sound like a designer: enfilade

Have you ever been around a designer, or a designer-type when they start throwing around words like “enfilade” “en suite,” “bobéche” or the like?  Did you feel like a cartoon character with a huge question mark floating over your head?  Have no fear, db is going to teach you about the secret language of designers through a new series called “Sound Like a Designer.”  The first term in the series?  Enfilade.


Pronounced “on fee LAHD,” the term refers to a straight, axial relationship between rooms.  Essentially, rooms are  aligned one after another through connecting doorways.  The open doorways draw the eye through the attached rooms, creating a sense of discovery as you progress. The sequence of the rooms  typically goes from the most public to the most private.

The layout became popular in grand European palaces during the Baroque period and continues to be popular today.  In a Baroque palace, access down an enfilade of state rooms was restricted by rank, so if you ranked pretty low on the totem pole at court, you weren’t going to get too far down the progression of rooms.  With, or without, an escort.  The end of an enfilade was usually a bedroom, an intimate cabinet or a boudoir.

The usefulness of the layout is not restricted only to grand homes and palaces, an enfilade of rooms is also put to good use in small spaces as it eliminates the need for hallways.  Parisian and pre-war NYC apartments often feature enfilades.