Terms and Distinctions

architectural designer: Certain credentials are required to use the word architect. When you see this title for a professional, question whether residential designer would be more appropriate.

baluster: One of the short vertical pieces, sometimes vase-shape, used to support a stair handrail.
balustrade: An entire railing system or low wall, including a top rail, its balusters, and sometimes a bottom rail.
banister: A handrail for a staircase.
handrail: A bar passing from one support to another along a stairway to provide a handhold.
rail: Same as handrail; may also be rails and their supports that create an enclosure or line of division, as a balcony rail.

bay window: A series of windows assembled in a polygon.
bow window: A series of windows assembled in an arc.

beaded: Use as an adjective to describe a characteristic of a material. Do not use bead. Beaded is more descriptive. Also, be as specific as possible in describing the kind of material. For example: beaded board, beaded ceiling paneling, beaded ceiling material, or beaded-board paneling.

cement: The powder that makes concrete.
concrete: The rocklike substance that makes roads and sidewalks.

commercial or restaurant range: Either may be used to describe a range designed specifically for restaurant use.

corbel:
An architectural member that projects from within a wall and supports a weight; especially one that is stepped upward and outward from a vertical surface.

engineered wood: This refers to products that are made of wood components combined with adhesives to form structural members that maximize the properties of the wood. Some examples: plywood, oriented strand board (OSB), structural composite panels, glued laminated (glulam) timbers, parallam strand lumber, and wood I-joists.

finial: An ornament usually decorated with a leaf pattern that forms an upper extremity (as of a pinnacle or gable) especially in Gothic architecture.

keystone: The wedge-shape stone at the crown of an arch that locks the other pieces in place.

lintel: A piece of wood or stone that lies across the top of a door or window and holds the weight of the structure above it.

low-E (low-emissivity) glass:Allows light to penetrate but blocks heat; this keeps heat in on cold days and keeps heat out on hot days.

mansard: A roof having two slopes on all sides with the lower slope steeper than the upper one. A mansard roof gives extra space without requiring construction of an entire floor.

mullion: A vertical member between windows.
muntin: A secondary framing member (vertical, horizontal, or slanted) that divides window panes in the same sash.

newel:
An upright post at the foot of a straight stairway or at a landing; also an upright post about which the steps of a circular staircase wind.

parapet: A low wall or railing at the edge of a platform, roof, or bridge. Also a wall of earth or stone to protect soldiers.

pediment: A triangular area on the face of a building below the roof, above an entrance, etc. It is a feature of classic architecture

professional-grade, professional-duty, professional-quality, or professional-caliber range: Any may be used to describe a high-performance range designed specifically for residential use.
pro-look or pro-style range: Either may be used to describe a range that is not high performance but is designed to look like it is—in most cases it would be made of stainless steel.

quartz, quartzite: Quartz used to be known as engineered stone. It is made primarily of stone chips mixed with resins and pigments. Brands include Cambria, Caesarstone, Silestone, Zodiaq. When referring to it, please avoid words like engineered and synthetic;manufacturers don’t use them, so the words will confuse readers. Quartzite is pricey, unusual, and high-end. If a homeowner has used it, they will probably mention it by name, so it merits a brief explanation (or use natural stone and move on). (added 5/21/19)

quoin: Large squared stones or blocks that form the solid exterior angle of a building. They are both decorative and structural because they usually differ in jointing, color, texture, or size from the masonry of the adjoining walls. Most are toothed and set in a regular pattern of alternating lengths. Also the exterior angle itself.

R-value: Ability of material to resist the flow of heat through it. The higher the number, the better it insulates. In text: R-7, R-22, R-30.

Remodelor:
A professional person certified by the Remodelors Council of the National Association of Home Builders.
remodeler: The common term for someone involved in reworking a building or home.

Sheetrock: This is a trademarked term for drywall, wallboard, plasterboard, or gypsum board. In general, do not use unless you mean this specific product. Usually it is best to use a generic term unless the word is in a direct quote.
drywall, wallboard, gypsum board, plasterboard: These are all acceptable generic terms for the materials used to construct interior walls. The materials are applied in large sheets and do not require a water additive to apply.

Spackle:
This is a trademarked term for surfacing compound. In general, do not use unless you mean this particular product. The same caution applies to the use of spackle as a verb. It means to apply Spackle brand filler to a wall.
surfacing compound: This is the generic term for the filler used to cover cracks or other imperfections in a surface before painting.

skylight: a fixed window; use roof window for operable units.

tongue and groove:
Not tongue in groove. Each plank or panel has a tongue and a groove so each piece may slide into the next. The technique is tongue-and-groove construction; it creates tongue-and-groove flooring, tongue-and-groove wainscoting, etc.

 


 

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Styles

Words such as “era,” “movement,” and “period” should be capitalized when they constitute an integral part of a proper noun or adjective.
Examples:
Victorian Era mores
Arts and Crafts Movement
Early American Period

Arts and Crafts
Art Deco
Art Moderne
Art Nouveau
Baroque
Bauhaus
Beaux Arts
Biedermeier
British Colonial
Byzantine
Cape Cod
Carpenter Gothic
Chateauesque
Chinese
Chippendale
classic
coastal cottage
Colonial
Colonial Revival
contemporary
country
country French (not French country)
cottage
Craftsman
Creole cottage
Cubist
Directoire
Dutch Colonial
Early American
eclectic
Edwardian
Elizabethan
Empire
English cottage
English Tudor
Federal
folk art
foursquare
French Colonial
French country (use country French instead)
French Provincial
functionalist
Georgian
Gothic
Gothic Revival
Greek Revival
Hellenic
Hepplewhite
high-tech
Hill Country (Texas)
Hollywood Regency
Impressionist
International
Italianate
Jacobean
Low Country (decorating style from coastal South Carolina, not an architectural style)
Mediterranean
midcentury modern
Mission
modern
Moderne
modular
Moorish
neobaroque
neoclassic
neoeclectic
neo-Gothic
neotraditional
Oriental (sometimes considered offensive; use Asian when appropriate)
Palladian
Pennsylvania Dutch
postmodern
Prairie
Prairie School
Pueblo
Queen Anne
Queen Anne Victorian
ranch
Régence
Regency
Renaissance
Restoration
rococo
Romanesque
saltbox
Scandinavian
Second Empire
sectional
Shaker
Sheraton
Shingle style
shotgun
Single House
Spanish Colonial
Spanish eclectic
Spanish Territorial
Steamboat Gothic
Stick
Territorial
Tudor
Victorian
William and Mary

See also
Hyphens, especially the rule about well-established compounds.


 

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Photo Disclaimer

Some of the houses that are photographed for SIM home plans titles have been modified from the original plans so they do not exactly match the blueprints that are sold. To avoid confusion and potential liability issues, all plan information boxes should include the following disclaimer:

The photographed home may have been modified to suit homeowner preferences. If you order plans, please have a builder or design professional check them against the photos to confirm actual construction details.
 


 

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Building Styles

Words such as “era,” “movement,” and “period” should be capitalized when they constitute an integral part of a proper noun or adjective.

Examples:

Victorian Era mores
Arts and Crafts Movement
Early American Period

 

Arts and Crafts
Art Deco
Art Moderne
Art Nouveau
Baroque
Bauhaus
Beaux Arts
Biedermeier
British Colonial
Byzantine
Cape Cod
Carpenter Gothic
Chateauesque
Chinese
Chippendale
classic
coastal cottage
Colonial
Colonial Revival
contemporary
country
country French (not French country)
cottage
Craftsman
Creole cottage
Cubist
Directoire
Dutch Colonial
Early American
eclectic
Edwardian
Elizabethan
Empire
English cottage
English Tudor
Federal
folk art
foursquare
French Colonial
French country (use country French instead)
French Provincial
functionalist
Georgian
Gothic
Gothic Revival
Greek Revival
Hellenic
Hepplewhite
high-tech
Hill Country (Texas)
Impressionist
International
Italianate
Jacobean
Low Country (decorating style from coastal South Carolina, not an architectural style)
Mediterranean
midcentury modern
Mission
modern
Moderne
modular
Moorish
neobaroque
neoclassic
neoeclectic
neo-Gothic
neotraditional
Oriental (sometimes considered offensive; use Asian when appropriate)
Palladian
Pennsylvania Dutch
postmodern
Prairie
Prairie School
Pueblo
Queen Anne
Queen Anne Victorian
ranch
Régence
Regency
Renaissance
Restoration
rococo
Romanesque
saltbox
Scandinavian
Second Empire
sectional
Shaker
Sheraton
Shingle
shotgun
Single House
Spanish Colonial
Spanish eclectic
Spanish Territorial
Steamboat Gothic
Stick
Territorial
Tudor
Victorian
William and Mary

See also Hyphens, especially the rule about well-established compounds.

 


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Showhouse Credits

Showhouses may be credited in the credits list or as part of the main text; use the same style with these credits throughout a story and throughout the magazine.

Identifying showhouse locations:
City is part of showhouse name: Chestnut Hill (Pennsylvania) Designer Showhouse.

City is part of showhouse name and does not need state designation per BHGStylebook.com Stand-Alone Cities List: St. Louis Symphony Showhouse.

Location is not part of showhouse name: Baileys Arboretum Showhouse, Locust Valley, New York.

Pickup photography for showhouses may or may not be credited, at the editors discretion. Be consistent throughout an issue.

 


 

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Dimensions, Measurements, and Sizes

Boards (added 5/29/14)
When instructions call for a 2×4 piece of lumber, “inches” is not needed because it is a nominal measurement. (The actual measurement, which depends on the dryness of the material and the milling methods, is about 15⁄8 inches by 35⁄8 inches.) The same goes for a 1x piece of lumber, which actually is only about 3/4 inch thick.

Nails
The nail size unit is called a “penny” and is abbreviated with the lowercase letter d. It indicates the length of the nail. For example, a 2d (2 penny) nail is 1 inch long. The length increases 1⁄4 inch for each penny after that. So, a 4d nail is 11⁄2 inches long. The measurement applies to common, box, casing, and finishing nails. Brads and small box nails are specified by their actual length and shank size (3⁄4-inch x 16 brad or 3⁄4-inch x 18 brad).

Project dimensions
Standard order: Width x Heighth x Depth (added 5/30/14)

Use Dimension X in measurements:
4×8-foot panels
2x4s
3⁄4-inchx6-foot boards
6×6-inch tiles

 

See how to make fractions in Measurements.
See also Numbers.

 


 

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Floor Plans

In general, use Main Level, Upper Level, and Lower Level, not first floor, second floor, etc. Occasionally, a plan may require special nomenclature. For example, a third level might be a Crow’s Nest or Cupola. Or, a beach house might have a Bedroom Level on what is usually the main level, and its central living area or Main Level would be on the upper level. In this case, use Bedroom
Level and Main Level for clarity. There may be other exceptions to improve clarity.

When counting bedrooms on a floor plan, follow the first reference in classifying the space. For example, if it’s a bedroom/study, count it as a bedroom. If it’s a den/bedroom, don’t.

Count a bath with a shower but no tub as a full bath.

 


 

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Faux

Faux

Faux can only be used as an adjective meaning fake:

The faux-marble finish

Don’t use faux as a verb. He didn’t faux-finish (pretend to) the walls; he really did finish them. Also, avoid faux finish as a noun.

Avoid using faux to describe paint techniques such as color-washing, sponge-painting, and rag-rolling. These are real finishes. Faux can only describe the effect or thing you are imitating: faux marble, faux wood, or with a trompe loeil window, the faux window. If you do not know the finish used, decorative finish is acceptable. Also, use decorative painter or decorative artist rather than faux artist.

 


 

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Terms to Avoid

bayed: It’s an unacceptable way to refer to bay windows or to bump-outs that create a curved area, usually a sitting area or dining nook. Rewrite to eliminate.
bay-windowed: This is an unacceptable adjective. Use with a bay window, or eliminate.

his-and-her: Although this is not technically wrong, avoid whenever possible to avoid the sexism inherent in the term. Use dual, double, or separate as appropriate.

island kitchen: The kitchen is not an island nor is it on an island. Use kitchen with an island or include the island in another way.

compartmented toilet: Sorry, toilets are not divided in sections that we need to specify. Use separate toilet area or toilet compartment.

mother-in-law’s apartment: Use guest apartment, guest suite, guest quarters, grandparent suite.

 


 

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