Is it a chaise lounge or a chaise longue? According to the french, pronounced “shayz long”, it means long chair. Either way, I know what you mean.
The chaise lounge originated in Egypt and was made popular by the French. Now a piece is looking to make its way into my mom’s living room right next to the fire place.
I’ve always been fascinated by the chaise lounge. They invoke the images of wealth and coziness: either they seem to be in the home of a wealthy individual or they’re in a library. And now? Well, now they’re everywhere. They’re beginning to pick up in popularity again. I’m seeing them in bathrooms, bedrooms and even living rooms of an every day person. They’re not just for the wealthy anymore and they’re not just for libraries, though they’re still the perfect piece for that space.
A Brief History
The Egyptians created this brilliant piece as a way to lounge around during the hot seasons while attempting to stay cool. Interestingly enough, some of the oldest ones found were found in a tomb. Most Egyptian chaises were made out of wood, much like the image above, and were often made with a wooden or stone headrest. In fact, the very first ones made were simply just a bunch of palm sticks intertwined by cord. It almost goes without saying that the inspiration was as a cross between a chair and a bed. If all Egyptian chaises were like that image from 1st Dibs, I’d be in heaven to have one in my house!
The Greeks used the chaise lounge as the favorite pieces for socializing and getting together for drinks. Referred to as the “kline” (cause to lean), their construction of the chaise were slightly different. Their headboard were developed to be taller as to be leaned against while dining and the bed parts were often woven with leather straps. The chaise still weren’t upholstered at this point in fabric, so they topped it with pillows and blankets for added comfort. Like the Egyptians, the klines were made largely of wood and the legs were like animals legs or claws, or they could be simple, like the image above.
Known as the “lectus“, the Romans adopted it, preferring to eat while lounging as oppose to sitting up at a dining table. Their chaises were not upholstered. Pillows, stuffed mattresses and throws were also the norm for them to provide comfort. Three lectuses would be set up in a dining room called “triclinium“, which means three couches. An example of such a set up is as seen in the digital image above. Each position of the lectus pays respect to the people’s positions: one for the host family, one of high status and one of lower status.
During the Rococo period, under King Henry XV’s ruling days, the French gave this piece of furniture the mainstream name it has become: The Chaise Longue. There’s no doubt that during the days of King Henry XV, the French furniture reached its peak out of all the French periods, leading to the chaise longue’s popularity. During this period, the chaise longue was made for lying on your back rather than your side and was upholstered for added comfort.
Victorians used it for expectant mothers and as a place of rest for women so they didn’t have to retire to their bedrooms to catch their breath from their tight corsets, which is where the “fainting couch” comes from. It was also at this point that therapists, particularly Sigmund Freud, used it to provide comfort for their patients during long sessions.
This image, above, provides a fun way to trace all the different chaise longes throughout history.
Types of Chaise Lounges
Overall, there are three main types of Chaise Lounges:
1)Méridienne: This is synonym with the fainting couch. Its asymmetrical design provides a high head rest at one end and seamlessly flows into a sloping armrest that can often double as a back rest.
2)Récamier: Almost more like a day bed, this chaise lounge has two high head rests at either end but no back or arm rests in between. It was named after Madame Récamier, who posed on a récamier for a painting in the 1800’s.
3)Duchesse brisée: The term translates into “Broken Duchess” in French. The Duchesse brisée is broken into two or three pieces, such as two chairs and an ottoman. On occasion, it’s a single piece with one high head rest and one partial foot rest.
And then there are the modern versions. A lot of these comes without any arms, only a head rest. Or with two arms.
When you’re researching a particular item, you tend to be interested in how others use it in their space. Let’s check these out:
Chaise Round Ups
*There are no affiliate links. Be sure to click on each image for more information and to go to the link.
Chaises Under $600.00
Chaises Under $1,000.00
Chaises Under $2,000.00
Chaises OVER $2,000.00
I did not come across very many pieces of Duchesse brisée in my search. There’s nothing to officially support this, but it’s my believe that this has now become your every day chair paired with an ottoman. Otherwise, if you search on 1st Dibs here, they go for quite a bit of money and for good reason. I think they’re stunning pieces.
Let me know if you have a favorite chaise lounge!