A brief history of the Chaise Lounge
Chaise lounger is a corruption of French chaise longue "long chair." The second word confused in English with lounge. Known as a “chaise longue” in France (a long chair), a “daybed” in England, and a “couch” in America (derived from the French verb coucher, meaning to lie down), these luxurious, stylish versions weren’t actually the first daybeds in history.
In Egypt, chaises longues (alternative spelling) were used for resting as well as for burial. One of most important pieces of furniture behind the chair, these daybeds were crafted from simple, rectangular wood frames, with interwoven strips of fabric like a mattress.
In ancient Greece and Rome, reclining was a totally acceptable (if not solemn) posture in social settings, so the presence of the daybed seems pretty natural. In Greece, even meals were taken lying down, propped up on one elbow on a u-shaped triclinium (couches surrounding a central table). In Rome, the daybed was perhaps the most important piece of furniture, used in bedrooms, libraries, and dining rooms. Called a lectus, this long wooden seat was fitted with one high side, like a headboard, stacked with pillows and criss-crossed with leather straps to support a rush- or horsehair-stuffed mattress. This lounging bed was used for reading, writing, eating, and lively discussion, and sometimes had two sides and a back—a precursor to the couch.
By the 18th century, daybeds as elongated chairs were going out of fashion, but when they resurfaced, they were more commonly referred to as chaises longues. Chaises longues were principally developed under Louis XIV, and evolved into a variety of styles, from Chippendale’s Rococo to Neoclassical, to Empire style.
These practical pieces of furniture serve as reminders of a more genteel time when one could take pause, catch their breath, and look fashionable and styling while taking a moment of relaxation in a busy world.