Learn The Lingo – Interior Design Terminology


Sometimes when talking to a client about their project and the documents I will be sending as their project progresses, I use technical terms and need to remind myself that it may be best to explain what I am talking about!

This article will go over some of the terms we as designers use.  Some of them you may have heard of, and other might be completely foreign. Ether way I hope to teach you something today so that you know what to expect along the way!

Accessible – We use this term when we are referring to commercial spaces.  The space needs to be accessible to those with disabilities.  You may also hear us use the term ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) as well. 

Elevation – This is an architectural drawing term we use to refer to a line drawing.  This is a 2D drawing that details one wall, or one view of your space.  This drawing is to scale, which means you can understand the size of each piece involved.

Floor Plan – This is the view of your space that we work with the most.  It details walls, windows, door swings, furniture placement, plumbing fixtures, etc.  The floor plan is a 2D drawing that helps you to understand how your space will function.  The floor plan drawing is always to scale, which means you can understand the size of each piece of the puzzle.

Perspective – This is a 3D drawing of one view of your space.  Perhaps we have an intricate ceiling structure, or built-in millwork that we want to showcase.  The perspective drawing is the best way to give you a look at what the completed space will feel like.  This drawing is not to scale but shows the correct volume of each piece relative to the walls and surrounding features.

Reflected Ceiling Plan – This is another drawing that you are likely to see, and should understand what it shows.  This is a 2D drawing of the ceiling as if it were reflected in a mirror image over the floor plan.  Essentially this drawing shows where your light fixtures are going to be placed, which switches turn them on, and we also include any emergency/exit lighting on this plan as well for commercial clients.  If you have a unique ceiling feature, such as a dropped soffit, we will detail it on this plan as well.

Rendering – This is a word we use to describe a drawing that we have added color, texture, or imagery to.  The word render means “to change,” so we have  changed your elevation, perspective, or floor plan into a visually stunning piece that really sets up the picture for you.

Space Planning – You will hear us use this term when we are in the beginning phases of your design project.  Oftentimes there is more than one right answer to solving the design problem, so we may do a series of space plans, sometimes called “blocking” plans to detail our ideas before we fully develop a floor plan.  You won’t usually see doors, windows, or many details here.  But you will get a sense of where each space begins and ends, and the general flow.  From here we develop the floor plan.

I hope this was helpful in describing some of the terms we will use with you when working together on your project!

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