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Architectural Terms

Knowing what something is called makes it unique and more visible. Having a vocabulary lets us share our interest with others. And it’s fun to point to something and say to a friend, “Know what that’s called? It’s an oriel.”

Fun and a shared vocabulary are the reasons for a new section of Old-House Online. The entries are favorite architectural terms, defined in an old-house context, to help you “see” more clearly your house, your neighborhood, and the architecture of your travels.


Thumbnail image for Acanthus A Mediterranean plant commonly used in Greek Revival design motifs.
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Embossed, paper-based wallcovering.
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Rectangular and square-cut stones or wall treatment suggesting stone blocks, popular in Federal and Greek Revival houses.
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Thumbnail image for Balustrade The top rail, balusters or spindles and foot rail used on a staircase, balcony, or roof.
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Thumbnail image for Belvedere The cupola or windowed top of a tower on Italian Villa-style houses.
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Thumbnail image for Board-and-Batten Vertical siding composed of wide boards and the narrow strips, or battens, that are nailed over the spaces between the boards.
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Door Styles in Early America

Thumbnail image for Door Styles in Early America The evolution from battened plants to Neoclassical Icons.
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