuddler: a large, frequently armless, component of a sectional that typically connects two additional components together at a corner.
curio cabinet: a display case with a glass front and sides, and without enclosed cabinet space. Most modern curio cabinets incorporate interior lighting, glass shelves, and a mirrored back.