20 Design Terms you Have to Know About and What They Mean

Have you ever had a presentation to give about a design (yours or someone else’s) and you just stood there repeating the words “nice”, “beautiful”, and “organized”?

I’m sure your inner designer had another description in mind but you just couldn’t find the right word for it.

Mainstream slang doesn’t cut it if you want to sound sophisticated and professional, not to mention your designs are judged by every word you utter; using a phrase like “Custom Designed” doesn’t have the same impact as “Tailored”.

So, how about I give you 20 phrases that you can use, and what they mean so that the next time you talk, you change the way the listener perceives you and your design.


Building a visual interest by adding “layers” of elements to a space and making it look full but not cluttered.


Honest is used to describe a space that is naturally and spontaneously designed, with minimum planning, if not planned at all.


An elegant and stylish space.


A space that goes that extra mile when it comes to a style, theme, or design.


When all the elements of a space fit together, as if they are custom designed to fit or actually are costumed to fit. Think a Tailored suit or dress.


A space filled with elements that are collected over time, and from different sources/eras/themes.


A term used for a space that can be decided on/completed later, or has the flexibility to change over time until it reaches its final look (or keep evolving).


A well-organized space, that has a minimal feel to it but not cold. Basically, the opposite of ‘Honest’, in a way.


A space that has a high quality feel to it, as well as a sense of good craftsmanship to some or all of its elements.


A space that has an ‘artsy’ feel with some unexpected elements/touches.


A space that puts a smile on your face and has the hint of being from “another world/time”.

Contrived Patina

Would you rather describe the counter as “looks old” or “has a contrived patina”?


Moody spaces tend to sport dark themes and layers of texture.


A space that has been reinterpreted without any constraints to imagination.


A space that has a clean-cut feel to it, without any clutter or frills.


A space that has been designed in a way that lives up to a lifestyle goal.


A space with no affiliation to an era, time, or trend; it looks perfect now, and it will look perfect 10 years from now.


A space that is unique, special, or just plain out crazy. An out of the box approach to a design.


A space that has patterns or materials that give you the “I wanna touch that” feeling.


A space that shows a certain taste, style, or a point of view; most of all, it shows a form of distinction.

Do you have another term you’d like to add? Does any of those describe a certain style in you head? Lemme know!

Don’t hesitate to comment with any questions or suggestions.

Don’t Forget to subscribe, you’ll get articles like this and MORE righ to your inbox 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.