How Did the Chaise Longue Become a Lounger?

How Did the Chaise Longue Become a Lounger?

"Lounge away and call it what you want."

Not only did Americans bungle up the chaise longue’s spelling, they also messed up its pronunciation. It’s not a lounge chair and it’s not pronounced “chase.” This is among my greatest pet peeves in the furniture world. How could we have taken this perfectly good French “long chair” and turned it into a casual piece that begs to be an accent that generally gets in the way?

Since ancient times, folks have wanted to combine the convenience of a chair with a place to snooze. Early artists depicted their deities lounging around with underlings in attendance. In Roman times, it was a staple from cozy chambers to grand halls. Its more modern form originated in Sixteenth Century France where it was a signature furnishing in the homes of aristocrats. It also took many shapes, some with a raised back support at each end (Recamier) or with a raised end and sloped back support (Meridienne). These were ornate with heavy upholstery or detailed wood framing. In Victorian times, no proper lady would have been very far from a chaise if she felt faint.

Americanized versions were just as decadent, especially during the Golden Age. They were a favorite prop for movie stars who felt that reclining on a chaise was advantageous to their celebrity standing and their profile.

Today, we Americans just call it a chaise lounge, and it’s accepted as being proper. That’s fine, because we’ve also managed to make it available for both indoor and outside locations. It’s even gone the plastics route with slats and framing made from recycled milk jugs.

Lounge away and call it what you want.