The Chaise Longue – A Timeless Piece of French Furniture
One of the most popular items of French furniture is the ‘chaise longue’ – a classic piece that became a symbol of high society and opulence in the 16th Century. Although credited to this period in modern history, similar lounging styles of furniture can actually be traced back as far as ancient Egypt, Greece and Roman times – where day beds were designed for the sole purpose of eating. Other cultural references to the chaise longue can be found in the history of ancient Mexico and Africa.
Literally translated to ‘long chair’, the chaise longue is a multi-purpose piece of French furniture that doubles as a bed, recliner or chair. In form it should take the shape of a sofa, but with a backrest at one end only and traditionally, arm rests would also be a feature. Modern interpretations mean that the name now lends itself to many different styles of reclining chair, including outdoor recliners such as deckchairs.
With French furniture presently being so in vogue, the chaise longue can make a wonderful addition to any modern home. Newer manufacturing techniques also mean that the cost of these items are no longer prohibitive as they once were, when they were entirely crafted by hand and had to be transported fully assembled. The chaise longue is perfect for relaxing, reading, resting, watching TV or perhaps having a catnap, and as such, they are welcome in many areas of a house; living rooms, bedrooms, conservatories or even in the garden.
Historically, the chaise longue would be constructed of wood (shaped or wooden caning) or rattan, but during the Rococo period, these comfortable items went on to become real status symbols and the materials used and their decoration became more extravagant. They started to be designed in more expensive, hard woods and adorned with intricate carvings and tassels and cushions made from rare and luxurious fabrics. Nowadays, a variety of materials are used in their manufacture, including plastics, plywood and tubular steel.
If you are planning on adding a chaise longue to your home, it might also be worth considering other complementary touches of French furniture to your collection. You might opt for French furniture items such as a hand-carved French bed, or French style sofas and chairs. If you are looking for something simple, you could try a French mirror or chandelier – or at the other extreme, you could make a big statement with a French wardrobe, grand and beautifully decorative. Whether you want a home inspired by the French style, or just a functional yet beautiful piece of relaxing furniture, a chaise longue makes a classic addition to any room. In fact, you might enjoy it so much that you can barely tear yourself away!