While walking to the corner store, Matthew Ireland came across something you don't normally find in a snow bank -- a chaise longue. Since he and his wife had always wanted the classic piece of furniture, he took a closer look at why it was being thrown out, decided he could refinish it and brought it home. "It needed more work than I intended,” Ireland says now that the 30 hours of labour is over. "I had never done it before so it was a learning process."
The chaise is now a central part of Ireland's living room and enjoyed by all. "Our chaise is wide enough that we can sit on it to read books to our son, my wife loves it for breastfeeding our newborn, and we have it situated so it's good for having conversations, watching television and talking to people in the dining room."
Chaise longue defined
A combination of chair and daybed, the chaise longue originated in the 17th century rococo period of Louis XV, which was characterized by asymmetrical design and delicate lines, to fill the need for more intimate furnishings. The simple long chair with canted back, armrests and leg support flourished in the modern era as home architecture saw more open plans and inhabitants enjoyed more outdoor living, with some of the most famous architects of the time reinterpreting the original design -- Le Corbusier, for example, removed the arms. The chaise longue remains a sought after piece for indoors and out, for the most traditional of homes to the most modern in decor.
So, just how do you select the right chaise longue for your home -- if you aren't fortunate enough to find one in a snow back and to have the talent to restore it?
"It's all about personal taste and preference," says Amy Offman of The Art Shoppe, a high-end furniture store in Toronto. "There are no set rules."
Chaise longue buying tips
Ask yourself the following questions to determine what's right for you:
1 Where will the chaise be placed?
Typically, you'll find one in a living room as extra seating or in a bedroom for relaxing. In either scenario, the type of material - be it leather, fabric or microfiber - is up to you. You may also want to situate one or several in the backyard, in which case you're options will range from teak to stainless steel, aluminum strap to canvas webbing, and an array of weather-resistant fabric cushions.
2 What will it be used for? For reading and relaxing, look into back pillow support, arms and generous upholstery. For multiple uses, consider one with varying recline positions.
3 What is your decor?
For a contemporary design, consider no arms, chrome base, tight back and lower seat height. For more traditional decor, opt for arms, wood frame, tufted or fuller upholstery and higher seat height.
4 How many people will be using it at once?
Wider models are best for sharing (to read to your kids, for example, as Ireland does). Offman has seen some people buy two chaises with one arm each on opposite sides and sliding them together. "That's quite nice," she says. "Another option is to put a little table between them so you can still lie next to each other."
The most important thing to remember when shopping is to try the chaise longue. Sit, lie, lounge. Test it the way you plan to use it. Says Offman: "Comfort is always key."
Image courtesy Pottery Barn