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JL Design Dictionary

 What’s the difference between an “arm chair” and an “accent chair”? What on earth is a “rail”? Don't worry if you’re scratching your head over some of our terms–we're here to help you figure it out! This “design dictionary” series is a helpful guide to Jonathan Louis’s descriptors and offerings. Let’s get started!

This week, we tackle Joinery, Knife-Edge, and Loose Backs. 

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While this might seem self-explanatory, we offer a variety of arm styles (check out Design Lab to see all the options in one place!).


Roll arm: This style arm looks a bit like a candy cane—with outward-facing deep curve dropping into the straight lines of the side. It’s what often comes to mind when you think “sofa." You’ve probably seen it in your grandparents' living room, since this classic style has been gracing our homes since the 1800s and shows no sign of losing popularity.


Flare arm: The arm “flares'' or curves outward, without wrapping under like a roll arm (think if 🤷‍♀️was a sofa). It’s the happy medium of styles—it’s a softer look than a track arm, without the traditional feeling of the rolled.


Track arm: This style features clean, straight-up-and-down sides and flat top. Straightforward, but not boring, as all types of detail can be added to create interest (like welts, top-stitching, etc.…we’ll explain those in a future edition of our design dictionary). We see a lot of this type of arm in mid-century modern furniture.


Slope arm: Rather the arm being all the same level from back to front, the back starts up higher and gently slides down in a curve towards the front of the piece. A twist on the usual arm, it’s graceful and elegant. This can be paired with any of the three types mentioned above. 

Bolster pillows:

These pillows are shaped like a Tootsie Roll—cylindrical and uniformly thick throughout. They are often used to provide additional arm support (though they can also serve as a mini-barrier between yourself and your sofa-mate if you’re having a fight). As they are not the typical square or rectangular shape, bolster pillows can add panache to an otherwise standard sofa.


Accent chair vs. Arm chair: What separates an arm chair from an accent chair? We call a chair an “arm chair” when it’s part of a collection—meaning it matches the rest of the furniture that comes from that set in every detail. From arms, legs, to finishes, this chair is clearly from the same family—it's a single-seat version of a sofa or loveseat. These are great for people who want a matched set for their living room.  


An accent chair, on the other hand, doesn’t have to play by any of those rules. They can have any arm, leg, height, and detail as they don’t need to match a particular set—which also means that they can fit in with many collections. As accent chairs don’t need to meet a set style, there are more creative shapes, details and fabrics. These chairs are a great way to add flair and personality to your room.


A daybed is a multifunctional furniture piece that can be used as a sofa and a bed. An alternative to traditional futons, it offers a polished aesthetic while being versatile in function. Daybeds also come with one long cushion made to double as a mattress rather than two to four sectional cushions like those that come on a typical sofa or loveseat. The daybed provides a comfortable space for both casual daytime lounging and convenient afternoon naps. 

What’s the difference between a chaise lounge and a daybed? A daybed is more ideal for hosting an overnight guest for a night or two, providing them with a comfortable sleeping arrangement, but still serving as seating when not in use as a bed. The backrest is often positioned farther from the edge compared to a standard couch. Also, daybeds are generally suited for bedrooms rather than living rooms (though don’t let this restrict you from designing your room how you want). 


On the other hand, a chaise lounge is designed for reclining and relaxing. Chaise lounges, or more commonly, chaises, are great for offices, bedrooms, or living rooms as an elegant accent piece. They can be standalone, like daybeds, or be part of a sectional.


Eastern King Bed:

The Eastern King bed is more commonly referred to as just a “King bed” and is considered the standard or regular King bed. 


When to choose the Eastern King over a Cal King: an Eastern King is wider than a Cal King, but the Cal King is longer. The Eastern King mattress is the same length as a Queen; so if you need to accommodate a few extra inches of height, the California King might be a better fit. But if you prefer more space between you and your sleepmate OR if you have a multitude of pets that all need to sleep on the bed, the Eastern King might be better able to accommodate those needs.


So, you know that super comfortable stuff inside pillows and back cushions? Yeah, that's what we're talking about here—fiber-fill. It's a fluffy, squishy material that gives you that cozy feeling when you lay your head on a pillow or lean back on a cushion. It's also commonly known as poly-fiber because it's made from Polyester. This synthetic fiber is the secret ingredient in making your resting spots extra soft and comfy!

If you're wondering why it's called "fiber," it's because it's just as fluffy and airy as cotton.

Fiber-filling is the go-to for pillows and back cushions, but sometimes they team up with feathers to make things even more comfortable. Pair fiber filling with feathers and feel your comfort level increase to create the perfect 50/50 comfort combo. 



Let's take a closer look at glides, aka anti-slip glides—they're the unsung workhorses of low-profile and modern styles. Glides are used in sleek, close-to-the-ground, styles that don’t feature visible legs to make sure the sofa, sectional, or chair doesn't slide all over the floor.


Ever sat between two sofa sections and felt them slowly drift apart, leaving you hanging? Enter the anti-slip glide. Sometimes used in lieu of metal brackets, they can help keep your pieces in line and ensure they stay together. This allows you to keep your sectional pieces where you want them, without metal bits poking out of the side of some of your pieces (which increases the versatility of arrangement!).



When we talk about the "hand" of a fabric, we're referring to how it feels when you touch it. (It's essentially the way the fabric feels against your skin.) The hand of a fabric is influenced by various factors, including the fiber content, weave, finishing processes, and even the overall thickness of the material.


When considering the hand of a fabric, we’re looking at the following factors:

  • Smoothness, which is how rough or silky a fabric feels;

  • Compressibility, which is how “squishy” it feels when you squeeze the fabric between your fingers—high-pile fabrics with long fibers are generally more compressible than short, condensed fibers;

  • And elasticity, which is how much the fabric stretches and bounces back when you pull on it.


Fabrics can have a wide range of hand; here are a few common ones that are used to describe the hand:

  • Soft: A fabric with a soft hand feels gentle and comfortable against the skin. It might have a smooth surface and a plush or velvety texture.

  • Smooth: Fabrics with a smooth hand have a sleek and polished feel. They often glide over the skin smoothly without any roughness.

  • Dry: A “dry hand” describes a fabric that’s not slick to the touch. It won’t feel silky or slippery, and you can feel the texture a little bit more than a completely smooth fabric. (Sadly, “wet” is not a descriptor used for fabrics, except, unless, liquid was spilled on it.)


Inserts are the “heart” of the pillow or cushion, the inner padding or filling placed within the cushion cover. They provide both volume and structural support, contributing to the overall sense of comfort, silhouette, and fluffiness of the pillow or cushion. The feel and firmness of these inserts are determined mostly by the fill–feathers, down, polyester fiberfill (see F above for more information) or a blend of these.


Best part? They can be taken out and replaced, allowing you to breathe new life into your favorite pillow/cushion cover that matches perfectly with your sofa.

Inserts and cores are commonly confused—think of inserts as potentially being in any pillow or cushion above the seat. Cores are within the seat cushion and usually have some type of foam combined with other materials, and can withstand more pressure and weight. Inserts are what make your cushions comfy and fluffy by going inside the cover. Cores, on the other hand, are like the support system at the center of a cushion or mattress. Both work together to create that comfy feel you love!



Joinery is the art of connecting pieces of wood to create complex shapes and angles without using extra hardware. It involves cutting, shaping, and assembling wood. Whether the woodworkers use chisels and saws or power tools, the results are the same.

At JL, we use various types of joints:

  • Box Joint: Used to connect drawers to bed rails.

  • Mitre Joint: Commonly used in many of our products.

  • Pocket Joint: Preferred for most twist-on legs.

  • Dowel Joint: Utilized in wooden bases.

  • Butt Joint: Found in a wide range of our products.

We primarily use these joints for the inner structure of our pieces–the only places where the joints are visibly featured are in the legs.


"Knife-edge" is a seaming technique–the seam tapers to form sharp, crisp edges and corners resulting in a clean and polished appearance. The seam doesn’t feature decorative embellishments. 


At JL, we use the knife-edge technique for all our pillows, unless a retail partner requests welted edges. (Welted edges feature decorative piping along the pillow's edges.) The pillow's edges are neatly tucked inward.

Loose Back

In the world of sofas, sectionals, and accent chairs, a "loose back" refers to the back cushion that is not permanently attached or sewn down onto the furniture's body. Loose back cushions are often flippable to promote even wear and maintain the appearance and comfort of the furniture over time. Additionally, loose backs are convenient to maintain as they can be easily removed for vacuuming and cleaning, keeping your furniture looking its best.

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