Straddling the space between chair and sofa is the longtime decorator favorite, the chaise. With a name that derives from the French term chaise longue, the phrase “chaise lounge” literally translates to “long chair.” An abbreviated back and long, bench-like seat make chaise lounges the perfect companion for life’s recreational luxuries: reading, relaxing, and napping.
Unlike a couch which is designed to seat multiple people, a chaise lounge is typically reserved for a single person to stretch out on—which isn’t to say it can’t transform into temporary seating for three with aplomb come party time. Imagery depicting ancient Egyptian gods and royalty idling on chaises dates the chaise lounge as far back as 3000 BC. In the 16th Century, chaise lounges re-emerged as an icon in Victorian France. Popularly referred to as “fainting couches,” these chaise lounges showcased stylistic hallmarks of the Rococo period. The English imported the chaise lounge from France in the late 18th Century, and the form steadily gained traction until the 19th Century when its popularity reached a fever-pitch with the corset-wearing crew. Following the chaise into the 20th century, it became a mainstay of therapists’ offices everywhere.
These days, chaises come in a variety of styles. Some will feature a back on only one end, while others come equipped with two back panels, often converging to create a supportive L-shaped back. Worth noting is that a chaise with three back panels isn’t considered a chaise lounge at all, but a daybed.
Long considered an unsung hero for those boxed into lilliputian apartments, the chaise has come into its own as of late. While many still opt for a stand-alone chaise, it’s most common to see chaise longes incorporated into a large sectional. Chaises give sectionals an appealing L-shape, while upping the versatility factor tenfold. Power naps become a thing of ease with a chaise sectional, as do work-from-home stints where comfort is key.
Whether you’re looking to lounge, or you’re looking to up your home’s flexibility factor, a chaise is a surefire way to enliven any space.
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Lead image by Nanette Wong