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Architectural Terms 101

by:Gladman      2020-09-09

When you're reading through the homes for sales, the descriptions commonly refer to various architectural or structural descriptions that are not always explained. Here is a list of some of the more common terms to help you get a clearer picture of what you're buying.

Foyer: A foyer in a commercial building such as a theatre is a large gathering space next to the main auditorium or seating area. This would be the area commonly occupied during intermission for instance. In a house, a foyer is generally the front entry area where guests arrive.

Transom: Either one long rectangular window over a door or window, or a series of small windows. Some are opening, but most are fixed and simply allow for extra light.

Dormer: An upstairs window with wooden peak that juts out from the roof line, and allows for windows in upstairs rooms. Usually they appear in multiples of two or three, and are common in cape cod style homes.

Sidelights: These are narrow windows bordering the outer edges of entrance doors. Some run the full length of the door, others run only part way and are filled in at the bottom.

Bay: A bay window projects out from an exterior wall creating added space in a room and adding to the appeal of the outside of the house. Often a seat or ledge is created inside to provide a sunny window seat.

Wainscoting: This is a type of wood paneling found on the lower part of the wall, running up about three to four feet. It is often painted or stained in a contrasting color and adds interest to a room.

Chair Rail: This wooden feature usually appears at the top of wainscoting, or can be a decorative trim on its own bordering a room. Commonly found in the dining room, a chair rail protects the wall from chairs being pushed away from the table. It also adds an accent to a plain wall or creates a divider between two decorating schemes such as paint and wallpaper.

French Doors: These are two doors hinged on the outside edge, allowing them to swing open in the center. Often made of paned glass, they can be used to separate two rooms such as a living and dining room, or often as exterior doors leading to a deck or patio.

Coffer: This is a ceiling with small indented wooden panels. In older homes these are constructed solely of wood, but newer models reconstruct the same look by creating a wooden drop ceiling or by bordering a textured drywall ceiling with decorative trim or molding.

Gables: These are the triangular end walls formed by a sloping roof. They can be at the front, side or back of a home, over dormers and bay windows.

Claw footed tub: These are the old style tubs supported by legs with claw shaped feet, similar to those found in furniture. They stand alone, unlike most tubs which are built into the walls. Today, most tubs are modern reproductions of the older versions.

Loft: This is an area usually on the second floor, at the top of the stairs overlooking the lower floor. It is generally bordered by a railing for safety, and creates an open, airy look in a home, allowing those on upper floors to view the activities below.

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