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House Parts You Didn't Know Had a Name

TOH helps you identify all those architectural "thingamajigs" and "whadya-call-its" you find around the house

House Parts Defined

Photo by Fourlegs Photography

Ever tried pointing out an architectural detail to somebody, only to fumble for what to call it? Or put in a call to a contractor to fix a part of your home and have to call it "you know, that thingamajig"? Don't worry, it's happened to all us. So to help you out the next time you need to identify a part of a structure or a design element, here's a handful of definitions that even some of our TOH editors weren't familiar with.


Photo by Nancy Andrews

A board attached to the edge of a gable roof. In house styles such as Gothic Revival and Tudor, bargeboards often bear intricate carvings or colorful painted details. Also called vergeboard or gableboard.

Check Throat

Illustration by Harry Bates

The groove cut into the underside of a windowsill that prevents rainwater from reaching the wall.


Photo by Keller & Keller

A series of windows placed high in a wall.


A second, small, pointed roof that diverts rainwater around something, such as a chimney, that projects out of a primary roof.


Photo by Nancy Andrews

The weathering on exposed bricks or stones that looks white and powdery. It appears when natural salts in the materials leach out and crystallize.


Photo by Keller & Keller

A series of doors to connecting rooms arranged so that there is one uninterrupted sight line.

Fireplace Cheeks

Photo by Kolin Smith

The angled sides of a firebox opening.


Photo by Steve Murry/Cornerhouse Stock

The small gables often found over a single dormer window.


The curving part of an arch that's bookended by the peak of the arch and either a capital or molding abutment.


Photo by Casey Dunn

A nook, usually for seating, found beside a fireplace.


Photo by Courtesy of

An upper story of a home's structure that juts out beyond the level below.

Kite Winder

Photo by Laura Moss

The middle of a set of three wedge-shaped stair steps, or winders, that together make a 90-degree turn.


A small round or oval window often found in dormers. Also called bull's-eye or oeil-de-boeuf.


Photo by Ryan Benyi

A hinge that has only one joint on which it pivots.


Photo by Courtesy Eve Daniels, Curator

A corner finish stone on masonry buildings.


Photo by Jake Curtis/IPC Images

Any reveal between the inner face of a door or window jamb and the wall.


Photo by David Seed Photography/Getty Images

A ceiling opening with a cover or hatchway.


Photo by Nancy Andrews

The wall space between the outer string of a stair and the floor, or wall space between the shoulder of an arch and the outer walls.


Photo by Keller & Keller

The triangular, recessed center area of a pediment that's bordered by moldings.