There’s no denying the luxury of the chaise longue. Whether it’s for reposing—or posing, in true Hollywood style—the chaise enables laid-back loungers to stretch their legs out long. It originated in ancient Egypt and hit its stride in 18th-century France, and it continues to be a picture sophistication and sumptuousness today.
So sit back and put your feet up as we praise—and appraise—the chaise. Here’s what you need to know about antique and vintage chaise longues:
What is the Chaise Longue?
The chaise longue (literally translated from French to ‘long chair’) is intended as a reclining seat for one; hence there is only one back on the seat. However, due to its elongated shape, it can also be used to fit one, two, or even three upright sitters, side by side. It may also have one, two, or no arms and may be flat or contoured to fit the body.
History of the Chaise Longue
Paving the way for the chaise longue, the first seats to blend bed and chair originated in ancient times. Egyptian hieroglyphs showed the seats being crafted from simple, rectangular frames with interwoven strips of fabric. The Greeks and Romans had chairs-turned-daybeds in their bedrooms and libraries. They would eat, sleep, sit, read, write, and entertain in various states of repose.
Many precursors to the chaise longue existed throughout the centuries, each a variation of the daybed or elongated chair. But it was really in 18th-century France, during the Rococo period, that the chaise longue came into it’s own. During the reign of Louis XV, there was a shift from public courtier life in Versailles to private urban life in Paris. And the French elite approached life like a performance. Indeed life was a spectacle (albeit a private one) and interiors were a theatrical backdrop. This emphasis on theatre and performance fostered the notion of being viewed while viewing others, and as such, Parisians needed furniture for both posing and reposing. Enter the luxurious chaise longue that enabled Parisians to not only sit about the house, free from royal eyes, but to look fabulous while they did it.
Chaise longues have been fashioned in styles that range from Rococo to Modernist, and most everything in between, and choosing a chaise longue will very much depend on the style of the interior in order to create a cohesive look and feel.
Rococo chaise longue are sumptuous and curvaceous with elegantly carved wooden legs that have a delicate and feminine feel. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, chaise longue in Neoclassical, Empire, and Regency styles took their inspiration from antiquity with clean lines, scrolling forms, and classical details.
In the 19th century, Michael Thonet designed magnificent Victorian-era bentwood chaise longues with sinuous lines and curves. In 1928 Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret, and Charlotte Perriand reinterpreted the reclining chair as their modernist marvel LC4. It contrasted the luxury of leather against the clarity of chrome—and what a great way to lay back and soak in that view.
Where to Position A Chaise Longue
Chaise longues work beautifully in living areas and bedrooms as well as neatly fitting into corner reading nooks and transitional spaces. Here’s a selection of chaise longues and the homes they’re styled in:
This mint green chaise longue is a colorful addition to this laid-back living space. Positioned by the window it receives plenty of natural light for reading during the day, and is perfect for watching television at night. Its dark wood legs match the rest of the furniture, while the overall look is light and bright.
The chaise longue is holding its own in this mid-century living room packed full of modern classics. The open-plan space is divided into distinct areas by furniture and function. Living and lounging to the left, and dining to the right. The chaise longue effectively separates living from dining. It’s a great choice because the lack of back support helps keep the room feeling open, airy, and free flowing.
This blue velvet chaise with wooden base is a plush addition to this contemporary living space. With a bookcase and fireplace, this living area needs nothing more for an evening of cozy comfort.
Is there any greater picture of comfort than a chaise longue next to a roaring fire? The chaise longue is a popular choice for bedroom chair as it facilitates sitting, reading, watching television, conversation, or even just throwing clothes or blankets on. This tufted chaise longue is comfortable and inviting, and the neutral color looks gorgeous against the natural stone.
Depending on the style of the chaise longue, it can be used as a spare bed. It can be positioned in a guest room, study, or even living space. A chaise longue with a flat and rectangular profile best suits adults, while children can easily curl up in curvier versions.
This Empire-style chaise longue is a conversation starter in this large and spacious entrance hall. Given that it’s a hallway, this chaise is probably more decorative than functional, but what a place to stop and rest on the way in or out of the house.
This hallway is also furnished with an inviting chaise longue. It turns a transitional space into a functional space should guests come and stay; or perhaps it’s for those who found their way into the adjacent wine cellar but have trouble finding their way out. The blue velvet with gold piping is a sumptuous look and a classical contrast next to the contemporary comic-strip wall.
Modernist chaise lounges are typically chrome and leather and, when vintage or antique, will often have a patina that can’t be reproduced. Like this chaise, they look loved and lived-in with many a story to tell, and positioned in a corner with side table nearby, all that’s missing is a glass of red wine.
If you’re looking for a little luxury, look no further than the chaise longue. They’re comfortable and elegant, and since they’re designed to be seen – and admired – from all angles, they can be placed in the center of the room, against a wall, or nestled into a nook. So whether it’s for lounging, reading, or sleeping, take a look at our current selection of chaise longue on The HighBoy.