As with fashion and food, the influences of home decor span the globe. So it’s no surprise that some design terms can be a linguistic nightmare. The good news is, you don’t need a French degree to get these words right, because you’ve got us. We’ve created an easy pronunciation guide for the most commonly mispronounced words. With a little practice, they’ll be rolling off your tongue in no time — and you’ll impress even your most highbrow friends.
For the following terms, we’ve included the phonetic spelling of their native origin.
1. Armoire: (French) arm-WAAR
A tall wardrobe or moveable cabinet that dates back as far as the 16th century. Today, armoires fulfill a variety of storage needs for today’s homeowner that have nothing to do with its original purpose: storing a king’s robe. A common mispronunciation is: arm-WAH.
2. Bergère: (French) bur-ZHAIR
An armchair with exposed wooden framing and upholstered back and seat. Bergère chairs became popular in 17th century France amongst nobility, and were often made out of gilded walnut or beechwood and upholstered in jacquard silk.
3. Cachepot: (French) CASH-poh
An ornamental vessel used to hold flowers and often used to conceal a flowerpot. A common mispronunciation is: cash-POT.
4. Chaise Longue: (French) shez lawng
An upholstered sofa in the shape of a chair that is long enough to support the outstretched legs. A literal translation is “long chair.” A common mispronunciation is: shayze lounge.
5. Faux bois: (French) foh-BWAH
The artistic imitation of wood or wood grains in various media. This craft has roots in the Renaissance. The translation is “false wood.”
6. Foyer: (French) foy-YAY
The front entrance hall in a home or building. A common mispronunciation is: foy-yerr
7. Ikat: (Indonesian) EE-kaht
A fabric in which the yarns have been tie-dyed before weaving. A common mispronunciation is: EYE-cat.
8. Kilim: (Turkish) KEY-lim
A flat-woven, reversible rug. A common mispronunciation is: KY-lim or key-LEEM
9. Settee: (French) set-TEA
A long seat with back and arms that is made for more than one person. A common mispronunciation is: set-tay
10. Thonet: (German, Austrian) toe-net
A German-Austrian furniture maker who invented bentwood furniture. Also a reference name for bentwood furniture. A common mispronunciation is: tho-NAY.
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